Latest official response from the Scotland to the Covenant proposal

The Faith and Order Board of the Scottish Episcopal Church has published a response to the St Andrews Draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

You can read it all here.

Its about Human Rights, Rowan

I’ve refrained from commenting much on the Lambeth Conference as there has not been anything official to react to and media reports do not give a good flavour of what is essentially a closed event.

However, now we have a published address from Rowan Williams.

At first sight, it seems reasonable enough. Indeed, he is making an honest attempt to hear and articulate the feelings and emotions of two hypothetical voices on either “side” of the debate.

The fact is, it is the conception of the Communion as having these two sides that is the real problem.

I don’t actually think that the attempt to sum up the “liberal” side comes anywhere near to my position at all.

The things is, its all about human rights, Rowan. This is not just about the rights of gay and lesbian people in the US, it is about all of us. It is about the rights of people in all parts of the world to self expression, to practise their religion, to live freely with dignity before God. It is about the whole people of God, (you know, the laos, you must have heard of it, you’ve read a bit of theology) being able to speak in decision making in the church. It is about women and men being treated as equal human beings. It is about the western church standing up for persecuted brothers and sisters wherever they are. It is about having the confidence that Muslim and Anglican can live together in the same street and not attack one another.

Sometimes, that means standing up to bishops, such as condemning the inflamatory remarks made by Akinola connected with inter-religious rioting in Nigeria. We’ve not yet heard any condemation from the Lambeth Conference of the circumstances which caused the UK Government to offer policial assylum to a gay Anglican this week because of the violence and persecution he could expect from his home church. That shames the whole church.

It is only when a human rights agenda gets woven into all of this that there will be dignity for all those affected.

We need human rights missionaries. We need to interfere in other jurisdictions until all God’s people are free and safe in their societies and in their churches. We need to set those high, inclusive moral standards amongst all Anglican peoples. That Covenant you are suggesting is not a patch on that vision. It is a step in another direction altogether.

Any covenant which allows anything less than treating all the baptised as equally enriched and empowered by the potential of God’s grace will result in non-juring Episcopalians again in Scotland. That would be communion breaking, not communion making. You might have some problems with it even closer to home than Scotland too.

What is proposed is not a solution. What is proposed is the problem.

Pre-Synod Meeting

Crossed to the dark south side of the city last night for our pre-synod meeting. This is where General Synod members from the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway go through the synod agenda and mull it over before actually going to synod to do the business in a fortnight.

This year promises to be quite a technically complex synod. There are a lot of changes to canon law being considered and it seems that we are not all of one mind about them all.

There seemed to be quite a small turn-out last night, which is a bit worrying. I find it immensely helpful to hear what others from the diocese think before actually going to synod. There are always views that you don’t expect to hear and it is fascinating hearing people try to articulate why they do or do not agree about things.

This year there are several obvious points of interest. Canonically, we are looking again at congregational status. The idea is that Independent congregations would become incumbencies, those who are priests in charge would all become rectors and as if by magic sleight of hand, it will then be possible to link congregations together in a sensible way. I approve of the latter strongly, but find it hard to understand why all the changes are necessary.

There is a similar complex issue about the church trying to identify who its members are. This sounds easy, but the truth is, we have little idea. Not everyone who thinks of themselves as an Episcopalian appears on any church roll. Not everyone who appears on a church roll thinks of themselves as belonging to the Episcopal church. Trying to sort this out brings about new anomalies.

Then there is a debate to be had about Local Collaborative Ministry and related matters. My latest on this is that I believe in an increasingly participatory ministry but am not yet convinced by the Whole Total Full Body Ministry of All the Baptised People of God.

And finally, we are getting a real substantive vote on the Anglican Covenant proposals. Motion 3 this year is stated thus:

That this Synod affirm an ‘in principle’ commitment to the Covenant process at this time (without committing itself to the details of any text).

This is going to be difficult. I suspect that like a lot of people who will be at synod, I want to vote for the motion which follows this one, which commits us to engage in the processes of the Communion by discussion and debate. But do you think my arm is going in the air to vote in principle in favour of the Covenant process?

Not in my name, Bishop Rowan. Not in my name.

I wonder whether we might be able to find an amended text for Motion 3 that will keep the church together and which we could all vote for.