An Anglican Covenant?
The proposal seems logical enough and probably fairly describes where we are headed. Yet, one of the things I always loved about The Episcopal Church was that we had never been a confessional church. Other protestant churches had created tight statements of belief at the time of the Reformation on who was in and out. Detailed dogmatic statements were then viewed as critical as a group separated itself from Rome to become "the real church."
When Elizabeth I took over as head of the Church of England, the burning theological question was "How is Christ present in communion?" Her answer was the surprising, "I want a window into no man's soul." The unifying factor then a since was worship using the Book of Common Prayer. The guiding principle being that of Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, meaning "The Way of Praying is the Way of Believing."
If this seems to wishy washy, remember that our way of praying includes routine use of the two historic formulations of the Christian faith—The Nicene Creed and The Apostle's Creed. In fact, The ancient (used at least since 150 a.d. in baptisms) Apostle's Creed forms the basis of The Episcopal Churches Baptismal Covenant.
I had hoped it was in our baptismal covenant that we could find unity still. That covenant is action oriented, as in the baptismal covenant we commit ourselves to the faith of the Apostle's and service toward others in Jesus' name, I thought we were doing enough to hold us together. The Archbishop of Canterbury disagrees and we are now on track to get a new Anglican formulation of faith. I pray that it comes to reflect God's spirit and desire for the church as it currently only seems to reflect the spirit of the age, a setting in which a new covenant may need to be created every decade as clarity is needed on new issues.
Perhaps I am wrong. I am certainly prepared to be so. But I prefer that we not put minimum standards on paper and require consent. I don't like this even though I would likely find it wasy enough to consent to the actual words of the covenant. I prefer that we put our faith into action and make it real. Putting faith into action seemed more real and more important before the political wrangling began to determine who was in and who was out.
But work toward an Anglican Covenant has begun and will continue. I pray that through this process what we do brings glory to God.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church