July 6, 2012

Friday AM Report on Covenant Discussion

Mark Harris’s subcommittee met for about 45 minutes this morning. The chair wanted to make it quite clear that the group would not set a definite direction on the Covenant resolutions until after tonight’s hearing, but was “experimenting with possibilities.”

Two subgroups brought proposed resolutions to the meeting as they were requested to do yesterday. (See “Covenant Resolutions Under Consideration.”) The first was in the form of a new resolution titled “Reaffirming Life in Communion: Separate, Yet One.” Personally, I thought this resolution a fine basis for a resolution affirming our commitment to the Communion while maintaining real, not simply, pro forma, autonomy. It used the nice phrase “diversity and oneness” in its explanation. The resolution was well-received, but would have had to be put forward as a completely new resolution, for which there was little enthusiasm. The subcommittee decided that D008 could be used, preserving its title and incorporating some of the ideas in  “Reaffirming Life in Communion: Separate, Yet One.”

The subcommittee then moved on to the resolution on the Covenant itself, which Chariman Harris suggested should be based on B005. In fact, what came out from the small group working on this project was something more like B006 and would have commited the church to the adoption of  “an” Anglican covenant. (It was never clear whether “covenant” was capitalized.) Ian Douglas complained that the resolution did not look much like his own B005, though members of the group that had worked on the resolution said they did, in fact, consider the provisions of that resolution.

Concern was expressed that a resolution like the one just offered could not pass. (Chairman Harris spoke of “putting the skunk on the table.”) A quick straw vote indicated that the proffered approach would not fly among the group, much less before General Convention itself. This does not bode well for B006.

More discussion followed on various ideas, including that mentioning particular parts of the Covenant might encourage legislators to pick it apart. Arguments were also made for brevity, which might facilitate passage.

Mark Harris offered his own take on dealing with the Covenant, which would embrace the Preamble and Sections 1, 2, and 3, while appointing a task force for Section 4.

Near the end, Ed Little asked what I thought was really the key question, namely, what did the group want the General Convention to do. He would like to see the Covenant adopted, but would settle for having it not killed, certainly a rational strategy.

Clearly, the open hearing tonight will be very important, and serious work on Covenant resolutions can only move forward after that. That hearing happens at 7:30.


  1. The Episcopal Church has been under assault for years from both within and without by those favoring the Covenant. Why are we so reticent to politely say "We do not adopt the Covenant"? There is a time for restraint, and then there is a time to stand up and express who we are and what we stand for. We should be courteous and respectful but we should also be unafraid and unapologetic. Simply kicking the can down the road in hopes the unpleasantness will just go away is not the adult thing to do. Say no to the Covenant, and do so now.


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