In a rapidly changing world, it has never been more important for Anglicans to share ideas and listen to the stories from others about what it means to be an Australian Christian. A host of community building initiatives have been established at a national level to assist the 23 Australian dioceses in working together more effectively.
These efforts at conversation and cooperation take a number of forms:
- National conferences, where lay and ordained Anglicans from across Australia can meet together to engage with issues of current interest and concern;
- Seminars, where experienced practitioners and academics in their respective fields can assist the Church to better understand their common heritage, their shared outlook and joint task of engaging Australians with the Gospel;
- Networks, where those involved in a discrete area of ministry may share information and ideas, facilitate joint action and communicate with decision making bodies in the life of the Church.
Australian Anglicans have also developed a programme to fund innovative approaches to mission called, Engaging Australia.
We are also engaged in a variety of relationships with Anglicans in other countries, with Australians in other Christian traditions and who follow different faiths.
An important part of the Australian Anglican community are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their organisation, NATSIAC.
In 2004, the Windsor Report recommended that, in order to rebuild trust in the Communion at a time of great strain on "the bonds of affection", it might be helpful to restate in clear language what exactly Anglicans mean when they talk about the existence of such bonds. It recommended the production of "an Anglican Covenant", which would state what exactly it was that Anglicans held in common, and how the thirty-nine (thirty-eight) Provinces of the Communion could express their commitment to live together in mutual care and responsibility as one Communion.
The Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates (JSC) accepted the recommendation and in 2006 the Archbishop of Canterbury appointed a Covenant Design Group (CDG) to develop a draft text for such a covenant. In its work, the Group drew on work already down elsewhere: in the Windsor Report, by the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Mission and Evangelism, by the Global South Covenant Group, the Anglican Church of Australia and others. They produced a first draft (call the Nassau Draft) for the Primates and JSC at Dar es Salaam in February 2007. A second draft (the St Andrew's Draft) was written by the CDG at the beginning of 2008 following communion-wide consultation in the previous twelve months as a preparation for discussion at the Lambeth Conference. The most recent draft of the Covenant is known as The Ridley-Cambridge Draft to which each of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion has been invited to respond.
The final text of The Anglican Communion Covenant has been approved for distribution by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, for formal consideration for adoption. The Covenant was considered at the Fifteenth Session of the General Synod on Monday, 20 September 2010. The final text is available below.
Recent documents on the Anglican Covenant can be downloaded below.
Anglican Covenant - The Story So Far
Anglican Covenant - The Australian Response
Letter from Primate of Australia to the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion
Response of Province of Australia to Section 4 of the Covenant
Letter from the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion Covenant - Final Text
"Anglican Communion Covenant: A Study Guide for the Anglican Church of Australia" and the special Covenant edition of St Mark's Review
These two publications are designed to assist individuals, parishes and deaneries to discuss the proposed Covenant in advance of discussions in diocesan synods.
In September 2010, the General Synod resolved to:
- receive the final text of the Anglican Communion Covenant as an expression of our aspirations for the life of the Anglican Communion;
- commend it for further study, dialogue and deliberation in the Dioceses;
- request the Synods of all dioceses to consider the question of the Anglican Church of Australia adopting the Covenant by resolution and report to the Standing Committee by December 2012; and
- request the Standing Committee to produce a report for consideration at the Sixteenth Session of General Synod. (Resolution 71/10)
The Special Covenant edition of St Mark's Review is a resource of considerable breadth, representing a range of views on whether the Australian Church should adopt the Covenant. Copies of the edition are available at www.stmarksntc.org.au
The Study Guide includes the text of the Covenant and also questions to be pursued in three study sessions. This is an Australian production (March 2012), which complements earlier study material issued by the Anglican Communion Office. The Study Guide is available below: