Coalition calls for full and free debate on Anglican Covenant

Published January 1, 2011

Anglicans concerned about the draft Anglican Covenant have formed a new international coalition. About 1,000 strong, they appear to mean business. “This isn’t some sort of ecclesiastical Tea Party,” says the Rev. Malcolm French, the Canadian spokesperson for the No Anglican Covenant Coalition. Formation of the anti-covenant coalition was announced in early November. The group aims to promote discussion of both the pros and the cons of the draft Anglican Covenant. “These are smart people who have some serious concerns,” French told the Anglican Journal in an interview.In June, the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod approved study of the proposed covenant and requested materials to support that study. Through French, the coalition has requested that the national church develop materials that present the skeptics’ view of the proposed covenant as well as the positive view. “Let’s have a full and a fair and a free debate that really grapples with the issues,” he said.An Anglican Covenant was first recommended by the Windsor Report in 2005 as a way of achieving more unity throughout the worldwide Anglican Communion following division over the blessing of same-sex unions and consecration of bishops in same-sex relationships. A final version of the proposed covenant was sent out to provinces for consideration.According to French, the coalition began as a conversation among a few bloggers concerned that the churches in the Communion were moving toward approving the covenant without a full debate. French estimates the coalition has the support of about 1,000 people with a broad variety of opinion. Initially, the coalition urged members of the Church of England’s General Synod to vote not to continue considering the Anglican Covenant for adoption. When the synod voted in favour of continued consideration, the coalition’s English moderator, the Rev. Dr. Lesley Fellows, issued a statement expressing disappointment. She also vowed to continue to oppose the covenant in diocesan synods and at the next meeting of the General Synod.”Absolutely, there should be a debate in all the provinces,” responded Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, the Anglican Communion’s director for Unity, Faith and Order, in a telephone interview. “But debate the text as it actually is,” she told the Anglican Journal. In a written statement, she also explained that the covenant would monitor developments and has no power other than making recommendations or “proposing steps” that would “encourage discussion and discernment about disputed questions among the provinces, or, if processes of mediation have broken down, what the relational consequences might be.” Ω


  • Leigh Anne Williams

    Leigh Anne Williams joined the Anglican Journal in 2008 as a part-time staff writer. She also works as the Canadian correspondent for Publishers Weekly, a New York-based trade magazine for the book publishing. Prior to this, Williams worked as a reporter for the Canadian bureau of TIME Magazine, news editor of Quill & Quire, and a copy editor at The Halifax Herald, The Globe and Mail and The Bay Street Bull.

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