July 19, 2011

Everything You Need to Know about the Anglican Covenant on One Page

No Anglican Covenant buttonWearing my “No Anglican Covenant” button prompts many questions, the most common being “What does that say?” (My friends are polite enough not to invade my personal space and old enough to have trouble reading the button at a respectable distance.) When I tell them, the next question is usually “What’s that about?” That question cannot easily be answered succinctly.

I have been troubled by the lack of awareness of the Anglican Covenant among Episcopalians generally, despite the wealth of material about it on the Web and elsewhere. I expressed frustration over this in Pittsburgh in my post “Pittsburgh Diocese Unexcited by Covenant.”

My Facebook notice of my June 20 post attracted this comment from a friend who had clearly not gotten excited about the Covenant: “What is needed is an ‘Anglican Covenant for Dummies,’ maybe even an ‘Anglicanism for Dummies.’ I’ve been an Episcopalian since 1993, and I still don’t understand most of what Anglicans believe.”

There are, of course, lots of books both large and small that might qualify as “Anglicanism for Dummies,” though I am increasing becoming convinced that none of them will be satisfying to all, perhaps even most, self-described Anglicans. The world has been waiting patiently for “Anglican Covenant for Dummies,” however.

The world need wait no longer. The No Anglican Covenant Coalition has just published a one-page explanation of what the Covenant is, where it came from, and, unsurprisingly, why it should not be adopted. The document is titled “A Short Introduction to the Anglican Covenant.” Here is an excerpt:
Development of the Covenant resulted primarily from the growing discomfort of conservative Evangelicals in the Communion with “innovations” in Anglican churches—acceptance of divorce; ordination of women, gays, and lesbians; non-literal interpretation of Scripture; and, especially, the blessing of same-sex unions and the consecration of partnered gay bishops. Leading the disaffected were dissidents in The Episcopal Church in the U.S., who found allies in African and Asian churches, particularly in those countries where the founding influence was that of English Evangelicals. The dissidents settled on rejection of homosexual activity as their defining issue and, at the 1998 Lambeth Conference, passed Resolution I.10, which declared “homosexual practice … incompatible with Scripture.” Contrary to 130 years of Lambeth Conference tradition, Resolution I.10 has been touted as “the teaching of the Communion.”
“A Short Introduction” is ideally suited to duplication as a handout to groups large and small. It can be used as a conversation stater among those unfamiliar with the Covenant, as well as those who already know something about it. Despite its having being created by Covenant opponents, except for the final paragraph, the document is, arguably, substantially objective.

The news release from the No Anglican Covenant Coalition can be read on its Web site here. “A Short Introduction to the Anglican Covenant” is available as PDF files formatted for letter-size paper and A4 paper.

Update, 7/21/2011: “A Short Introduction to the Anglican Covenant” is now available as a more attractively formatted two-page handout. See the announcement on the Comprehensive Unity blog.

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