Let me begin by welcoming the new site and its backers to the discussion of whether the proposed Anglican Covenant is a good or a bad thing for worldwide Anglicanism. I believe that a promising future for the Anglican Communion is only possible through real engagement in open and frank discussion. It is my hope that Yes to the Covenant will contribute to that conversation. There has, after all, been all too much talk of the Covenant’s being “the only way forward;” that, having seen the Covenant this far to implementation, it is somehow disingenuous to back out; and that we cannot discomfort or embarrass the Archbishop of Canterbury by subverting the program he has so arduously championed.
According to the new site’s Who are we? page, the people behind the site are Prudence Dailey, a lay member of the General Synod from Oxford, and the Rev. David Harris, who is Vicar of St. Giles, Reading, a parish in the Diocese of Oxford. Taking a page from the No Anglican Covenant Coalition, Yes to the Covenant, already has its first Patron, the Rt. Rev. John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford.
The new site is attractive, but, perhaps not surprisingly, a bit thin on content. What content there is is disappointing. For example, on the page titled “Why we need a Covenant,” we find this:
Unlike some other Churches, the global Anglican Communion does not have any central authority structure. It is, nevertheless, considered to be a worldwide Church with, for example, interchangeability of Orders between the various Provinces.No! The Anglican Communion is not considered a church, no matter how many times Rowan Williams uses the phrase “Anglican Church.” In fact, many of us who value the Communion do so in part because it is not a church, but a communion (or fellowship) of autonomous churches. Yes to the Covenant, however, laments that Anglicanism is not “a single global entity.”
Another page on the site, titled “Why support the Covenant?” repeats all the lame arguments the No Anglican Covenant Coalition has been fighting against since its inception:
- [B]ecause its [sic] the only game in town. We are again told that there is no alternative. This is complete nonsense
- We can’t turn our backs now. Apparently, if one runs toward the edge of a cliff, it is unfair to the cliff to think better of one’s path of destruction. The Covenant never was a good idea, and more and more people are beginning to realize that. The message of Yes to the Covenant, however, is don’t worry your pretty little head about the Covenant.
- Finally, there is this: not quite don’t hurt the Archbishop of Canterbury’s feelings, but certainly—U.K. readers may not get this reference—Father Knows Best:
Since Rowan Williams know better than any of us, why don’t we simply declare him the Anglican Pope! The Why Support the Covenant? page, alas, seems a parody of what a pro-Covenant site should look like. The Onion would be proud to be its author.We don’t have to do what the Archbishop of Canterbury tells us, but we do have to accept that his priority is trying to hold the Communion together, and that he has a global view that most of us lack. We should therefore at least listen to him.
The most sustained argument on the new site is on the FAQ page. I’ll spare my readers a full rebuttal to this little essay, but I cannot let this sentence go unremarked upon: “It would be a mistake not to give the Covenant a chance, just because it can’t solve all our problems.” I would argue not only that the Covenant will not solve all our problems, but also that it will create new ones. It will virtually guarantee the split of the Communion into two tiers, which, I predict, will effectively become two communions. Perhaps it would be best just to split up now and be done with it.
Finally, Yes to the Covenant offers More online resources. There aren’t many resources here. There are links to the Covenant text and to the January 10, 2012, letter from Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba. There are also three links to the Fulcrum Web site, suggesting perhaps that Fulcrum is behind Yes to the Covenant.
The Yes to the Covenant folks claim to be “[s]erious about uniting Anglicans worldwide.” I will take them at their word but point out that serious is not enough.