I am actually quite heartened by what I read here. There‚Äôs nothing that I would have to ‚Äúcross my fingers‚Äù to sign onto. It‚Äôs clearly rooted in both Holy Scripture and the traditions of the Church. It‚Äôs a pragmatic and reasonable document.
One of its effects would be to create a ‚Äúreferee‚Äù – the Primates Meeting – in cases of serious provincial level dispute. This is uniquely different than a Pope and not a confessional statement. It is a conciliar solution. I like it because I believe in a fundamental way that we must always work to discern God‚Äôs will from within a believing community.
I‚Äôm reading a number of people posting already that they are uncomfortable giving up any of the Episcopal Church‚Äôs autonomy to such a group. I guess I‚Äôd have to disagree with them. I‚Äôve often thought that both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion needed some way to explicitly state that some positions were ‚Äúout of bounds‚Äù. I think this need is true in all parts of the Church and in all parts of the Communion. The border crossings, the movement toward lay presidency, the issue of same-gender blessings to name a few are all things that have allowed or forbidden in local contexts.
Even speaking just for the Episcopal Church, we as a body have yet to be able to find a way to invite badly behaving bishops to stand down from their positions and to consider more carefully the needs of the whole body as being more important than the needs of the diocese they serve or the constituency they‚Äôve gathered.
Do I have a quibble? I guess I do. I‚Äôm concerned that there be enough looseness in the Covenant that local communities could provide both appropriate pastoral care to their members and also that there be sufficient freedom for the local congregations to be able to be open the calling of the Holy Spirit (with the caveat that any innovations would have to be ultimately accepted by the larger body.)
I expect everyone around the Communion is going to want to take some time to work through all the ramifications. I know I need to. But this is a good place to start from.