Saturday, November 8, 2008


The Bishop of Jamaica was at Calvary Church Pittsburgh for The Feast of St. Michael's and preached the following sermon. He speaks eloquently about the Anglican Covenant and the responsibility we all bear towards one another in the communion.

Let me say something about the proposed Anglican Covenant as a way of "affirming the bonds of affection." There was large support at Lambeth for the idea of a Covenant and this awaits further fine tuning from the design group. A covenant is not a contract and therefore any suggestion of a covenant becoming some kind of legal instrument, enforceable by the threat of exclusion from the Communion, if one does not conform, must be resisted. This was the general feeling at Lambeth. Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks suggested a way in which we could think of Covenant in non-legalistic terms. In a greatly appreciated address at one of our plenary sessions he said in part:

"In a contract, two or more individuals, each pursuing their own interest, come together to make an exchange for mutual benefit A covenant is something different. In a covenant, two or more individuals, each respecting the dignity and integrity of the other, come together in a bond of love and trust, to share their interests, sometimes even to share their lives, by pledging their faithfulness to one another, to do together what neither can achieve alone. A contract is a transaction. A covenant is a relationship. Or to put it slightly differently: a contract is about interests. A covenant is about identity. It is about you and me coming together to form an 'us'. That is why contracts benefit, but covenants transform" (Sacks).


Celinda Scott said...

I liked the way Bishop Thompson explained how a covenant differs from a contract. I hope our Presiding Bishop will reconsider the discussion of the St. Andrew's draft at GC 2009. It would be too bad to put off formal consideration another three years. Is the St
Andrews draft being discussed in any parishes for

Robert Christian said...

I don't mind a convenant but truthfully we already have the creeds and the BCP and the instruments of unity. If it's a means of keeping western churches in the same place as Nigeria or Zimbabwe or Kenya or SE Asia, oh well, sure. Maybe we could go live there and have a government like them too. yikes....

Celinda Scott said...

If "in the same place" as the countries and areas you mention, it's also "the same place" as countries whose governments you may approve of. It's the whole Anglican Communion. It's true we have the definition of doctrine in our TEC constitution (it mentions the creeds, scripture, the Book of Common Prayer, and at least one other thing), but all those things can be changed by majority vote of our general convention. I'd like to be "in the same place" as the rest of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church (mentioned in the preamble of our constitution) on those deep issues related to the essentials of the faith. A covenant might help with that--not a punitive legalistic one, but --as Bishop Thompson said--one which will pool all our thinking.