The Strange Case of the Province of South East Asia and their Letter of Accession

The Province of South East Asia recently gave a positive response to the Anglican Covenant in the form of a Letter of Accession. By this letter they are presumed to have done what was asked: They have adopted the covenant. The Anglican Communion News Service, the voice of the head office, so stated: 

"The Church of the Province of South East Asia has adopted the Anglican Communion Covenant saying that "In acceding to the Anglican Communion Covenant, we (Diocese or Province) are seeking with other Covenanting Provinces and Dioceses to express our communion with the Triune God and with one another, to guard the boundary-markers of the good deposit of the faith once for all delivered, and to be faithful witnesses of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the fellowship we have with God and one another, and in common mission and ministry to the world."

There has been some thought that in acceding they did not do what was asked for, adopt. This note from the ACNS should put that to rest. They did adopt. (I presume the same will be said of Ireland and its subscribing.)

But here is the caveat from South East Asia:

"Churches that accede to the Anglican Communion Covenant need to subject their common life to the reforming and transforming work of the Holy Spirit, so that the Communion may be built up until all “reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4: 13). 

The Anglican Communion should adopt more uniform processes in the election and appointment of bishops, to ensure that such processes are not held hostage to local politics and to parochial understandings of the episcopal office.

17. Given the theological – doctrinal – ecclesiological context that gave rise to the need for the Anglican Communion Covenant (documented above in paras 1-12 and 15-16), and given the present state of our impaired relation with particular office bearers and dioceses in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada (paras 13-14), it becomes clear that our accession to the Anglican Communion Covenant is based on the following understanding:

(a) that those who accede to the Anglican Communion Covenant will unequivocally abide by Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10 in its spirit and intent;

(b) that those Provinces and Dioceses whose actions violate Lambeth Resolution 1.10 as well as subsequent Primates Communiqué statements that have placed a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops and the authorization and implementation of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions, are expected to rescind their actions, and bring their public doctrine and practice in line with Lambeth 1.10, before acceding to the Anglican Communion Covenant; and

(c) that Churches that accede to the Anglican Communion Covenant should bear authentic witness to the orthodox faith by an unequivocal commitment to the standards of moral and ethical holiness as set by Biblical norms in all aspects of their communal life. (Mt 19:4-6; Rom 1:21-32; 1 Cor 6:9-11; Gal 5:16-26; Eph 5:3-14; Col 3:5-14; 1 Thess 4:3-12; 2 Tim 3:1-5; Heb 13:1-5; 1 Pet 4:1-11; 2 Pet 2:13-22; Jude v18-21; Rev 18:1-8).

(d) that the Primates Meeting, being responsible for Faith and Order, should be the body to oversee the Anglican Communion Covenant in its implementation (Anglican Communion Covenant Section 3.1.4.IV and South-to-South Encounter, Fourth Trumpet, 21)."

Why are these bishops so happy?
Here then is the question, one I suppose has to be directed to the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion:

If the Letter from South East Asia is taken as a "yes" vote for the Covenant and that vote is predicated on the assumptions South East Asia has made, does the Anglican Communion office acceptance of that letter as "adaption" mean that the Anglican Communion Office, the Archbishop of Canterbury or any of the instruments of communion agree to or abide by South East Asias' interpretation of the limitations placed on member churches by the Covenant?

If so, the fat is in the fire.

I see no reading of the tea leaves that has The Episcopal Church recinding the consecrations of Bishops Robinson and Glasspool, the blessing of relationships.  I presume the same is true for the Anglican Church of Canada. 

South East Asia has produced a litmus test: either TEC rescinds and repents and brings its  "public doctrine and practice in line with Lambeth 1.10" or its efforts to adopt the Covenant will be considered null and void.

We need a reading from the Head Office on this one, for if the acceptance of an affirmative vote by TEC or any other Province is contingent on our prior change in practice, then the Covenant is dead. If this is the case then even the best desire to live into what the Covenant might offer is a repudiation of all that we have struggled for in being open to greater inclusion.
If what South East Asia assumes is the way it will be, then the whole deal is off.

So tell us, those who speak for the Instruments of Communion, is South East Asia's letter of accession really a letter of adoption? And must TEC repent and rescind before its own signature can be put to paper in adoption of the Covenant?


  1. Sooo, if every adopting province does so with its own conditions, I presume the original intent of agreeing to some uniformity has been defeated.

  2. Sorry, Mark, I am not as convinced as you that the Anglican Communion News Service is competent to make the interpretation of what Ireland and South East Asia have done. And others agree with me. It is called “spin” and head offices are well-known for spin.

    Let’s put that to one side.

    I suggest that TEC accede to the Covenant with the same caveat you have quoted, merely altering (a) to

    (a) that those who accede to the Anglican Communion Covenant will unequivocally accept the full equality of all the baptised regardless of sex, race, sexual-orientation, marital status… you can get better wording than I can…

    drop (b) probably include (c) and obviously drop (d)

    Similarly the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia would accede to the Covenant with the same caveats above and include our right to our three Tikanga structure. Remarriage after divorce, and women in all orders of ministry need to be there for both TEC and ACANZP, as already precedents departing from Scripture and Tradition, that any adopting rather than acceding with caveats could claw back.



  3. Just to clarify:

    'Whole deal is off' or 'deal is off so far as TEC is concerned'? Obviously for the major proportion of the Communion, the view of SE Asia is the accepted teaching of the church.


  4. Why do you continue to seek the living among the dead?

    Just asking.

  5. Want to see 'the dead'? Study the collapse of the Kirk following the vote of the General Assembly. I believe even they see that this will lead to a major schism and decline.


  6. Why do I hear the voice of ++Rowan and The Anglican Standing Committee, Christmas Past, rasping/whispering instructions on how to fashion a flimsy/threadbare positivelike covenant response and of pretend the blatant ill-intentions of SE Asia are not?

    Clearly Bishop Chew is dragging the chains of oppression and rattling anti-LGBTI Anglican threats again...there will be much suffering of innocents because of this obstinate man and the pronouncements of his accomplices against people like me in Asia.

    Makes me wonder how WE can ever trust this group evangelicalike ¨fixers¨ on any level of Anglican Communion interaction based of real love and reality-- deliberate and premeditated abuse of fellow Christians at the Anglican Communion ought be named as the crime against humanity it is...scrub a dub-dub won´t clean the ignorance, fear and hate away...the affirming signatures to this ¨covenant¨ are smudged with LGBTI blood already...do not look away.

  7. I see the future. The first disagreements amongst those who adopt, accede to, subscribe to the "curate's egg" will be what they meant when they signed on. The standing committee or some other entity will need to sort that out.

    And this is the document that is to intensify the bonds of affection? Heh, heh. We shall see.

  8. Everyone here must understand that the whole genesis of the Covenant is because of TEC's and the Anglican Church of Canada's actions in contravention to Lambeth 1.10. TEC sees itself as promosting justice to LGBT people, so clearly they could never agree to the covenant with any integrity. So what point is the hypothetical of them agreeing to the covenant? It seems the real problem here on this blog is not that South East Asia has imposed an new "condition" but that they have repeated historical context for clarity.

  9. I find myself nodding when I read the first part of Rob's note. The "Covenant" did not simply happen. It is a juridical response to actions taken by Canada and USA that offended Central Africa, and other Southern churches.

    The idea that either Canada or TEC could sign is deeply flawed when we recall that this thing is intended to be the bill of outlawry against, (oh!) Canada and TEC.

    In fact the GafCon objection is that it is not explicitly that.

    Everyone now seems to forget the knife in the glove. The term of art is, "relational consequences."

    No the document does not say, "you are out of the communion" but it does say the "standing committee" (star chamber) will advise the "instruments" that the"innovation" is "unanglican" and they will then determine the "relational consequences"

    Ok, other than suspending formal communion between CoE and the bad guys (presumably USA, Canada and three interventionist African churches) what is the ABC going to do, send them nasty notes? The "relational" elements available to him are invitations to the primates' meetings, invitations to Lambeth, authorized lay inter-communion, clergy recognition, and invitations to submit scholars to serve on various boards and commissions. It is not like he can tell us we are grounded!

    The same is true for the ACC. It can only have members or not, invite them to meetings or not and invite their experts to pontificate or not.

    Lambeth and the primate's are in fact creations of the first two so nothing else really matters. Lambeth does not for instance determine its own membership. ACC in creating various conferences determines invitees and speakers.

    We have already seen "relational consequences" imposed by the archbishop's chief executioner. Dose anyone seriously think anything else is coming?


  10. Frederick and rob, I hate to burst your triumphal little conservative bubble but the covenant and all the hoopla swirling around it matter nothing to me and most in TEC and AC of C.

    Mark has just reason to feel as he does about the communion and I support him in whatever position he feels is right for him.

    Me, however, I couldn’t care less. My relationship with God is A-OK. Jesus and I are pals. I’ve been a member of TEC for over 15 years now, after having fled the self-righteous scribes and pharisees of the Roman Catholic church.

    TEC is nice. It isn’t my faith. It isn’t my belief. It isn’t my salvation. It isn’t my everything. It’s the place (most of the time) where I meet with others, some of whom I agree with and some of whom I don’t, to worship God and do what can be done to make the Kingdom visible and real. Yes, even to gays.

    Your endless arguments about the tyranny of the majority, much like Peter’s red herring on doctrine, mean little to nothing to me and many, many Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans. You know, that fine fellow Jesus was also condemned by the orthodox majority of his time and he did all right.

    I think I’ll trust in following his example and worry not a whit about the mind of the majority, the faith once delivered, the covenant, and all that other falderal.

    Peace be with you, brothers in Christ!

    WV: joyer

    I am doing my best to be a joyer and spread the joy of God’s love to ALL human beings, doctrinally certified, majority accepted, and Lambeth 1:10 approved or not. : )

  11. Thanks, Brian. I agree with your sentiment/candor. Let TEC and covenants go, and indeed 'Church' altogether. You have a 'pal' in Jesus and that should suffice.


  12. Everyone here must understand that the whole genesis of the Covenant is because of TEC's and the Anglican Church of Canada's actions in contravention to Lambeth 1.10.¨ rob

    What a bunch of silliness--as if pontificating about what WE MUST (codependent junktalk) UNDERSTAND was going to cover up/give license for the NON-LISTENING as Lambeth 1.10 also suggested...there is a big difference when religiouslike bigots and thieves at the Anglican Communion refuse to sit in the same room with ¨ladies and/or homolepers¨ (¨lower than pigs¨ as I recall)...forget opening ourselves together for Eucharistic miracles and loving one another.

  13. Thanks Frederick! My pal Jesus IS enough for me. And I'm quite content being one of the outsiders yet still enjoy a good Episcopal service. Amazing what God is capable of doing, I think.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.