Just what will the Covenant cost?

What will the Covenant cost? Who will pay? How will it be accounted?

And apologies for the long radio silence - I hope to put up a few more pieces on the Covenant from time to time, but no promises

At no point in all the discussion of the Covenant has any budget been made public.

Of course the actual cost will depend on a whole lot of things that are completely uncertain at this point. But assumptions can be made (and probably have been made somewhere in the ACO) which will generate an indicative budget.

Central costs will rise simply because the Covenant envisages the Anglican Communion becoming more centralised. Experience suggests this will be a one-way ratchet as few matters once brought to the centre are then returned to a lower level, and the world is increasingly interconnected.

Central costs will be spread across every member Church because that is the largest source of funding for Anglicanism’s central bodies (c. 66%, 2008).

In addition each member Church will be expected to spend more internally on arrangements to liaise between it and the centre.

At the moment a disproportionate amount of revenue comes from TEC and Trinity Church Wall Street. If the provisions of the Covenant mean TEC is excluded from, or marginalised in, the Communion it is predictable that their funds will will also steadily vanish.

The most recent published accounts for the ACO (2008) show income of £1.86m and expenditure of £1.76m. Around £1.3m goes on staffing, offices and other direct costs. One person was paid in excess of £60,000. Contributions in kind (largely from North America) are noted but not valued. There are other separate charitable funds which support global Anglicanism not included in these accounts. These too receive significant income from North America.

In the end almost all the costs are be borne directly by the lay people whose giving sustains the church. Alongside the silence on costs there is no apparent mechanism for accounting for expenditure to the donors.

Possible additional costs implied by the Covenant proposals, and who would pay:

‘Normal’ times (annual background costs)

  • ‘mechanisms, agencies or institutions’ (§4.2.6) ~ perhaps: one officer, office, support staff (1 person?), travel within the Province, publicity budget – but each Church will decide its own level of provision,
    Each member Church directly
  • Equalisation fund (to enable poorer provinces to participate fully)
    Richer Churches – building up a reserve?
  • International travel (while email etc. makes much communication virtually free, it won’t be enough).
    Each member Church plus equalisation fund
  • International conferences
    Each member Church plus equalisation fund
  • Mediation - Set-up, training / familiarisation and maintaining a panel of approved mediators
    Each member Church paying into central fund
  • Central costs - Increased senior and support staff to address increased workload; increased travel.
    Each member Church paying into central fund
  • Legal costs - Opinions on specific issues; insurance against legal proceedings
    Each member Church paying into central fund
  • Capital funds - As responsibilities and costs grow a larger reserve fund will be needed to carry the ACO across the uncertainties of donation income and to ensure the stability of service and to cover liabilities.
    Each member Church paying into central fund

Additional costs of, say, intervention in a dispute between two members.

  • Mediation (people, travel, accommodation, meetings)
    Central fund
    Each participating Church? (Possibly indirectly to avoid biassing mediation)
  • Central costs - Advisory group; Additional travel, meetings, support staff time, reports
    Central fund
  • Legal costs
    Central fund and / or participating Churches

Additional costs of a complex major international dispute.

Speculation here becomes even less reliable. Complex multi-directional mediation would be a significant cost if thought practicable.

It is likely that those caught up in such a dispute would be reluctant to increase their giving to central funds at a point when central costs will rise; it is possible that contributions would shrink.

It is most probable that a large-scale dispute would have novel features which will demand innovative responses that are impossible to cost in advance – except that they will be expensive.

My summary:
It's going to cost more. How much more depends on a lot of things but that doesn't matter because, if we all sign up we'll have to pay anyway. So don't mention money.


  1. By my understanding, the Episcopal Church currently ponies up more than 40% of the Communion budget. In essence, Rowan's abominable project is to have TEC finance the rope for its own lynching.

  2. Between the Canadians (blessings,) Americans (bishops) and Southern Cone (incursions) I think the proposed covenant has potential to cost Canterbury about half its budget. I think we have spotted the silver lining.