Communion Partner Bishops doing the Anglican Covenant two-step. (reformatted)

Bishop Dan Martins, of Springfield, a fine man and great blogger, wrote this in his comments on day four of the House of Bishops Spring Meeting:

"The time slot after dinner was dedicated to various interest groups, so I hung out, naturally, with my Communion Partner colleagues. CP is dedicated to fostering the highest degree of fellowship possible between TEC and the other Anglican Communion provinces, especially those in the Global South, and advocating continuously on behalf of the Anglican Covenant. We had some strategizing to do as we look toward General Convention."

Well, there it is: the Communion Partner Bishops had a chat up at the House of Bishops Meeting and worked on strategies related to General Convention. 

What might they have been strategizing about? Certainly strategies concerning the "highest degree of fellowship possible between TEC and the other Anglican Communion provinces" are in order. I would think most of those strategies would be of great interest to the World Mission Legislative Committee. Some of the critique of the Continuing Indaba thingy of the Anglican Communion office will surely come up. Certainly there will be issues concerning relations the Global South provinces and relations with GAFCON (they are not the same). And of course there will be the concerns of missionary action in a hostile world and the relation with Islam in its many forms.

But sure as the sun comes up, the strategies will indeed include "advocating continuously on behalf of the Anglican Covenant."

Last time around, when asked if TEC would assent to, sign on to, approve, or adopt the Anglican Covenant, the General Convention responded with "not now."

There is already a resolution being suggested for this Convention regarding the Anglican Covenant, coming from the Task Force on the Anglican Covenant. I am sure that there will be from one source or another a simple resolution, reading something like this:"Resolved the House of ________ concurring, that the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, meeting in Salt Lake, Utah, June 23-July 3, 2015, adopts the Anglican Covenant." Likely there will be one resolving that GC reject the Covenant.

There was some passion last General Convention for and against the Covenant, many supposing that because we were asked we were under some constraint to answer at Convention.  Those advocating for the Covenant and those advocating against the Covenant wanted to put the General Convention on record. None of the passionate were pleased with the result, which rejected both positions.

This time around, I detect little passion. Time has passed the Covenant thingy by. The big items on the agenda this round are about marriage, the budget, re-imaging the church, electing a presiding bishop, and maybe doing something about theological education. 

The Anglican Covenant will not draw much careful interest.

That is both a curse and a blessing. I believe it should get no attention at all. That is, the Task Force should note that there is little new action out there on the Covenant and have done with it for the moment, recommending that we continue to monitor the developments regarding the Covenant and make recommendations as necessary in the future.

But if it gets some attention from the Communion Partners, and little attention by those opposed or wanting to kick the can further down the road, we could end up having a up or down vote get to the floor, where in the rush of legislation it might slide on by with a tepid yes vote.  

So it becomes important to know just what the Communion Partner bishops are thinking about doing, and to know just what sorts of resolutions are coming forward and from where. And it becomes important to have witness at the hearings who speak against the Covenant, or for continued non-engagement. 

The counter to advocating for the Anglican Covenant by adopting it is still not necessarily advocating against adoption ever. It might still be to advocate not adopting it now.

We might remember that there is no definitive "no" vote. A "no" vote now could be changed in three years to a "yes."  The Anglican Covenant managers in the higher realms of Anglican land are not (I believe) interested in the "no's"... those can change over time. It is the "yes" votes that count.

Of course "yes" can be reversed as well, but saying "yes" and later saying "no" is a bit more difficult to pull off with grace.The value to the yes vote is that it is evidence that things are moving along and all will be well in Anglican land lead by the Anglican Communion Office.

At the moment I can think of no reason to say "yes" and buy onto the Anglican Covenant. I believe it to be a seriously flawed document. The arguments against it are increasingly persuasive, particular the arguments that draw on decision making in the Church of England - decisions which would have been much more difficult had the CofE adopted the Covenant. See Lionel Deimel on this HERE.

If it came to a yes or no vote, I'd advocate for the "no."
But I don't think it needs to come to that.

Those who think TEC is going down the wrong path on many fronts would perhaps love it if we voted "no."  It would simply prove their case once again.

Why give them the satisfaction?  

And of course, should they prevail, we would all be in deeper than we want. Suddenly those who believe TEC is the terrible thing GAFCON believes it is would have many cases to prove their point. And bishops (and others) in TEC would have grounds to bring the wayward into line on the grounds that their actions ran counter to world wide Anglican norms. 

The whole trouble with this Anglican Covenant thingy is that it is the prelude to a world wide Anglican Church - it is the prelude to the Anglican Communion as yet another branch acting like a tree. There are too many branches acting like trees out there already, and too much of that wood has been used to burn out the heretics and malcontents. Do we really need a world wide Anglican Church, whose purpose is to keep the party line pure and the local franchise undefiled? 

Not now, not ever.


  1. These were comments posted in prior version (with and unexplainable glitch..) copied here.

    Leonardo, I thought Bishop Gene was Hollywood's darling bishop. Bishop Dan is allowed to speak and if the House of Bishops were 95% conservative, would the liberals be grandstanding if they spoke their opinion? Bishop Dan's people seem happy that he actually tells them what happens at the conference(which mine will never do) and that he is willing to speak up for the traditionalist side. on Communion Partner Bishops doing the Anglican Covenant two-step.

    Chris H.

    on 3/24/15

    I doubt very seriously if the few conservative CP Bishops left in TEC believe in any way that GC will sign the covenant. They are simply indicating to the wider communion that they value the communion. They have almost no power in a church that has left them in a tiny minority, but at least they can speak their mind. I wouldn't spend any energy worrying about this. CP is the tiny remnant left in TEC that will try to find some small place to stand in a church that will soon have SS marriage throughout every diocese. The only question they are facing is amortization schedule. on Communion Partner Bishops doing the Anglican Covenant two-step.


    on 3/23/15

    Bishop Dan seems to always like to stand where there is at least indirect lighting if no spotlights are available...siempre. Something like ¨I am ready for my close-up Mr. Demille¨... Speaking, of course, in Gafconese. on Communion Partner Bishops doing the Anglican Covenant two-step.

    Leonardo Ricardo

    on 3/21/15

    @Anglican: you seem nice. Vaya con Dios...and Buh-bye! Anglican Covenant? Love it! (I mean the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, of course) on Communion Partner Bishops doing the Anglican Covenant two-step.


    on 3/21/15

    No public religion worth the name fails to define itself, leaving its members unable to say "This is orthodox" or "This is heresy." I believe that GAFCON will prove to be too little to late. Its general goals, however, are laudable. The Episcopal Church is a post-Christian cult. on Communion Partner Bishops doing the Anglican Covenant two-step.


    on 3/21/15

    Thanks, Lionel, for this reflection. Personally - being part of ACANZP in the South Pacific - I would vote resolutely AGAINST the Covenant. It really is 'dead in the water' and would do nothing for Anglican solidarity while yet pretending to. it might, in fact, empower GAFCON to think itself the true representation of world-wide Anglicanism, which it is not. on Communion Partner Bishops doing the Anglican Covenant two-step.

    Father Ron Smith

    on 3/21/15

    I'd rather have had the last rites for the covenant at the last GC. If a resolution about the covenant is presented this year, I'd like to see it settled once and for all with a firm no vote. But that's just me. on Communion Partner Bishops doing the Anglican Covenant two-step.

    June Butler

    on 3/21/15

    So, here's the list of the Communion Partner Bishops http://www.communionpartners.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Bishops-Communion-Partners-June-2014.pdf There are 16 of them. 7 are bishops diocesan, 1 is bishop suffragan. Nine (9) are bishops resigned / retired. It's all a bit like watching an old dog with no teeth lift his eyes and growl under his breath as he sees a bone he once might have chased down for at least a mile. on Communion Partner Bishops doing the Anglican Covenant two-step.

  2. Today, Thursday 26 March 2015, The Archbishop of Canterbury presided over the re-interment of the body of King Richard II of England. Perhaps now is the right time for the Church of England to Bury The Covenant! Let TEC pre-empt the occasion by burying it first!

  3. There is a solution in Proposed HoD Rule of Order VIII.C.1.vii(c): Take no action because of other reasons.


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.