Any chance of a fair debate?

I had been preparing a post in praise of soft power in the church.

The 'soft' power I have in mind is opposed to coercive power: education, discourse and debate as opposed to command and enforcement.

But the post became stuck and just seemed naive. Soft power is still power: how can anyone ensure it is used well? Is coercive power needed to guarantee that soft power is not misused? What checks and balances are possible? (Curiously checks and balances seem easier to describe and implement for coercive power.)

The recent press release from the No Anglican Covenant Campaign - Call for fair process and honest debateillustrates the problem.

It's not just that NACC has been sidelined. It's that debate as a whole has been sidelined:
November 2010 — When the Church of England debated the Anglican Covenant, official materials prepared for General Synod members made no reference to the concerns of critics or to the case against the Covenant. This was in marked contrast to what happened in 2007, when the House of Bishops agreed that an additional briefing document presenting opposing arguments should be circulated to all General Synod members in advance of the debate. 
(Note: I had some part in the 2007 paper. In fact this was a last minute concession and we were not allowed to submit a paper on the recently published Draft Covenant, but only on the principle of a Covenant and on the paper Towards An Anglican Covenant which was already redundant by then.)
November 2010 — When Modern Church and Inclusive Church placed advertisements critical of the proposed Covenant in the church press, and when the No Anglican Covenant Coalition was launched, Covenant sceptics were criticized by senior church officials for going public and "campaigning" instead of remaining silent.
December 2010 — When the draft Covenant was formally referred to English dioceses, the referral document provided a random list of quotations from the last General Synod debate, with pro‐and anti‐Covenant remarks mixed up together, followed by a purely pro‐Covenant presentation.
January 2011 — A request by Covenant opponents to the Business Committee of General Synod to circulate material setting out the case against the Covenant was rejected.
February 2011 — The Anglican Communion Office issued an official study guide and list of questions and answers for international use that neither provide a balanced look at the issues nor fairly represent the views of those critical of the Covenant.
And yet: power is needed in any structure - it's what makes the thing go.

So how can the leadership of the Communion be brought to book for their wilful misuse of power? At the moment they can't. Blog posts may annoy them and campaigns may provoke an inappropriate put-down but neither is more than a momentary annoyance.

And the Covenant will make things worse. It is designed to create new central powers and to grant the Communion coercive powers against its members under certain circumstances (to be 'effective and forceful').

Furthermore the lesson for those in power is that this form of soft power works. The Covenant will be achieved without any need for people in the pews or in clerical collars to worry their heads about it.

It is a self-reinforcing process. If keeping all but a tiny minority out of the loop leads to substantive change and more powers accrue to those inside the loop then, doing it again will only give the few even more powers, and again ...

What is lost is perfectly evident to those outside the loop: the effective engagement of the membership.

Each time we go round the loop those on the inside identify themselves more strongly as knowing what's best for the Church, as actually being the Church, to the ever greater exclusion of those outside. Criticism (never mind a campaign) is not merely annoying, it is disloyal. No-one need listen to disloyalty.

Nor will this culture remain within the elite circles of the Communion's central command. In the hierarchy of the Church each successive ring will follow the centre's lead, learn its lessons, and shape itself to fit the circle above.

My response is to seek a more open and honest discussion on the nature and proper exercise of power in the church. It is to call for a church in which every member is valued. But what I fear is more likely is that those at the centre of the Communion are in fact creating a highly unstable and potentially dysfunctional structure wholly inadequate to the needs of an interconnected world.

As facebook and twitter enable some to bring down governments the leadership of the Communion has built up a bunker mentality. It cannot be to the good.

See also: my recent blog posts Players and audience, a look at the pitiful official Study Guide, Q&A, C-, and a paper from 2007 Bouncing the Covenant through the Anglican Communion (.pdf) which identified the strategy of avoiding any serious debate.


An African theme

I have returned to posting occasional pieces on the Anglican Church in Africa, and especially in the Central African Province - mostly culled from news reports.

Since Anglican Information disbanded, this blog has become much more narrowly fixated on the Anglican Covenant and the structures of the Communion. These are important issues and will no doubt continue to predominate.

But it is too easy to put the blinkers on and see matters wholly from a Church of England, or even white-western, perspective and to forget that things can look very different from other parts of the world.

Priorities are different in Zimbabwe compared to London. Lake Malawi is a very different from the diocese of Oxford. It's time I lifted up my eyes again and looked further afield.

Troubles in lake Malawi

At the consecration of Bishop Francis Kaulanda
The Diocese of Lake Malawi continues to be an troubled place.

Zodiak Malawi reports that the Bishop, Francis Kaulanda, has once again suspended again Father Dennis Kayamba.  He has been suspended twice before. On this occasion he is accused of refusing to report for duties to an assigned station at Wimbe in Kasungu.

However Dennis Kayamba has effectively counter-sued. He has lodged an paper with the District labour office demanding his dues from the Diocese covering the period 2003 to 2011.

Kayamba was suspended in 2003 on allegations that he joined a 'Forward in faith Movement' and misappropriating funds at St Annes Hospital.

In 2006 he was a prosecution witness alleging that Fr Rodney Hunter had been poisoned by his cook, Leonard Mondoma.  (In December 2010 a court found that Canon Rodney Hunter had in fact been poisoned though it acquitted Leonard Mondoma.) (Added later: see comment below for correction) 

In 2007 Kayamba was suspended for granting an interview to a Nation Newspaper reporter as part of his opposition to the appointment of Nick Henderson as Bishop.

Bishop Kalunda's appointed had been challenged in court.
The objections, which allegedly included an affidavit with 150 signatures, claimed that Kaulanda had “failed to account properly for money meant for church projects which he was supervising as archdeacon of Nkhotakota between 2000 and 2001.” 

A BBC 'from our own correspondent' account of the consecration of its new Bishop is here. (July 2010)


Non-partisan in Zambia

Bishop William Muchombo with worshippers in Zambia

Zambia is facing elections in 2011. The Church is trying to tread a careful line of encouraging debate - but debate that is neither partisan nor acrimonious.

Bishop Muchombo said,
“The clergy are free to speak on any issue concerning the running of the country but what we advise against is being partisan at any time,” he said.
Recently, some outspoken Anglican clergy have been quoted in sections of the media denouncing the Government and speaking on lines bordering on partisan inclination.
From the Times of Zambia

The church (not just in Zambia) has always had to have a careful relationship to the state - not least because churches are state-like structures which have within them an inherent threat to the sovereignty of any secular state.

The Anglican Church has been on the side of the ruling power ever since Henry VIII enforced the submission of the clergy and the church had to make the best of a bad thing.

On the other hand the expression of Christianity and its implications is inherently political or it's vacuous - yet stepping from Christian generalizations to endorsing specific policies or parties is always hazardous. Supporting the government in the name of being non-partisan is not necessarily any better than taking sides against the government.

Let us hope that the Church in Zambia can find the right balance.

Modern Church against the Covenant

Jonathan Clatworthy
Jonathan Clatworthy of Modern Church has produced resources to support those in the Dioceses who want to argue 'Vote No to the Covenant'.

There is a long paper The Case against the Covenant

There are 10 reasons to vote against, with a brief explanation of the background

and there is a 3-point summary.

All papers are in Word or pdf format.

These are the three points:
We’d lose freedom
The CofE would surrender its right to decide for itself how best to serve the people of England: it would have to limit itself to what was acceptable in all countries and cultures. 
It’s hugely over-centralised
Under the guise of recommendation, the 15-person Standing Committee would have great new powers: if the Standing Committee went against decisions of our PCCs & Synods, the CofE could be excluded from the Communion’s main bodies.  

New developments would be shackled
Changes such as remarriage in church after divorce, and women’s ordination, might never have happened with this Covenant in place: our Church would lose its ability to develop and to respond to new situations or fresh insights, and could find itself forced to exclude ideas and people it wanted to include. 

Thank you for all your help - more needed

There is another article in the Newcastle Chronicle today about Leonie and Stacey.

Leonie said she was lured into coming to the UK in 2008 with promises of a better life. But when she arrived she was forced into prostitution.

The UK Border Agency and Immigration Tribunals turned down her application to stay in the UK. Now we are campaigning to ask the Home Secretary to use her discretionary powers to allow Leonie to remain.

The response to the campaign has been wonderful:
Campaign organiser Chris Carroll, from the Brunswick Methodist Church in Newcastle city centre, said: “The response has been fantastic.
“We’ve just posted another 100 letters to the Home Secretary to ask her for compassion with more being sent every day.
If you would also like to help letters and petition forms are available here.

Thank you - every voice counts.


New Archbishop for Central Africa

Archbishop Albert Chama
ACNS and Episcopal News Service

Not a surprise, perhaps, but Albert Chama, Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Zambia, has been elected Archbishop of the Province of Central Africa.

Although officially Dean of the Province, Chama has previously described himself as the 'Acting' Archbishop.  He has been seen as a protégé of the previous Archbishop Bernard Malango.

Chama attended the Primates' Meeting in Dublin in his role as Dean, thus dissociating himself from the GAFCON absentees despite his earlier attendance at last year's Global South Encounter.

The Province has a troubled and divided history. The Church in Malawi is not a happy place - and Chama has history in relation to that unhappiness.

The Anglican Church in Zimbabwe is still subject to systematic harassment and violence:

It is believed the violence against the clergymen is being orchestrated by the controversial faction of the Anglican Church led by Dr. Nolbert Kunonga, an ardent ZANU PF supporter.
On Monday, the Right Reverend Chad Gandiya, who is the current Bishop of Harare, told SW Radio Africa: “One of my fellow bishops was approached by two people who told him that they had come to kill him and that the mission is to kill all the Anglican bishops; and that is why I said we are an endangered species because from that conversation with my colleagues we are all to be killed.”
“All he was told was this had something to do with the church and that we were stumbling blocks to Dr. Kunonga’s ambition of running the whole Anglican church in Zimbabwe,” Gandiya said.
Just days after the threats a member of the mainstream church headed by Gandiya was brutally murdered last week.
“People came at night on a Friday. They raped her, they cut her mouth and genitals, and pierced various parts of her body,” Gandiya explained, “we were told it is something to do with the fact she belonged to our church, and so that leaves us to speculate.”  The Zimbawean 22 Feb.


A loud voice against the Covenant

From yesterday's Anglicans Online editorial:
The world is becoming nimbler, fleeter, more connected, and more volatile. Structures are being rethought and certainties are crumbling. There will always be bonds and boundaries, but they will be perforce more elastic and more transparent. The rigid structures that have characterised church governance and legislation will change as a result. How can they not?
The very looseness of the Anglican Communion (at least until the Tedious Years of the Anglican Covenant Discussion) is what will give it strength to move with relative ease in this new world. The gentle, unlegislated bonds of affection and the tolerance for variances of custom, behaviour, churchmanship, hymns, divorce, prayer books and the like are far more aligned with the way we live now. The old-speak of the proposed Covenant hearkens back to a world that is passing away, one of rigidity, structure, and complex mechanisms of governance.

AO has always, they say, sat above the politics of the Communion to provide a service to all. On this, though, they have come off the fence and decided to oppose the Covenant.

More violence in Zimbabwe

Anglican Priest Found Dead As Bishops Seek State Protection

From the Zimbabwe Mail (and thanks to Mad Priest for spotting it).

HARARE,- The on-going fighting between rival factions of the Anglican Church has claimed the life of an elderly female priest who was found dead in her house by fellow parishioners.
Bishop Chad Gandiya

This was revealed to other church members and the media by Bishop Chad Gandiya who leads the Harare Diocese of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA).Bishop Gandiya said there were strong suspicions that the 89-year-old priest Jesca Mandeya was murdered by security operatives.

“ As a Bishop I am concerned that some of my people are going to be killed for the simple reason that they belong to a certain denomination, ”said Bishop Gandiya.

He added that both the church members and Bishops were living in fear of being killed as some of them continued to be followed by suspected operatives of the spy agency. Bishop Gandiya's Diocese is currently locked in a fierce legal battle for the church's assets with self appointed and Zanu (PF) backed Arch Bishop of the Church of Zimbabwe Nolbert Kunonga.

Since the dispute started, parishioners from the CPCA have been barred by police from using buildings belonging to the church even after the courts had ruled that the two factions should share the church premises. Bishop Gandiya,s followers are being forced to worship in hired buildings, in the open and in some churches. They also face regular threats from state agents.

Who is the Anglican Communion Office working for?

It seems that the Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative of the Anglican Communion had a good meeting in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month - ACNS press release.

Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative Group - ACNS
But Mark Harris has been asking: who is the North American representative,  Rev Dr Julian Linnell of the  Anglican Frontier Mission.

Turns out he's not from the Episcopal Church at all but from the schismatic Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) and also a priest in the Province of the Southern Cone.

So what is the Anglican Communion Office playing at?

Was this an embarrassing error, and they really thought he did belong to TEC? Seems unlikely given the care they usually take with appointments.

I suppose it is possible that the invitation went to the Anglican Frontier Mission and Dr Linnell was their choice. But all the same you'd have thought they'd check out his acceptability with TEC first.  Maybe they did, and this man was the person in the whole of the US for the job, and available for the meeting. In which case, fair enough.

Are they deliberately courting ACNA? After all ACNA has always seen itself as the province-in-waiting against the day that TEC is thrown out of the Communion under the Covenant mechanisms.

Or is this the straw in the wind which shows that the Anglican Communion Office has already discarded TEC altogether?

And, either way, have they forgotten who pays a large percentage of their bills?

I wonder whether the Standing Committee are also a scrutiny committee and, if so, where we can get a complaint form from and ask for an investigation?


Hundreds back asylum seeker to stay on Tyneside

Leonie and Stacey in their flat

Under the headline Hundreds back asylum seeker to stay on Tyneside the local paper, the Evening Chronicle, had a full page feature on Leonie and Stacey and their fight to stay in the UK. Lots of petition forms and a good number of letter have already been sent.

From the article:
The 29-year-old was fleeing her African homeland when she was lured into coming to the UK in January 2008 with promises of a better life.
But when she arrived penniless and unable to speak English, she says she was forced into prostitution, locked up and raped repeatedly.
Smuggled into the country on a false passport, Leonie says she was imprisoned and abused – her child being the result of one such incident.
After escaping, Leonie, from Cameroon, claimed asylum.
The claims she made were investigated by an immigration judge, who ruled against Leonie. However, her supporters on Tyneside, including specialist counselors, have backed her story.

If you have been one of those who have given your support, thank you very much. Please continue to pass on the information to anyone you know who might also be able to help.

Players and audience

A persistent aspect of the debate on the Covenant is that there has barely been a debate about it - at least, not in public.

On the Comprehensive Unity - No Anglican Covenant blog JimB makes the point that
No one is advancing serious arguments for it: instead one hears about "holding the communion together." How that is to happen when as is likely a great many provinces refuse to endorse and some have effectively withdrawn now it is never explained.
There seem to be three assertions in favour of the Covenant: we need these rules and structures [comment], it's the last chance to hold the communion together [comment], there is no alternative [comment]. In England at least there's a fourth: please support Rowan Williams in doing a difficult job [comment].

Archbishop Drexel Gomez, driving force of the Covenant
I've addressed all these in a number of posts before and I'm not going to do it again here (but if you wish to follow the links, please be my guest).

Here I want to follow up Jim's point that, on the one hand, these are assertions and not arguments and, on the other, those pushing for the Covenant have utterly failed to engage their critics.

First, the superficial nature of the study guide, the refusal of the the CofE authorities to allow the other side of the case for the Covenant to be sent to Dioceses and the persistently bland official material are all part of one strategy.

Second, that in this game very few people are players. The role of the audience is to assent to the decisions of the players and not to think that they can interfere.

The strategy - part 1
One of the earliest papers I wrote on the issue was Bouncing the Covenant through the Anglican Communion (July 2007) which set out the strategy. This was a conspiracy theory. But because the Anglican way seems to be to hide things in full view it is also referenced.

The timing has slipped a little since 2007 and some of the details have changed but the strategy remains. The most substantial change is that the Instruments of Unity have not been asked to endorse the Covenant - it is now solely a matter for the provinces.

The difficulty of gaining assent was identified in the Windsor Report. Thes subsequent Towards an Anglican Covenant spoke of a decade to persuade the Communion to 'own' it but Drexel Gomez was having none of that. In February 2007, at the Primates' meeting in Tanzania, his drastically shortened timetable was agreed. Apart from the ACC's refusal to accept Section 4 as then drafted, which caused a six-month delay, the Tanzania timetable has been followed.

To labour the point: there was a deliberate decision not to encourage the Communion to 'own' the Covenant. The formal assent of the provinces was deemed sufficient, and it had to be done quickly.

Each province then had to find the most efficient way of passing the Covenant. In England in 2007 that meant debate on the principle of a Covenant but discussion of the Nassau draft (available before Synod met) was excluded. Whilst the business managers had little choice but to refer the matter to the Dioceses in 2011 it was decided that the Covenant would only need a simple majority to be accepted.

The strategy - part 2
The second half of the strategy has been to keep discussion of the Covenant separate from discussion of other changes in the Communion. These changes have taken place largely out of the public eye. This is not the same as in secret: once again, they were largely hidden in public view. (The exception was the excessive secrecy around changing the ACC's constitution.)

No document is self-sufficient. The Covenant is the coping stone of a series of changes to the structures of the Communion which have been fought over for almost a decade. It is because they lost this battle (over the role of the Primates' Meeting rather than the Covenant) that the leaders of the Global South have taken their bat and ball and gone home.

The Covenant is intended to grant significant powers to the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. In practice this group has influence but little power. I believe that power is presently concentrated with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the General Secretary of the Anglican Communion and their respective staffs.

If you're not in the game, you're out
Players and audience
Who have been the players who created the Covenant? I guess the inner ring would include:
  • The Archbishop of Canterbury, the General Secretary of the Anglican Communion, and their personal advisers.
  • Archbishop Drexel Gomez and the members of the Covenant Design Group (inevitably unevenly)
  • Certain other primates (not sure who, but I'd certainly include Philip Aspinall and John Chew). 
Around which there would be another ring:
  • Advisers to the CDG
  • The remaining Primates to the extent that they chose to be involved
  • Members of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion (which includes the elected officers of the ACC)
  • The key officers in each province who relate to the ACO 
  • A very few lobby groups, mostly of the conservative American genre
But this is all general speculation based on watching the process from high in the gods through poor quality opera glasses. I'd welcome contributions to sharpening the picture.

Everyone else is audience. 
Their only role is to vote through what has been decided elsewhere. The largest part of the official structures of the church are audience.

For those who knew they were merely audience persuasive argument has seemed to be the only way into the debate. But argument, no matter how cogent, is not enough.

It's not enough because the politics has been about organizational change of which the Covenant is but a small detail, however significant. The struggle over reshaping the Communion's structures has happened elsewhere.

Arguments about the Covenant, howsoever persuasive to their authors, have been entirely peripheral to the key question of the Covenant: will enough provinces sign up to consolidate the new structures in the Communion. That has overwhelmingly been the factor which has led to changes in the wording of the Covenant.

Arguments about the Covenant have been insufficient because they presumed that they would be heard if they were good enough. Those that were submitted to the ACO were duly circulated to the Design Group. There is no evidence that they had any impact.

Finally, those presenting critical arguments assumed they did so as players. Minnows, maybe, but at least in the same pool. In fact the one thing they did not address was that they - we - were largely talking to ourselves. The pool was elsewhere. We had no influence because we had no influence.

The study guide, Q&A, literature supporting the Covenant in the English Dioceses has to be bland, unchallenging, and solely supportive of the Covenant. Their only task is to ease the passage of what has already been decided. It's barely worth the time of those that prepared the papers. It is just a process that has to be gone through.

Structural deafness is the flip side of centralisation: people are listened to because of the position they occupy, not because of the quality of their contributions. People are listened to because what they say harmonises with the dominant opinion and rhetoric.

The leaders are the church, not the people. It is not news. Nor is it good for the future of the Communion.


Study Guide, Q&A, C-

On the No Anglican Covenant site there are a couple of  new resources (amongst quite a lot of material). The official Covenant study material [official site] has been posted as well as the series of four talks by Caroline Hall which are well worth reading (they're a bit scattered but start here).

I've only skimmed the official material and my immediate response is not that they're partisan, that was only to be expected, but that they're so bland.

The Study Guide (pdf) can be summarised, not unfairly I think, as the text of the Covenant headed by the rubric Read each section. What do you think? It's certainly no aid to critical thought.

The Q&A paper is more help to study.  But I got cross in the opening section with a quote from Rabbi Jonathon Sacks in a call-out box.  In it he recommends a covenantal approach as an alternative to power or money - as though it will be possible to dispense with either.
Imagine, for a moment, you have total power, and then, in the fit of craziness you decide to share it with nine other people. How much power do you have left? You have 1/10 of what you began with. 
Study guide
Stuff and nonsense! Power is not a zero-sum game. Never has been.

The whole concept of 'empowerment' embodies the perception that power distributed is power expanded - and the cynicism about the ways 'empowerment' is used embodies the practical reality that those who share power don't give it away. In Sacks' mathematics what you are actually left with is 9 people feeling better because they have 1/10th of a unit of power and 1 person feeling smug because he (of course) still has 10 tenths.

The Sacks' quote adds,
... love, friendship and influence are things that only exist by virtue of sharing them with others. And those are the goods I call covenantal goods ... 
Leaving aside the fact that power also fits this description, placing this quote in a Q&A about the Anglican Covenant is deeply cynical. What has the Anglican Covenant to do with love and friendship? The Covenant was created because love and friendship had shriveled away. A key motivation of the Covenant was the desire to expel provinces from the charmed circle of friends - not to love them into submission. Its function is to replace 'love, friendship and influence' with a treaty-like document and law-like processes. It is the obverse of what 'I call covenantal goods'. This is a crude attempt to spray around some nice, soft, cuddly words to see if the underlying corpse can be made to smell a little sweeter.

Question 4 is interesting, and may not be exactly on the script:
 How will the Covenant deepen our Communion?
The Anglican Communion is more than a federation of churches. It is a ‘Communion’ with a shared life, not simply a shared set of beliefs. The Anglican Communion Covenant is not therefore only a doctrinal statement. It reminds us of the practice of Christian life in the form of certain virtues and disciplines (openness and patience; prayer, study and debate – section 3.2.3). ... (emphasis in original) 
 More than a federation. Virtues and disciplines. To  my mind that's a different emphasis to Question 9 Will the Covenant strengthen central control within the Anglican Communion? There the answer is: look at the text and see that autonomy is explicit. But even in Q9, with its 'however' and 'although' there are hints of a desire to qualify what the words actually say. Perhaps the problem is that for every critic who points to centralising powers as a bad thing there's another who looks at autonomy (and therefore the absence of the power to penalise errant provinces) as a bad thing. They can't win. And they won't.
10. Why might people be nervous about the Covenant?
... Some are concerned that the Covenant makes new and considerable demands on the Instruments of Communion. Much may depend on how the Covenant is received and used.
Others suggest that the Covenant will make tensions and divisions within the Communion even more visible.
At present, the Anglican Communion has no way of collectively identifying which disputes might potentially lead to the fracture of our Christian body, and which are less damaging and divisive. If we are to enhance the unity of the Communion and work towards the healing of the Church, we need a way of identifying which are the really serious problems.
We also need a description of how we are going to set about dealing with those problems. The Covenant tries to do just that. The Covenant describes and clarifies the nature of our mutual commitments and the form of life required to begin the process of discernment towards deeper communion and a more intense participation in the life of God made known in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (my paragraph breaks and emphases.)
Of course how the Covenant is received and used is critical - so why is there no public discussion of it?

The second point, the visibility of disputes, is odd. I find it hard to believe that our leaders cannot tell which disputes are serious without a Covenant, and I don't see how a Covenant will help. When provinces outside the US started to ordain people to act as Anglican missionaries in the US, did no-one think 'this could be serious?' Would a Covenant have helped polish their glasses?

The fact is that, when it comes to disputes, there is no a priori division between what is serious and what is adiaphora. You can only tell afterwards: who would have thought that the Methodist Church would split over putting an organ into a Church? Or that a meeting of missionaries in mid-Africa would spark the Kikuyu crisis?

And Q7 What will happen if the Covenant is broken? doesn't address the criticism that the Covenant will create means to split the Communion which do not currently exist.

A centrally import element has been missing from all the discussion of this question of potentially Communion-fracturing matters: that no issue is sufficient to split the Communion.

What can split the Communion is a combination of four things: (a) pre-existing divisions in the Church (the fuel), (b) a clear focal point (the issue), (c) organization - of battalions within the church (the will) and also the prior organization of the church which establishes the lines along which any conflict will flow (the battlefield), and (d) one or more parties' willingness to declare this is the will of God.

Disputation is the normal condition of the Church, and church. It is the declaration of an absolutist stance which is destructive of communion - and you don't need a Covenant to hear that.

Order and Chaos, 1950 M C Escher
Finally, in the same section, the chaos card. Do you remember Hosni Mubarak, once of Egypt, who kept repeating that he must stay in power or else there would be chaos? It seems a popular argument, if entirely self-serving:
It is important to stress that there are already ‘relational consequences’ of certain decisions made by particular provinces of the Anglican Communion. Those consequences are frequently chaotic in nature. 
These resources are feeble. That they come in the name of the Inter-Anglican Standing Committee on Unity Faith and Order is embarrassing. I can only deduced that nothing else was politically acceptable. And if that's the case then embarrassment is the least of the problems.


Help save Leonie and Stacey Mendo

I know this is inappropriate for this blog but today I choose to allow my working world to intrude into conversations of the Anglican  Communion.

And this is only for UK readers, really, though all publicity will help.

Would you help keep Leonie Mendo and her daughter Stacey in the UK?

This is just a brief summary - there is more information in the letters.

Leonie Mendo is from Cameroon. She came to the UK at the invitation of a man she met over the internet. He locked her up, abused her and forced her into prostitution. When she became pregnant she was discarded. Only then was she able to ask the police for help.

But she had no papers. She asked to stay in the UK on the grounds that she deserved humanitarian protection. The immigration court did not believe her account, nor has it accepted the expert witness reports of a midwife, a psychologist and a rape crisis counsellor.

I have known Leonie for over two and a half years. She is a devout Christian and a woman of deep integrity. There is no reason why she should invent a story which is, in practice, so self-denigratory and so harsh as a history for her daughter. She has been entirely consistent in her account since I have known her and I believe her entirely.

Leonie wanted to leave Cameroon because, after her father died, other members of her family took her father's properties by violence. Recently her mother has been killed by these family members. Leonie only learned her mother's death when a friend saw an article in a local newspaper.

She is terrified about being sent back to Cameroon - because her family will find her and are likely to attack her too, because she is a single mother, because she has a visibly mixed-race child who has no father.

Theresa May, MP, Home Secretary
With the help of specialist counsellors Leonie is beginning to recover from her ordeal and to build a life for herself and her daughter, Stacey. Leonie is able, hard working, honest and purposeful. She would like to be a pharmacist and would only be an asset to this country. Her daughter is a delightful and intelligent two-year old.

But now Leonie has been told she will not get humanitarian protection in the UK. She must go back to Cameroon. All legal routes have failed not least because each one has built on the judgement of the first hearing that Leonie was not credible - and by the nature of things there is no way to get evidence of when she arrived in the UK or of her abuse when she got here.

The Home Secretary has the discretionary power to allow a person to stay. That is now what we are asking for.

Would you help? There is more information in these letters below and we are hoping for local media coverage this weekend. If you email me at work I would be happy to address any further questions you may have.

If you can, please sign and send these letters, and ask people to sign the petition and send it to the Home Secretary:

It would also help if you let us know the actions you've taken.


The view from Japan

Archbishop Nathaniel Uematsu
Sorry, this is an old story. I've only just picked it up after it was posted on TitusOneNine.  There is nothing about it on the ACNS site.

The Global South site has an account of the address of the Primate, Archbishop Nathaniel Uematsu, to the 58th General Synod of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK) meeting.  The meeting was in May 2010, published in English in November 2010 and CEN in December.

The article's headline 'Japan gives covenant backing' is misleading. It could as easily have been 'You are All at Fault'.

The text says that the Archbishop commended the covenant. However this was despite:
the NSKK House of Bishops’ Theological and Doctrine Committee “have expressed their opinion that such a Covenant should not be necessary, as it provides restrictions and exclusions”.
The bishops’ theological committee was not convinced that all Anglicans could or should be “ruled by this one agreement,” and balked at section IV. “One of the major characteristics of the Anglican Communion has been that in its long history the richness of diversity has been widely appreciated,” the Japanese Primate explained.
The Archbishop asked the Synod to support the Covenant in the present confusion and because the probability of it being accepted was increasing.  In other words, we don't agree with the medicine but please swallow it any way. If he made any other arguments they weren't reported.

The Archbishop blamed the North American Anglican churches for having caused the war. He also distanced himself from the Global South leaders saying that they were acting in ways liable to create a new Anglican Communion which not only excluded The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada but also the Archbishop of Canterbury.

What this report does not say is that the 58th General Synod backed the Covenant. Perhaps it did, but I will wait for a clearer statement first.

And if the NSKK does back the Covenant, after such clear earlier statements that they disliked and disagreed with it, what hope is there for the rest of us? 'Back the Covenant because other people back the Covenant' is barely an argument, it's more like bullying.


Ascent of the Primates

Savi Hensman, writes in the Guardian's Comment is Free, on the 'Ascent of the Primates'.

She also points out that in 1968
Lambeth Conference recommended "that no major issue in the life of the church should be decided without the full participation of the laity in discussion and in decision".
Still, that was the end of the '60s and such democratic tendencies have been firmly ignored, marginalised and squashed since then. See my previous post.

The voice of the laity has almost no place in the centralised and curial world envisaged in the Covenant, as was evident from its inception. This is from a report to General Synod in 2007, responding the the Nassau draft which Jonathan Clatworthy and I wrote with John Saxbee, Bishop of Lincoln:
4.8 The absent laity 
Apart from a brief, factual, mention in §5 para. 6 the laity are invisible in this Draft Covenant.  If the Draft’s processes were to be implemented the voice of the laity would be utterly peripheral and rendered inaudible. This is a contradiction of an ecclesiology in which the Church is ‘the blessed company of all faithful people’ (Book of Common Prayer, 1662).  To marginalise the laity in decision making would be to hobble the body of Christ, to undermine the faithful work of the people of God, and to diminish the quality of ecclesial life.  
More prosaically the structures of the Communion rest on the shoulders of the laity. From local missions to international gatherings the Church relies on the finance overwhelmingly provided by lay people. If they are to be asked to pay for new or greatly expanded distant international structures they must first be persuaded of their value. 
 The only response has been silence. Not merely on the place of the laity but specfically on the finance. Why will no-one address the question of what implementing the Covenant will cost?


The Synoptic Covenant

Tobias Haller has done sterling work for Covenant geeks, setting out a textual comparison of 3 versions of the Covenant.

The earlier Windsor Report draft was significantly different, coming from a legal perspective rather than the model of an international treaty.

Haller also sets out the framework of procedures for conflict resolution (end of his text). These were generally regarded as overly legalistic and removed from the subsequent versions. (I made a flow-chart of the process available here as a pdf)

I believe that Professor Norman Doe was the principle author of both the Windsor draft Covenant and the conflict resolution framework.  The first helped give birth to the process, even if the child changed shape as it grew, the second has simply slipped into the wings for a while.

If the Covenant is adopted it will need mechanisms by which it will be implemented. Just how does a signatory raise 'questions' about the actions of another, and how does the ACO respond? Even before the Covenant has been adopted there are already signs that answers are being worked out, at least in practice, and these answers will inevitably look remarkably like Doe's earlier proposals.

The Covenant is a treaty-like document which will need legal-like mechanisms to be implemented and enforced. The fact that these have been set aside for now is merely a matter of the politics: if too much of the mechanism was visible it would have been harder to get churches to sign up.

But the mechanisms remain. For my money removing them from sight and giving them the the ACO to work out away from public view, with no duty to consult on them or make them public, is the worse option for the future of the Communion.

I repeat my thesis: the Covenant simply transfers power to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the General Secretary of the Communion, and their respective staffs. It enables them to take all the crucial detailed decisions of implementation behind closed doors with no effective scrutiny, no checks and balances, and needing no-one else's assent.

I think this is wrong in principle. I think it will be wrong in practice. I do not question the motives of those who pursue this line but doing the wrong thing for good reasons is no defence.


Doors slammed shut! Windows blown open?

Observer chided me after my End game post not to be defeatist about the coming shape of the Communion and suggested I focus again on opposition to the Covenant.

I take both points. But first,

The war is over. Really.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz making a point
My basic assertion in that post, that the war is now over, was reinforced by an interview given by Fred Hiltz, Primate of Canada, who said,
But I have to say that this meeting was not in any way dominated by discussions around sexuality. In fact, you actually would have to pull very hard to find references to it in our plenary conversations, which is amazing…The last few primates’ meetings have just been dominated by that issue, [the] actions of certain provinces and the reactions of other provinces to those actions, people not going to the Eucharist. None of that happened, everybody participated fully in every aspect of the meeting…People were together at the Eucharist, they were together at tea, they were together at plenary, they were together for prayer, for meals. There was a real sense of community there… The blessing of same-sex unions was just not a big ticket item, not a topic of discussion at this meeting. Not only was it not a big ticket item but nobody was saying, “When are we going to get to this issue?” which was quite profound.
Likewise, with the [proposed Anglican] Covenant…there was a general feeling that…we need to let the provinces have the conversations…and we’re not going to enter into a big conversation about it until our provinces have spoken.
The point was made that a number of the people present would share GAFCON's attitudes on the key divisive issues. But for the first time for a long time the Primates' focus was on working together - a focus only made possible by those who were absent.

I stand by my description of how I see the Communion shaping up (centralised in the Archbishop of Canterbury, the General Secretary of the Anglican Communion and their respective officials, clericalised, women and laity further marginalised, the distance from centre to edge getting ever greater).

But I will make a significant qualification.

A kairos moment
The end of the civil war gives a brief moment for debate on what the Communion might look like. The idea of changing it has been very widely accepted. Significant changes have already been made. But we no longer need to look at the Communion through the lens of civil war or the foci of sexuality, biblicism and accusations of colonialism. These remain important issues but, fairly abruptly, the steam has gone out of them and the engine driving them has departed on a side-line.

So the qualification of my previous post is this: now is a brief moment for ecclesiological speculation which could lead to a different kind of understanding of the Communion.

What I have described as happening now is only one possible future. There are always alternatives.

An every member church
I would like to see a church in which every member is valued as a fully adult person and constituent of the church.  That is, valued as members of the church per se, consciously setting aside what have recently been prior questions of gender or sexuality (or, for that matter, any other irrelevant consideration).

In the Church of England lay members are not valued particularly highly.

I am sure it is different in other parts of the Communion though I don't know any of them well enough to know how it works in practice. One possibility in the new Communion might be debate on the place of laity-clergy-bishops and the different ways in which members are involved in and excluded from aspects of church life in different parts of the Communion.

The Church of England's General Synod in session
In the Church of England, for example, lay people do not directly elect their representatives on the Church's governing bodies. Those on a parish's electoral roll elect members of deanery Synods. They are the constituency which elect members of Diocesan and General Synod. In the 1960s when the synodical structures were being created there was much discussion of the cost of universal suffrage in the Church. To put it another way, it was decided that the laity weren't worth the money - even though it was also pointed out that it was the laity who provided the money.

(A sidelight to illustrate my point. I did a Google search for pictures for this post. In the first few pages of each search there were lots of pictures of General Synod, one or two of a Diocesan Synod in session, none of a Deanery Synod meeting. Not even worth the record.) 

You can also see members' (lack of) importance in the way information is collected. No Diocese can communicate directly with its members because it does not have a list of them. Dioceses collect the numbers of people on electoral rolls (because numbers are important) but not names and addresses, except for parish officers and elected representatives.

The whole ethos of the CofE is monarchical. The further from the monarch - princes, to be more accurate - the less important people are. Deference remains rife. Like the British state the Church is a constitutional monarchy but, unlike the state, the Church puts relatively little emphasis on the constitutional half of the equation.

There was once a previous opportunity to debate these issues
Fifty years ago there was a brief flowering of publications and debate about the laity in the church spurred and supported by the World Council of Churches' Department of the Laity and the sense that the times they were a'changing.  It didn't last.

Bishop John Robinson
Bishop John Robinson was a prominent participant. In A New Reformation? he promote a new vision of an ‘accepting church’ which met people where they were and accepted them for who they were. This church would comprise small nuclei of people scattered like seeds through the world. By contrast church structures, which sustained barriers of clericalism, professionalism and sexism were potentially heretical. They would have to be overcome by a truly lay theology which would find ‘... its creative source to be the engagement of the laos in the life of the world.’ (p. 63). This lay-centric church, by contrast with what it inherited, would be a reinvigorated community, true to its nature as an instrument of God’s Kingdom.

The enthusiasm didn't survive and more conservative voices won the day. In 1959 Robinson proclaimed that great things were afoot in the Church of England, the tide had turned. In 1969 he wrote in On Being the Church in the World that the tide had indeed turned, but 1960 had proved to be the high water mark, not the beginning of a new ecclesiastical order.

General Synod was first proposed in 1953. In 1965 its structures might have been agreed but were sent back for more work. By 1969, when finally agreed, the place of the laity had been further weakened. For example, one of the roles of the Deanery Synod is to debate matters which are debated in Diocesan Synod. In the earlier draft they were to do so 'beforehand'. To debate issues before the debate at Diocesan Synod would have given Deaneries a significant influence in the affairs of the Diocese. To debate matters after a decision is irrelevant. In 1969 the word 'beforehand' had been removed - and I don't believe that change was ever publicly acknowledged or discussed.

The Covenant
My desire for an every member church is one root of my continuing opposition to the Covenant.

Even if the unsavoury and punitive aspects of Section 4 were removed the Covenant would still serve to reinforce the centralising of power and strengthening of hierarchy. It will make the distance from pew to decision-making even further than the miles that already divide them. It will further marginalise ordinary members of the church. It is time to look again at the base on which the whole organization of the church stands. Now is, I think, a brief opportunity to do so.

Doctrine, ethics, spirituality, worship, polity are all essential and constitutive - and are all meaningless unless they are embodied in the daily lives of ordinary faithful Christians. So, act for every member of an every member church and

Vote against the Covenant 


Funny old world

It's an odd thing, the blogosphere. Posts that leave me feeling smugly pleased with myself attract no comments at all.

I thought 'End game' was stodgily written on a weekend spent ploughing through porridge. But it seems to have been picked up and to have annoyed Philip Turner of the ACI, of all people, and for what it didn't say, of all reasons.

I admit to being quite chuffed.

Addressing the Primates in Dublin
What's even more odd is that I agree with Dr Turner, if only to a limited degree. I agree that the concentration of monarchical powers in bureaucratic structures is wholly undesirable and deleterious to the well-being of the Communion.

But for Turner to suggest that 'Clearly a bureaucratically structured federation of autonomous churches meets with his [my] approval.' on the basis of what I have not said is going well beyond the evidence. He could not be expected to look further at my blog but I sincerely hope no-one reading it would deduce that I am at all pleased or satisfied with this turn of events.

On precedent
Turners' complaint that 'It would appear that precedent now means nothing.' is an interesting point. He may mean the term legalistically but I hear it in historical terms. Historical precedent used to be a significant argument (at least in the councils of the Church of England) but it was an expansive concept: to find an historical precedent for some development you wished to make in the present was a strong, but not sufficient, supporting argument in your favour.

I agree that there has been a general dismissal of precedent, but not in Turner's terms. The elevation of biblically-based arguments to be the sole and sufficient grounds for justification of change in the church has very largely driven out historically-based debate and argument. I would like to reassert the importance of historical method and understanding alongside biblical, theological, ecclesiological and other grounds in faithful Christian argumentation.

Historically (at least in the Anglican Communion) the concentration of monarchical powers is indeed unprecedented. But we didn't arrive at it all at once - it has emerged from a series of steps, each a small precedent, taken over the last few years without (I believe) conscious design at the beginning of that process. It is as though the tide has withdrawn and we can suddenly see what is left after the storm has reshaped the beach. Though, just to be clear, I don't think that makes it right.

But I do think it's a bit disingenuous of Turner to generalise quite so far from the disavowal of one particular precedent, the
“enhanced responsibility” Lambeth requested the Primates assume nor to subsequent actions by the Primates intended to exercise that responsibility.
This was substantively rejected sometime ago. And there are other, more collegial and less domineering, descriptions of and statements about the Primates' Meeting that are also precedents.

The coming Communion
I am amused that Dr Turner attributes so much to me on the basis of what I don't say. So such, in fact, that 'Bagshaw’s view of an Anglican future gives the lie to all that God is up to ...' Really? Maybe he's right but all I thought I was doing was describing what I saw happening. I wasn't seeking either to praise or bury it.

Perhaps (and I've done this myself) he's merely using my post as a mirror, conveniently positioned so as to reflect his own views back to him, albeit reversed.  In his writing I see a desire for one particular future for the Communion, in mine he sees no particular future at all. Perhaps both are caricatures?

I am, however, more narked than entertained by one aspect of Turner's article. He accuses me of describing the people in GAFCON as 'minor irritants'. If he'd read the piece more carefully he'd would have seen this was not so. I predicted that GAFCON would 'undoubtedly lay claim to the Anglican brand' and this would be confusing. The confusion, not the people, is the minor irritant.

He and I have been on opposite sides of the trenches in the late civil and although I cheerfully oppose all that the ACI and GAFCON stand for and propound I have never doubted nor impugned their personal or collective conviction, faith or integrity and I hope (and will apologise if I have) that I have never written so casually.

I think Dr Turner agrees with my basic point that we are now looking at the end of the conflict and the beginning of a new pattern of Anglicanism. Yet he does so from the unsuccessful side. He says (and he seems to specialise in being horrified),
amongst those absent from the Primates' Meeting ....
I am horrified by the future Bagshaw foresees because in it he appears to find no meaningful place for those who absented themselves from the Dublin meeting. 
Turner's missed the meaning of the word 'absent'. Those who chose not to be present have chosen not to participate in the councils of the Communion. They were accorded meaningful respect at the meeting but the terms on which they might have attended were not acceptable to the majority. They may be in the right but they are not in the driving seat. Perhaps Turner should explain what meaning (and, presumably, influence) those who absent themselves should have, and why.

All told I'm tickled to have niggled the good Dr Turner.  As to my own views, there's already a half-written post on the way I would like to see things change, though I don't think I'll be able to finish it before the weekend. It would no doubt horrify Dr. Turner should he chose to read it.

*   *   *

And thanks, I think, to Pluralist 


Whereas ...

The Diocese of East Carolina has voted against the Anglican Covenant.
The 128th Diocesan Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina

Whereas, as they say a lot, the Covenant
  1.  sets out a statement of faith, mission and interdependent life for the Communion
  2.  raises the Instruments of Unity to 'governing bodies with unprecedented power'
  3.  states that questions may be raised about another provinces' actions but gives no process for doing so
  4. has the stated purpose to aid proclaiming the gospel, offering God's love, maintain the Spirit in the bond of peace and enable 'all God's people to attain the full stature of Christ' - and yet 'yet can be read as creating a Church of full members, second class members and former members.(ACC 4.2.7)', and
  5. despite the democratic structure of TEC they would be asked to 'submit our processes of discernment to the will of an ill-defined body without checks and balances'
They are happy to keep talking, but do not approve the covenant.

THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that this 128th Convention of the Diocese of East Carolina requests that the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church to express our desire that any future Covenant presented to this The Episcopal Church represent more truly, and with greater clarity and full recognition of voices of laity and clergy, our Anglican tradition and Christian faith.

Good for them.  It's a small voice against the noises of those who want a covenant and it's very welcome.


End game

I am now confident that, at last, we have finally come to the beginning of the end of the schism in Anglicanism, though not in a way I had anticipated.

In the US (and Canada?) court cases over property are being settled in favour of the official church and to the dismay of the schismatics. For example: Pittsburgh, Fort Worth and British Colombia.  Legal actions are not finished, of course, but the end of the tunnel grows closer.

It seems that, in some places at least, this is leading to a shaking out of those who really want to go on ideological grounds and reconciliation with those who simply wanted to stay in the places they had always worshipped. The suspension of normal business inevitable with unresolved cases is now over and people can start to get back to normality - even though the landscape has changed.  The senior leadership of a Diocese can concentrate on their primary tasks of leadership, nourishing and dealing with the normal headaches of any organization.

Internationally, the GAFCONites now have sufficient internal cohesion and decision making structures to enable them to be a self-sufficient separate body. They will undoubtedly lay claim to the Anglican brand, at least for a while, but while this may be confusing it is just a minor irritant.

The Primates in the Dublin sun
I prefer the French: Réunion des Primats
Which leaves the rest of us and the extraordinary Primates' Meeting.

Days 1 & 2, once the preliminaries were over, focused on the substantive issues that Primates face in their own Provinces, not on the Communion itself.

Day 3 began with 'Primacy'. I suspect this is a hot issue now for two reasons. First, the Primates (who, being more elevated, see further than most) were trying to articulate their role in a Church that they can see has already changed - much ecclesiological reflection is post hoc self-justification. The second reason was evident in their method. They took a detailed look at the differences between their roles, activities and powers in the different provinces. This is about the polity of the church, not theology, about preparing to work better in the new Anglican Communion, whatever shape that will have.

The ecclesiological emphasis was also predominant on Day 4. The Archbishop of Burundi, Bernard Ntahoturi, presented the reflections of The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission for Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO), a merger of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations and the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission.  Snappy.
He told fellow Primates that the December meeting of IASCUFO in South Africa saw the members work in four groups: one studying the definition of ‘church’. Archbishop Bernard said, “We are asking: ‘Is the Anglican Communion a Church or a communion of Churches?’” The second group is looking at the Anglican Communion Covenant and resources for studying it. The third group is studying the Instruments of Communion, their theological meaning and how they relate to one another. The fourth group is considering the topic of ‘reception’, that is how the work of the Instruments and of ecumenical dialogues is communicated and understood at all levels of the Anglican Communion.
Day 5 concluded this ecclesiological thread with discussion of the Primates' Standing Committee.  It then moved to other matters: gender-based violence and 'a range of [other] issues of international concern'.

Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi &
Primus David Robert Chillingworth
Press Conference: Photo ACNS
The briefing for Day 6 opened with a somewhat defensive note that 'These briefings have been prepared on a daily basis by Anglican Communion Office staff with oversight from a variety of Primates representing different parts of the Communion.'  They tidied up a number of documents for promulation and held a press conference (podcast - I listened but could barely hear most questions and wasn't much enlightened by the answers). They concluded with Communion.

The official papers are available here.

I think George Conger is right: it is the end of the Communion we once thought we knew.

The Primates' meeting is to be a consultative forum with no powers of instruction or direction. Powerful and influential, certainly, but these stem from the role of participants within their own Provinces, not across provinces. As the Primus said in the press conference, this is a Communion of independent provinces.

Gonger is also right about the concentration of powers in the hands of the Archbishop of Canterbury.  The Standing Committee is to be the Archbishop's 'consultative council'. In effect the Diocesan structure of the English Church is writ global: the monarchical Archbishop rules and courtiers advise. They have no veto.

A Communion for the twenty-first century
So this would now seem to be the shape of the Communion:
  • Each province is autonomous.  
  • There is a stronger recognition of the differences of structure, decision making and distribution of powers within each province. Pressures towards harmonisation have been rebuffed.
  • The motif of 'family' has resurfaced, specifically in its aspect of 'blood is thicker than water', i.e. we disagree but continue together. Clearly this is only true for those family members who are prepared to stay together.
  • There is a renewed emphasis on regionalism, facilitated by the Primates' Standing Committee. This will be a difficult trick to pull off effectively: on the one hand the centralising agenda will still pull matters towards the Archbishop of Canterbury and, on the other, the defence of autonomy will pull people apart. However, if successful, regional groupings could well supply an intermediate layer of debate and discussion which will enable better co-ordination of a looser Communion to the benefit of all.
  • It is an ever more clerical Communion. Unless regional meetings include the laity as full participants they will reinforce the dominance of  bishops.
  • The more deliberative nature of the Lambeth Conference (if continued) and Primates' Meeting will leave a vacuum. Some people will always want clear and authoritative statements despite and because it's a murky and ambiguous world. There will still be a demand for the equivalent of Lambeth Conference Resolutions - but these should remain of moral and persuasive authority, given force only when incorporated in each separate province following their own distinct procedures . 
  • Power will flow to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Leadership of global deliberation will flow to the international consultative bodies. Thus power will flow to the Anglican Communion Office. Information and administration is power and it will all go though the ACO & Lambeth Palace staff.
  • The Anglican Consultative Council will be marginalised.  Like an English Deanery Synod it will make work for itself but its primary function now is merely to vote for (some of the) members of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.  
  • The SCAC itself, which briefly looked as though it would hold the Communion's strings, will become a rubber stamp to endorse decisions made between the Archbishop of Canterbury, the General Secretary of the Communion, the ACO & Lambeth Palace staff.
The place of the Covenant in this is not clear.  Clearly the Covenant is not dead.  The logic of this shape of the Communion would marginalise it, perhaps draw any teeth, but the question remains: will the Covenant be an effective document or will it now join the honoured ranks of documents with little or no consequence?

I'm still afraid it's the former. If passed the Covenant contains so many powers-in-embryo that it will inevitably be used.

[Slightly amended 6/2/11]