Canadians consult over Anglican Covenant

From Feb. 7 to 8, 11 Canadian Anglicans met in Winnipeg to discuss the second draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant, a document that presents affirmations and commitments about the identity and interdependence of the Anglican Communion’s 38 provinces. The Anglican Covenant is an initiative of the Anglican Communion Office and was originally proposed in the 2004 Windsor Report.

The following people serve on the Canadian Anglican Communion Working Group:
The Right Rev. George Bruce, Diocese of Ontario
The Rev. Canon Allen Box, Diocese of Ottawa
Ms. Caroline Chum, Diocese of Moosonee
The Right Rev. Jim Cowan, Diocese of British Columbia
The Rev. Canon Maureen Crerar, Diocese of Edmonton
The Ven. Peter Fenty, Diocese of Toronto
The Right Rev. Colin Johnson, Diocese of Toronto
Ms. Suzanne Lawson, Diocese of Toronto
The Very Rev. Iain Luke, Diocese of Athabasca
The Right Rev. Sue Moxley, Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island

Staff support included the Rev. Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, director of Faith, Worship, and Ministry for General Synod.

The team reviewed the second draft (known as the St. Andrew’s draft), which was issued Feb. 6, 2008. They discussed whether responses from the Canadian dioceses were addressed, and then produced a list with these categories: “yes,” “somewhat,” and “needs more work.”

Bishop Bruce will now write a report on their findings for the Canadian House of Bishops. The Canadian bishops will be encouraged to consult with their dioceses, so they can express these ideas when the covenant is next discussed at the Lambeth Conference, the once-a-decade meeting of all Anglican bishops in July 2008.

The Canadian consultation is just one part of an ongoing Communion-wide consultation. The first draft was written in Nassau, Bahamas, in Jan. 2007, and it could take up to 2013 before the covenant is finalized.

“This is going to take a lot of time,” said Eileen Scully, consultant for Worship, and Ministry at General Synod and a member of the Covenant Design Group, the team that wrote the second draft in London Jan. 28 to Feb. 2.

“[The consultation process] is engaging provinces and instruments of communion, and it is not reacting to a culture of anxiety and fear and the need to solve problems immediately,” said Dr. Scully. “It’s taking very, very seriously that Communion is a gift from God and we live in a paradox of being autonomous churches in communion with each other. We need to tend to how the spirit is leading and tend to each other in the process.”

At its London meeting, the Covenant Design Group considered 13 official responses from provinces, as well as six from extra-provincial churches and a number of individual responses.

Dr. Scully said that major changes in the second draft included grounding the affirmations in documents that all provinces agree to, like the Lambeth Quadrilateral, an agreement on Anglican identity. The second draft also moved away from granting any enhanced authority (in juridical executive power) to existing parts of the Anglican Communion. Dr. Scully also said that there was an increased emphasis on the mission of the church and ministry of lay people and synods.

After the covenant is discussed at the Lambeth Conference, bishops’ remarks will be passed back to the Covenant Design Group. Dr. Scully is currently writing a study guide with other members of the design group to help bishops analyze and respond to the covenant.

The Covenant Design group will next meet in Singapore to write the third draft, which will be circulated publicly. Responses will be encouraged from the provinces, and the third draft will be presented at the Anglican Consultative Council in May 2009. The consultative process will help shape a fourth draft, which will again circulate. At this point it is hoped that provinces will indicate whether or not they can endorse the Anglican Covenant.

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