The Church in Wales has declined to endorse the Anglican Covenant. The Governing Body – the Welsh church’s general synod – on 18 April 2012 passed a motion calling for further study of the covenant in light of its failure to be affirmed by a majority of dioceses of the Church of England.
The original motion proposed by the Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt. Rev. Gregoy Cameron and Mrs. Helen Biggin of the Diocese of Llandaff asked the church to subscribe to the covenant. In support of the motion, Bishop Cameron stated the “Covenant is Anglican, setting out the wells from which we draw out faith.”
“It is an affirmation of the Lambeth Quadrilateral, of Bible, Sacraments, Creeds and Apostolic Succession. To these are added the tradition of Common Prayer and the Anglican way of teaching from scripture, reason and tradition.”
He added the covenant was “about communion, sustaining one another, working with one another, taking one another seriously.”
Bishop Cameron noted the covenant “not a law, about relationships not legalities—a commitment to work with one another. It gives us a modest framework to hold the churches of the Communion together in mutual respect and cooperation. It gives us the pathways rather than to shout at each other. It sets out the foundation of our common life, rather than the drama of boycotts. It gives something for the whole of the Communion and not just a part, a flexible commitment and not a partisan declaration.”
Mrs. Biggen asked the Governing Body not to be swayed by the Church of England’s apparent rejection of the covenant, saying ““this is not game over”.
The bishop of Swansea and Brecon, the Rt. Rev. John Davies moved an amendment to the motion, saying he believed a pause was in order. The bishop believed the covenant was too “legalistic” and would stifle the communion, not strengthen it.
The amended text proposed by Bishop Davies read:
That the Governing Body: (i) affirm the commitment of the Church in Wales to the life of the Anglican Communion; (ii) affirm its readiness to engage with any ongoing process of consideration of the Anglican Communion Covenant; (iii) request clarification from the 15th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council as to the status and direction of the Covenant process in the light of the position of the Church of England; (iv) urge upon the instruments of Communion a course of action which continues to seek reconciliation and the preservation of the Communion as a family of interdependent but autonomous Churches.”
Rising in support of the amended motion, Philip Price QC, chairman of the Standing Committee, stated the covenant did not address the problems besetting the communion. ““We have to consider still how to consult together, how to manage disagreement—and that remains a priority. We must continue to go down that road, exploring what it means to be Anglican. The Covenant has been hugely useful as a focus for asking the question and answering it in discussion with each other—what it means to be Anglican in the rough and tumble of the raw, everyday world in which we have to engage?”
The amended motion was put to a vote and passed by a strong margin.
Bishop Cameron sought to put a good face on the vote noting the Governing Body had given an “amber light” instead of the “green light.”
“However, I think we need to reaffirm our strong commitment to each other through the saving power of Christ revealed in the Gospels. That is what I believe the Covenant ultimately calls us to do and I hope one day the Church in Wales will be able to vote for it,” Bishop Cameron said.
First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.