No Anglican Covenant moderator Malcolm French and I attended a legislative subcommittee meeting at General Convention on Anglican Covenant resolutions this afternoon. (See my post “A Comparison of General Convention Resolutions on the Anglican Covenant.”) The subcommittee is chaired by the Rev. Mark Harris. This post is a brief report on that meeting.
First, it is fair to say that the subcommitttee is somewhat flummoxed by the fact that it is faced with so many and such diverse resolutions on the subject of the Anglican Covenant. There is no obvious way to combine the resolutions into anything like a coherent amalgam. Moreover, at least some members believe that any resolution likely to pass in one house is unlikely to pass in the other. In particular, it is thought by some that if a clear “no” resolution is passed in the House of Deputies, the resolution will not be accepted by the House of Bishops. (Such an opinion is, of course, speculation, and it is disputed by some folks outside of the World Mission Committee.)
In short, it seems to be the consensus in the subcommittee that neither a clear “yes” resolution on the Covenant nor a clear “no” resolution is viable. (It is clear, however, that the subcommittee contains members who are opposed to adoption as well as those favoring it.) Also, concern was expressed that a resolution with many separate provisions could become a target for contentious debate and amendment on each stipulation.
What is pretty much common among the resolutions, however, is an ongoing commitment to the Anglican Communion, although that commitment is expressed in different ways. Chairman Harris therefore suggested separating this notion from action on the Covenant itself. Thus, the group would provide General Convention with two motions, one expressing our appreciation for and intended support of the Communion, and another neither adopting nor rejecting the Covenant. It was not clear just what the second resolution would look like, but, one way or another, it would have the church kicking the Covenant can down the road for another three or six or God knows how many years.
Small groups were tasked with drafting each of the resolutions proposed by the chairman by tomorrow morning, when the group meets again. A public hearing on the Covenant resolutions takes place tomorrow night.