We recognise the wonder, beauty and challenge of maintaining communion in this family of churches, and the need for mutual commitment and discipline as a witness to God’s promise in a world and time of instability, conflict, and fragmentation. Therefore, we covenant together as churches of this Anglican Communion to be faithful to God’s promises through the historic faith we confess, our common worship, our participation in God’s mission, and the way we live together.The Anglican Communion has existed for over a hundred and forty years. Why does it need a Covenant now?
We also express our doubt in relation to section 4.1.1, which deals with the formal acceptance of the Covenant. By speaking of “other Churches” that could subscribe to it, the possibility arises for Churches other than the current members of the Communion to be accepted, which raises doubts about the schismatic Anglican churches that have broken communion within existing Provinces, and today gather groups in open theological conflict with the Anglican Communion.
It has never been made clear in any Draft whether adoption of the Covenant can occur at Church level, which in many countries is understood as Parish level, or only at Provincial level. If individual Churches seek to adopt the Covenant but the overall Province does not, then this has the potential for the creation of the very situation which the Covenant seeks to avoid - namely internal strife, conflict and division. In this Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia which covers five nations and three Tikanga the situation could be complicated further. The scenario could arise where one Tikanga (Constitutional Strand) wanted to adopt the Covenant and the other two did not, and as each Tikanga holds a right of legislative veto, adoption of the Covenant might be blocked. Although legislative amendment could be possible in time, the right of Tikanga veto is an important equality mechanism within this Province and it is unlikely that the governing body: the General Synod Te Hinota Whanui, would enforce adoption through creative legislation, rather than consensus.
Every Church of the Anglican Communion, as recognised in accordance with the Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council, is invited to enter into this Covenant according to its own constitutional procedures.
The Standing Committee has decided that it will neither invite any other Churches (beyond the Schedule of members of the ACC) to adopt the Covenant (Covenant 4.1.5), nor propose any amendments to it (Covenant 4.4.2), until it has had an opportunity to evaluate the situation after ACC-15.
Participation in the decision making of the Standing Committee or of the Instruments of Communion in respect to section 4.2 shall be limited to those members of the Instruments of Communion who are representatives of those churches who have adopted the Covenant, or who are still in the process of adoption.