October 10, 2011

Oklahoma Proposes a No Response to the Covenant

Diocese of Oklahoma seal
The Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma seems to have been particularly conscientious in developing a diocesan response to the Anglican Covenant. The procedure used by the diocese is described on its Web site as follows:
During the 2010 Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Edward Konieczny asked every church to take time to study the Anglican Communion Covenant and provide responses.  In the spring of 2011 the bishop formed an “Anglican Covenant Response Group” that would develop a “listening process” and form a proposed diocesan response.  The Rev. Dr. Mark Story, The Rev. Mary Ann Hill, Dr. Donna Farrior and The Rev. Dr. T. Lee Stephens were asked to serve in this capacity.  Their work was to be independent of the Bishop’s Office, but would provide a report to the bishop and the diocese

The Anglican Covenant Response Group arranged for a regional meeting in each quadrant of the state and two meetings in bothTulsaandOklahoma Cityfor a total of eight gatherings.  Each two-hour session had designated facilitators and listeners.  A study guide was provided along with background information on the Anglican Communion and the Anglican Covenant.  The listeners were charged with taking notes of the discussions which were used in forming the response.

The regional meetings were well attended by clergy and laypersons in each area.  The discussions were open, thoughtful and considerate.  In addition, various churches and groups submitted written comments and formal statements for consideration by the Response Group.  In the gathering and comparing responses from each of the meetings a consensus became apparent to the Anglican Covenant Response Group.  The following is a proposed response to the Anglican Communion Covenant from the diocese. The proposed response will be discussed at the Diocesan Convention in November.
The proposed response can be found here.

The proposed response is very respectful, but, in the end, firm in its opposition to the proposed Covenant. The introductory section of the document ends with this paragraph:
We must report, however, that the consensus opinion of those who participated in the conversations focused on discerning the Spirit's guidance for our Diocese and its relationship within the Anglican Communion believe that the proposed Covenant does in fact change the nature and the character of the Anglican Communion as we have known it. Therefore, speaking the truth in love, we must express our desire to withhold our consent in this final consideration of the proposed Covenant. We encourage a renewed focus on our common worship and mission in the Anglican Communion as an expression of the Body of Christ in the world today.
After brief commentary on the sections of the Covenant, the proposed response ends with this:
While we appreciate the best intentions and efforts of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Covenant Design Group as well as the conversations that have taken place around the world, we have found minimal support within our Diocese for the changes proposed in the Anglican Covenant. We are willing to wait and pray and trust in God that reconciliation will be achieved in due time.
Let us hope that the Oklahoma convention adopts this response next month.

1 comment:

  1. Lionel - our diocese (Waiapu - Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia) followed a similar listening process prior to our 2011 synod, and passed the following motion
    "The Diocese of Waiapu affirms its desire to remain a member of the Anglican Communion, valuing highly our common faith, mission, tradition and liturgy. We do not believe that the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant will enhance the life of the Communion and request that the General Synod/te Hinota Whanui declines to sign the Covenant." The motion was passed almost unanimously, having previously also been passed at all three regional conferences.

    At the same synod we resolved that "Given that Waiapu has followed a policy of sexual orientation not being a barrier to ordination; and given that there is not, and has not been, an agreed “moratorium” on ordinations of those in same-sex relationships; this Synod affirms that sexual orientation is not a barrier to ordination, and asks General Synod to move forward with the provision of an authorised liturgy for the blessing of same-sex relationships to be adopted by dioceses who wish to do so." - this was passed by 90% majority in both houses and supported by our diocesan bishop.

    Auckland and Dunedin dioceses passed similar motions, whereas Waikato and Wellington have supported adoption of the Covenant. See http://anglicantaonga.org.nz/News/TIKANGA-PAKEHA/Yes-and-no

    Kind regards, Stephen


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