At the most recent House of Bishops meeting at Camp Allen in Texas, I made the following statement about the proposed Anglican Covenant:
“First, I want to remember the late Bishop Bob Anderson, who, when an Anglican covenant was first proposed within the recommendations of the Windsor Report, warned the House of Bishops that if the Anglican Covenant became a reality, it would change the nature of Anglicanism. I took him to mean that we hold together as a spiritual body, whose bonds are more than affection, but are the love of Christ, the vivifying blood that reaches each community of the Communion equally. To put in place a covenant to codify this love is to ratify the fear that inspired the Windsor Report itself.
I also want to remember the statement of the Primate of Korea, who with two other primates addressed our House of Bishops on the subject of the proposed covenant. He strikingly said that the province he served would reject the proposed covenant, because, in their considered opinion, to accept would be to internalize the colonialism the has inhered in the historical relationship between the Anglican provinces of the West and their province.
My own memory is of having participated in the Lambeth Conference, 2008, a conference where it was made widely clear that we would have a non-legislative meeting – no voting. There were a series of meetings held on the proposed covenant, all of which I attended. The points of view expressed about the fourth part of the proposed covenant, which contains a mechanism whereby errant (in the judgment of some larger part of the Communion) provinces could have their status as full and equal members of the Communion reduced, were strongly negative. In our daily Indaba groups (discussion groups of about 40 bishops each), the proposed covenant was a discussion topic on one day. Though there was no voting, as advertised, amazingly the report that came out from Lambeth regarding the content of the conference said that a majority of participants favored an Anglican covenant. No mention was made of the opinions expressed in the meetings focused on the proposed covenant.
I also want to note that the fourth part, the part ‘with teeth,’ has stayed in every draft of the covenant – we must take it to be a firmly fixed, constituent part of the proposed covenant. Accepting any part of the covenant will be taken to mean approval of the fourth part as well. We must be aware of this.
Finally, it has been argued that by approving some portions of the proposed covenant, The Episcopal Church could signal its desire to be at unity with the Communion as a whole. Let me say that each of you here, and the dioceses you serve, through your formal companion diocese relationships and your many lines of mutual ministry and service that stretch in every direction across the whole of the Communion have sent the strongest, most positive message possible about our solidarity with the Communion. Affirming the Covenant, besides the negatives factors I have mentioned, is totally unnecessary to tell our sisters and brothers that we love them.”