Monday, July 9, 2012

New Zealand says "Meh" to Anglican Covenant

Word from New Zealand is that their General Synod has voted, "No" on the Anglican Covenant.  Well, actually, they've said, "Meh."   Sections 1-3, which restate what the core beliefs are in Christianity and affirms that Anglicans really like their bishops, seem acceptable enough to the church there.  However, Section four, which contains the big stick method of disciplining those member churches that do things outside the box (like ordaining women and gays and supporting marriage equality), did not go over well in NZ.  Since it seems votes on the Anglican Covenant do not allow for breaking apart the four-sectioned document, the vote would go down in the books as a "No".  And it was unanimous.

Will see how the Anglican Communion Office spins that one.

In the meantime, at a church convention much closer to home, our deputies and bishops are grinding up the various proposals on the Anglican Covenant from the "Oh, yes, sir: please may I have another" idea... to the "Are you nuts? No!" proposal that I support, as well as everything in between.   The type of sausage that will come of this process is still unclear.  Our No Anglican Covenant Coalition representatives, Lionel Deimel and Revd. Malcolm French, are doing a great job of making our case that our "No" must mean "No".   Both of them have been talking to deputies and bishops and keeping us all abreast via their blogs (Lionel Deimel's Web Log and Simple Massing Priest).  The big sticking point seems to be fear.  I'm not sure if anyone is actually using that word--fear--in their discussions and debates as they try to shove this bit and that piece into the sausage casing.  But from what I am gathering from our intrepid leaders of NACC, there is this desire on the part of the subcommittee making the sausage to come up with a product that both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops can gobble down without choking.  There is strong feeling that the HoD is not interested in the Anglican Covenant and wants it to die.  But there are those in the HoB, some of whom are part of the sausage subcommittee, that... (here it comes) fear a firm "No" will be unacceptable.

Let me quote a portion of a Rule for Lent that was once shared in a sermon by former Episcopal Presiding Bishop Arthur Lichtenberger:  "Fast on fear, and feast on faith."

I am hoping those creating the Episcopal Church's answer to the Anglican Covenant will pay attention to what is happening.  The Anglican Covenant is a non-starter in much of the Anglican Communion.  Worrying and hand-wringing about what may or may not happen in the HoB seems to be an excuse to allow fear to have the upper-hand in our true discernment of the proposal.  If the deputies are strongly opposed, it really doesn't matter if the bishops vote for it.   And trying to second-guess or hedge bets or whatever is just creating more chaos where there is a clear choice: we either approve it or we don't.  And most of us in this church don't want it, so let the vote reflect that opinion.   Please do not kick it down the road to 2015.  That would be like holding vigil at the bedside of a dead person in the hopes that in another three years she'll take a breath.

Please continue to hold Lionel and Malcolm and all those participating in this process in your prayers.

Almighty and everlasting Father, you have given the Holy Spirit to abide with us for ever: Bless, we pray, with his grace and presence, the bishops and other clergy and the laity now  assembled in your Name, that your Church, being preserved in true faith and godly discipline, may fulfill all the mind of him who loved it and gave himself for it, your Son Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP, p.255)

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