May 8 Blog
Well, we did it! As most of you know, I’m a process person, and would have not believed it possible. But today we did superb work and ended up with the resolutions on both the Windsor Continuation Group and The Anglican Communion Covenant.
Windsor first. We began with a draft set of resolutions developed by the Resolutions Committee which built on two sources…the first set of recommended resolutions prepared by the Joint Standing Committee (Executive in our Canadian parlance) earlier in the week, and the results of the Discernment Group discussions. And the result was this: the recommendations in the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) Report were affirmed, the moratoria were supported, gratitude was expressed to areas that had been holding to the moratoria, quick action was urged where the “application of moratoria gives rise for concern” (and by the way, there is funding to enable this), implementation of the recommendations is encouraged “as appropriate”, study of the Instruments of Communion and their relationship and ecclesiological rationale is to begin, and we are all called to pray for repentance, conversion, and renewal with the hope that deeper communion may result. That took ten separate votes! Along the way, there was a rejection of softer wording about the recommendations than “affirms”, but that was not accepted. And there was an attempt to add an additional moratorium on the avoidance of litigation, but it too was rejected. (No one likes litigation, but some Provinces are bound by law to instigate that process if property belonging to the diocese goes with a group of departing parishioners.)
The debate done in parliamentary style that still seems unduly formal to me, and sometimes not all that helpful to coming to the best conclusion, was open, honest and earnest. I have no doubt that the ways we had been meeting to discuss these topics in the first few days of our meeting contributed to the successful conclusions.
Most of us would have been happy with a few more/different changes, but we all felt heard, I think, and the listening going on was intense.
The process for dealing with the Covenant was a little more confusing at times, but in the long run, we came to agreements. Again, building on the same two sources for our starter resolutions, we began. The first topic presented allowed us to say yes or no to a proposal that section 4 of the Covenant as proposed in the Ridley Cambridge draft be detached, and sent off for a short period of consultation, coming back for the Joint Standing Committee to pull all the results together and then send out to the Provinces for adoption or acceptance. The feeling of many was that there had been excellent consultation on the first three sections and not quite enough on the fourth. This was the biggest bone of contention…whether the Covenant was ready to go now, or whether it needed this bit of extra work on Section 4 which has to do with the dispute resolution. A variety of suggestions about how to deal with this got us confused for a while, but we eventually got to the point of voting that proposal down in favour of inserting it in a following one. (Am I losing you yet? It’s quite possible because this was very complicated.)
What we ended up agreeing to is this:
We thanked the Covenant Design group for their faithfulness and responsiveness in producing the drafts (they really have done a superb job of listening to the Provincial input, and deserve so much credit);
We named that we thought a Covenant might go a long way to strengthen our Communion;
The Archbishop was asked to form a small group to consult with the Provinces on the problematic Section 4, reporting to a Joint Standing Committee in the fall;
We assigned to the Joint Standing Committee the task of approving a final form for the Covenant which would then be sent out for consideration and decision;
And we asked for each Province to report to ACC-15 on how they are responding to the Covenant and where they are in the process of acceptance or adoption.
So, while we haven’t got the final version of the Covenant, we have ¾ of it, and the last 1/4 should be ready by January at the latest. So, a short period, quick consultation, quick rewriting, and then off it goes. We all have a sense of urgency, and want this DONE!
While I wondered all along why we needed a Covenant at all, hearing others has made me realize that this is essential for the future of the Communion. And, while I came thinking it was ready to go out as is, I heard enough of others’ concerns to be glad we have allowed for that. I’m sure not everyone is pleased with this action, but it seemed to be the most acceptable way forward…it was a very tight decision on a couple of the parts. Oh yes, 8 more votes held on this.
Tonight, we went to celebrate at a fantastic party held at the home of the Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands…several marquees on the lawn, food galore, the Jamaican Military Band, a singer who sang well known Jamaican songs, and a steel band. Wow! We met the head of the Canadian Embassy (or maybe it’s a slightly lesser entity), several most friendly and interesting Jamaicans. And I sat down for dinner, believe it or not, beside a woman who grew up in Cobourg! I get accused by my family of moving the six degrees of separation down to two; well, tonight it went to one! We had a grand time…the night was magic! “We’ve been to a “maaaah-vellous party!” in the words of Noel Coward. And we all needed it!
Tomorrow will be business in the morning and then off to a Jamaican parish (Vineyard Town, in Kingston itself) for the rest of the weekend. You’ll not hear from me until Sunday late.
Your patience at working through this long blog deserves applause. Some crazy people like me actually like this stuff! But, whatever we think of it, the decisions today were the central decisions we came here to make, and they are completed.
Blessings to all.