The 2012 General Convention of The Episcopal Church will need to deal with the Anglican Covenant. It can accept it, reject it, or do something else. As most readers of this blog know, I believe that our church should decline categorically to adopt the Covenant.
What, exactly, the General Convention says will matter, however. Moreover, the need to deal with the Covenant provides an opportunity for the church to take a stand against the injuries and indignities it has suffered in recent years at the hands of the people and churches of the Anglican Communion.
No doubt, many resolutions will be proposed to deal with the Covenant, but I know of no resolution that has yet been offered publicly. Below, I suggest such a resolution. The likelihood that it will be adopted, or even make its way to the legislative floor, is essentially zero. It may, however, get people thinking more deliberately about what sort of resolution might be appropriate and why. I believe it is important for us (and for the Communion) to understand our current situation and what has happened to our church along the way..
I will not attempt an explanation of all the provisions of this rather long resolution, but I should explain the 4% figure that occurs in the fifth resolved clause. The number is a generous calculation of the percentage of Episcopalians among the world’s Anglicans (3 million / 80 million, rounded up). The Episcopal Church has been bankrolling the Anglican Communion at a much higher level than this and has mainly been repaid with grief and abuse. Stewardship of our very limited resources demands an adjustment, whether the one I have proposed or one more or less drastic..
I invite your comments and discussions here and elsewhere. Figuring out how The Episcopal Church responds to the challenge of the Anglican Covenant should not be left exclusively to a committee, perhaps not even to convention deputies.
Proposed Resolution for General Convention 2012
Whereas this Church, over most of its history, has experienced the Anglican Communion as a useful vehicle for consultation and coöperation; and
Relation to the Anglican Communion
Whereas churches, bishops, and bodies of the Anglican Communion have, in recent years, shown unjustified hostility to this Church by various actions, including, but not limited to
- Declaring impaired or broken communion with this Church;
- Declaring episcopal oversight of individual parishes of this Church by foreign bishops without consultation with the local ordinary;
- Attempting the appropriation of financial, real property, and other assets of this Church while, at the same time, condemning this Church for availing itself of its only available recourse, namely, the civil courts;
- Establishing competing ecclesiastical jurisdictions within the geographic boundaries of dioceses of this Church;
- Encouraging the development of a church intended to compete with or replace this Church in the Anglican Communion;
- Repeatedly making demands of this Church affecting its internal governance without warrant;
- Failing to respect properly adjudicated depositions of clergy of this Church;
- Removing, without consultation or recourse, members of this Church from Anglican Communion bodies to which they had been duly appointed;
- Failing to accord the Presiding Bishop of this Church appropriate and unambiguous acknowledgment of her episcopal status;
- Refusing to take communion with the Presiding Bishop of this Church;
- Mistreating other ministers of this Church in discriminatory ways based on their gender or sexual orientation;
- Requesting that representatives of this Church “voluntarily” absent themselves from meetings of Anglican Communion bodies;
- Failing to acknowledge or demand redress for the aforementioned indignities, insults, and lapses of Christian charity against this Church and its members; and
- Proposing a Covenant whose effect would be to limit the autonomy of this Church and to sanction interference in its internal affairs by the Anglican Communion;
Therefore, be it
Resolved, that it is the understanding of this Church that membership in the Anglican Communion is not essential to its existence, its Anglicanism, or its Gospel mission in the world; and be it further
Resolved, that it is nonetheless the desire of this Church to continue its participation in the Anglican Communion, understood as a fellowship of autonomous, autocephalous churches whose history can be traced to the Church of England; and be it further
Resolved, that it is the understanding of this Church that its continued membership in the Anglican Communion is incompatible with the concurrent membership of other churches that claim jurisdiction over any area within the geographic boundaries of any diocese of this Church; and be it further
Resolved, that it is the understanding of this Church that no person, committee, commission, church, or ecclesiastical body not part of this Church has any authority over this Church, its dioceses, its clergy, its parishes, its missions, or its members, except insofar as such authority has been granted by this Church in accordance with its Constitution and Canons; and be it further
Resolved, that this Church provide no more than 4% of the administrative expenses required for the maintenance of the Anglican Communion, which limitation does not include funds required to support travel of members of this Church for participation in Anglican Communion meetings; funds directly supporting evangelism, relief, and development; or other expenditures as may be authorized by the General Convention of this Church; and be it further
Resolved, that because this Church believes the so-called Anglican Communion Covenant to be contrary to Anglican theology and tradition, it declines to adopt the Covenant and urges other churches of the Communion to do the same; and be it further
Resolved, that it is the understanding of this Church that its membership in the Anglican Communion is unaffected by its failure to adopt the Anglican Covenant; and be it further
Resolved, that nothing in this resolution is intended to modify or to abrogate any bilateral agreements made by this Church, its dioceses, or its parishes insofar as such agreements are consistent with the Constitution and Canons of this Church
Update, 9/28/2011: I have now posted a revised (and, I think, properly formatted) resolution here.