Proposed Statement Of Clarification For Adoption Of The Covenant

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Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

As we have noted several times in recent months, the final text of the Anglican Covenant assigns important tasks defined in Section 4 to a committee designated the “Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.” There is currently no committee in the Anglican Communion bearing that title or capable of performing those tasks. The ACC standing committee was briefly referred to by the Section 4 title, but that name was not given it by the ACC. In any case in July 2010 the standing committee of the new company intended to replace the former ACC, noting objections to the title, agreed that it would be known simply as the standing committee.

Moreover, the ACC committee cannot fulfill the role defined by the Covenant, which makes the Section 4 committee “responsible to” both the Primates’ Meeting and the ACC, in the case of the latter as it was defined by its former constitution. Under the ACC’s new corporate arrangement, the members of its standing committee now comprise the entire membership and management of the ACC for legal purposes. Nor is there any meaningful way in which that committee could be said to be responsible to the Primates’ Meeting as contemplated by the Covenant.

Accordingly, it is necessary for covenanting churches to clarify what committee they intend to perform the functions specified in Section 4. Adopting the Covenant without such a clarification would suggest that the ACC standing committee is intended for this role when it is manifestly unsuited for the task. But it is not necessary to amend the Covenant text for this or broader purposes because the text does not explicitly identify the ACC committee as it is now constituted. Unnecessarily amending the Covenant would also run the very real risk of splitting the Communion into groups that had adopted different texts. The final text as proposed constitutes a common understanding of the Communion and its structures, widely held by the member churches, that should not be given up through unilateral amendment.

What is required, therefore, is not an amendment but a clarification to specify transitional procedures and to establish on a provisional basis a committee capable of performing the tasks defined in Section 4. Among other things, this provisional committee would arrange for a committee recognized by the covenanting churches to fulfill the Covenant duties on an ongoing basis.

Accordingly, we offer the following suggestion for a way forward in light of the confusion over the status of the ACC and the committee specified in Section 4. We propose that each church adopting the Covenant also adopt the following statement of clarification and attach it as an integral part of the adoption to the instrument by which they formally enter into the covenant:

At the time the text of the Anglican Communion Covenant was sent to the member churches of the Anglican Communion in December 2009, no existing body met the requisites for the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion described in Section 4 of the Covenant. Since that time, that situation remains the case, and, further, the ACC itself may have been replaced by a different body with a constitution and legal structure such that neither it nor its standing committee are capable of functioning as contemplated by the final text of the Covenant. Accordingly, this adoption is expressly subject to the following clarification of terms used in the Anglican Communion Covenant:

The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, as specified in Section Four, shall initially and provisionally consist of the Primate or one ACC member designated by each Church of the Anglican Communion that has either adopted the Covenant pursuant to section 4.1.4 or begun the process of adoption and such initial Committee shall have full authority to adopt rules that provide for the appointment of their successors and the conduct of the committee’s business. For the avoidance of doubt, the functions of this Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion as specified in Section Four of the Covenant shall not be exercised by the committee known as “the Standing Committee” that is established by the Articles of Association of the Anglican Consultative Council unless and until the provisional Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion is satisfied that the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council can fulfill the duties specified in Section Four.

The Anglican Consultative Council, as specified in section 3.1.4, shall be a council defined by the membership and functions specified in the constitution referenced in that paragraph or any successor constitution that establishes a council enjoying all the rights and performing all the functions of the council established by the constitution referenced in section 3.1.4.

August 22 2010 03:35 pm | Articles