Two subcommittees of World Mission are walking a fine line on how General Convention should respond to the Anglican Covenant, aware that there is no consensus on what to do.
“In all of our conversations in this sub group and in our hearing,” said the Rt. Rev. Ian Douglas of Connecticut, chair of the Bishops committee, “I think there’s confusion about what the status of this covenant is, and I think that does hinder our ability to come to a decision.”
World Mission is trying to address two different issues concerning the covenant: How to lift up the work of the Anglican Communion – essentially asking why the Episcopal Church wants to stay part of the communion – and what convention should say about the covenant.
Florida Deputy Jack Tull believes that in the open hearings many were opposed to the covenant in its current form. The proposed substitute resolution, he said, “doesn’t say whether we do or don’t adopt the Anglican Covenant. It says that we will decide whether to adopt it at some point in the future, but it doesn’t pin us to a particular General Convention.”
In a meeting Sunday, members debated how to express gratitude for those who worked on and responded to the covenant; how to describe the Indaba process, and what that means; and whether a task force might be needed to address constitutional and canonical issues.
North Carolina Deputy Josephine Hicks wondered if the work on the substitute resolution was a “stall tactic. We could have appointed a task force to look at this three years ago,” she said. “Why not pose some of the questions, like: What does this mean? What will it take to go into effect?”
Part of the discussion centered on whether the Episcopal Church needs to ask for clarification from the Church of England and the rest of the communion about what will happen next to the covenant on a communion-wide basis, since so many provinces have rejected it.
The Rev. Canon Mark Harris, Delaware, compared convention’s response to the covenant to a pastoral situation.
“If you’re walking into a pastoral situation and you know that choosing one side or the other, or even the middle of the road, is going to be destructive, why do that?” he said. “We don’t have to do this right now. It’s true that in a legislative community, we make decisions by percentage, but nobody’s said we have to answer this at this convention.”
World Mission will continue working on the covenant issues Monday morning.
–Reported by Penelope Davenport, written by Lauren R. Stanley