November 30, 2010


This past Sunday I trooped up to St. Mary’s Manhattanville in Harlem, New York to facilitate a conversation about the Anglican Covenant. But before this discussion ever took place, I found myself regretting that I’d ever agreed to do this.

Truth be told, conversations about the Anglican Covenant drain me. The worst sermon I’ve ever heard, in fact, focused on the pros and cons of the Ridley-Cambridge draft as opposed to the St. Andrew’s draft. “Where’s the Good News?” I asked that day. And I continue to ask this when confronted by the covenant itself as well as the whirl of arguments for and against. 

But I digress. The Anglican Covenant matters. What’s more, the Presiding Bishop and Executive Council are urging all Episcopal parishes to study and discuss the Anglican Covenant with the idea that parishes will send responses to their diocesan leaders by Easter 2011. To help move this process along, Executive Council has prepared a study guide for parishes that includes background information, a brief timeline for upcoming decisions, the text of the covenant itself, and links to a few key essays.

Despite my dread, I met with a small group of St. Mary’s parishioners after the service, coffee in-hand, and found I really enjoyed the conversation. (I hope they did as well!) A few people were familiar with the text and issues at-hand, whereas others came with the basic question of “What on earth is going on here?” We discussed the background of the Covenant, a few concerns, and ultimately decided the means by which we will respond come early April. The group will read the text of the Covenant itself for our next discussion in late January.

In many ways, my questions remain pretty basic. Where’s the Good News? Can we resolve conflict without seeking to control it? Are we responding from a place of faith or fear? These are all questions that I look forward to discussing with the small group at St. Mary’s. In the meanwhile, however, I’d love to hear from you about how you are introducing and discussing the Anglican Covenant in your parish. As someone who will be facilitating this conversation over the course of a few months, I’d especially love to hear from you about additional tools/resources. Thank you!