Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Church of England has Rejected the Anglican Covenant

     Not unexpected news, but still amazing.  The Church of England has rejected the Anglican Covenant, an issue our own General Convention will take up this summer.  While all of us, as Episcopalians, are proud to be part of ongoing collective worldwide relationships we describe as the Anglican Communion, the Covenant would have changed that. 

     While many of us can agree with articles one through three of the proposal that speak to the importance of our relationships in the Communion, article four took a nasty turn.  It would do two things: 1) Give more power to a centralized group of international bishops and the Archbishop of Canterbury; 2) Demote to second-tier membership or even exclude national churches who make decisions other national churches do not like. 

     Crafted intentionally from the beginning to penalize the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada for acceptance of gay clergy and specifically the election of a gay bishop in 2003, it would have had far-reaching consequences that seem very "Un-Anglican".  We have historically respected the sovereignty of national churches and avoided centralizing power in a group of bishops creating a "curia" or "magisterium."  By requiring all national churches to deal with issues of human rights and justice at "the pace of the slowest hiker," it would have essentially slowed or halted what Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned: "...the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice."

     So we, as Episcopalians, and all worldwide who recognize their roots are in the Church of England and are in relationship with the See of Canterbury, will continue to muddle on in our sometimes messy Anglican family relationships.  We will continue to pray together, worship together, agree, disagree, support one another, aid other churches in need, reach out to help the poor, and try to be transparent enough that others can meet the risen Christ in us.  Come to think of it, that sounds good enough to me.

     Details of the process of voting down the proposal in England can be found here.