People keep asking me about how this diocese dealt with the Anglican Covenant and whether or not we passed it.
Well, we were very faithful to the current processes of the church and engaged in quite a thorough consultation session at the diocesan synod on Saturday.
I had quite a lot of input into how the processes of this synod were to work and after it was done felt reasonably pleased with what we had managed to do. People kept telling me that they thought they had been consulted and that was exactly what we were trying to do. (NB I think it was a far better process than last year’s “Indaba” Process at the General Synod, but that’s another story).
The synod in G & G this year met around little tables in a large hall. This may seem like old hat to the good people of Edinburgh who have been meeting at tables for ages, but this was the first time it had been tried here. People were assigned to tables randomly, which meant that they were almost certain to meet and engage with people they did not know during the day.
When it came to the covenant debate, we asked each table to consider three questions which flashed up on the screens.
1 – What questions remain unanswered for you about the Anglican Covenant
2 – Would your table accept the Anglican Covenant? (Possible answers were Yes, No or Can’t Decide).
3 – What would you like the Scottish Episcopal Church to be saying to the Anglican Communion at this time.
After each question, Cedric (the Vice Provost) and I did a walkabout chat-show style consultation with people in the hall, going from table to table with roving microphones asking people about their conversations and conclusions.
It was a very revealing process. Rather like General Synod last year, people had come underestimating the strength of feeling against the Covenant. The presumption had been that it would have a fair bit of support but that there would probably be quite a few against. This presumption was wrong. There was a very small amount of support for it and an overwhelming number against.
We had 24 tables on the go discussing the thing. One table came out in favour, 19 were clearly opposed and the other few couldn’t come to a common mind.
By far the most interesting part of the discussion was the last question, I think. It was very clear that the Anglican Communion is very important to us. We want it. We love it. We are not prepared to throw away and discard the bonds of affection that hold us together in favour of a legal, punitive process.
The message from Glasgow and Galloway was very clear indeed.
We don’t want the Covenant. We do want the Communion.