During the intervening years, as events in the Anglican Communion have unfolded like a slow-motion train wreck, the Covenant has steadily inched ever closer to center stage. The evolving text went through three drafts, and the final text was commended to the provinces by the Anglican Consultative Council in May 2009—sans Part IV, which has since been “perfected” by a special committee and appended to the document. The covenant has been discussed and debated, formally and informally, all over the communion. It has been analyzed and criticized from the left and from the right. General Convention 2009 commended it to the various dioceses for study and feedback.
At each step of this process, however, the Anglican Covenant has been theoretical, an idea turned into a proposal.
Until last week, that is.
Last Wednesday, June 30, the Anglican Communion News Service reported that the Anglican Province of Mexico has become the first province to formally, by an act of its duly-constituted synod, adopt the Anglican Covenant.
This will have no immediate impact on anyone. But it’s big news, nonetheless, for two reasons:
- The terms of the Covenant itself dictate that it becomes effective as soon as a province formally adopts it, for those provinces that so adopt it. So, with Mexico’s action, the Anglican Covenant is now a “fact on the ground.” The Mexican church has promised to abide by its terms, and presumably this includes its relations with provinces that have not (yet) adopted it.
- That Mexico was the first is especially significant because of its historic close ties to the Episcopal Church. Indeed, the Mexican dioceses were all once part of TEC’s Province IX. It is a “daughter” to TEC. Conventional wisdom would have it that Mexico would share TEC officialdom’s stand-offish attitude toward the Covenant, and if it were to eventually embrace the agreement, it would be late in the game, after several other provinces have done so. But not so. The first Covenant-signer is TEC’s own offspring, right in our own backyard.
The Mexican church has done all Anglicans a service. Demos gracias al Dios!