So, we approach our last day at the House of Bishops’ meeting. It will undoubtedly be a difficult one in which, presumably, we will depose our brother John David Schofield for abandoning the communion of The Episcopal Church.
It’s been an up and down meeting. Wonderful worship with our “Bishops’ Choir” doing its usual splendid work (they are taping a CD for charity at this meeting). Good work on becoming “reconcilers” if not completely “reconciled.” We heard a report from Canon Philip Groves on the communion-wide “listening process” designed to hear stories of gay and lesbian Christians around the world. And we worked on “Millenium Development Goal 3” on Gender Equality and the protection of women and children.
The most painful session was learning that our brother Gene Robinson’s (and our) request for him to be included in the Lambeth Conference in some official way has been rejected by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Even his request simply to pray with his brother and sister bishops during the retreat and during Bible studies. Unbelievable! We will surely make a statement expressing our dismay and sadness at this decision. And we will find ways to stay connected with him during the Conference.
Heard reports on theological education, a proposed new medical insurance program, reorganization at the Church Center, and work on the Title IV disciplinary canons for clergy. Last night we spent some time discussing the new draft of a “Proposed Anglican Covenant.”
There are the usual concerns about the constitutional and legal implications of signing on to an international set of “canons” which might jeopardize our ability to say legitimately that we are “autonomous” (make our own laws/canons). And concerns about “power to the Primates” on doctrinal and other issues. Concerns about too much emphasis on “Church of England formularies” (i.e. 1662 Prayer Book, 39 Articles, their Ordinal) rather than referring more broadly to “Anglican formularies.”
Personally, I think we can deal with all those matters. Draft 2 is clearly moving in the right direction. We are to work with it more at Lambeth, the writing team will then prepare a 3rd Draft which will go to the Anglican Consultative Council. If they reject it, it will go back for more work. If they accept it, we will begin the process of having it voted on in the 38 Provinces.
I think there is time for us to improve the document still further. It is clear to me that some kind of Anglican Covenant will be put forth and ultimately signed. The only question is…will we be part of it?