An Anglican Covenant - Consultation Paper

 

Joint Standing Committee 'Towards an Anglican Covenant' A Consultation Paper on the Covenant Proposal of the Windsor Report

Who will be responsible for the preparation of a draft text?
How will the Provinces and Instruments of Communion be participants in the generation of a text?
What method of implementation will be adopted, or how might this method be best discerned?
What sort of timetable is desirable for the covenant project?

Developing the Covenant

  1. What process should be used to take forward the Covenant proposal? The Lambeth Commission suggested a `long-term process, in an educative context` for any debate and agreement on a Covenant: discussion and approval of a first draft by primates; submission to each church and ACC for consultation and reception; final approval by primates on behalf of the Provinces; legal authorisation by each church for signing; and solemn signing by the primates in a liturgical context (TWR, paragraph 118). This, or a modified version of it (as follows), would be an obvious way forward. A timetable has to be set for each phase.

  2. There would seem to be five essential actions necessary to the process:

    • formulate a draft;
    • test the draft;
    • agree the text;
    • implement the text; and
    • monitor its implementation.

    The Lambeth Commission considered that `it is imperative for the Communion itself to own and be responsible for the Covenant` (TWR, paragraph 118). This represents a key imperative for each stage of the process. Any process by which a possible Covenant might be formulated, tested, agreed, implemented and monitored should of itself be an act of communion so that in the fullest sense the instrument is made by and for the Communion. Consequently, the process ought to be characterised by collaborative dialogue, equal participation, and transparent objectivity. Thought is needed to ensure a balance between the promotion of particular interests and shared common interests.

  3. Phase I. Initial Formulation (1 Year): Of several possible approaches to drafting, the most obvious for task completion, and probably most cost-effective, and that adopted by the JSC at their meeting, is to establish a small covenant drafting group (CDG): perhaps ten members reflecting diversity in the Communion as to geography, culture and church tradition. JSC resolved that the Archbishop of Canterbury should appoint such a group in consultation with the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion. Its function is to formulate a draft or a number of draft options accompanied by an explanatory text (to include the cases for and against such draft(s) and how the draft(s) would work in practice). In the meantime, it is intended that this paper should be used as the basis of an initial informal consultation, inviting input from interested parties especially other Communion bodies (eg IATDC, IASCOME, ACLAN, ecumenical commissions, the Global South). CDG is asked to submit preliminary work on a draft or drafts to a joint meeting of the JSC and the Primates in early 2007.

  4. Phases II-III. Testing-Agreement (3-5 Yrs): If JSC and the Primates accept the proposals of the CDG, JSC intend to circulate the document to the Provinces, asking them (i)to invite comment from within that church; (ii) to collate the feedback and (iii)to return this to the CDG to consider the feedback and formulate a more developed text(s). Consideration and evaluation of this text could form an important element of the Lambeth Conference meeting in 2008. The revised draft could be brought to the full meeting of ACC in conjunction with a meeting of the Primates in 2009.

  5. Phase IV. Implementation (2-3 Yrs): There are at least two options for the adoption of the covenant:

    1. On approval of the final draft by ACC and the Primates, JSC could commend the text for adoption by the central assembly of each church. The Lambeth Commission recommended that each church enacts a brief law authorising a designated authority in it (eg its Primate) to enter the covenant on behalf of that church and committing that church to comply and act in a manner compatible with the covenant. Other methods of provincial adoption are possible.

    2. alternatively, ACC could adopt the Covenant and incorporate it into its constitution (ie, no adoption by each church) subject to confirmation by two-thirds of the Provinces.

  6. Phase V. Monitoring: The draft covenant in TWR proposes periodic reviews of the administration of the covenant by the (proposed) Council of Advice.