Daily Archives: July 9, 2007

First Things: Pope Benedict is "liberal"

Interesting commenterary over at First Things today (of course!) on Pope Benedict’s authorization of the Tridentine Mass. This section caught our eye:

By associating the Latin Mass that is now universally approved with John XXIII, Benedict steals a card from the deck of liberals and progressives, for whom John XXIII is always “good Pope John,” in contrast to his successors. But this is much more than a deft rhetorical move. “Summorum Pontificum” is a thoroughly liberal document in substance and spirit, remembering that liberal means, as once was more commonly understood, generosity of spirit.

In his letter to the bishops, Benedict is directing them to be generous in embracing the fullness of the Catholic tradition and responding to the desires of the Catholic faithful. This is proposed in contrast to the rigidity, bordering sometimes on tyranny, of a liturgical guild that mistakenly thought that the Second Vatican Council gave them a mandate to impose their ideas of liturgical reform on the entire Church.

The whole text is here.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Latest CoE Synod News

The audio of Abp. Drexel Gomez’s speech to the CoE Synod is now online. Also the motion on Senior Appointments has been passed resoundingly, our tipster informs us…

Sunday Synod Audio
The audio file of Archbishop Gomez’ speech yesterday together with the debate on the Covenant has finally been fixed and posted [a powerful speech]:

papers referred to are here:

Monday pm Synod Report – motion passed

This afternoon an amended motion on Senior Appointments has been passed almost unanimously as follows:

That this Synod, noting that proposals in the Government’s Green Paper of 3 July (attached to GS 1650A) will necessitate further discussion with the Church:

(a) welcome the prospect of the Church achieving the ‘decisive voice in the appointment of bishops’ for which Synod voted in 1974;

(b) affirm its willingness for the Church to have the decisive voice in the selection of cathedral deans and canons appointed by the Crown, given the Prime Minister’s “commitment to a process of constructive engagement between the Government and the Church” ( The Governance of Britain Green Paper, CM7170);

(c) invite the Archbishops, in consultation with the Archbishops’ Council and the House of Bishops, to oversee the necessary consequential discussions with the Government and to report to the February group of sessions, including on the implications for those matters covered by chapter 8 of GS 1650; and

(d) subject to the above, endorse the recommendations in chapter 10 of GS 1650, invite those responsible to give effect to them and invite the Archbishops’ Council to report to Synod during 2008 on progress with implementation.

Reports on this afternoon here alone at the moment – Simon Sarmiento is ahead of either the CofE website or Church Society

Also: Sarah Hey has a roundup over at Stand Firm of some of the media reports about General Synod

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

Archbishop of York John Sentamu's Presidential Address to the CoE Synod

Here is an excerpt from the Presidential address today by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, to the Church of England General Synod:

As a church, we need to learn once again to become risk-takers, people who take risks for the Gospel, who take risks for Christ, who take risks in the service of God and one another. We have to take risks, in order to make the journey. We discover courage by doing courageous, God-like actions. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son”. An act at a particular time and place. It is the sin of the world that Christ takes away. Action!

So what are we afraid of? And what are the consequences of our fearfulness? The result of fear can be dangerous, fear itself can create its own risk. Because often when we’re reacting out of fear we don’t behave with courage and determination and grace, we become defensive, we behave badly.

And this Bad Behaviour doesn’t only afflict us as individuals but at every level, as churches, as nations. The language of fear has become the language of international relations; worldwide, a new book on terrorism is published every 6 hours!

Fear has begun to shape the minds and the decisions of those who take counsel for the nations. As Jim Wallis has noted, “The politics of fear can have disastrous results in both foreign and domestic policy. To name the face of evil in the brutality of terrorist attacks is good theology, but to say simply that they are evil and we are good is bad theology that can lead to dangerous politics. The threat of terrorism does not overturn Christian ethics.” It’s mercy, loving-kindness, deeds of mutual charity, reciprocal solidarity, walking in God’s ways of love and justice.

And our fear of terrorism can lead us to false conclusions about our Muslim neighbours.

The challenge we face isn’t about moderate Muslims versus so-called radicalised Muslims; the challenge is about Islam being used for quasi-political ends at whose heart is getting into paradise now by suicide bombing propelled by a hatred of the West and its way of life. Attempting to avenge past hurts by piling them on present problems.

Therefore the question is in fact about our discernment between those Muslims who, being loyal to the holy Qur’an, are dedicated to a vision of Allah who is merciful, holy and kind – in contrast to those who tendentiously make Allah vengeful, violent and merciless ”“ promising paradise now through acts of brutality and mass murder. In remaking God in their own image, they commit the ultimate act of blasphemy.

In the same way we Christians must beware of taking the holiness of God to imply that his wrath and judgement are out to destroy sinners instead of redeeming them, loving them and forgiving them. For those who follow the man of Galilee who was crucified, self-righteousness must die at his Cross. It’s from the Cross that the light of God shines forth upon the world in its fullest splendour. And as David Bosch has said (in Transforming Mission) “The Church is an inseparable union of the divine and the dusty.”

We are still human and the chorus to the song ”˜Anthem’ by the Canadian writer, Leonard Cohen reminds us that there can be a point to our lack of perfection:

“Ring the bells
That still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”

We must resist the temptation to abandon Christian principles of justice to those who suggest that fear is a better teacher than Christ Himself. For us, the opposite of fear isn’t courage, but the gift of wisdom, knowledge, discernment and insight from the Holy Spirit.

Sin harms the individual believer. Heresy (the wrong understanding of God) harms the Church. Idolatry destroys both the believer and the Church and is the cause of both sin and heresy. Our mission, like that of Jesus, is to confront idolatry.

So, what are we afraid of? Are we afraid of the loss of identity? Of a diminished sense of who we are and what it means to be us? You might think so, given the amount of time our society at present devotes, in its public conversation, to the question of what it means to be British.

And as a church, are we afraid of the future? Are we afraid of change? Are we privately content with the comfortable certainties of decline?

Or are we afraid of the public square? Of the public conversation about faith and society, difference and identity? In a space which we once confidently thought belonged to us as of right, how do we preach the words of life afresh in our communities of diverse ethnicities, cultures and peoples of other faiths present; and in a generation that is sceptical, cynical, fearful?

The full text is here (Church of England website)

Update: The audio of this speech is here:

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

News from Sydney: Anglican Churches attracting more youth

In the latest release of the 2006 National Church Life Survey (NCLS) on Tuesday, the Sydney Anglican Diocese’s congregants are getting younger and are being integrated into church life.

The survey showed a significant rise of 4 percent in the current period from 3 percent of total teenage attendants in 2001. This rise is used as a benchmark for Australian Churches.

Reverend Zachary Veron, the incoming YouthWorks CEO, has attributed the rise in youth attendance to the diocese holding the Bible as the ultimate authority and placing an emphasis on sharing the message that Jesus is Lord. On average, he said, this approach had a higher youth attendance compared to a liberal approach.

He told Christian Today Australia: “Anglican churches in Australia which hold the Bible as the ultimate authority over our lives as God’s written word to his created beings, and therefore place an emphasis in their ministry on Bible teaching and sharing the message that Jesus is Lord with others, on average have many more young people attending church than most Anglican churches which have a more ‘liberal’ approach to the Scriptures.”

He also said that if any Anglican churches abandon the authority of the Bible over our lives, then young people will usually abandon them.

Dr Philip Selden, Archbishop Jensen’s Executive Officer, described the latest result as “very encouraging” in the Sydneyanglicans.net, but acknowledged that more work is required since a third of Sydney Anglicans aged between 19 and 25 were not satisfied with their church.

From Christian Today (Australia).

Another commentary about the data regarding religious belief and church growth / decline from Australia can be found here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Teens / Youth

Mary Zeiss Stange: When it comes to gays, 'What would Luther do?'

In the Augsburg Confession of 1530 (a conciliatory statement of faith intended to unite Lutherans with other Protestants), Luther publicly agreed with other reformers of his day that biblical references that depart from New Testament inclusiveness ”” abstaining from eating pork, for example, or requiring male circumcision ”” not only can but should be set aside. A 21st century Luther would surely recognize that the few biblical proscriptions against “sodomy” ”” shaky in themselves as condemnations of same-sex love and rooted in a worldview vastly different from our own ”” should not bar the loving union of two gay or lesbian persons. Equally, a 21st century Luther would affirm the ordination of such persons, as in line with his theology of the “priesthood of all believers.”

The American church that bears his name will have an opportunity to revisit the question when its Churchwide Assembly (the ELCA’s highest legislative body) convenes Aug. 6-12. Schmeling may yet get a reprieve, should the church revisit what the disciplinary board itself called “bad policy” regarding sexually active gay pastors. The ELCA has until Aug. 15 to act on his case.

Meanwhile, The Episcopal Church USA has until the end of September to respond to the Anglican Communion’s ultimatum. The American bishops have, so far, roundly repudiated the pressure coming from Canterbury. The extent of the potential rift remains to be seen.

One thing seems clear, however. In working through these issues in the months to come, Protestants in both American denominations would best begin by asking, “What would Luther do?”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Other Churches, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Tithing by credit card? Amen, say more churches

At the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Dallas, Texas, more and more parishioners have signed up to give tithes and offerings automatically through their Visa or American Express cards.

“They want to get the points, and that’s fine,” said Bobby Brown, the church’s business manager.

But is it really Christian to collect frequent-flier points on the way to heaven? Are churches that take plastic contributing to the nation’s credit card debt crisis? Does tithing by automatic assessment rob from the thoughtfulness and spirituality of giving?

And is the latest innovation, the ATM-like “Giving Kiosk” – which lets people swipe a credit or debit card as they’re entering or leaving worship – simply too suggestive of money-changers in the temple to work for most congregations?

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

Donald Lane: Those leaving Episcopal Church are missing Christ's message

Jesus was saying that the old laws are wrong. (I believe there were 864 such laws, including killing of unruly children). If the churches are following the Bible, how many have stoned any adulterers in their congregations lately?

He never directly preached on the gay syndrome, which is too bad. I am proud of the Episcopal Church selecting a woman as the Presiding Bishop and selecting a Bishop on his ability, even though he is an open and practicing gay. They are abiding by the American documents that state “All men are created equal.” The gay people are created in the same way the so-called straight people are, and we are all supposedly created in God’s image. If God got it wrong with some people, by other people’s standards, go fight with God. I personally feel that it is just too easy for the majority to gang up on a small portion of the people.

I also realize that a couple of Timothy and Paul’s epistles talk against gays, but they certainly were not proofread by Jesus since he was dead. Those epistles were selected from many by people 2,000 years ago and who knows what their agenda was.

Very simply, if you want to call yourself a Christian, follow the teachings of Jesus.

Read it all.


Matt Kennedy has written an excellent article in response for his parish newsletter (the paper where the op-ed appears is their local paper). MUST READING!

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Archbishop Drexel Gomez' Speech to the Church of England Synod

I speak to you as the Primate of a separate and autonomous Province of the Anglican Communion; it is one which takes great pride in its distinctiveness, and yet also in being part of the Catholic Church, finding its particular expression through the Anglican inheritance which it received from the Church of England. So I speak to you as someone who both sees and upholds a proper independence for my Province, but one which is rooted also in connectedness; which could not survive in isolation, and which would never wish to do so.

There can be little doubt that I am speaking to you at a time of great tension within the Anglican Communion. The “bonds of affection” which once held our fellowship together are strained; indeed some would say broken. A state which has been described as “broken or impaired” already is declared between some of our Provinces. Suspicion is rife, as well as accusations of heresy, bad faith and of theological and ecclesiological innovation. Rumours abound that there are plots to carry forward in some provinces a bold agenda on gay marriage, and to require toleration of it across the Communion. Other rumours inform us that the primates are plotting to impose a “collective papacy” on the Anglican Communion. Bishops and archbishops are taking over the care of churches outside their own provinces; new jurisdictions are being erected and bishops are being consecrated and set up in a spirit of competition. People are taking up more and more extreme positions and then defending them; no matter how well founded or sincere the objections.

In the three years since the Windsor Report was published, positions across the Communion have, if anything, polarised and there is less trust now between different parties and between different provinces that there has been for a long time. Everyone claims to be the defender of the true spirit of Anglicanism, and to describe that spirit as orthodox, mainstream, comprehensive or inclusive. The language has become more strident, and quite frankly, scaremongering is commonplace.

In a situation which is becoming increasingly overheated, we need to hear a voice of calm. We need to identify the fundamentals that we share in common, and to state the common basis on which our mutual trust can be rebuilt.

This is essentially all that the covenant proposal is ”“ no more and no less. It is not intended to define some sort of new Anglicanism, or to invent some new model of authority, nor to peddle a narrow or exclusive view of what Anglicanism is. It is intended to state concisely and clearly the faith that we have all inherited together, so that there can be a new confidence that we are about the same mission.

The initial draft covenant text which has been prepared by the Design Group which I chair represents a first attempt to describe Anglicanism in a way which we intend to be true to the best and highest of all the Church of England and the other 37 provinces of the Anglican Communion, wish, under God, to be. But this first draft is the beginning of a process, and not its end: the text which exists now is only at the beginning of a long period of analysis and testing.

The draft which has been developed by the Covenant Design Group looks like this. In spite of some idiosyncratic numbering the draft falls into three main sections: first, a description of the common Anglican inheritance ( numbered section 2); second, a description of our common Anglican Mission ( numbered section 4); and third, a description of our Communion life ( numbered section 5). In each of these three sections the Design Group has sought to draft an affirmation of what is already inherited and agreed in the life of our Communion.

So Section 2 states the historic basis of Anglicanism, and draws largely for its words on either the Lambeth Quadrilateral or the Declaration of Assent used here in the Church of England.

Section 4 describes our Anglican vocation, using the Five Marks of Mission developed in the Communion by an Anglican commission on evangelism and mission building on the work of the Anglican Consultative Council and widely recognised across all Provinces.

Section 5 offers a description of the instruments of Communion which have developed over time in our common life, and sets out straightforwardly the way in which they function to support the life of the Communion.

In the Design Group, we hoped that we had done this task of description accurately and clearly. We believe that all Anglicans reading these affirmations should be able to recognise a statement in these sections of the Anglicanism which they have already been practising and living out in our 38 provinces.

From the basis of these affirmations, however, the text goes on to articulate three sets of commitments, which flow from the affirmations. These say basically:

Ӣ If this is the faith we have inherited, then we as Anglican churches commit ourselves to living out this faith together in a particular context of mutual respect and shared exploration (Section 3)
Ӣ If this is the mission with which we are charged, then this is the way we will engage in mission together (Section 4b)
Ӣ If these are the instruments of our common life, then this is the way we will use them in developing the Anglican Communion, and for each church to live up to its commitment of interdependence with the others.

I personally stand by the draft we have developed. But I already know from discussions at Dar-Es-Salaam in the Joint Standing Committee and amongst the primates themselves that there are points where we will be asked to look at our work again. Reservations centre largely on section 6 of the current draft, where the Design Group seeks to articulate the sort of commitments which arise out of an affirmation of the instruments of Communion.

The feeling amongst the primates for example, was that the role of the primates in this draft has been overemphasised and the voice of the laity under-represented. The Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and of the Primates felt similarly. It is a section that will clearly have to be revisited in detail.

And the intention is to take a very critical look at the draft in the light of comments received from the process of reflection and debate going on around the Communion. The task of the Design Group shall be to produce at least two more drafts in a process which is designed to listen to all the points made and which will finally meet the criteria that I set out earlier: that is to describe the Anglicanism that we already hold in common, as a basis for greater trust and less suspicion in the future. It is fundamentally based upon a vision where all 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion can meet as autonomous but independent equals, offering mutual accountability to our Anglican sisters and brothers on the clearly articulated basis of common expectations.

The need for such a common basis is pressing. I have no doubt that it would be lovely to go back to a day when we relied on no more than the affection generated by our mutual inheritance and care. But I’m afraid that those days have gone: at present, Anglican leaders are seriously wondering whether they can recognise in each other the faithfulness to Christ that is the cornerstone of our common life and co-operation. While some feel that there will be inevitable separation, others are trying to deny that there is a crisis at all. This is hardly a meeting of minds. Unless we can make a fresh statement clearly and basically of what holds us together, we are destined to grow apart. Do we Anglicans have a clear and shared identity? It is a question that our ecumenical partners are increasingly asking of us?

For decades, Anglicans have been wondering whether increasing diversity might force the Provinces apart, and asked what holds us together. The days of undefined affection are sadly over, yet this is also not a time when proposals which are brand new would win a broad consensus across the Communion. I believe that the Covenant can only succeed if it can accurately describe a sufficient basis to hold us together, and for us to want to stay together, based upon what we already hold and believe. This stresses the importance of getting the text of the covenant right.

I dismiss the idea that this represents somehow an attempt to chain any Province into submission before a powerful centralisation as a chimera: every Province I know, every Primate I know, values autonomy. But there is a real question as articulated by Archbishop Rowan: Can we recognise sufficient of our Anglican inheritance in each other to lead us to want to renew our commitment to live as a world communion?

Now I have also heard the opinion expressed that the idea of a covenant is alien to Anglicanism. I would not accept that charge.

First of all, we are a Covenant people. In his first letter to the Corinthians in chapter 11, Paul wrote: “ For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it in remembrance of me.” In so many ways, these words at the centre of our faith not only speak to us of the sacrifice of our Lord, and the celebration of the Eucharist which stands at the heart of every Christian community, but they also speak to us of God’s covenant with us.

That covenant is an unbreakable covenant, founded in God’s gracious attitude towards us. It is God who has called us to him: it is God who has made us his people. As it is written in the first epistle of Saint Peter: “Once you were no people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” When we talk about covenant in the Anglican Communion today, some people speak of it as if the concept is strange to our life. But I have to say that if we are Christians, Christian life is born in covenant, is nurtured in covenant, and finds its destiny in God’s covenant that he will bring us to eternal life. We are a covenant people.

We celebrate covenants in many contexts of our Christian life already ”“ in Holy Communion, in the baptismal covenant, and the covenant whenever two persons are joined in Holy Matrimony. We live and breathe as Christians in the context of covenant. In all these cases, covenant is the joyful embracing of a common life ”“ as members of the Church, as man and wife, as participants in the Body of Christ. Are we as Anglicans not able to be joyful any more about our interdependence in Christ?

Many Anglican churches have already covenanted with their ecumenical partners. The Church of England- Methodist covenant will be the subject of debate at this synod. If we can covenant with our ecumenical partners, and find enough in common to recognise a shared faith with them, it seems to me to be a pretty pass indeed if we Anglicans decide we cannot covenant with each other. (It may be said here that a clear statement of our Anglican identity would reassure our ecumenical partners that we know ourselves what our identity is!)

And if truth be told, there is some sense that we have been living by an implicit covenant together already; loosely based upon the Lambeth Quadrilateral. But these limits have never been quite so agreed and recognised. Even so, it was said in the 1920 Lambeth Conference:

“The Churches represented (in the Communion) are indeed independent, but independent within the Christian freedom which recognises the restraints of truth and love. They are not free to deny the truth. They are not free to ignore the fellowship.”

Today we are not being asked to commit the Church of England to any specific clauses of a covenant, nor to mortgage yourselves to any particular aspects that may appear in the current draft. We are still a long way from a definitive text, in a process which will need the sustained wisdom and feedback of all the Provinces and all the Instruments of Communion before it is mature. What I understand you are on this occasion to consider is this: Are you willing to engage in principle with a process which seeks to find a common basis for the Provinces of the Anglican Communion to move forward together?

I said at the beginning of this address that in the West Indies we are proud of our autonomy lived in communion. This is as it should be. It is true of every Province of the Anglican Communion, even if some of those Provinces struggle with poverty, illness and injustice. But we also value our relationship with you, our first Province, the Church of England. I very much hope that you will be able to express your care for us, and your valuing of us by saying that we have a future together; by affirming “Yes, let us explore what holds us together. Yes ”“ let us covenant to walk in a shared faith and shared hope ”“ in Communion, as surely God intends us to be.” After all, did not the Apostle Paul write that no-one can say of another member of the body: “I have no need of you”? (cf 1 Corinthians 12.21-23).

(From Anglican Mainstream)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Primates, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), West Indies

COTA Contextualized

It all started in a storefront tea lounge. Watch it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry

Bp. Michael Nazir-Ali's speech to the CoE General Synod on the Anglican Covenant

I know Kendall already posted the link to this speech in his post on the passage of the Covenant resolution (2 entries below), but now having read Bp. Michael Nazir-Ali’s speech, I wanted to post it in full to ensure wide readership. The text is from Anglican Mainstream:

Bishop Michael Nazir Ali’s (Rochester) speech to synod on the Anglican Covenant.

I speak as the Chair of the House of Bishops Theological Group which has the task of preparing the response to the Draft Covenant sent out by the Primates.

I shall vote for this motion when the time comes. It seems to have some rules for living together and if a Covenant is to embody them, then so be it, even if the nature and extent of it have still to be determined. But a Covenant “imposed from above” will not answer every question we have about our Church and Communion.

The Church becomes ”˜church’ by the working out of the Faith ”˜once and for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3). Our common mindedness has to do with having the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5) and the Spirit, leading us into all truth, continually reminds us of the words and things of Jesus and glorifies him (John 15.26, 16: 12-15). The ministry of truth and unity is grounded squarely on the word of God (”˜Consecrate them in the truth, your word is truth’ John 17.17) said Jesus and such a ministry makes sure that the Apostolic Teaching is passed on from person to person, community to community and down the ages.

The self-organising power of the Gospel produces a truly evangelical church. Those who are called to preaching and teaching have the positive task of bringing the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) to their people. But they also have a negative task which is to maintain the Church in its indefectibility, so that the gates of hell do not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18). They must make sure that the Church does not lose the core of the Gospel.

We have to ask, whether this ”˜self-organising power of the Gospel’ has ever been allowed full expression in the Anglican tradition. Philip Turner and Ephraim Radner, two American theologians, have said that Anglicans have always been compromised by ”˜unsanctified council’. Their Erastian tendencies have allowed the State and the culture to constrain the freedom of the Gospel in forming the Church. The tendency to capitulate to culture has been exported to other parts of the world. Both here and elsewhere the idea of the national Church has obscured the primacy of the local and the universal. But the logic of catholicity has also been retained and the question is now whether it will be allowed full expression in its own integrity.

Will the instruments of Communion be effective and united in their gathering and working? Will decisions made by the Primates be upheld or repudiated immediately afterwards? If the Lambeth Conference is not a council or synod of Bishops, what is it and why should anyone come to it? What kind of authority does it have? We are looking here not so much for juridical or legislative authority but for spiritual, doctrinal and moral. We should want our leaders to lead and for spiritual leaders to lead spiritually.

It may be that Anglicanism is not a confessional body but it certainly should be a confessing one: upholding, proclaiming and living the Apostolic Faith. Its weaknesses need to be recognised and it should be strengthened in its vocation. We are looking then for a covenant which will express the Apostolic Faith, enable us to come a common mind which is that of Christ, and free us to proclaim the good news of salvation to the world. The Covenant may be the first step in recovering our integrity, but it cannot be the last word.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Identity, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

More reports and links from today's debate on the Anglican Covenant at CoE Synod

The Church Society website has this report on today’s debate on the Anglican Covenant at the Church of England General Synod:

Sunday 8 July 2007

First business was the proposed Anglican Covenant. This presented some particular problems in that the Covenant could potentially mark a significant change in the nature of the Church of England and many people are concerned about where decisions are being taken. In addition there is a distrust of the process with many believing that conservative Primates will hijack the process and use it to exclude others. Matters were complicated by the presence of a draft covenant whilst people were saying that it is the process not the draft that is important.

Drexel Gomez, Primate of the West Indies and chairman of the Covenant Design Group introduced the Draft and the process. He spent some time explaining the draft whilst stating that it would go through at least two more drafts.

Gomez described the covenant as being based on historical principles – in particular the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral and the Church of England Declaration of Assent. However, both these things have proved entirely ineffective in preventing the present problems and he offered no suggestion as to how they would prove more effective in the future.

The Bishop of Chichester introduced the motion and debate. He highlighted that the covenant is not a confession, that it is going to take some time to put it in place. He characterised the Covenant being a way of saying we don’t have to agree on everything but we will commit ourselves to one another.

Tim Cox moved an amendment which highlighted the danger of the prolonged structural approach envisaged by the Covenant. He called for decisive action now and the use of a clear affirmation of the Scriptures and the historic formularies. A number of Synod members were apparently in agreement with this sentiment but felt it was better to support the Covenant and seek to have it strengthened elsewhere.

Two other amendments also failed. One was intended to ensure the Covenant was not as effective as it could be, the other to give the Synod the chance to consider the response to be drafted by the two Archbishops before it is made.

The Synod voted in favour of the motion but with wildly differing views as to what the purpose of the Covenant was going to be.

[source: http://www.churchsociety.org/issues_new/synod/iss_synod_latest.asp]


John Owen’s report at Thinking Anglicans gives further details of all three failed amendments:

Three amendments were moved. Mr Tim Cox (a council member of Church Society) moved:

Leave out everything after “That this Synod” and insert:

(a) note the unanimous recommendation of the Primates in February 2007;

(b) believe that the Covenant process will prove inadequate to address the problems presently dividing the Communion; and

(c) urge all the Provinces of the Anglican Communion to declare themselves in communion only with those Provinces, dioceses and congregations that:
(i) assert whole-heartedly that the Scriptures are the Word of God;
(ii) uphold the historic Anglican formularies (the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, 1662 Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal); and
(iii) on the current presenting cause of division, uphold the Biblical teaching that sexual intercourse belongs solely within the lifelong commitment of a man and woman in marriage.

Mr Justin Brett (Oxford) moved:

In paragraph (a) leave out the words “affirm its willingness to engage positively with” and insert “note”.

The Revd Jonathan Clark (London) moved:

In paragraph (c) leave out all the words after “the Archbishops’ Council” and insert “to bring back to the next group of sessions of Synod for approval a considered response to the draft from the Covenant Design Group for submission to the Anglican Communion Office”.

Each of the three amendments was defeated on a show of hands. Finally the Bishop of Chichester’s unamended motion was put to the vote and carried on a show of hands.


We’ll keep an eye out for Abp. Drexel Gomez’ speech (either text or audio) and post any further news we find later.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

Church of England synod “clearly carries” motion engaging with Anglican Covenant

The Bishop of Rochester’s Speech is here.

Update: Simon Sarmiento has the text of the carried motion:

‘That this Synod:

(a) affirm its willingness to engage positively with the unanimous recommendation of the Primates in February 2007 for a process designed to produce a covenant for the Anglican Communion;

(b) note that such a process will only be concluded when any definitive text has been duly considered through the synodical processes of the provinces of the Communion; and

(c) invite the Presidents, having consulted the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council, to agree the terms of a considered response to the draft from the Covenant Design Group for submission to the Anglican Communion Office by the end of the year.’

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops