Covenant tastes defeat in diocesan voting

by
22 February 2012

by a staff reporter

ALMOST a quarter of C of E dioceses have now voted against the Anglican Covenant.

It was debated last weekend by the diocesan synods of Leicester, Portsmouth, Salisbury, and Rochester, and rejected by all of them — in some cases, despite impassioned pleas from bishops.

ALMOST a quarter of C of E dioceses have now voted against the Anglican Covenant.

It was debated last weekend by the diocesan synods of Leicester, Portsmouth, Salisbury, and Rochester, and rejected by all of them — in some cases, despite impassioned pleas from bishops.

Just five of 15 English dioceses have so far approved the Covenant, which must be debated by diocesan synods by the end of March.

Approval by 23 diocesan synods is required for the Covenant to return to the General Synod. Rejection by 22 dioceses would effectively derail approval of the Covenant by the Church of England.

In Salisbury, the Bishop of Sher­borne, Dr Graham Kings, had urged the diocesan-synod members to back the Covenant. “I believe that, like the Declaration of Assent, the Anglican Communion Covenant is a text of breadth and concord. Our vote today concerns unity. A vote against the Covenant is a vote to do nothing. I do not believe it is helpful or Anglican to imply: ‘Let’s leave things as they are — we are divided; so let’s stay divided’,” Dr Kings said.

His pleas were unsuccessful, how­ever, and the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, joined mem­bers voting against it.

Last weekend’s votes have led the “No to the Anglican Covenant” Coalition to claim that the moment­um has now shifted in the de­bate. The Revd Dr Lesley Crawley said: “When we launched the coali­tion just 16 months ago, it seemed like we were facing impossible odds. But now the tide appears to be turning. The more church members learn about the Covenant, the less they like it.”

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And in a letter in the Church Times today, the patron of the coalition, the Revd Dr Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church in the University of Oxford, writes: “Those bishops who back this ill-thought-out and poten­tially disastrous measure should get the message, and let the Covenant quietly subside into the swamp of bad ideas in Anglican history.”

In an attempt to turn the tide once again, however, a new group has been launched under the patronage of the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard.

The campaign “Yes to the Cove­nant” is headed by Prudence Dailey, a lay member of the General Synod from the diocese of Oxford, and the Revd David Harris, Vicar of St Giles’s, Reading.

They said this week that they had set up the campaign because “the Church of England is in danger of sleepwalking into a terrible mistake”.

Miss Dailey said: “Many diocesan- synod members are turning up to vote with very little idea of what the Covenant is or why it matters, and many are not turning up at all. If you compare the totals of those present and voting with the recent diocesan vote on women bishops, for instance, the figures are significantly lower.”

Across the Anglican Communion, five provinces have now approved the Covenant, and two others have subscribed to it, with modifications. Just one province — the Philippines — has rejected it.

Three videos produced by the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO) in which its members speak about the Covenant are linked below. In one, members from Provinces including England, the West Indies, Central Africa and Southern Africa explain why they consider the Covenant important for the Communion. In another the Church of Ceylon's Rt Revd Kumara Ilangasinghe, recently retired Bishop of Kurunagala, shares his thoughts on the value of accountability. In the third, members share their thoughts about the sections of the Covenant.

http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/news.cfm/2012/2/22/ACNS5048
 

See letters

 

Three videos produced by the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO) in which its members speak about the Covenant are linked below. In one, members from Provinces including England, the West Indies, Central Africa and Southern Africa explain why they consider the Covenant important for the Communion. In another the Church of Ceylon's Rt Revd Kumara Ilangasinghe, recently retired Bishop of Kurunagala, shares his thoughts on the value of accountability. In the third, members share their thoughts about the sections of the Covenant.

http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/news.cfm/2012/2/22/ACNS5048
 

See letters

 

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