That could only be seen as active interest and participation in the Covenant process, without seeing any previous model as privileged. It could describe the House’s understanding of how autonomy and responsibility are balanced in “interdependence.” It might express an opinion on the relative authority of statements of Primates meetings and of actions of the Anglican Consultative Council. It could conceivably be available for the June meeting of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada and the July meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England.
This could well be undertaken by the Bishops’ Theology Committee. With the announcement that the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council will attend the September meeting of the House of Bishops, presenting a draft at that meeting would be especially significant. Certainly, it could be offered by the House as evidence of a desire to remain in the Anglican Communion,
What brought this back to mind is the release by the Executive Committee of the Episcopal Church of a Study Guide on the Anglican Covenant Draft released as a part of the Tanzania Communiqué. A subcommittee of the International Concerns Standing Committee of the Executive Council has published the Study Guide in English, French, and Spanish.
Perhaps the most important part of the Study Guide is this paragraph:
All Episcopalians, including Deputies to General Convention, Bishops, members of Committees, Commissions, Agencies and Boards of the General Convention, as well as Standing Committees of Dioceses are encouraged to send their responses to: Response to the Draft Anglican Covenant, Offices of the General Convention, The Episcopal Church Center, 815 Second Avenue, New York, NY, 10017 by June 4, 2007. The Executive Council will then use these materials to inform its response to the Draft Covenant, which will be prepared by its October 2007 meeting. It is hoped that the views of all concerned will be expressed and reflected in the report produced by Executive Council.
This is exciting. One aspect of most Episcopal responses to the Tanzania Communiqué has been an emphasis on participation of all orders of ministry in determining God’s call to the Episcopal Church. (And remember that, according to the Book of Common Prayer, there are four, with Laity first. It’s on page 855.) That has been the reason for our insistence, affirmed by the Bishops, that only General Convention, and not the House of Bishops independently, could respond to issues of the consequence of participation in the Anglican Communion.
Now the Executive Council is asking all Episcopalians in all orders to respond. This is a real opportunity for all of us to be involved in brainstorming, or at least in the deliberative process. I certainly think this would be good grist for the blog mills, and I expect I’ll do some of that myself. In that conversation all of us might take part, whether Episcopalian or not. However, I think it more important that as many Episcopalians as possible send responses to this invitation, and to send thoughtful responses to the Executive Council.
Now, perhaps this seems a large task. The Study Guide itself is six pages, and has a series of questions. It looks in its way like an open-book final from seminary. On the other hand, this is not one of those tasks where “only those forms fully completed will be accepted.” I think there’s every reason to take it one question, one subject at a time, and send in what you do as you finish it.
So, let’s not let this opportunity pass. The Episcopal Church needs you – at least your thoughtful opinion – and is publicly asking for it. These are certainly important issues for our life together as Episcopalians and as Anglicans. Don’t leave it up just to us in the blogosphere, or the “chattering class.” Get in there: read, mark, learn, inwardly digest, and then write and send.