Presidential Address - March 2012

The Anglican Covenant will undermine not save the Communion

In his Presidential Address to the synod of the Diocese of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones readdressed his longstanding concerns about the creation of the Covenant. The Bishop told synod “far from being the salvation of the Communion the Anglican Covenant would undermine it”.

Bishop James set out six key concerns over the Covenant.
  • That in a litigious world where the religious dimension makes this more fraught the Covenant with “its explicit threats of ‘relational consequences’ will be making our Communion more vulnerable to those forces that propel people forward in litigation.”
  • That the Communion will become increasingly absorbed by internal order which will take time money and energy – he will state “my heartache here is that those precious gifts of time, money and energy should be directed to the mission of God”.
  • That the church “has been born for mission” and the Covenant can introduce a dynamic the makes the communion resistant to change. As he says “instead of setting us free to engage with a changing world it freezes us at a given point in our formation, holding us back and making us nervous about going beyond the boundaries and reaching out into God’s world.” The Bishop argues that the “church must be free to go into all the world and to engage with new cultures enabling us all to learn Christ”.
  • Pointing to the Diocese of Liverpool’s relationship with the Diocese of Akure and the Diocese of Viriginia he will say “the beauty of the Communion is that it allows for such ad hoc partnerships to spring up all over the world” and that “we learn most about the Gospel form those who differ from us”. The quasi legal nature of the Covenant will threaten that dynamic.
  • That through the Bible, the Creeds, the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons, the 39 Articles and Book of Common Prayer we have sufficient credentials for our common life.
  • Bishop James also talked about the act of grace that it is to be in Christ stating “when we are in Christ, we are in Christ with everybody else who is in Christ, whether we like it or not- or them or not”
The Bishop’s address continues his long stated contribution around how we should relate to those with whom we have differing theological or political viewpoints. From “Making space for truth and grace” to his speeches on the environment; relationships with other faiths and on the Ordination of women to the Episcopate the Bishop has urged a greater understanding of the opinions of those with whom we disagree. This is an approach the Bishop himself has taken within the Diocese of Liverpool as the diocese works together to pursue the mission of God in our region.

As Bishop James concludes “The Church of England and the Anglican Communion have over the centuries developed a generous embrace allowing seekers to taste and see the goodness of God. Within our borders there is a generous orthodoxy. There is space for the seeker to breathe, to enquire, to ask questions, to doubt and to grope towards faith and to find God. That I believe is a space within the Body of Christ worth preserving.”
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Presidential Address

Making Space for Truth and Grace