Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I will take the No Covenant Coalition more seriously when ...

... I find they are promoting in their own Anglican churches the dissolution of the constitution, canons and relational consequences of infractions of the canons and constitution in favour of walking together with common sense and some charity.

But until then I just see inconsistency when Covenant deniers (i.e. those who deny that the Anglican Communion should have a Covenant) are happy to serve in churches which impose requirements on them in regard to the conduct of ministry and the contours of belief.

[LATER: I stand corrected on an important aspect of the No Covenant Coalition website: it is against the currently proposed Covenant, not the possibility that there might be some Covenant or similar document enhancing our life as a Communion. It would be great to see an alternative proposal coming forward from such a grouping of concerned Anglicans. My suspicion is that if the Covenant is not adopted around the Communion then we will see no covenant or similar, and the Communion will continue talking itself into obscurity].


Suem said...

Hi Peter,
I thought the covenant was not suposed to be about imposing a law anyhow, nor about changing doctrines? It purports to be he opposite of a power structure,

"a covenant is not about taking power or earning wealth. It is about sharing, based on promises and commitment. In particular, it is about sharing life, love and friendship. We usually find this kind of relationship in a family."
(From Questions and answers about the Anglican Communion.)

Yet you seem here to be using the language of law and control (as does the covenant at points!)You also seem to suggest that your fellow Anglicans who disagree don't have a right to an opinion!!! At the least you are not willing to take that opinion seriously! Why? Because we will not say we are complete anarchists, you decree that we have forfeited the right to have an opinion taken seriously!!!

Well, that is entirely moderate of you! Now I feel entirely reassured that you won't disregard my hopes and fears when it comes to seeking mind!

"Covenant deniers"!!! Words fail me! Are we now to use a covenant (of life, love and friendship) as a basis to invent insults to hurl at each other?

God help us!

What else did you say "common sense and charity was it"? Yes please!

Howard Pilgrim said...

"Covenant deniers" are we now? That would put us on a par with climate change deniers, for instance? Let's see how this analogy works ...

Climate change deniers are so wedded to their viewpoint that they refuse to acknowledge the vast weight of evidence supporting the thesis that human activity is putting the planets ecosystems at risk.

Covenant deniers are so wedded to our viewpoint that we ignore the vast weight of evidence that ... What was that again? And what does it have to do with our tolerance of canons and constitutions extending only to provincial boundaries?

Rev. Ngira Simmonds said...

Kia ora Peter,

Have you thought about all the horrible things that happened to the Maori people?
1863 – Suppression of Rebellion Act: To punish Maori tribes for rebelling against the Government
1880 – Maori Prisoners Act
1887 – Native Land Act
1907 – Suppression of Tohunga act
1909 – Native Land Act
1928 РBenefits: Maori get half of what Pakeha are entitled to! (Is this because we are only half as human as Pakeha? The church by the way in the early days only paid Ṃori clergy half a stipend!)

Have you thought about Bastion Point? Or Parihaka? Or the Waikato land confiscation?
Maori were made slaves, taken to Dunedin to build the road, some died there in caves.

Have you thought about the murder of Te Reo Maori at the hands of Pakeha?
Have you thought about my people who were beaten physically for speaking their language?
My grandfather was beaten at school, by the Pakeha teacher, for speaking his language. He was told he can’t be who God made him to be, he has to be who the Pakeha wanted him to be.

Now let me start with the injustices in our Church!

Have you thought about why the sign at S. Johns College in Auckland is in only English?
Have you thought about why Maori are an afterthought to Pakeha Parishes?
Have you thought about why after the Christchurch earth quake when I went to a service in Holy Trinity Cathedral in Auckland, they only prayed for the Diocese of Chch and +Matthews?
This show’s that people aren’t aware of the Hui Amorangi o Te Wai Pounamu.
Have you thought about why Pakeha clerics often ask who is +Katene? They have no idea who he or any of the Maori Bishops are?

Even in our Church, Maori are still forgotten about.

I've lost my land, my language, my cultural practices, and the identity of my people!
All after my ancestors signed a ‘covenant’ in good faith with Pakeha. The Treaty of Waitangi was a covenant, and look at how well that went!

Do you think we want to sign another?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Howard and Suem,

"Covenant deniers' with respect to the No Covenant coalition is a simple statement of fact: those involved in the coalition are saying 'No' to the Covenant. (Or have I missed something? Are they not denying that there ought to be a Covenant?).

If you wish to draw an analogy between Covenant and Climate Change feel free to do so, but the analogy is not being drawn by me, and it doesn't make much sense. Climate Change is a claim about the facts of weather date. The Covenant is a proposal. Can't see the analogy there ...

Anglicans who disagree with me have a right to their opinion. I cannot see where I have said anything which denies that is so. Please think through what I am saying: it is difficult to take a viewpoint seriously when it is understood to involve an inconsistency. The No Covenant Coalition is not expressing a doubt or two about the Covenant: it is promoting the case that there should be no Covenant for the Communion.

I am raising the question whether this is consistent with their attitude to other Anglican documents pertaining to order and structure, specifically the constitution, canons of their own churches. If they have no problem belonging to churches with constitution and canons, why is their a problem belonging to a Communion with a Covenant (which, arguably, is a kind of constitution-lite document)?

Again, am I missing something about the consistency of the No Covenant Coalition?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ngira,
The injustices you mention (with a special ouch for forgetting +John Gray and Te Wai Pounamou at the recent service) are perpetrated by people who have forgotten the Treaty. They are not the result of the Treaty and they are judged from the perspective of the Treaty to be wrong.

I see the injustices you list, but I do not see how they amount to a reason not to pursue the Anglican Covenant.

Jon said...

I don't understand why you say the anti-Covenant crowd is inconsistent. Churches have the right, the obligation even, to impose discipline in order to maintain the integrity of the message to which they've been entrusted. The key difference between them and the pro-covenant crowd isn't the necessity for order and discipline but where the boundaries of the word "church" lie. Those in favor of the covenant believe that Church encompasses all who claim to Anglican. Those against believe church is an expression within national or cultural borders. In both cases, the operative view of church is institutional. Of course, church is not limited to the institutional, but it seems to me that for the church to be operative in other ways (mystically, sacramentally, communally, etc) it is probably best done by trusting in the faithfulness of its expression in local context and not seeking to impose universality in all aspects from a place of fear that someone might get it "wrong." Things of God bear good fruit, things not of God wither. God will judge, which frees of the need to do so.

Jon White

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jon
Rightly you raise the question of definition of church (Anglican variety) in respect of the question of inconsistency re Covenant for Communion and constitution/canons for member churches.

There is an insistence by some/many Anglicans that the Communion is not a 'church', let alone 'the Anglican church'. My question would then be, "Why not?" with supplementary question, "Surely not for fear that you might be called to account by an Anglican body greater than your own?"

I guess I am aiming more at the kind of talk which says "Covenant?! That's unAnglican. We Anglicans talk together and trust each other. We do not need bits of paper to hold us together." A talk which, I am arguing here, is disingenuous because that is only half the story of Anglican life in member churches, all of which have constitutions and canons.

Brother David said...

Peter, I think that you are playing a semantic game with us. The No Covenant Coalition is not so named because all of the folks involved are against a covenant for the Anglican Communion. The folks involved are against the proposed Covenant for the Anglican Communion. Two entirely different concepts.

We have examined the proposed covenant and found it wanting, not fit for purpose. And it is based on that finding, and nothing more, that we oppose the proposed covenant.

You may disagree with our finding that it is not fit for purpose, but it is time to stop misrepresenting what it is that we are about.

There may be folks who make up the Coalition who at this moment are not convinced that the Anglican Communion needs a covenant, but that is a different matter, and not what the Coalition is about.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David
That certainly clears a misunderstanding up. "No Coalitioners" are open to having an Anglican Covenant. I had not realised that. I had thought the "a Covenant is unAnglican" talk kind of precluded any Covenant. But, there you go, once again I am wrong.

Is the No Covenant Coalition working on a new draft of the Covenant?

Peter said...

Hi Peter,
I can see your keenness for this sort of analogy between local canonical and constitutional requirements and broader Communion wide Covenantal ones.
Unfortunately, the gaps there are quite large. At the moment what may get me ejected from a parish in Waiapu would have me welcomed warmly in Nelson (or Holy Trinity Tauranga) but I would still be Anglican - and the Canons would largely be ignored for the sake of personal theology. I could also affiliate myself with another, Anglican, Tikanga.
The Canons are important. That said what we have in this Province with our Three Tikanga governance system (the merits of which are another debate altogether) provides a safeguard from oppression from (the majority or whomever) the others (are).
As such I find Ngira's argument with regards to the context of the Church in this Province to be particularly relevant. To play with the language of climate change...why would I take seriously a Covenant Alarmist in this Province who is push for a mechanism to impose "relational" control when they belong to a Church which has already explicitly rejected this form of governance for itself?
Much peace,

Fr. Bryan Owen said...

Peter wrote: "'No Coalitioners' are open to having an Anglican Covenant. I had not realised that."

But you've made the case that the No Anglican Covenant Coalition's rejection of the proposed Anglican Covenant is not a rejection of a covenant per se, but rather an expression of support for a rival covenant to the proposed covenant. And I think you've persuasively made this case in at least two postings on your blog: Wrongly named international Anglican Coalition favours covenant and The annoying truth about the Anglican Covenant .

Rev. Ngira Simmonds said...

"The injustices you mention (with a special ouch for forgetting +John Gray and Te Wai Pounamou at the recent service) are perpetrated by people who have forgotten the Treaty."

You are right Peter!
So how long will it be until people forget the Anglican Covenant and injustices begin?

The Treaty was a bad experience for Maori. So we dont want to go into any other covenants/ treaty's.
What input have Maori had to the covenant?
How are our beliefs as Mihinare expressed in this document?
You know that my Hui Amorangi (Diocese) is inclusive and will allow anyone who meets our standards to be ordained. Sexuality doesnt matter.
How is this view represented in the covenant?

Te Manawa o Te Wheke is Anglican, and despite suggestions that we are not committed to the "listening process" we have listened to our people, who are called by God, and responed in a way that shows the love of Christ.
Sounds pretty Anglican to me...
So how will we be represented in the suggested covenant?


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryan
You are right ... I think the needed clarification is this: at this point in my ongoing reflections re the Covenant I am focusing on 'the (written) Covenant' and I am taking David in a comment above to be suggesting that the No Covenant Coalition is, in fact open to a (written) Covenant ... in the posts you are drawing attention to I am noting that an "unwritten Covenant" informs our life as a Communion.

Does that distinction make sense

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Peter,
I am a little confused by your post as at certain points you seem to be disagreeing with me and at others agreeing with me ... in my view constitution and canons are not the be all and end all of relationships in our church, but they are an important part; and, similarly, the Communion needs more than a written Covenant (but not less than it).

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ngira,
Tikanga Maori is a full strand of our three stranded church. If our church agrees to the Covenant it will only be with Maori support. The Covenant is designed to further the international fellowship of Anglicans and as such raises questions for peoples of diverse cultures and histories as well as offering hope for a better Anglican future for all Anglicans ... Maori can worry about their place in that future but they can also trust that if it is good for other Anglicans around the world it will also be good for them ... there are choices to be made. My hope is that we will make them prayerfully, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Andrew Reid said...

In some ways, the GAFCON movement has already proposed an alternative to the Covenant - ie the Jerusalem Declaration. It may not solve the organisational issues, but it at least provides a confessional basis for ministering together across the Communion. Their role now is to convince dioceses and provinces that it is a better way forward than the Covenant.
The No Covenant Coalition comes from the liberal end of the Anglican spectrum, and seems to think the current Instruments of Unity are sufficient to maintain Anglican unity and coherence. It's up to them to either prove that case, or suggest an alternative framework.
Best wishes,
Andrew Reid

liturgy said...

Greetings Peter

Following this thread, I have just checked the website, and it is perfectly clear they are against this particular Anglican “Covenant”. There is no hint that they would be against formalising every possible form of Communion-wide constitution – my understanding is that such working arrangements are already in place. Bryan has highlighted you yourself have written about this. I must say I am a bit taken aback when you write, “"No Coalitioners" are open to having an Anglican Covenant. I had not realised that.” David, Suem, Fr Ron, I, and possibly others that don’t spring to mind (sorry), have repeatedly said here to be open to some form of Communion-wide constitution. More than once it has been wondered what other episcopally-led communions have for a constitution to seek a tried way forward. I personally have objected to the term “Covenant” for this document and welcome Ngira’s critique. I strongly object to the sleight of hand of “we need a covenant” to “this is a covenant” to “we need this covenant”. I have, more than once, pointed out that it is not just “liberals” who think this thing just will not do the job – significant “conservatives” object strongly to it also – and I have provided reference for this. As to whether or not the Anglican Communion is a “church” or not – no it is not: that’s why we call it a “communion”.



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
I am pleased to stand corrected re the desire of those opposed to the present Covenant proposal to nevertheless have some new, improved means of defining who we are as a Communion, what we believe and how we may give account to one another.

That would be excellent!

My fear is that voting down the proposed Covenant will lead to no further work on a Covenant/constitution for the Communion.

Suem said...

I am glad to see you have explained your term "Covenant deniers". I would personally rather you dropped it. For a start it immediately reminded me, not of climate change deniers, but of "holocaust deniers" - in other words those who deliberately deny a known reality, or are blind to it because of their prejudices against Jewish people. Not nice to be labelled in a similar way to that! Also, as you now recognise, it is not a covenant per se, but the nature of it (especially section four and some other wording that most of "us" object to.) Having said that, I don't believe a covenant (without a major sea change in atttitude) will make a blind bit of difference anyway.

liturgy said...

And my fear is that voting in favour of the proposed Covenant will lead to no further work on a Covenant/constitution for the Communion.


Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, just in case you have not yet got the point about the 'NO COVENANT' protest. I have discerned that the movement was initiated in response to the continued, successive procriptive forms of the Covenant Document.

The Covenant was conceived as a tool of discipline by those in the Communion who wanted to legislate against initiatives to include LGBT people as members and clergy in the Church.

While Section 4 (of the final document) is still part of the Covenant process; there will continue to be a valid movement among Anglicans who do not want a Covenantal supervision from 'Head Office' on their legitimate provincial Gospel initiatives.

Brother David said...

I am pleased to stand corrected re the desire of those opposed to the present Covenant proposal to nevertheless have some new, improved means of defining who we are as a Communion, what we believe and how we may give account to one another.

Emphasis mine. You are still playing word games and taunting us Peter.

I do not have a desire for a covenant. Period.

I am not convinced, as you are, that we need a covenant. Period.

I am not convinced that a covenant would actually be a solution to what you see as the current problems within the Anglican Communion. Period.

But if someone, or better, a group of someones, especially a broadly represented Anglican spectrum, appointed group of someones, preferably appointed by the full AAC, came up with a proposal as a means of defining who we are as a Communion, I am not opposed to considering it. Period.

I am opposed to the currently proposed Anglican Covenant as not fit for purpose. I am presently only opposed to the currently proposed Anglican Covenant. Period.

Please put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David,
I don't smoke.
It is bad for my health.