Deputies decided Monday to pass two substitute resolutions that say “yes” to continuing partnerships in the Anglican Communion, and a polite “not yet” on the Anglican Covenant.
Later in the day, the House of Bishops concurred.
Speaking on D008, about continuing relationships and the Indaba process, Deputy Josephine Hicks of North Carolina stressed that the Church needs to continue its partnerships around the world. Doing so gives us a “chance to dispel inaccurate perceptions,” she said. “We need to be at the table.”
D008 includes a call to use the Continuing Indaba process for building relationships.
The Rev. Tobias Haller of New York supported that call. “If (the) Lambeth (Conference) and the Anglican Consultative Council and the Standing Committee are the skeleton of the Anglican Communion, Continuing Indaba will be its lifeblood and its breath.”
The Rev. Terry Star of North Dakota was clear that “this resolution is not asking us to say ‘no’ to the covenant. It is asking us to say ‘not yet’ … We don’t need a piece of paper to be in relationship.”
B005 says that “as a pastoral response to The Episcopal Church, the General Convention declines to take a position on the Anglican Covenant at this Convention.”
The Rev. Canon Mark Harris of Delaware, a member of the World Mission Committee, pointed out that the members of the committee “could not be more dispersed in our views on almost everything in the Church and Anglican Communion. Except for one matter: We all serve and love the Lord in the context of both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.”
“I came to this convention knowing what I wanted,” Harris said. “I wanted to say ‘no’ to the Anglican Covenant.” B005 Substitute, he said, “is not about our wants but about what we believe are the needs of the Church at this time. What we need are some places of disagreement that are not met by the immediate needs for winners and losers. … We need some place where we can continue to listen …
“What we realized on the committee [was that] we are under no compulsions, save our own, to give an immediate answer to adopting the covenant. … Why give an answer now? We don’t need more division.”
The Rev. Dr. David Cox of Southwestern Virginia stood in favor of the motion. Quoting Henri Nouwen, he said, “There are times when the phrase should be, ‘Don’t just do something. Stand there.’ It may have taken a Dutch priest to get through to … our American character of can-do and action. … Your committee believes now his advice is appropriate for us in our Church.
“To quote the president of the House of Deputies in another context just today,” he said, referring to Bonnie Anderson, “‘Breathe in. Breathe out. Smile.’”
The Rt. Rev. James A.J. Cowan, bishop of the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia, who serves as the Anglican Church of Canada’s representative to the Executive Council, was pleased with the passage of both resolutions.
“I think what has been done is the best thing that could be done by the Episcopal Church,” he said. “If there had been a recommendation to reject or to adopt the covenant … there would have been a lot of wounded people. These actions enabled the Episcopal Church to take its breath.”
The Anglican Church of Canada will consider its response to the Anglican Covenant in July 2013.
–By Lauren R. Stanley and John Schwartz