Thursday, July 4, 2013

Joint Assembly - Day Three

After a further joint session this morning, we had the first parallel Anglican and Lutheran sessions this afternoon and evening.

The early parts of the Anglican General Synod started a trifle roughly as the chair and officers worked out how to use the electronic voting technology more effectively.  The interim result was that simple and uncontroversial votes took far longer than necessary while the election of the next Prolocutor took about 15 minutes instead of most of the afternoon.  The problem was exacerbated by the Primate's initial insistence that the results of each and every vote needed to be walked over to him rather than being posted immediately screen.  The bulk of these issues were corrected in the evening sitting. Although we are still slightly behind on the resolution committee's work plan, it is less urgent than it had been.

A good supply of our Coalition's "Yes to Communion - No to Covenant" buttons arrived last night.  Without a dedicated distribution spot like we had last year at the Episcopal Church General Convention I can't say distribution has been brisk, but the buttons are moving.

The main challenge Covenantsceptics face, of course, is the optimistic assessment that the Covenant is a dead letter.  The fact that Anglican Communion General Secretary Canon Kenneth Kearon didn't mention the Covenant at all during his brief address tends to reinforce the general complacency. The widespread hope seems to be that simply punting the thing down the road for three years will mean it's disappeared before ever the Canadians need to set aside our cultural politeness and actually say anything. Fortunately the complacency is somewhat shaken when Synod members discover that the Church in Hong Kong adopted the Covenant just a few weeks ago.

I have been testing the prospect of urging the Covenant's critics to vote against the motion from the Council of General Synod. A first blush, it seems to make little difference if the resolution is passed or not. Either way, there is no way for Canada to take a position prior to 2016. However, as I pointed out last night, passing the motion obliges the Council of General Synod to keep the conversation going and to present another motion in 2016. By contrast, defeating the motion proposed means that neither CoGS nor General Synod 2016 are obliged to do anything at all.  This would not preclude further discussion or even further resolutions in 2016, but it would mean that the Anglican Church of Canada need not waste resources discussing a proposal which would be unlikely ever to pass any Canadian General Synod.

One other fun fact about the Covenant came to my attention today when speaking to my own Metropolitan. The constitution and canons of the Province of Rupert's Land are fairly clear that certain actions of General Synod have no force in the ecclesiastical province unless and until they are ratified by the Provincial Synod. In other words, in the unlikely event the Canadian General Synod ever did pass the Covenant, it would continue to be of no force in the (geographically) largest internal province of the Canadian Church. I don't believe any of the other three internal provinces have the same kind of provision, but at least I'd be safe.

No comments: