The Covenant Design Group has published a document “which sets out the responses of the bishops at the Lambeth Conference in their discussions of the St. Andrew’s Draft for an Anglican covenant,” an Oct. 22 news release from the Anglican Communion Office announced.
The 33-page Lambeth Commentary, compiled at the Covenant Design Group’s recent meeting in Singapore, was sent to all 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion “to assist in their discernment and response to the St. Andrew’s Draft,” the news release said.The provinces have until March 9, 2009 to respond to the St. Andrew’s Draft, which will also be sent to ecumenical partners of the Anglican Communion, inviting their reflections and responses
The Covenant Design Group says it hopes that the Lambeth Commentary “will stand alongside the St. Andrew’s Draft as a critique and as a stimulus for study and response..”
The idea for an Anglican covenant comes from the 2004 Windsor Report and has been supported by all the instruments of communion as a way for the Anglican Communion to maintain unity amid differing viewpoints, especially on human sexuality issues and biblical interpretation. The bishops attending the 2008 Lambeth Conference spent two days discussing the St. Andrew’s Draft – the second draft of the Anglican covenant that was released in February 2008.
“It is very important that [the bishops’] views are made available to the communion as the provinces assess the St. Andrew’s Draft,” said Archbishop Drexel Gomez, primate of the West Indies and chair of the Design Group, in an interview with the Anglican Communion News Service.
While there was a “surprisingly high degree of satisfaction” among the bishops with the current draft, Gomez acknowledged some concerns that arose at Lambeth with the part that “tries to express the interdependence that Anglican churches share around the globe.”
Archbishop Gomez said there was “a very high approval rating” for the ministry of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lambeth Conference, but he noted that the bishops raised questions “about the place of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), and there were a lot of questions about the role of the primates’ meeting in Anglican polity.”
The Covenant Design Group will meet in March 2009 to develop a new draft and prepare a report to the ACC for its May 1 to 12, 2009 meeting in Jamaica.Archbishop Gomez said he anticipates it would take three to five years for the provinces to sign up once a final draft was ratified by the ACC. “There is a strong feeling in some parts of the communion that the covenant, setting out our mutual responsibilities as a family of churches, needs to be in place as quickly as possible – although there are other voices which still believe we have a way to go before we arrive at a mature text,” he said.