The Archbishop of the Province of the West Indies has announced that his Province has adopted the Anglican Communion Covenant. It is the third to do so officially, the others being the Anglican Church of Mexico and The Church of the Province of Myanmar.
Speaking from the Primates’ Meeting in Dublin, Ireland, Archbishop John Holder said his Province saw the Covenant as something that will enable the Anglican Communion to move into the future.
“We see it as a workable document that can help the Anglican Communion to move forward while still addressing issues that face its member Churches,” he said. “For some, the document is only being seen in the light of sexuality issues. That’s a restrictive view. It is a document that can help us to function in relation to the many issues that will arise in the Communion. Today it’s human sexuality, tomorrow it will be something else.
“Our understanding is that it is not an exclusive document; it does not exclude, but rather it helps to lead people to reflect on their role as Anglicans, and identify their responsibilities as members of the Communion.
“There are no penalties involved if you do not follow the Covenant and that’s an Anglican approach. We try and keep away from penalties. It is not punitive. It invites the members of the Communion to follow a different way, to remember their responsibilities to other members of the wider community, to respect where others are in their journey.”
Archbishop John said he understands that some people consider adopting a written document like this to be un-Anglican. “We have travelled so many centuries without a written description of where we are going and so some people have a problem with the Covenant.
“However, it does not tell people exactly where to go, it encourages people to consider what direction to take if they want to stay together in Communion.”
The Primate explained that the Province voted to accept the covenant in the Provincial Synod of December 2009 and then at their Standing Committee in November 2010.
“Prior to that it was discussed at the various dioceses and the House of Bishops. We have this week instructed the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion that we have accepted the Anglican Covenant.”
Archbishop Holder said that the Anglican Covenant serves as a reminder that if you say you are a member of a communion you have to remember the other members in the decisions you take.
“That is our general understanding and approach to the Covenant. We recognise there is a fear of the Covenant in certain churches because some see it as a threat to their independence as a national Church. We don’t see it as a threat in the West Indies, we see it as an enabler on the journey for communion.”
Note to Editors:
- The Most Revd and Dr John Walder Dunlop Holder is the Primate of the Church in the Province of the West Indies and the Bishop of the Diocese of Barbados.
- The West Indies became a self-governing Province of the worldwide Anglican Communion in 1883 because of the Church of England missions in territories that became British colonies. It is made up of two mainland dioceses and six island dioceses, including Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Nassau and the Bahamas, Tobago, Trinidad, and the Windward Islands. Great emphasis is being placed on training personnel for an indigenous ministry. The island locations and scattered settlements make pastoral care difficult and costly.
- The Anglican Communion Office serves the Anglican Communion, comprising around 80 million members in 44 regional and national member churches around the globe in more than 160 countries. http://www.anglicancommunion.org/