By Douglas LeBlanc
Even as the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant approached its rejection by a majority of dioceses in the Church of England, three Episcopal Church bishops are sponsoring a resolution that supports a continuing Covenant discussion.
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Bishop of Connecticut, who proposed the resolution, released a copy to The Living Church. Joining Douglas in that resolution are the Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, Bishop of Texas, and the Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry, Bishop of North Carolina, have added their support to the resolution that Douglas has filed with the General Convention office.
The House of Bishops discussed the resolution during its annual retreat March 16-20 at Camp Allen Conference and Retreat Center in Navasota, Texas, and made slight revisions to the language.
Like a resolution discussed by the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, the Douglas resolution affirms the first three sections of the Covenant. The resolutions differ in their conclusions, however.
The Report of the D020 Task Force says the Episcopal Church is “unable to adopt the Anglican Covenant in its present form.”
The Douglas resolution proposes that an Executive Council task force “monitor the ongoing development of The Anglican Covenant with particular attention to the interpretation and practice of ‘Section Four: Our Covenanted Life Together.’”
Bishop Douglas said he began considering his resolution when he read the task force’s report, which was released in November.
“I felt that we should be going in a little different direction than what was in the final report of the task force,” he said. “I would hope the resolution would provide some space at the Convention to have a conversation about the Covenant rather than an up or down vote.”
The Rt. Rev. Daniel H. Martins, Bishop of Springfield, has doubts about the resolution.
“It’s probably better than a flat-out No, because it keeps the conversation alive,” he told TLC. “If it comes to the convention floor in that form, I will vote for it. But I’m not enthusiastic that its intent seems to be calculated not so much as a response to the Covenant as toward ensuring that our delegation to the Anglican Consultative Council in November has full seat, voice, and vote.”
“I don’t think that’s a fair characterization,” Douglas said. He sees resolution would “affirm what we can affirm now” and “keep us in conversation as Section 4 is exegeted, or lived into, across the Anglican Communion.”
“This is not about maintaining a place at the ACC,” he said. “There’s no question about that.”
Douglas pointed out that Anglican provinces are excluded from further discussion of the Covenant only if they reject the document at the provincial level. In that respect, he said, the Church of England has not acted on the Covenant until its General Synod takes up the matter again.
The same would be true, he said, if General Convention approved his resolution rather than the one discussed by Executive Council.
Could the Anglican Communion’s discussion of the Covenant continue indefinitely?
“Welcome to the Anglican Communion,” Douglas said.