For what it is worth, here is my mover's speech:
"Madame President, and members of Synod. On the night before he died, our Lord Jesus Christ prayed strategically that his disciples ‘may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they may also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.’ [John 17:21]. In this prayer Jesus connects the communion within the Godhead with the communion of all believers and integrates it into an apostolic strategy for God’s mission to the world. Later, Paul writing to the Ephesians discloses the divine vision for the history of the universe when he says that God’s plan for the fullness of time is, ‘to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth’ [Ephesians 1:10]. Unity, harmony, fellowship and communion between Christian believers is not an optional extra but the heart and soul of the corporate life we are called to in Christ. It is vital to our witness to Christ and when we are divided we blight that witness and dishonour God.
The Anglican Communion Covenant is a document which sets out the possibility for a new development in building fellowship and communion between the member churches of the Anglican Communion. For over a hundred years the Communion was blessed with a common life which held together without much in the way of paperwork but with deep ‘bonds of affection.’ But in recent decades, and especially in the last decade, those bonds of affection have frayed, and relationships have broken down. Instead of strengthening our common life around the globe, we have worshipped at the altar of diversity. The prayer of Jesus that we might be one has been drowned out with assertions of the independence of member churches. Our rights to do what we see fit in our local contexts have replaced any sense of obligation to work with the divine plan for the unity of all things. In 1963 the Toronto Anglican Congress pressed on Anglicans the obligation in Christ of Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ. The Anglican Covenant is the Communion nearly 50 years later taking up that obligation and doing something concrete about it.
The Covenant consists of four sections: (1) Our inheritance of faith; (2) The life we share with others: our Anglican vocation; (3) Our unity and common life; (4) Our covenanted life together. In these sections we re-state what it means to be Anglican, we recommit ourselves to being a Communion of churches intent on being an expression of God’s one, holy, apostolic and catholic church, we express our commitment to the importance of all other Anglicans, we enter into ‘a voluntary commitment [by] all churches to listen to others before acting’ [Mark Chapman], and, finally, we recognise the need for mediation and conflict resolution when conflicts arise.
In 2010 our General Synod passed a resolution which approved in principle Sections 1-3 of the Covenant but raised a legal question about one aspect of Section 4. That legal question has not received a clear answer but it seems not to be a problem. General Synod also referred the whole Covenant back to each episcopal unit prior to the Covenant coming back to this year’s General Synod for adoption or not. Today we consider the Covenant knowing that friends and colleagues in other episcopal units and in other churches have rejected it, but also knowing that some member churches of the Communion have approved it, more in fact than have rejected it. I want to be quite blunt about my assessment of the rejection of the Covenant by those friends and colleagues elsewhere: I think they have either rejected a perception of the Covenant and not the Covenant itself, or they have asserted their independence as self-governing bodies without due consideration of the obligation in Christ for mutuality and interdependence in our life together. I want to suggest that we should consider the Covenant on its merits for ourselves whatever other bodies have made of it. I further suggest we consider whether or not the Covenant expresses a vision for relationships between churches in our international Communion of Anglican churches which is in accord with Christ’s prayer for unity. Today we ask whether this vision is our diocesan vision or not.
The Covenant is a challenging document because it does not only say things in the first three sections which nearly all Anglicans seem agreeable to; it also says in Section 4 that we should be accountable to one another for whether we uphold what we believe in common. It is on these matters of committing to listen to one another, being accountable to one another, holding in covenanted love for one another our catholic character as Christians that the Covenant is most controversial. In its fourth section the Covenant sets out a mechanism for resolving those occasions when listening, being accountable, and holding one another in covenanted love proves too hard and thus conflict arises. Section 4 has excited some as draconian in its punitiveness, concerned others about its alleged centralising tendency for the management of the Communion and angered others in its weakness as offering no real consequences for those who act in unAnglican ways. Stephen Kuhrt, writing recently on the Fulcrum website, said,
“No one on either side has yet been able to say how ‘a centralising strait jacket that will impair freedom and innovation’ can simultaneously be ‘a toothless proposal designed to produce constant dialogue and no action’.”I suggest that Section Four is pitched perfectly when it provokes such contrasting and counter-balancing allegations and accusations. Personally I have no problem with adopting Section 4. Today’s motion recognises the degree of controversy surrounding this section. It invites us to take a lesser step than wholly adopting Section 4 when it says in Part 3 of the motion, “Supports in principle the adoption of section 4.” We could amend this part of the motion by omitting the words “in principle”. I would support that. But let us discuss together whether the Covenant is our vision for Anglican global fellowship and see where that takes us.
I conclude with some words of St Paul: ‘Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind ... Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among you which is yours in Christ Jesus’ [Phil 2:2-5]"