After the change to the life of the Communion marked and underlined by last week's Primates' Meeting, it could be fantasy to think the Anglican Covenant now has a future, other than as a piece of paper read by fewer and fewer people and signed up to by even fewer member churches (three to date). But as the days have gone by I have been thinking that the Covenant has a future, and that future could be along two lines (or more).
Future number one is tenuous, but worth noting. If the Communion is melting down as well as unravelling, as messily as a bunch of mixed metaphors in the same sentence, then the Covenant immediately is irrelevant. On this scenario the messiness of the Communion's life gets worse and worse, but such messiness can come to an end. At some point in chaos people quest again for order. In a couple of decades' time, or maybe it will be five decades' time, Anglicans around the globe could get serious about living into an interdependent fellowship with mutual accountability. The Covenant will be sitting on a shelf ready to serve the purpose of putting in writing the nature of that new Anglican Communion.
Future two is realistic when we note the following current conditions: some member churches have signed it; despite the breaking up of the Communion re important meetings, no one (as we are constantly reminded) has any intention of resigning formal membership of the Communion; alternative networks of Anglican churches already exist (e.g. GAFCON, Global South). I suggest it is possible that the Covenant will commend itself to more than three member churches in the next few years as a document marking the aspirations of Anglicans open to both writing down what we believe as well as setting in motion a process of mutual accountability. As Communion life unravels but (on this scenario) does not become completely chaotic, groupings around shared common values may mean that member churches not drawn towards GAFCON or Global South and also not satisfied with 'independency' gather together around the Covenant as a basis for working together 'interdependently.'
Note in respect of the above paragraph that, just as GAFCON and Global South are not mutually exclusive Anglican networks, an Anglican Covenant network could overlap with those member churches whose bishops and primates continue to be willing to meet together at Lambeth Conferences and Primates' Meetings.
In an attempt to be clear, what I am not saying here is the following: I am not arguing that the Covenant, post last week's meeting, remains a key strategy for future restoration of Communion life. Not at all. (Also: before last week's meeting the Covenant was not going to 'fix' anything (that would require a prior willingness on the part of member churches to 'fix' things); after last week's meeting it absolutely will not 'fix' anything wrong with the Communion).
What I am suggesting here, as possible 'future two' for the Covenant, is that it offers a means by which some member churches in the Communion can express their commitment to a vision of global Anglican life as being marked by interdependency and mutual accountability. Whether the member churches signing up to the Covenant remains at three, increases to (say) ten or twenty is something I do not care to predict. I am willing to predict that all 38 member churches will not sign up to the Covenant within the next five years!
In short: I think the Covenant has a future in global Anglican life. But I am not quite sure what that future is.