by Jean Mayland, August 2012

The process of debating the Covenant is continuing throughout the Communion. The GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference) Churches have declared that it is too weak and so do not support it - though many of the members of this group have still to vote as Provinces.

Provinces who have adopted the Covenant

  1. La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico - General Synod adopted the Covenant in June 2010
  2. The Church of the Province of Myanmar - Provincial Council adopted the Covenant in November 2010
  3. Church in the Province of the West Indies - Provincial Standing Committee in November 2010 ratified an approval in principle by the Provincial Synod of December 2009, thus adopting the Covenant
  4. Church of the Province of South East Asia - Provincial Synod adopted the Covenant, together with their own Preamble, in April 2011
  5. Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea - Provincial Council adopted the Covenant in November 2011

Provinces who have rejected the Covenant

  1. The Church of England through its Diocesan Synods
  2. The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia
  3. The Episcopal Church in the Philippines
  4. The Scottish Episcopal Church

The following Churches are in the process of debating it

  1. The Anglican Church of Australia - 2 Dioceses have aready rejected it
  2. The Anglican Church of Canada
  3. The Anglican Church of Southern Africa

The Church of Ireland 'subscribed' to the Covenant on 13 May 2011. The General Synod intended to make it clear that the Covenant did not supplant existing governing documents of the Church of Ireland.

The Church in Wales passed a motion on 18 April 2012 indicating its willingness to consider the Covenant but asking the Anglican Consultative Council to 'clarify the status of the Covenant in the light of its rejection by the Church of England'.

In the United States the Episcopal Church considered the Covenant at the General Convention in July 2012. The General Convention voted to 'decline to take a position on the Anglican Covenant' and 'to continue to monitor the progress of the Covenant until the next General Convention in 2015'. The General Convention went on, however, to pass a resolution to agree services for the blessing of same sex unions. This shows where that Church really is.

For now we must wait to see what the Anglican Consultative Council does when it meets in November and who the next Archbishop of Canterbury will be; an appointment which is crucial for the Church of England and the whole Anglican Communion.


Jean Mayland is a retired priest and former Co-ordinating Secretary and  Assistant General Secretary at Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.

All Church of England diocesan synods were asked to decide whether to support the Anglican Covenant. By a majority of 26-18 they voted against.

DateDiocese Legislatureforagainstabstain
12/3/2011 Wakefield cross Bishops 2    
Clergy 16 17 1
Laity 10 23  
19/3/2011 Lichfield tick Bishops 4    
Clergy 39 11  
Laity 57 9  
26/9/2011 Durham yes Bishops 1    
Clergy 22 12 1
Laity 41 14 4
28/10/2011 Europe (Bishops council) yes Bishops 2    
Clergy 13   1
Laity 9   1
10/11/2011 Edmundsbury & Ipswich no Bishops 2    
Clergy 9 29 4
Laity 8 33 9
19/11/2011 Birmingham no Bishops 1    
Clergy 17 17 1
Laity 12 25 1
19/11/2011 Truro no Bishops   1  
Clergy 5 18 3
Laity 8 28 3
3/12/2011 Bristol yes Bishops 2    
Clergy 14 9 1
Laity 17 3 3
4/2/2012 Canterbury yes Bishops 1    
Clergy 26 14  
Laity 39 13  
4/2/2012 Derby no Bishops   1  
Clergy 1 21 2
Laity 2 24 2
4/2/2012 Gloucester no Bishops 1   1
Clergy 16 28 1
Laity 14 28 6
18/2/2012 Salisbury no Bishops 1 1  
Clergy 11 20 2
Laity 19 27  
18/2/2012 Leicester no Bishops 2    
Clergy 15 21 3
Laity 21 14 4
18/2/2012 Portsmouth no Bishops 1    
Clergy 12 17  
Laity 13 17 2
18/2/2012 Rochester no Bishops 1    
Clergy 8 30 3
Laity 14 26 7
25/2/2012 Sheffield yes Bishops 2    
Clergy 16 6 1
Laity 31 9  
25/2/2012 Winchester yes Bishops 3    
Clergy 22 11 4
Laity 38 10 2
1/3/2012 Sodor and Man no Bishops 1    
Clergy 5 12  
Laity 21 15 1
3/3/2012 Chelmsford no Bishops 2 1 1
Clergy 27 29 7
Laity 31 30 3
3/3/2012 Bradford yes Bishops 1    
Clergy 15 9 2
Laity 16 15 3
3/3/2012 Hereford no Bishops 2    
Clergy 15 15 1
Laity 21 23 1
10/3/2012 Carlisle yes Bishops 2    
Clergy 19 13 2
Laity 33 17  
10/3/2012 Ripon & Leeds no Bishops 2    
Clergy 12 22  
Laity 8 17  
10/3/2012 Bath & Wells no Bishops   1 1
Clergy 17 22  
Laity 18 23 4
10/3/2012 Coventry yes Bishops 2    
Clergy 22 7  
Laity 26 2  
10/3/2012 Southwark no Bishops 1   1
Clergy 10 27 2
Laity 21 32  
10/3/2012 Worcester no Bishops 2    
Clergy 5 19  
Laity 6 22  
17/3/2012 Norwich yes Bishops 3    
Clergy 26 10 1
Laity 19 15 1
17/3/2012 Liverpool no Bishops   2  
Clergy 10 26 1
Laity 8 28 5
17/3/2012 St Albans no Bishops 2    
Clergy 21 31  
Laity 17 44  
17/3/2012 Chester yes Bishops 3    
Clergy 22 14 5
Laity 26 23 5
17/3/2012 Ely no Bishops 1   1
Clergy 16 23 1
Laity 19 19  
24/3/2012 Lincoln no Bishops   3  
Clergy 6 28 3
Laity 2 34 2
24/3/2012 Oxford (exact figures vary but result confirmed) no Bishops 3 1  
Clergy 14 36 2
Laity 32 24 3
24/3/2012 Blackburn yes Bishops 2    
Clergy 40 7 1
Laity 33 16 1
24/3/2012 Exeter yes Bishops 3    
Clergy 28 8 1
Laity 30 20 2
24/3/2012 Guildford no Bishops 2    
Clergy 14 22 1
Laity 23 18 2
24/3/2012 Peterborough (corrected) yes Bishops 2    
Clergy 22 19 1
Laity 28 13 7
29/3/2012 London no Bishops 2 1  
Clergy 17 32 1
Laity 26 33 2
31/3/2012 Manchester no Bishops 1 2  
Clergy 15 25  
Laity 12 23 7
21/4/2012 Southwell & Nottingham (date corrected) yes Bishops 2    
Clergy 15 5  
Laity 31 6 1
21/4/2012 Chichester yes Bishops 2    
Clergy 29 9 1
Laity 39 25 1
28/4/2012 Newcastle no Bishops 2    
Clergy 8 18  
Laity 14 15  
28/4/2012 York yes Bishops 4    
Clergy 26 5  
Laity 38 5 1

Modern Church has been sceptical about the content and implications of the Windsor process since it began.


The official papers:

There are three main groups. Caroline Hall offers a brief but informative overview.

  • Opponents who consider it too tolerant;
  • Continuing supporters;
  • Opponents who consider it too intolerant.

At no point in all the discussion of the Covenant has any budget been made public.

Of course the actual cost will depend on a whole lot of things that are completely uncertain at this point. But assumptions can be made (and probably have been made somewhere in the Anglican Communion Office) which will generate  an indicative budget.

Central costs will rise simply because the Covenant envisages the Anglican Communion becoming more centralised. Experience suggests this is a one-way ratchet as few matters once brought to the centre are then returned to a lower level and because the world is increasingly interconnected.

Central costs will be spread across every member Church because that is the largest source of funding for Anglicanism's central bodies (c. 66%, 2008).

In addition each member Church will be expected to spend more internally on arrangements to liaise between it and the centre.

At the moment a disproportionate amount of revenue comes from TEC (the Church of the USA) and Trinity Church Wall Street. If the provisions of the Covenant mean TEC is excluded from, or marginalised in, the Communion it is predictable that their funds will will also steadily vanish.

The most recent published accounts for the ACO (2008) show income of £1.86m and expenditure of £1.76m. Around £1.3m goes on staffing, offices and other direct costs. One person was paid in excess of £60,000. Contributions in kind (largely from North America) are noted but not valued. There are other separate charitable funds which support global Anglicanism not included in these accounts. These too receive significant income from North America.

In the end almost all the costs are be borne directly by the lay people whose giving sustains the church. Alongside the silence on costs there is no apparent mechanism for accounting for this expenditure to the donors.

Possible additional costs implied by the Covenant proposals

'Normal' times (annual background costs)

Item

Costs borne by

'mechanisms, agencies or institutions' (§4.2.6)

Perhaps:  one officer, office, support staff (1 person?), travel within the Province, publicity budget - but each Church will decide its own level of provision

Each member Church directly

Equalisation fund (to enable poorer provinces to participate fully)

Richer Churches - building up a reserve?

International travel

Note: email etc. makes much communication virtually free, but it won't be enough

Each member Church plus equalisation fund

International conferences

Each member Church plus equalisation fund

Mediation

  • Set-up, training / familiarisation and maintaining a panel of approved mediators

Each member Church paying into central fund

Central costs

  • Increased senior and support staff to address increased workload; increased travel

Each member Church paying into central fund

Legal costs

  • Opinions on specific issues; insurance against legal proceedings

Each member Church paying into central fund

Capital funds

  • As responsibilities and costs grow a larger reserve fund will be needed to carry the ACO across the uncertainties of donation income and to ensure the stability of service and to cover liabilities

Each member Church paying into central fund


Additional costs of, say, intervention in a dispute between two members

Item

Costs borne by

Mediation (people, travel, accommodation, meetings)

Central fund

Each participating Church?

(Possibly indirectly to avoid biassing mediation)

Central costs

  • Advisory group
  • Additional travel, meetings, support staff time, reports

Central fund

Legal costs

Central fund and / or participating Churches


Additional costs of a complex major international dispute

Speculation here becomes even less reliable. Complex multi-directional mediation would be a significant cost if thought practicable.

It is likely that those caught up in such a dispute would be reluctant to increase their giving to central funds at a point when central costs will rise; it is possible that contributions would shrink.

It is probable that a large-scale dispute would have novel features which will demand innovative responses that are impossible to cost - except that they will be expensive.