9 March 2011
The New Hampshire Deputation to General Convention 2012 hereby responds to the request of the President of the House of Bishops, the President of the House of Deputies, and the Chair of the Executive Committee D-020 Task Force for its comments on the 2009 draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant.
We are grateful to those who drafted the proposed Covenant for their labor and dedication and to our Executive Council for this opportunity to express our thoughts on it.
We have studied and deliberated the proposed Covenant, utilizing the suggested Questions for Reflection to guide our discussions. We gave particular attention to questions 2, 3, and 5, which led us to reflect on the Anglican Communion.
In that reflection, we discovered a disconnect between the proposed Covenant and our understanding of the Anglican Communion. We have concluded that our best and most authentic response to the proposed Covenant is to express what we understand the Anglican Communion to be and to articulate those qualities that reflect its most deeply held values and are vital to its identity.
- We understand that the Anglican Communion comprises numerous autonomous local Churches around the world that share a common ancestor in the historic Church of England. The constituent members of the Communion affirm those inherent parts of the faith and order committed to Christ’s Church expressed in the four principles of unity set forth in the Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral–the rule and standard of scripture, the symbol and sufficiency of the ancient creeds, the two sacraments ordained by Christ, and the historic episcopate, locally adapted.
- As independent, autonomous Churches, we have developed in different ways to respond to the unique environments in which we advance God’s Kingdom, even as we are held in community by the common theological and liturgical perspectives inherited from our common ancestor. As praying shapes believing, our shared patterns of common prayer and liturgy provide the foundation from which we may discern the fullness of truth into which the Spirit leads us.
- We are confident that communal practice, respectful discussion, and prayerful study enable us all to grow toward the full stature of Christ. We believe that discernment is best tested in community and that God will be found at the place where our differences intersect. It is precisely at those intersections, persistently and lovingly entered in the presence of the Spirit, that the bonds of affection unifying us are created and nourished for our mutual growth.
While we affirm the description of our inherited faith in Section One of the proposed covenant, we believe that the perspectives listed above are unique features of Anglican Christianity. We treasure these precious qualities, perhaps summed up by Archbishop Desmond Tutu when he characterized Anglicans as people who "meet." It is in meeting with one another that we live into ubuntu--sharing our different values, celebrating our different stories, and living into the fullness of Christ’s Church and our Anglican vocation.
We are deeply concerned, however, that the proposed covenant would establish a centralized authority and create classes of membership in the Anglican Communion.
Our beloved Anglican spirituality has always provided a restorative structure that has encouraged souls to freedom and faith. The Covenant negates that tradition by institutionalizing a structure that is punitive and constricting. This would pose a grave disservice to the Anglican quality of honoring difference within bonds of affection and common practice that we so deeply treasure.
The world desperately needs a religious community where all who travail and are heavy laden may be refreshed. Anglicanism at its blessed best is and can continue to be that gift to all God’s people through the covenant with God conferred at Holy Baptism.
New Hampshire Deputation
2012 General Convention of The Episcopal Church
The Rev. William Exner
The Rev. Celeste Hemingson
The Rev. Susan Langle
The Rev. Susan Buchanan
The Rev. Jason Wells
The Rev. Susan Garrity
The Rev. Suzanne Poulin
The Rev. Kurt Wiesner
Canon Judith Esmay