Thursday, October 01, 2009

Covenant matters and Iker update

The Living Church reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury has written to the Diocese of Central Florida to the effect that only provinces may sign onto the proposed Anglican Covenant.

Dioceses and parishes can vote to "endorse" the Covenant, but it will have no "institutional effect."

Some of us have been saying this for a long time, so it's nice to have Canterbury finally write something that is fairly straightforward and unambiguous on the matter.

Episcopal Cafe and Mark Harris both offer good commentary on this, and Mark also points his readers to an excellent blog on why the covenant is a bad idea for Anglicans.

[If you are not already reading the Cafe and Mark on a regular basis, you should be, because both sites do an excellent job of keeping up with developments in the Anglican world.]

World Anglican Forum is the blog of Bruce Kaye, who describes himself as an "Anglican theologian, Foundation editor of the Journal of Anglican Studies. Currently a Visiting Research Fellow in History at the University of New South Wales and a Professorial Associate in Theology at Charles Sturt University . Web site".

He writes:

"There are four reasons why this covenant is not a good idea for Anglicans.

1. It is against the grain of Anglican ecclesiology (what we think the church is)

2. It is an inadequate response to the conflict in the Anglican Communion

3. In practical terms it will create immense and complicating confusion about institutional relationships and financial obligations.

4. It does not address the key fundamental issue in this conflict, how to act in a particular context which is relevant to that context and also faithful to the gospel."

The whole article, as well as previous ones, are well worth your time.

The Cafe also offers these observations on items posted on the website of our former bishop:

[A week after the Sept. 16 hearing] "Iker's diocese filed a 'Motion for reconsideration of Court’s Sept. 16 decision.' Evidently, upon reflection, the September 16th decision was no victory.

"Most recently, on September 29th, he wrote:

"'I am inviting everyone in the Diocese to join me in a morning of fasting and prayer this Friday, Oct. 2nd, as Judge John Chupp considers three motions we have put before him in the 141st District Court. The hearing begins at 9 a.m. on the fourth floor of the Family Law Center, located at 200 E. Weatherford Street (one block east of the old court house, on the south side of the street)....The last motion requests that the Court correct its Rule 12 ruling of Sept. 16 so that it will permit the local Plaintiff attorneys, Jonathan D. F. Nelson and Kathleen Wells, to represent only the people who have hired them, not the Diocese [Iker's group] and the Diocesan Corporation.'

"I'm no lawyer, but isn't that what the judge ruled on September 16th?

"Food is not allowed in most courtrooms in the United States.

"In a not so unrelated development, Iker's standing committee is also reassessing its relationships with ACNA and the South Cone and put forth the following resolution for the group's November convention:
WHEREAS, this Diocese continues to desire to maintain the highest degree of communion possible with other Anglicans in North America and throughout the world,
AND WHEREAS, this Diocese recognizes that certain theological differences exist among the constituent membership of the newly constituted Anglican Church in North America, as well as in the wider Anglican Communion,
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, meeting in its 27th Annual Convention, does hereby commit to continued participation in the development of the Anglican Church in North America, acceding to the Constitution and Canons thereof during this process,
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this Diocese maintains its status as a member diocese in the Province of the Southern Cone while the formal process of recognition of this new province continues in the Anglican Communion.

"Emphasis added. The constitution of Iker's group asserts it is part of the Anglican Communion, in communion with the See of Canterbury. Legal risks are sufficient to justify the logic of this resolution. The second whereas is in there because there are chronic divisions in ACNA even at this early point in its existence."

Read it all at the Cafe.

I can't help wondering if the Iker folks' commitment to "continued participation in the development of the Anglican Church in North America, acceding to the Constitution and Canons thereof during this process" will be any more meaningful than their earlier promise to accede to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

I don't know if they've also promised to accede to the Constitution and Canons of the Southern Cone, which do not have ANY provision for a diocese outside of those listed. The Constitution of the Southern Cone defines membership:
The Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, which shall henceforth be called The Province, is
composed of the Anglican Dioceses that exist or which may be formed in the Republics of
Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay and which voluntary declare themselves
as integral Diocesan members of the Province.

Note there is no provision for dioceses such as San Joaquin or Fort Worth to legally be part of this province.

Apparently when you are creating a reality in your own image, laws and vows become very elastic things.

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