Thursday, December 22, 2011

Covenant 7 - No Covenant 1

Trusty Kiwi reporter, David Virtue, brings news that the support for the Covenant around the Communion increases even in this week before Christmas. The Southern Cone has voted for the Covenant. This is an interesting development because the Southern Cone is, shall we say, on the more conservative end of the Communion spectrum, and there are opinions aroundabouts that the more conservative are going to vote 'No Covenant'. Anyway, building on my post below about the count having been counted by Mark Harris as 6-1 in favour of the Covenant, I reckon it is now increased to 7-1.

Where is the overall count heading?

I suggest the more that sign up the more likely the C of E is to sign up: it would be doubly embarrassing not to sign up. Not signing would be against the lead of the ABC but it could also be against the tendency of the former colonies (NZ excluded!!). In any case there are plenty of positive reasons for the C of E to sign up to the Covenant. If the C of E signs up I suggest others will pick up on this cue, alongside the cue of the trend of 7-1.

But what about those likely to not sign up? My recent "6-1" post highlighted the possibility that Australia would join ACANZP and TEC in not signing. ACCan is hard to predict - lots of reasons to think it will follow the lead of its sister church below the border, but it has so far shown itself to be somewhat canny in its bending with its discernment of the mind of the Communion. The 'hardcore' GAFCON churches might not sign, but even that is not, in my view, a foregone conclusion. Take Nigeria, for instance, with its CANA branch in North America, itself also part of ACNA: it cannot be unaware that CANA is part of giving ACNA Anglican 'legitimacy' as part of the Communion (albeit a 'legitimacy' not much recognised outside of the conservative end of the Communion spectrum). There is a logic here which leads to the conclusion that in the end Nigeria will sign to the Covenant in order to maintain its Anglican credentials. One might then apply similar logic to Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda.

So, in my view, 35-3 is not inconceivable. Realistically this one and that one will surprise us (one way or another) and the final count could be 31-7 or 30-8. Or some other figure if there are abstentions.

Incidentally I said earlier this week that my view is that the Covenant needs 80% minimum support to be  workable in the life of the Communion. That means a 31-7 vote or better (30-8 is 78.9% support for the Covenant).

And, I agree with those who say the vote of the C of E is decisive: a no from the C of E would make a nonsense of the Covenant as a Communion document.


Father Ron Smith said...

A not unexpected move, Peter, on the part of the southern Cone - after withdrawing it's tactic of invading the north american Provinces - in order to be able to claim itsel;f to be 'Not Guilty' of the Windsor Moratorium that declared 'Border Crossing' to be one of the problems in the communion.

This cynical ploy ought to be seen for what it really is - the chance to avoid discipline for a breach of the 'Rules' while holing other (liberal Provinces) to be guilty of a similar breach. Very Tricky! And not too conducive to Unity in the Anglican Communion!

Bryden Black said...

You mention, Peter, the CoE. Of no little interest and some possible importance is this:

Andrew Reid said...

I must confess to being extremely surprised by this result! I'm glad you didn't take me up on my Mitt Romney $10K bet, Peter :)

Given the Southern Cone primate sits on the Primates Council of GAFCON, you would question if those two postions weren't contradictory. On one hand, they are supporting an alternative structure withiin the Anglican Communion which has published its own confessional basis for the future of the Communion. On the other, they are supporting a covenant which proposes a different confessional bais, combined with historical elements, as the basis for the Communion, and strengthens the role of the current Instruments of Communion. God bless them and I'm sure they thought and prayed hard about it, but I imagine it will come as a great surprise also to many of their GAFCON partners.

Just to extract a quote from GAFCON's Nairobi meeting in May:
"We believe that the theological principles outlined in the Jerusalem Declaration offers the only way forward that holds true to our past and also gives a sure foundation for the future."
If the other GAFCON primates believe their own statement, I can't see them adopting the covenant. They see themselves as authentically Anglican by virtue of their adherence to Anglican faith and practice, not by Covenant participation or even connection with Canterbury.

You're right, Peter, that the Covenant has certainly moved from being dead on arrival to having a fighting chance, especially if the CofE adopts it early next year.

One of my side interests is elections and electoral systems, so indulge me in a bit of number-crunching.

Already Yes (7):
- South East Asia, Ireland, Southern Cone, PNG, Burma, Mexico, West Indies
Probably Yes (2):
- Indian Ocean, Southern Africa
Maybe Yes (9):
- England, Hong Kong, North India, South India, Japan, Korea, Melanesia, Scotland, Wales
Total Yes - 18

Already No (1):
- Philippines
Probably No (14):
- Australia; Aotaeroa, NZ & Polynesia; Sudan; TEC; Canada; Central America; Congo; Kenya; Nigeria; Rwanda; Sudan; Tanzania; Uganda; West Africa
Maybe No (6):
- Bangladesh, Burundi, Central Africa, Cuba, Jerusalem & Middle East, Pakistan
Total No - 21
(NB - I haven't included the extra-provincial churches e.g. Ceylon, Spain, because I wasn't sure about whether they can adopt the covenant on their own or come under Canterbury. Somehow my province total is 39 compared to your 38 Peter. Am I miscounting?)

Even if all the "Maybe No" group voted for the Covenant and none of the "Maybe Yes" went the other way, the total would become 24-15, which still doesn't meet your 80% benchmark. The only way I can see it reaching that benchmark is if the CofE adopts the Covenant and this creates an irresistible momentum for adoption.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrew
On the facts of membership of the Communion: this site,, lists 34 member churches plus 4 union churches, which is my 38; plus six further churches (extra-provincials etc, which would not seem to have a vote).

I think the difference between you and me on the counting is that (a) I am counting with the actual decisions as they come in; (b) in my predictions of definite 'noes' I am being a bit conservative, only assuming as 'noes' those who have already harrumphed and telegraphed their future decision (like my church); (c) I am allowing for the moving train effect of the 'ayes' giving pause for reconsideration for those who might have said 'no.'

But the thing is: I have always been of the view that I could be wrong, the Covenant will not succeed, etc. So you could be right.

Peter Carrell said...

Andrew, a further comment:

Your number prediction is 24-15 (except it is about 38 members, so let's call that 24-14. If just seven of the fourteen vote 'yes' then my 31-7 (minimum required for workable Covenant) is reached. Among your likely 'noes' I see some who may yet surprise us ... and Southern Cone may be the pointer to take note of :)

Father Ron Smith said...

I do love that term harrumph, Peter. And I'm glad you see it as applying to 'your' Church (and mine) in Aotearoa/New Zealand. My loyalty to ACANZP is undaunted - even if it is accompanied by an harrumph!

Leonard said...

The clinging reach of border crossing priests who are ¨licensed¨ by the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone are legion...perhaps the PB of the Southern Cone, or even +Frank Lyons one of the greatest pirates of other peoples parishes might wish to comment on why Southern Cone licensed priests can´t ¨let go¨ of other peoples property? This shell game is absurd and worse, dishonesty at Church.

Father Ron Smith said...

Hi, Leonardo, and welcome to this blog. I do need a bit of moral support from someone here. My prayer is that the C.of E. chucks out the Covenant process, which would be against the C.of E.'s own sovereignty as the Established Church in England. It already has enough to cope with -having A.M.i.E as an interloper.
And if the C.of E. chucks it, the Covenant really is a 'Dead Duck'!

A Blessed Christmas to you & yours.