A document being called the 'Atlanta Covenant' has emerged from a December meeting of conservative Episcopalians and members of churches in the Anglican tradition that are not in communion with the archbishop of Canterbury.
After initial gatherings in November 2000 and January 2002, nearly 300 people gathered at Atlanta's Cathedral of St. Philip December 4-7, 2002 for the U.S. Anglican Congress. They were joined by two primates of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Bernard Malango of Central Africa and the retired primate of the Province of the Southern Cone, Maurice Sinclair.
'We are determined that the fragmentation within that quadrant of Christendom known as the Anglican Way no longer hinder our obedience to the Gospel imperative,' the covenant stated. 'We are feeling our way toward a new style and depth of unity, thereby stimulating reform and renewal in western Christianity so that the Gospel might be released, more than ever before, to the world around us.'
The document declares links 'with the Anglican Essentials movement in Canada and the various expressions of dynamic orthodox Anglicanism in Britain.' The Anglican Essentials movement is at the forefront of opposition to the proposed blessing of same-gender unions in the Canadian Diocese of New Westminster.
'The Congress does not seek to alter jurisdictional boundaries or commitments,' the document states. 'This new configuration is a network rather than a formal hierarchical structure, in which we seek to safeguard one another's convictions and honor each other's canonical limitations, while advancing the Gospel and developing an appropriate style of orthodox ecumenism.'
A follow-up meeting to the U.S. Anglican Congress will be held in Atlanta April 28-29. Jurisdictions and bodies will be invited to send delegates to that gathering, convened by the Most Rev. Leonard W. Riches, presiding bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church.