ALTHOUGH the Church of England's adoption of the Anglican
Covenant had been thwarted at diocesan-synod level, the General
Synod still held a debate on the report on the reference to the
diocesan synods, which included the voting figures.
Introducing the debate, the Archdeacon of Dorking (Guildford),
the Ven. Julian Henderson, who chairs the Business Committee,
reported that 18 dioceses had voted in favour of the Covenant, and
26 against. "The draft Act of Synod was not approved by a majority
of the dioceses; so it cannot be presented to you as General Synod
for final approval."
A closer look at individual votes, however, showed that, while,
in some cases, the majorities had been substantial, in others the
voting in the House of Laity or the House of Clergy, or in both,
had been "very close indeed", the Archdeacon said. "If just 17
individuals in five particular dioceses had voted to support the
Covenant rather than oppose it, a bare majority of dioceses would
have approved the Covenant. By contrast, if a total of just ten
individuals across five other dioceses had voted against, instead
of in favour, the majority of synods voting against would have been
much greater: 31 to 13."
Altogether, "a majority of dioceses voted against, but a
majority of the diocesan-synod members who voted actually voted in
Nine dioceses that voted against the Anglican Covenant motion
had passed following motions affirming support for the Communion.
"It is the intention of the Business Committee to allow
considerable time in the not-too-distant future to take those
following motions, and to have a substantial debate on our
relationships within the Communion."
Canon Joyce Jones (Wakefield) said that "to stop talking to
people who disagree with you, or exclude them in some way, seems to
go against the nature of Anglicanism." It would be "one thing for
people to decide they're out of communion with the Archbishop of
Canterbury, but quite another for him to decide he's out of
communion with them".
Canon Chris Sugden (Oxford) described the Anglican Communion as
"a wonderful, global Christian fellowship of Churches. . . Most
members are black, female, under 30, and live on $2 a day or
The Anglican Covenant process had "adopted a fellowship model to
address a governance issue", he said. "If there is no symmetry
between national church provinces and the global Communion such
that the global Communion cannot direct provinces, [then] the hard
question to explore is whether there is an acceptable degree of
symmetry that will give enough common ground for
Canon Robert Cotton (Guildford) said that there was now an
increasing recognition of two ways of authority, two ways of
meeting: first, "the legislation, management, and committees";
second, "the authority of action - the Anglican Alliance,
continuing indaba. These threads make the bonds that hold us
together which we willingly want to adopt."
Joy Gilliver (Chichester) said that the Church must embody the
"communion of love, relationship, and unity that is of essence of
Trinity". "Bonds of communion are not optional: they have to be
part of our internal DNA. A federation of independent Churches
simply won't do."
In the Covenant, she did not see "the language that speaks of
centralisation, division, or exclusion; I see language of
invitation, to dialogue, to consider the impact of certain
actions." By rejecting the Covenant, "we have effectively put
ourselves outside the capacity to influence the Covenant's
The Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, said that he still believed
that the Covenant "offered the Communion a better way. . . We are
all in the Anglican Communion in need of each other; so may
Christ's glory and unity lead us graciously to embrace one another
in a covenant of mutual dependence."
Prudence Dailey (Oxford), who was involved in setting up the Yes
to the Covenant website, said that her "biggest regret" had been
that "I didn't do something sooner". There had been "a great deal
of ignorance" at deanery synods.
The Revd Maggie McLean (Wakefield) disagreed with Miss Dailey,
saying that there had been an "informed debate" at her diocesan
synod. Wakefield had felt "the need to move beyond the intended
benefits of the Covenant and consider the long-term impact and
unintended consequences of, particularly, section 4".
The Archbishop of Canterbury said he suspected that "some of the
dioceses didn't entirely register which provinces in the Communion
had adopted [the Covenant] and why." It had been adopted "most
readily" by smaller provinces "for whom international bonds and
links matter enormously". "We ought at least to ponder" the
experience of these smaller provinces. It was also necessary, he
said, "to identify what the unfinished business is, whether there
is any role for an agreed process of conflict resolution in
Tim Hind (Bath & Wells) said that objectors to the Covenant
had not been in "cloud-cuckoo-land", as some had suggested. Maybe
the Anglican Communion was in cloud-cuckoo-land in thinking this
particular design would work." Most people would have been
comfortable with Clauses 1 to 3 of the Covenant.
Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark) reported that the debate in
Southwark had been "positive, thoughtful, and well-informed. . .
There was a real concern that the Covenant would reduce the Church
of England's ability to engage with the people of England, and
that's why the dioceses chose not to support it."
Canon Simon Kilwick (Manchester) said: "We simply cannot afford
a 'little England' mentality. . . I regret the failure of the
Covenant to be approved by the majority of diocesan synods. This
could effectively mean that the mother Church of the Communion has
killed off the Covenant."
Dr Angus Goudie (Durham) said that he believed that, in the
Durham diocese, "there was a sense that the final section  was
more open . . . and that any punitive action" was seen as something
that was "more hinted at and read into it by others".
Jack Shelley (Exeter) felt that Clause 4 "had only one outcome,
which is schism. . . We need to learn how to live together even
while we wound each other as we implement our diverse and sometimes
The Synod voted to take note of the report.