No to the Covenant from the Church of Englandshire!

I must admit to be rejoicing greatly at the news that a majority of dioceses in England have now voted against the Anglican Covenant. It cannot now return to the English Synod – well at least not for a few years. This vote kicks it into long grass until 2015 at least.

I have to admit that I have been surprised that this has happened. A year ago, I did not expect it. As time has gone on, it has become clear that support for the Covenant in England has been very flakey indeed. Particular congratulations to those who have been blogging against the covenant from the beginning and who saw the dangers before others did.

Though I may not have predicted this a year ago, I find myself looking back to a post I made a month ago regarding the Covenant and particularly Rowan Williams. Worth reading again, especially the final paragraph.

People have been asking me what this means for Scotland. Does it mean that we don’t have to discuss it at our Synod in June?

The answer to that is that we do need to discuss it in June as each Province needs to look at it in their own way and come to a conclusion.

However, it means that we can look at it in a different way. One or two people in Scotland have been very worried that if we said no to the Covenant and England had said yes, then it would have meant that we would move further apart and that it could result in clergy not being able to move easily between the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of England. I don’t think myself that was ever on the cards, but England’s no votes now mean that no-one can seriously present that as an argument.

It means more than ever that the responsibility comes to us to articulate what kind of communion we want and we don’t have to face the bullying of bishops and others from outside Scotland who have been trying to tell us that the Covenant is the only game in town. (Rowan Williams, I’m looking at you! Pay attention at the back!).

The Covenant is not the only game in town. And it seems clear to me it isn’t a game we have any interest in playing anyway.

The Church of England has shown in its processes over this that it still wants to be Anglican. It still wants to be a church where people can say no to things and not have them imposed from on high or from abroad.

We can, must and I am sure will make the decision to say no to the covenant ourselves.

No to the Covenant!

Yes to the Communion!

Glasgow & Galloway and the Anglican Covenant

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.