GC2012: House of Deputies Affirm Anglican Communion, Reject Anglican Covenant
Michael Heidt in Indianapolis
July 10, 2012
Following debate on resolutions D008 and B005 in the House of Deputies of the General Convention, the Episcopal Church looks set to affirm its commitment to remaining in the worldwide Anglican Communion, while rejecting the Anglican Covenant.
D008 proposed that the Episcopal Church promote, celebrate and support and be a "constituent part" of the Anglican Communion, while recognizing that the Communion is a diverse group of churches that are "bound together in our differences." The resolution praised the "Indaba listening process", in which Anglicans are encouraged to listen to each other's differing opinions on sexuality issues, such as same-sex blessing.
Most deputies spoke in favor of the resolution, believing that "being at the table" of the Anglican Communion was beneficial to the Episcopal Church. The resolution passed by a voice vote. B005 was more controversial and touched on the proposed Anglican Covenant, which is a statement of belief with some disciplinary measures that would hold the various churches of the Anglican Communion accountable for their actions. The Covenant was born out of a desire to preserve Anglican unity in the face of unilateral actions that went against Communion consensus, such as same-sex blessings.
B005 proposes that the Episcopal Church "decline to take a position on the Anglican Covenant at this Convention," though it recommends the Executive Council to monitor its developments and report back to the 78th General Convention in 2015.
Some deputies thought that this was asking too much, and spoke in favor of an amendment which would have ended further engagement with the Covenant process. Deputy Lee of the Diocese of Colorado expressed the spirit of the amendment, stating, "The proposed Covenant is dead and needs to be buried."
Others disagreed, believing that it was important to remain in dialogue with the rest of the Communion and the amendment was defeated. Debate on the resolution continued, with a deputy from the Diocese of Connecticut stating that the church "had spent a great of time on the Anglican Covenant, and that "it has long been clear that this body would not endorse the Covenant."
However, after stating that many Provinces of the Communion had rejected the Covenant, the deputy from Connecticut argued that "we need to send a clear message that we want to be at the table" because "we still walk the path of Nicene Christianity in the Anglican tradition."
After a recess, debate resumed with clerical deputy Grey from the Diocese of Massachusetts urging the House to "kick the Anglican Covenant can a little further down the road." Fr. Grey reminded the deputies that while "there are Provinces who have rejected the Covenant, there are those who haven't." According to Fr. Grey, "Covenant Provinces" include what he described as "moderate Anglican Provinces" in Africa. "GAFCON hasn't," he said. GAFCON stands for Global Anglican Future Conference and represents many of the Anglican jurisdictions worldwide who are in favor of biblical orthodoxy.
The resolution passed by a voice vote and will now go to the House of Bishops for approval.
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