Here is my sense of where the blogosphere debate is at: Anglicans who want to be part of a Communion in which there is interdependence and mutual accountability for what it means to be Anglican, conceived on a reasonably broad basis (but not on an infinitely diverse basis), are fully committed to the Covenant. The outstanding, and powerfully inspiring sign is the indication that the Global South, some 20 provinces, will sign the Covenant. Anglicans who want the Communion to be something else - some kind of talking shop, for example, or who will not allow local autonomy to be compromised by anything, or, contrastingly, who want the Communion to be tighter in discipline and narrower in theological basis are fervently committed to not having the Covenant.
In short: the Communion as a viable, visible, non-vacuous entity will be a Covenanted Communion. Without the Covenant the slow break up of world Anglicanism will continue unchecked.
Question (pace Yeats): the centre ground of Anglicanism is crucial to the future of the Communion, but will the centre hold?
Challenging story of the week re our Anglican troubles: Gene Robinson blesses the partnership of two women. Here is life in TEC chugging along on an track further and further away from Lambeth 1998, Windsor, and the Covenant. Should we follow - especially we in the liberal West, alert and alive to the claims of fellow Westies to the rights and privileges of Western civilization? It is attractive to see the solution to our troubles as following Gene rather than resisting his agenda. But here is a little check on the spirit of acquiescence, courtesy of Stand Firm. It's a graph of the attendance, membership and giving of the church in which the blessing took place - the church where one of the woman used to be rector and where her successor is also a lesbian. According to the graph around 25 people regularly attend worship at the church and (I am guessing) their giving is not enough to sustain a full-time stipend for their rector. This neatly illustrates one of my great concerns about progressive Anglicanism: it leads to a tiny church, it does nothing to grow the church of God.
In other words, even were I as a conservative to grant that progressive Anglicanism is theologically correct, as an Anglican I reserve the right to be very anxious about whether progressive Anglicanism will grow Anglican churches or gut them. Not only in New Hampshire, but also in New Zealand the signs are that it is the latter and not the former.
But the New Hampshire story's challenges do not end there. Dissing this blessing (as conservative Anglicans are wont to do) and highlighting the statistical undergirding of concern about where a progressive Anglicanism might take us, does not inform our future that much. Somehow our future needs to be both firm in our commitment to an orthodox Anglicanism and fair to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in Christ. I do not have an easy proposal to offer. Do you?
JUST IN: Ruth Gledhill reports on the posting of a motion re the C of E and ACNA ... February's GS for the C of E will be riveting!