Communion Partner Rectors Ask Global South Anglicans to Endorse Anglican Covenant

Communion Partner Rectors Ask Global South Anglicans to Endorse Anglican Covenant

Apr 17

A fellowship of American Episcopal clergy is urging Asian and African Anglican primates to ratify a major proposal meant to increase unity and accountability among Anglicans divided over recent moral and theological innovations.

Representatives from 20 provinces of the 80-million member Anglican Communion meet April 19-23 in Singapore, where members of the U.S.-based Communion Partners Group recommend they  adopt the Anglican Communion Covenant, a document finalized last December and endorsed by  Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

The Covenant, promulgated in December 2009, comprises statements of faith, and of mutual commitments, which the Communion Partners rectors, in a statement, call “a constructive way forward through the present confusion and conflicts plaguing the Anglican Communion.”   Archbishop Williams describes the Covenant as neither a “constitution nor a “penal code,” but rather “a practical, sensible, and Christian way of dealing with our conflicts.”

The Communion Partners Clergy fellowship, representing 90 clergy and at least 75,000 communicants,  calls itself “a group of clergy who share a common commitment to the authority and traditional integrity of Holy Scripture, the creedal and historic faith, and orthodox theology,” committed to continuing membership in The Episcopal Church and the Communion as  a whole.

The Anglican Communion, a loose confederation of 38 national provinces, deriving its faith and worship practices from those of the Church of England, is the world’s third largest Christian grouping, after Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

Province leaders from the Global South – Anglicanism’s most fertile mission field, in terms of numbers growth – meet in April for the Fourth Global South to South Encounter for fellowship and reaffirmation of purpose.   The primates’ steering committee noted in December their desire to “affirm the Covenant as the basis in intensifying the ecclesial life between churches in the Communion, and explore ways churches should stand firm side by side in one spirit and with one mind for the faith of the Gospel of Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Covenant, initially proposed by Archbishop Williams, has evolved during several drafting processes as a document that reaffirms Anglicanism’s historic theological commitments at the same time that it sets up dispute-resolution mechanisms meant to lower tensions among Anglicans.

The covenant becomes operative for and among those provinces that endorse it by formal vote.  None has yet had time to act, though at least two American Episcopal dioceses – Dallas and Central Florida (Orlando) have adopted or affirmed the Covenant.