|A letter to the Church Times from to Church of England bishops:|
From the Bishops of Bristol and Oxford
The Covenant process has been developed with the full participation of all the Churches of the Anglican Communion. It is probably the most consulted-over document the Communion has ever known. At heart, it offers a way for the Churches to renew their commitment to each other and to express their common Anglican identity and mission. It is something that our own Church has been at the centre of shaping and developing.
The Covenant does not invent anything new. The Covenant’s description of our Anglican identity is exactly that which we have long subscribed to in our ecumenical agreements with other Churches. The description of and commitments towards our common life are exactly those that our Church exercises through participation in the Instruments of Communion (the Lambeth Conference, Anglican Consultative Council, and Primates’ Meeting), as well as in the respect afforded to the Archbishop of Canterbury as instrument of communion and focus of unity.
For both of us, the importance of the Covenant is reinforced by our relationships so valued in our Communion links. Sustained communion is vital for the Church in the face of political fissures and conflict, while, for very many in the Communion, the sustaining of our common life brings hope for the overcoming of ethnic and economic divides.
But it would also impoverish the Church of England. Our church life and mission is infinitely the richer for the relationships we share around the Communion. The Covenant offers us a precious opportunity to consolidate those relationships and to demonstrate our commitment to one another as Churches. Let’s not miss this opportunity offered to us in our time.
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