INTRODUCTION to Colloquium on the proposed Anglican Covenant
This conference about the Anglican Covenant, for me, has its roots in the summer of 2009, when the disturbing phrase "two-track communion" first appeared in the Church Times, citing a suggestion from the Archbishop of Canterbury, no less. I imagine that most of us still find that phrase, and indeed the threat of being divided into first and second class Anglicans, profoundly disturbing.
I used to be very proud of the Anglican Communion, the way we used to consult together and respect one another, the way we gave each other space to be led by the Holy Spirit in our own situations and cultures, not attempting to legislate for or control one another, but trusting one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.
But now - the ship of the church? Maybe rather a fleet of ships travelling in uncharted waters. Can we safely move along together in formation, listening to and obeying each other's warnings from around the fleet? Or is each ship better able to spot the rocks and whirlpools directly ahead of it, as we all move towards our goal? I'd bet on the latter. Maybe a better image for the Communion, more Canterbury-centred, is a large ocean liner - big, powerful, but handicapped by our very weight, unable to stop at short notice, or tack like a sail-boat to avoid a reef. The course that's been planned on the bridge could now be taking us straight onto the rocks, but there's no order to stop, slow down or change course.
That's how it looks to me, but I'm willing to be persuaded otherwise, and if any one can do it, it will be the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron, Bishop of St Asaph in Wales, who until early in 2009 was deputy secretary general of the Anglican Communion and right at the centre of Anglican Communion Affairs. After he has spoken, the Revd Jonathan Clatworthy of Modern Church will present his reservations about the Covenant; and after our break we look forward to Bishop Michael Burrows' take on the situation. But before we go to these speakers, here is Kate Turner from Belfast, who has been our lay member on the ACC for the past three conferences, in Hong Kong, Nottingham and Jamaica respectively, to give us some historical background.
Canon Ginnie Kennerley, Editor, SEARCH