frgavin on September 26th, 2010

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The National Synod of the Anglican Church has voted to commend the study of the Jerusalem Declaration, formulated at GAFCON in 2008.

Synod also wants churches to consider the Anglican Covenant, put forward by the Anglican Consultative Council, as part of a three year process of discussion.

Dr Peter Bolt, of Sydney’s Moore College, urged the Synod to reject the motion calling for a national debate on the covenant saying many people around the world had already rejected it.

Bishop Garry Weatherill of the South Australian Diocese of Willochra said he felt “incredibly ambivalent about the Covenant.”

“I believe the Covenant as we have it now is too little, too late, too tricky and too simplistic but not simple,” he said.

Synod sent the Covenant for debate but declined to ‘welcome’ it, instead it was ‘received’.

Debate on the Jerusalem Declaration began with prominent Melbourne delegate Muriel Porter declaring the document should not be sent to churches because it would then be accorded the same status at the Covenant.

Synod did not agree, although the motion was amended by Archbishop Roger Herft, who defended circulating the Declaration.

Melbourne delegate, Richard Trist of Ridley College said “I sensed there was a movement in the Synod which said, well, we’re going to study this document (Anglican Covenant) so let’s also study the Jerusalem Declaration, which represents the vast majority of Anglicans in the world. Even though we might not agree with it, let’s a least see what people are saying”.

Sydney delegate Reverend Allison Street spoke passionately about how the Declaration, an outline of key parts of Anglican belief, came about.

“This was not the voice of five or six men in an isolated context” she told “I wanted to remind the Synod of the experience it was to be at GAFCON with a thousand delegates from our worldwide Anglican Communion.”

After the vote, Archbishop Peter Jensen said it was “a good result”.

“The Jerusalem Declaration is one of the most important church statements to come out in the last decade or more. What the church has decided to do is to send it round with an encouragement to study it. That can only be good.” Dr Jensen said.

The final motion, moved by Dr Mark Thompson, said the Synod “notes the publication of the Jerusalem Declaration and acknowledges the particular context in which it arose and encourages its study by dioceses and parishes to assist our understanding of some of the issues in the Anglican Communion.”

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