LONDON – The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams and other Anglican leaders are to decide on whether a draft covenant aimed at uniting the worldwide Anglican Communion is ready to be sent to member churches for approval.
Anglican leaders are to decide on the third "Ridley-Cambridge" draft during the 14th Anglican Consultative Council meeting, which began on Saturday, in Kingston, Jamaica.
Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Canon Kenneth Kearon told reporters, "The hope is that the ACC will feel that it's mature enough to go to the provinces."
The covenant is a document seeking to uphold the autonomy of the Communion's 38 provinces while asking for their voluntary commitment to a process of joined-up deliberation to solve disputes over contentious issues.
Kearon stressed that it was not the role of any instrument of the Anglican Communion to decide whether to adopt the covenant but rather up to the member churches.
"I think the Covenant Design Group thinks that it has done what it can with the text and feels that it is now mature enough to be handed out to the provinces," he said.
Kearon went on to reaffirm the voluntary nature of the covenant, saying that churches would not be forced to forfeit their membership in the Anglican Communion if they decided not to sign on to it, as reported by the Anglican Journal.
"The covenant will only be operative for those who agree to sign the covenant. It becomes operative for any church soon as that church signs on to it," said Kearon.
"We're not looking for a substantive majority – the covenant will only ever apply to those churches of the communion which decide (to sign on to it)."
Speaking at the opening plenary on Saturday, Williams told the ACC meeting that he wanted them to get through "the difficult business" of the Communion's structures so that they could move "towards a proper focus on theology and mission."
"A proper focus on mission is one of the elements that most securely and profoundly binds us together as a Communion," he said.