By Lauren Anderson
Critics of the proposed Anglican Covenant said at an evening open hearing July 6 that it creates a central authority and threatens the Episcopal Church’s self-governance. “Covenants of this nature are used to bludgeon churches and people into submission,” said Mary Roehrich of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Lionel Deimel of the Diocese of Pittsburgh said the Covenant will hinder the Episcopal Church.
“The Covenant seeks to wrest control of worldwide Anglicanism,” Deimel said. “The underlying purpose of the Covenant is to suppress change and to preserve a mythical biblical Anglicanism that never was.”
Eileen O’Brien of the Diocese of Texas said that, although she supports same-sex relationships, she still supports the Covenant. It is important that the Episcopal Church affirm what it can in the Covenant “for the sake of the church’s international witness,” she said. “If we say no, it matters how we say no,” O’Brien added.
Both those who supported and opposed adoption of the Covenant spoke in support of Indaba, as either an addition to or replacement of the Covenant. Indaba, an initiative that helps dioceses and provinces form “triangle relationships” with the intention of building connections and enriching conversation in the Anglican Communion, was prominent at the Lambeth Conference in 2008.
Tom Jackson, president of Oasis California, opposed adopting the Covenant and spoke in support of Indaba as an alternative.
“It’s time to put the Anglican Covenant out of its misery,” Jackson said. “We say yes to Indaba … but no to the Covenant. We say yes to cooperation, but no to the Covenant. We say yes to communion, but no to the Covenant.”
Indaba recently finished its pilot stage, and is now being adopted by more dioceses and provinces. The Rev. Tobias Haller said, Covenant or no Covenant, it is important that Indaba continues.
“It’s all about allowing our differences to empower us,” Haller said. “It’s what the Communion is all about.”