Council Releases Covenant-nixing Report
Posted: 25 October 2011 09:27 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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Mary Frances Schjonberg of Episcopal News Service reports: “A covenant task force, composed of six council members, based its recommendation to council in a report that is available in English here and Spanish here.”

The report as released by Executive Council (watermark included) is available on Scribd.
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Posted: 25 October 2011 12:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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I am not too surprised by this development.  I disagree that the Covenant requires changes in our constitution, or that any canonical changes would be significant, if any are truly needed.  But some scapegoat to keep the status quo was necessary, otherwise it would seem like mere sour grapes.  I am disheartened by the report that none of the diocese that affirmed the Covenant submitted anyhing to the Covenant Task Force by way of support.  I do agree section 4 is not the best of all possible worlds, but it is faithful enough to the theological groundwork of the first 3 sections, the quirky ad hoc nature of the Instruments of the Communion, and the tensions of those who want more teeth versus those who prefer the squishy Communion we’ve inherited to at least give things a run.  But if we’re going to be the crybaby in the room, at least we’re being relatively honest about it.  That’s a significant change from the way things were being done before.

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Posted: 25 October 2011 06:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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I am not surprised by the decision of Executive Council to recommend “not to adopt” the Covenant.  Their arguments are not particularly concrete, however, so it is hard quite to know what the problem is as they see it. 

For instance, the council expresses concern that the ministry of the laity is not sufficiently profiled, even slighted.  Yet there are numerous references in the Covenant to the “people” of the Church, the “whole people” of the church or of God and so on, all in the context of ministry, and, of course, this “people” is the “laos” of the “laity”.  So one wishes to know more specifically. 

Again, there are “constitutional” concerns, such that one might worry whether adoption of the Covenant would somehow subvert the laws of the TEC.  One wonders what these are.  The Council’s report contains an appendix with an earlier set of opinions from the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons;  but if the items noted here are the basis for the Council’s worries, I am indeed perplexed.  For instance, the Commission’s report writes:  “Paragraph 1 of the Introduction speaks of the biblical treatment of the ‘communion in Jesus Christ.’ It includes the ‘Communion of the life of the Church,’ as the basis for the existence and ‘ordering of the Church. A fair interpretation of this text is that our “Communion in Jesus Christ” coexists with our Communion as constituent members of the Anglican Communion.”  The Commission thinks this is odd, as if communion in Christ ought perhaps NOT to “coexist” with being in communion as Anglicans!  For, as they go on, such “coexisting” communion seems to “imply” that the Communion’s order might take precedence over TEC’s Constitution.  Indeed, it would if it were truly “coexisting” with “communion in Jesus”.  But, the Commission says, this is deeply problematic!  Imagine, Christ over the TEC’s Constitution! Let us leave aside the fact that, even if Christ and TEC’s Constitution were ever in conflict, there is no reason for TEC to follow Christ, anymore than TEC need follow the desires of a covenanted Anglican Communion.

All I can glean from the council’s decision is that they do not want TEC to be in a position where TEC’s autonomy will have PREDICTABLE consequences with respect to other Anglicans;  they would prefer that they all be UNpredictable, indeed anarchic such as we see in the present age.  This seems to me irresponsible.  But perhaps I am missing something.

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Posted: 25 October 2011 09:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Frankly, it’s the lack of response from the Dioceses that is disheartening to me. But I’ve frequently found Episcopalians completely unaware of what the Covenant is. Even when I have raised the issue as a major concern among Episcopalians at Harvard Divinity School(indeed, hosting a theology conference on ecclesiology in the same place, partly as a means to raise awareness), many of the participants have confessed to me, months later, that they haven’t even read the Covenant, though they’ve made statements about what the Episcopal Church ought to do.

I think many simply don’t see how it matters, or, as soon as they do, they resolve not to engage it in order not to have to consider changing course *merely* for the demands of Christian unity.

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Posted: 26 October 2011 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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I considered proposing a resolution supporting the Covenant at our diocesan convention this year, but never actually did so. I suppose I was hoping someone else would (I’m just one layperson and relatively new to the diocese, and didn’t see myself as the best person to spearhead such an effort).

We did have a diocesan learning day in January, so folks are fairly well acquainted with the issues.

Edwin

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Posted: 28 October 2011 05:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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The thoroughly odd arguments appended to the Executive Council’s decision only underline the reactive spirit which now possesses those who run TEC, as they fear losing that which they have fought to gain. This sort of spirit typically possesses groups in their second generation, who reduce their philosophy to easily chanted slogans to be repeated over and over again.

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Posted: 04 November 2011 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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I wonder if someone might be willing to run some informal inquiries to Dioceses about their Anglican Covenant Review processes. On my way to the Diocese of MA’s Convention, I have seen that this process was entrusted to our General Convention delegates, who have yet to be elected. So, apparently, we’re reviewing the Covenant after the recommendation of the Executive Council. It seems there’s a little confusion about when this review was meant to be completed.

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