I have steered well clear of all detailed debates about the Anglican covenant until now, mostly because I felt overwhelmed by the details and issues. But I've decided I can now face the debate, and need to get to grips with it seeing as how sometime this year I will debate and vote on our own pcc's decision.
So I have researched and read over the last weeks and here are some of my findings and thoughts.
For facts about the covenant, including the text itself, I recommend this document which provides the Anglican covenant, with a brief introductory explanation by the Church of Wales: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/covenant/docs/The_Anglican_Covenant.pdf
For comment and debate I have a few recommendations.
1. Here is a fabulous article on the covenant which is readable and explains my thoughts more clearly than I can
2. From the "no covenant" campaign website I have selected a few quotes that I agree with:
"Classic Anglican theology stems from the writings of the sixteenth-century theologian Richard Hooker, who argued that, in addition to scripture and tradition, we have reason to guide us.
With these three sources of authority, change becomes possible and proper as conditions and understandings change. Allowing a diversity of opinion allows us to explore new possibilities.
The main argument in favour of the Covenant is that it would prevent controversies being so bitter by establishing an international authority with power to decree Anglican teaching.
We believe that, on the contrary, it would encourage schism, because it would treat those who dissent from any such judgment as un-Anglican.
Instead we believe unity is best ensured by maintaining the classic Anglican position that diversity of opinion is a sign of a healthy community committed to seeking—but not necessarily always possessing—truth."
3. Thinking Anglicans provides links to all manner of views and writings on the covenant including this blog (part of a series) analysing section 3 http://alantperry.blogspot.com/2011/04/life-together.html
4. From the church times comes a special edition on the covenant with a balanced and wide range of views included http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/uploads/documents/Anglican%20Covenant_18%20March.pdf
So where am I now?
I am where I thought I was, where I expected to be, where I am now sure I belong...
- I like the idea of the covenant.
- I agree with the essence and principles contained in it.
- I long for community within the Anglican community (and wider if I'm honest, but let's not open up that can of worms)
I believe the Anglican communion to be a family, and I do not have a contract managing my relationships with my spouse, family and friends.
More than that, I remain in relationship with these people even though we do not agree on everything. We work at our relationships, we love each other despite our differences. We support each other and celebrate our strengths whilst helping with weaknesses.
So no, I don't agree with the covenant. But I very much support the Anglican communion; in relationship with each other and Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.
I found this prayer for unity, and it seems fitting to end with it.
Creator of the universe, who made us different from one another in myriad ways we can see and in more ways we shall never know, yet made us all in your image; fill our hearts with your love and our minds with your wisdom, that we may truly become brothers and sisters of your only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
—Prayer for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Anglican Cycle of Prayer, 2007, 2008