Two major Church of England groups, Inclusive Church and Modern Church, have joined together to campaign against the proposed Anglican Covenant.
In November 2010 the Church of England’s General Synod will be asked to approve the Covenant, which has emerged from attempts by the Archbishop of Canterbury and others to resolve the wrangling in the Anglican Communion over sexuality, authority and related issues - and from the lobbying of conservative hardliners, say critics.
The Covenant was first proposed by the Windsor Report in 2004 to put pressure on the North American churches, after a diocese in the USA had elected an openly gay bishop and a diocese in Canada had approved a same-sex blessing service.
"Many Synod members do not realise it, but it could be the biggest change to the Church since the Reformation," say Inclusive Church and Modern Church (formerly the Modern Churchpersons Union).
The groups charge that the Church of England, if it signs, will become subordinate to a bureaucratic structure and will thereby become more centralised, dogmatic, backward-facing, inward looking and clerically dominated.
Such a retrograde move will hinder ecumenical relations, make the Church more off-putting to young people, and disable effective mission, they say.
Each of the 38 Provinces in the Anglican Communion is being asked to sign the Covenant. By signing, a Province undertakes not to introduce any new development if another Anglican province anywhere in the world opposes it – unless granted prior permission from a new international body, the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.
The campaign over the issue began yesterday (Friday 29 October), when full-page advertisements appeared in both the Church of England Newspaper and the Church Times.
It will continue during the weeks leading up to the General Synod debate scheduled for Wednesday 24 November 2010.
If the draft is not rejected, but referred to the dioceses, it will continue throughout 2011, the two groups declare.
International initiatives against the Covenant are also about to be launched.
The full text of the Church Times advert is available as a PDF file here, courtesy of Thinking Anglicans: http://thinkinganglicans.org.uk/uploads/IC_MCU_for_CT.pdf
The final text of the Anglican Covenant can be found here: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/covenant/final/text.cfm
Modern Church background on the Covenant: http://www.modernchurch.org.uk/resources/mcu/cp/index.htm
Inclusive Church: http://www.inclusivechurch2.net