Appendix Two : Proposal for the Anglican Covenant
The Anglican Covenant
We, the churches of the Anglican Communion, in order to foster greater unity and to
consolidate our understandings of communion, solemnly establish this Covenant,
entered on our behalf by designated signatories and to which we shall adhere as
authorised by laws enacted by each of our churches for these purposes, so that our
communion may be made more visible and committed, and agree as follows as to our:
(1) Common identity;
(2) Relationships of communion;
(3) Commitments of communion;
(4) Exercise of autonomy in communion;
(5) Management of communion issues.
Part I: Common Identity
Article 1: Common Catholicity, Apostolicity and Confession of Faith
Each member church: (1) belongs to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of
Jesus Christ; (2) participates in the apostolic mission of the whole people of God;
(3) affirms Holy Scripture, as containing all things necessary for salvation and as
being the rule and ultimate standard of faith, and holds the essentials of the apostolic
faith, as summed up in the Creeds; and (4) seeks to preach God’s Word authentically.
Article 2: Common Sacraments and Liturgical Tradition
Each member church: (1) holds and duly administers the sacraments of baptism and
eucharist as instituted by Christ; and (2) practises the common patterns of Anglican
liturgical and ritual tradition as adapted to the needs of each generation and the
particular circumstances of each local ecclesial community.
Article 3: Common Ministry and Mission
In every member church: (1) the threefold ordained ministry of bishops, priests and
deacons and the ministry of the laity are ministries given by God as instruments of his
grace; and (2) we share a common life of service in the apostolic mission entrusted by
Christ, serving in the world his purposes of mission, justice and peace.
Article 4: Common Understanding
(1) Each member church belongs to each other in mutual reciprocity and forbearance
in the Body of Christ. (2) Communion does not require acceptance by every church of
all theological opinion, sacramental devotion, or liturgical practice that is
characteristic of the other. (3) Every member church has the intention to listen, speak,
act and strive to obey the gospel. (4) Every church has the same concern for a
conscientious interpretation of scripture in the light of tradition and reason, to be in
dialogue with those who dissent from that interpretation, and to heal divisions.
Article 5: Common Autonomous Polity
(1) Each member church is autonomous, episcopally led and synodically governed.
(2) Decisions in every church are to be presumed as duly authorised but such
decisions do not bind outside that church. (3) Every church shares the same concern
for good government for the fulfilment of its mission and for the common good of the
Anglican Communion and the Church universal.
Part II: Relationships of Communion
Article 6: The Divine Foundation of Communion
(1) Communion is a gift of God, who is a communion of three persons, to all member
churches of the Anglican Communion. (2) Our ecclesial communion is animated in
the experience of God’s work of redemption, and furthered or hampered by human
action. (3) The divine call to communion is inviolable and no member church may
declare unilaterally irreversible broken communion with any fellow church.
Article 7: Communion in Membership, Relation and Purpose
(1) The Anglican Communion is a community of interdependent churches and
consists of relations between each church, the See of Canterbury, and the fellowship
of member churches worldwide. (2) Each church acknowledges its Communion
membership, and is constituted by, exists in and receives fullness of life in its
relations to the other member churches. (3) Ordained and lay persons in each church
are in personal communion with those of other member churches. (4) Each church
shall serve the purposes of the Communion, which include: (a) proclaiming to the
world in common witness the good news of the Kingdom of God; (b) fostering and
protecting a common mind in essential matters; and (c) achieving greater unity.
Article 8: The Process and Substance of Communion
(1) Communion, never perfected until God’s Kingdom is all in all, involves unity,
equality of status, and a common pilgrimage towards truth, each church in partnership
with its fellow churches learning what it means to become interdependent and thus
more fully a communion. (2) Communion subsists in the mutual acknowledgement by
churches of their common identity. (3) Communion involves responsibilities so that
each church may be more fully completed in, through and by its relations with other
member churches, having regard for their common good.
Part III: Commitments of Communion
Article 9: Catholicity and Common Good of the Anglican Communion
(1) Each church shall act in a manner compatible both with its belonging to the One,
Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and with its membership of the Anglican
Communion. (2) In all essential matters of common concern in the Anglican
Communion, no member church shall act without consideration of the common good
of the Communion and fundamental compliance with all of the Parts of this Covenant.
Article 10: Obligations of Confession of the Faith
Each church shall: (1) uphold and act compatibly with the catholic and apostolic faith,
order and tradition, and moral values and vision of humanity received by and
developed in the fellowship of member churches; and (2) primarily through its
bishops, ensure that biblical texts are handled respectfully and coherently, building on
our best traditions and scholarship believing that scriptural revelation must continue
to illuminate, challenge and transform cultures, structures and ways of thinking.
Article 11: Sacramental Commitments
Each church shall: (1) maintain and administer the sacraments of baptism and
eucharist; (2) welcome members of all other member churches to join in its own
celebration of the sacraments; and (3) enjoin its members to eucharistic sharing in a
fellow church in accordance with the canonical discipline of that host church.
Article 12: Apostolic and Ministerial Commitments
Each church shall: (1) uphold the historic threefold ministry of bishops, priests and
deacons; (2) recognise the canonical validity of orders duly conferred in every
member church; (3) welcome persons episcopally ordained in any member church to
minister in the host church subject to the necessary consents required by and in
accordance with the law of that church; and (4) permit any person ordained in that
church to seek ministry in any other member church subject to its law and discipline.
Article 13: Ministerial Obligations of Unity
(1) Each minister, especially a bishop, shall be a visible sign of unity and shall
maintain communion within each church and between it, the See of Canterbury and
all other Communion churches. (2) No minister, especially a bishop, shall: (a) act
without due regard to or jeopardise the unity of the Communion; (b) neglect to cooperate
with ministers, especially bishops, of member churches for the good of the
Communion and Church universal; (c) unreasonably be the cause or focus of division
and strife in their church or elsewhere in the Communion; (d) if in episcopal office,
unreasonably refuse any invitation to attend meetings of the Instruments of Unity.
Article 14: Hospitality and Availability of Ministrations
Each church shall: (1) welcome members of every Communion church to share in the
spiritual benefits, ministrations and worship available in that church in the manner
prescribed by its law; (2) provide, as practicable, for the pastoral care and wellbeing
of any member of a fellow church during a visit to that church; and (3) through the
relevant authority, from time to time invite, as practicable, bishops of member
churches to participate at ordinations administered in the host church as a sign of
ecclesial unity and continuity.
Article 15: Commitments to Mission and Prayer
Each church shall: (1) share in the mission of the Anglican Communion entrusted by
Christ to his church in a common life of service; (2) co-operate, so far as is
practicable, with other member churches to develop a common understanding of
mission and evangelism and to promote mission through practical schemes to serve
the needs of the world; (3) pray for the needs of and with fellow member churches
and their faithful; (4) offer its spiritual, intellectual, material and financial resources to
assist with the needs of any other member church or of the Communion as a whole;
and (5) promote in theological education, an understanding of the relationships of
communion between the member churches.
Article 16: The Bonds of Mutual Loyalty
Each church shall: (1) in essential matters of common concern to the Communion
place the interests and needs of the community of member churches before its own;
(2) in such cases, make every effort to resolve disputes by reconciliation, mediation or
other amicable and equitable means; (3) respect the counsels of the Archbishop of
Canterbury, Primates’ Meeting, Lambeth Conference, and Anglican [Communion]
Council; and (4) respect the principles of canon law common to the churches of the
Article 17: Ecumenical Commitments
Each church recognises that: (1) if a member church enters a relation of communion
with a non-member church, this effects a relationship between each member church
and the non-member to the extent provided in our laws and the regulatory instruments
of the ecumenical partner; and (2) before a member church enters any agreement with
a non-member church, that church shall consult the appropriate Instrument of Unity.
Part IV: Exercise of Autonomy in Communion
Article 18: The Principle and Nature of Autonomy
(1) Autonomy is a fundamental principle of Anglicanism. (2) Autonomy is the right of
a church to self-government. (3) An autonomous church has authority only to make
decisions for itself in relation to its own affairs at its own level. (4) Autonomy
expresses subsidiarity: decision-making at the appropriate level. (5) Autonomy is
exercised by a church in the context of the wider community of which it forms part.
(6) There are limits on the exercise of autonomy imposed by the relationships of
communion, the acknowledgement of common identity, the commitments of
communion, and the principles applicable to the management of communion affairs.
Article 19: The Autonomy of Each Church
(1) Each autonomous church has the right to order and regulate its own affairs through
its own system of government and law. (2) Each member church shall be free from
control by any decision of any ecclesiastical body external to itself in relation to its
exclusively internal affairs unless that decision is authorised under or incorporated in
its own law. (3) The validity within each autonomous church of any ecclesiastical act
relating to such internal affairs is governed by the law of that church.
Article 20: Autonomy and Communion Issues
(1) Some issues treated within each church may have a dual character and consist of
mixed elements of internal (domestic) concern and of external (common) concern to
the Anglican Communion. (2) Autonomy includes the right of a church to make
decisions on issues in those of its affairs which may also touch the Anglican
Communion of which it forms part, provided those decisions are compatible with the
interests and standards of the wider Communion (as determined in accordance with
Part V). (3) What touches all should be approved by all.
Article 21: Autonomy in Communion
(1) Each church has a fiduciary duty to honour and not to breach the trust put in it by
the Communion to exercise its autonomy in communion. (2) In essential matters of
common concern, each church shall in the exercise of its autonomy have regard to the
common good of the Anglican Communion. (3) In such matters, each church shall
exercise its autonomy in communion, prior to any implementation, through
explanation, dialogue, consultation, discernment and agreement with the appropriate
Instruments of Unity.
Article 22: Autonomy, Diversity and Mutual Respect
(1) Diversity is a desirable dimension of the catholicity of the church, a feature of the
historic development of Anglicanism, and inherent to the particularity of each
member church. (2) Each autonomous church has the greatest possible liberty to order
its life and affairs, appropriate to its Christian people in their geographical, cultural
and historical context, compatible with the unity and good order of the Communion.
(3) Each church shall respect and maintain the autonomy of all churches in the
Anglican Communion and shall not permit any authority or person within it to
intervene in the internal affairs of another member church without its consent.
Part V: Management of Communion Issues
Article 23: Communion Issues of Common Concern
(1) Communion issues are those essential matters of common concern to the member
churches of the Communion, and include the affairs, actual and prospective decisions,
of a member church which touch fundamentally the fellowship and mission of the
Anglican Communion, the relations of its churches, and the compatibility of such
decisions with this Covenant and the unity and good order of the Communion. (2) The
Instruments of Unity shall set out formally their composition, functions, relations one
with another, and procedures for matters arising under this Part. (3) A matter is a
communion issue if so designated by the Instruments of Unity, where appropriate in
dialogue with any member church involved in the matter, subject to the right of the
Archbishop of Canterbury under Article 27.
Article 24: The Instruments of Unity
(1) The Instruments of Unity serve in communion to discern our common mind in
communion issues, and foster our interdependence and mutual accountability, but
exercise no jurisdiction over autonomous member churches save to the limited extent
provided in this Covenant and the laws of member churches. (2) The Archbishop of
Canterbury enjoys a primacy of honour and is a personal sign of our unity and
communion, and shall be assisted by a Council of Advice. (3) The Lambeth
Conference, under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, expressing
episcopal collegiality worldwide, gathers for common counsel, consultation and
encouragement and to provide direction to the whole Communion. (4) The Anglican
Consultative Council has such membership and functions as are prescribed by its
constitution. (5) The Primates’ Meeting, presided over by the Archbishop of
Canterbury, assembles for mutual support and counsel, monitors global developments
and exercises collegial responsibility in doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters.
Article 25: The Anglican Communion Officer in Each Church
Each church shall (1) designate a person to act as its own Anglican Communion
Liaison Officer, appointed to defend the bonds of communion expressed in this
Covenant, and accountable to its central assembly; and (2) have a system to identify
and process within that church contentious communion issues for submission to that
Article 26: Process in Contentious Communion Issues
(1) On discernment by the Officer of any contentious communion issue, the Anglican
Communion Liaison Officer shall liaise with the Primate and the Secretary General of
the Anglican Communion. (2) Following such liaison, the Officer or Secretary
General may submit the matter to the Archbishop of Canterbury. (3) The Archbishop
may issue such guidance as he deems fit or, as appropriate, refer the matter to the
Council of Advice for guidance and, if necessary, the Primates’ Meeting, the
Anglican Consultative Council, or the Lambeth Conference to resolve the issue
having regard to the common good of the Communion and compatibility with this
Article 27: Interpretation and Periodic Review
(1) The Archbishop of Canterbury shall decide all questions of interpretation of this
Covenant, consulting the Council of Advice, and seeking the advice of any other body
as he deems appropriate. (2) If approved by the Joint Standing Committee of the
Primates’ Meeting and Anglican Consultative Council, the decision of the Archbishop
shall be regarded as authoritative in the Communion until altered in like manner.
(3) The Council of Advice shall carry out periodic reviews of the administration of
this Covenant for submission to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who shall act upon
such reviews as he deems appropriate, so that our churches may more completely
embrace the life in communion to which all are called by the Lord Jesus Christ.