Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Episcopal Church Says, "Ummmm" To Anglican Covenant

Gobsmacked.  Pissed.  Stunned.

Those are just some of the initial reactions among some of us who have been writing and lobbying to have the Episcopal Church in the United States defeat the proposed Anglican Covenant.   We thought we had presented a resolution that would garner enough support to stand up to scrutiny, and would give the Episcopal Church the language it needed to say, "Thanks for trying, but no thank you."

What has come out of the sausage-making process is an anemic statement that we, as a church, have too much division around this issue; therefore, we're simply deferring on the Anglican Covenant until the 78th General Convention in 2015.

The primary author of Resolution B005 is Fr. Mark Harris of Delaware, who writes at Preludium.   Normally, I admire what Fr. Mark has to say, but his statement on the proposal, and its companion, D008 that affirms our commitment to the indaba process (listening with intention and attention among Anglican Communion partners), left me puzzled:

"I have to say that I understand why this may be difficult for some because it is not taking a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ stand on the acceptance of the Anglican Covenant. The belief of the subcommittee is that we grew to respect one another in the process of the discussion to a place where it was our collective sense that we needed to present to the convention the possibility that when we are in a place of considerable internal dissent of a variety of sorts, such that there is no clear mandate in one direction or another, that we say to each other, ‘Continue to sit at the table and be in discussion with each other.’”

Even one of the Florida deputation, Jack Tull, who had put forth another proposal to say, "No" to the Covenant voiced his support for the ultimate resolution that says, "Ummmm".

It's as if we are on a game show of "Who Wants the Anglican Covenant?" and the Episcopal Church is sitting on the hot seat, saying, "Gee, Meredith.... ummm... we think it's "No," but, well, gosh, "Yes" means we get to go meet with important people.  Ah, gee, ummmm...maybe, well, maybe we could ask the audience, but ummmmm...."

Meanwhile, those of us sitting at home are screaming at our computer screens: "No!!!  The answer is No!!!!"

Perhaps they needed the "Phone-A-Friend" option.  Call Scotland.  Call the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia.  Heck, call the 26 diocese in the Church of England who had the guts to say "No"!

Our moderator, Revd. Malcolm French, issued the following statement on behalf of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition:

The wind has clearly gone out of the sails of the Anglican Covenant. There was not even a single dissenting vote when the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia declared itself unable to adopt the Covenant. While our Coalition would have preferred a clearer “no” from the Episcopal Church, the resolution passed in Indianapolis is scarcely more than an abstention – and the commitment to “monitor the ongoing developments” rings hollow when we consider that the same General Convention phased out funding for the Episcopal Church staff position for Anglican Communion affairs. Perhaps they will monitor the situation by following#noanglicancovenant or #nocovenant on Twitter.The next major step in the Covenant process will be at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, this fall. We understand that there will be an attempt to introduce a ratification threshold and a sunset date to the Covenant process. Depending on the details, our Coalition is likely to be broadly supportive of both initiatives.

Hats off to Malcolm and our Episcopal Church leader, Dr. Lionel Deimel, for doing what they could in Indianapolis to make our case for "No."  Gentlemen, what can I say?  Our church can adopt resolutions that cause the very groups the Covenant was meant to appease to go ballistic... and then can't finish the deal with a simple, clear statement of "No!" 

As one friend noted, "Well, at least the NACC buttons will be good for another three years!"


Grandmère Mimi said...

SCG, since those of us in NACC walked with folks (virtually speaking) through the courageous vote to defeat the Covenant in the dioceses in the Church of England, and with the Scots through their clear vote against adoption at General Synod, we wanted to support their brave stands against the odious Covenant with a polite but firm vote not to adopt. I am ashamed of and disappointed in our inability to say "yes" or "no".

The act smacks of hypocrisy, since there is no money in our budget to "monitor" the progress of the Covenant (whatever that means). Does it mean we'll sit and watch while other churches have the courage to make a decision one way or another?

Anonymous said...

We should just have said NO


SCG said...

It IS hypocritical, Mimi. I think we really do want to sit on the hot seat forever, hemming and hawing... and going to meetings in foreign countries... while others make up their minds in a decisive and clear way. I am unimpressed. And I'm sorry Fr. Mark is part of this.

Lay Anglicana said...

Good morning Susan - I have been taking your name in vain, or rather taking your comments on the Convention and adding some thoughts of my own. I couldn't seem to track you down on Facebook to give you the link (though we discussed shovels there yesterday). Here is the link:

SCG said...

Thanks, Lay Anglicana and Grandmere Mimi, too, for the plugs. Guess we'll see where things go from here with other churches in the Communion. I don't think we'll be able to amend the document in any way, so even trying to place a time limit on its adoption seems slim.

We should have said, "No". But we did not. C'est la vie.