What would happen if the Covenant were to be defeated?

Some time ago Concerned Anglican left a comment on this blog:
I assume that you have asked a real and not rhetorical question? What would happen if by the grace of God the Covenant were to be defeated? 
and answered it,
Why, nothing would happen and that would be the best outcome, except that Rowan Williams' exit would be hastened.
I think the question may deserve a fuller exploration.

If the Covenant were to be defeated in the Church of England 
I guess the likelihood is that the Covenant process would continue globally. Too much in time, money and reputation has been invested in it for it to be abandoned. Nonetheless it would be wounded in substance and symbol, as Kevin Holdsworth writes,
The significance of this is very great. The Anglican Communion is predicated on everyone being in full communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is consequently very tricky to have a communion divided into two tiers with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s own province in the outer layer of somehow impaired or restricted communion.
Nonetheless (or, perhaps, therefore) I would predict a much geared-up campaign from the Anglican Communion Office to get it adopted in the rest of the Communion. If a sufficient number of Provinces adopted it then I predict it would be brought back to the CofE for another attempt. The arm-twisting and emotional pressure would then be much greater. 

It is possible that not only England but a number of other Provinces also decline to sign. One, the Philippines, has already rejected it, New Zealand is likely to reject it. There seems a good chance Scotland and Australia will say no. TEC and Canada too would be very leery of signing and, I think, will wait some time to see how the international wind blows before deciding. The constitutional implications are mind-boggling.

But the bigger group is the GAFCON churches. In my opinion, and looking through a small telescope to events far away from my window, I think there is an ever-increasing likelihood that they will withdraw from the ACC and Anglicanism. That will, finally, formalise the schism. (Some of the Global South Provinces, notably South East Asia, will, I guess, stay in but will find their allegiances very torn.)

The United Churches of North and South India and, probably, Hong Kong are most unlikely to sign because of state legislation which governs them.

and then ...
The Covenant was never a stand-alone document. It was part of a bureaucratic programme to reform the central organs of the Anglican Communion in the direction of greater interdependence, mutual accountability and narrower bounds of formal belief and expression of faith.

It is probable that those wedded to this programme will take a hard look at what remains, pick up the pieces and start all over again.

Yet, at my most optimistic, I would like to dream that the collapse of the programme would lead to a renewal of imagination of the church. As (I believe, but can't reference) Mark Harris said, the Covenant is a modernist solution to a post-modern problem.

So it is equally probable that the announcement of the death of the Covenant will trigger a creative flurry of writing, conferences and head scratching that will generate new ideas, reflection, alignments and church-political groupings. I think we need new ecclesiological thinking for a new post-modern world: global and local, independent and connected, ancient and renewed in recognisable but different configurations.

If the Covenant fails, I hope and pray that this will lead to a global Anglican church which none of us at the moment can imagine - renewed, reinvigorated, re-structured, and probably smaller.

1 comment:

  1. My guess is that Big PERSONALITY Man/Archbishop Orombi (retiring early in Uganda) is making himself available (a younger/wiser and more cunning/charismatic version of Drexel Gomez, Pete Akinola and Mourneer Anis/Venables/etc.) to become the enthroned head of Neo-Anglicanism Worldwide (Gafcon/Confessing Whatever´s Communion)...afterall, it´s ++Henry/Uganda who has the imagined manly/godly ¨spiritualike¨ appeal (and done his homework by alredy lobbying/entertaining all the All-African Anglican Bishop in Entebbe along with ¨in communion¨ Duncan Pitts/ACNA)...Opportunist Orombi will think he can pull this thing off (Primate Okoh/Nigeria is literally too occupied putting out explosions, and besides, he is *limited* as a worldwide leader because he´s plain old clumsy/scary and has little appeal).

    Then, yes, the smaller, renewed, reinvigorated, re-structured, Anglican Communion will keep on moving along (with a song in our hearts).