Thinking Anglicans

weekend opinions

No cinema reviews here.

In The Times Stephen Plant Hope for the hereafter nourishes the urge to live better in a grime present

In the Telegraph Christopher Howse The lives and souls of the nation

In the Guardian Alec Gilmore writes in Face to Faith about religious liberty.

In the Church Times Giles Fraser writes about The subtle sin of lay presidency

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Dave
Dave
14 years ago

I’m still not sure why liberals seem so antagonistic to lay presidency ? Surely in some ways it could be seen as breaking down one more “anachronistic discrimination” which isn’t even sanctioned by Scripture !? (unless anyone can tell me where Jesus or any NT writer ever said that it must be an elder/presbyter/shepherd/bishop who presides at the “Lord’s Supper” – as I think it is usually refered to in the NT.) So, could it just be because it is Sydney Archdiocese ? Sydney is highly successful, growing, attracting talent, and exporting their brand of radical conservative Christianity. Certainly a… Read more »

Edward
Edward
14 years ago

A point about Giles Fraser’s article. I used to attend Emmanuel Wimbledon but left as I increasingly discovered that I was too high church. Despite claiming ultra protestant crudentials, lay presidency has never ever been allowed by the Church of England, even in its ‘officially’ Calvinist days of the late 16th century. Clergy were pretty much automatically suspended. I have great respect for Jonathan Fletcher as a man and as someone whom I know to have inspired many to come to Christ. However. he swore obedience at his ordination, and, whether he likes it or not, Canon Law is Canon… Read more »

Dave
Dave
14 years ago

ps I notice that the 39 Articles ban on celebrating the Lord’s Supper also touches preaching ! Article 23: “It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching or ministering the sacraments in the congregation, before he be lawfully called and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given unto them in the congregation to call and send ministers into the Lord’s vineyard.” So, would Giles Fraser so vehemently decry the… Read more »

Ann Marie
Ann Marie
14 years ago

Dave, I would say that liberals may be as evenly divided as any other group on the issue of lay presidency. I live in a conservative parish and attended a middle of the road seminary, I would say the opinions for and against covered the spectrum. Certainly, the fact that Sydney supported it came up but never in the terms that you are suggesting. Considering that most liberals consider a power with rather than power over scenario, I would disagree with your premise about their desire/need for a heirarchal authority. Being a liberal priest myself, I can honestly say that… Read more »

Thomas Renz
Thomas Renz
14 years ago

Reading Giles Fraser’s article left me with the impression that Reform is keen on lay presidency and has already found ways of getting round the regulations. Having checked out their website, I think this impression was wrong. So here is a footnote to the article from someone who is neither a member of Reform nor indeed in favour of introducing lay presidency in the Church of England: The page on the Reform website which gave rise to Fraser’s claim that it “offers handy hints on how to “circumvent” the regulations” is a paper by Donald Allister (the Archdeacon of Chester,… Read more »

John Simmons
14 years ago

If, as Giles Fraser’s article suggests, for a lay person to preside at the Lord’s Table is a sin, albeit a subtle one, then where does that leave Pentecostalists, Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Plymouth Brethren and all the rest? Are all these denominations, deep in subtle sin, also involved in “a blatant attempt to undermine the historic ministry of the Church”, or is it perhaps not that sinful after all to share around the Lord’s Table without an episcopally ordained priest?

Giles Fraser
Giles Fraser
14 years ago

Just for clarification. I didn’t say lay presidency was sinful.

Peter Bergman
Peter Bergman
14 years ago

Ah, John Simmons, you said exactly what I was thinking! All those times I received communion in non-Anglican churches I was subtly sinning….
Methinks the voice of ‘Inclusive Church’ (!) strains at an institutional gnat while he swallows a biblical camel.

Dave: ‘Lay Preachers’ in Anglicanism (readers) are in fact publicly called. And if it is right to have readers preaching, then they should be celebrating communion as well. (To be honest, I would prefer it if more celebrated than preached!)

Peter Bergman
Peter Bergman
14 years ago

‘Just for clarification. I didn’t say lay presidency was sinful.’ Is the headline someone else’s, Giles? You did quote Roger Herft. BTW, the Act of Uniformity has no legal force in Australia or any of the former colonies. You have lambasted ‘fundamentalists’ before. What should a good postmodern guy say about canonical or institutional fundamentalism? No hermeneutic of suspicion here? BTW again, the sacred writ of the Act of Uniformity was used to drive dissenters out of the C of E and to put John Bunyan in prison for years. I thought it rather gracious of that Baptist lady in… Read more »

Dave
Dave
14 years ago

Ann Marie wrote: “I would say that liberals may be as evenly divided as any other group on the issue of lay presidency.” Dear Ann Marie, that is what I suspected (having been in liberal groups as a student). As Giles has just poínted out, he wasn’t attacking lay presidency as such. He was using it as an issue to attack the church groups (Sydney and Reform) that he accuses of undermining true authority in the Church. Blackening their name at this point would potentially make it easier to ignore their success and needs (for instance their need for adequate… Read more »

Jim Pratt
Jim Pratt
14 years ago

My last parish before seminary had a very liberal priest-in-charge who was a vocal advocate for lay presidency and pushed the envelope a bit (he allowed lay readers to distribute communion from the reserved Sacrament on Sundays when he was away).

So it’s not a liberal/conservative thing. Indeed, I know a good many traditionalists who are quite appalled by the suggestion.

The real issue is the roles of ordained and lay in the priesthood of all believers, and a little bit of debate over the issue is helpful in educating people and helping to clarify thinking over those roles.

Andy
Andy
14 years ago

Giles Fraser: “Just for clarification. I didn’t say lay presidency was sinful.”

What was the subtle sin you were referring to, and who is the one commiting it?

Simon Sarmiento
14 years ago

Giles Fraser is not connected with Changing Attitude. Giles Fraser is connected with Inclusive Cburch. Abp Williams is a trustee of neither organisation. Dave, please try to reduce the number of errors per comment 🙂

Thomas Renz
Thomas Renz
14 years ago

Giles Fraser did not say that each and every instance of lay presidency is sinful but his column wasn’t very subtle and I am not surprised that he has been read as saying as much. The idea that Sydney Anglicans are in favour of lay presidency because they are opposed to the ordination of women to the priesthood was Roger Herft’s, as Giles Fraser acknowledged in his column (cf. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/05/27/1053801396764.html). If I understand Roger Herft correctly, the sinfulness lies in the (hidden) motives of Sydney Anglicans. And if I read Giles Fraser correctly, he suspects those same motives in “churches… Read more »

Thomas Renz
Thomas Renz
14 years ago

Simon – Dave was probably misled by the appearance of a certain “Rowan Williams” in the list of trustees of CA, see http://www.changingattitude.org.uk/aboutCA/trustees.asp. The majority of the names listed there are prefixed by “The Revd”, from which one may conclude that this is a different “Rowan Williams”…

Giles Fraser
Giles Fraser
14 years ago

Andy,

Comment writers have no input into the headline. That is a construction of the sub-editor. The subtle sin line is a quote from the Bp of Newcastle referring to the way in which Sydney seeks to undermine the authority of women in the church.

Alan Harrison
Alan Harrison
14 years ago

I think that it was pretty clear that Dr Fraser was not calling lay celebration a sin, but rather Sydney’s introduction of the novelty at this time. I have partial sympathy with his argument. (As a rather more “traditional” spike than Dr Fraser, I might be a bit more tempted to say that lay celebration IS a sin.) I think that the idea of the legitimacy of lay celebration is a longstanding Sydney “thing”. Some time ago I saw a persuasive argument that much of the Sydney interpretation of Anglicanism is based on the theoretical and speculative writings of C… Read more »

Andy
Andy
14 years ago

Thomas Renz: “If I understand Roger Herft correctly, the sinfulness lies in the (hidden) motives of Sydney Anglicans. And if I read Giles Fraser correctly, he suspects those same motives in “churches such as Emmanuel, Wimbledon” which apparently/allegedly practise lay presidency.”

I’ve been attending Emmanuel Wimbledon (http://www.wimbledon.org.uk) for the last 3-4 years. IIRC, the story is that lay presidency began during the long interregnum before Jonathan Fletcher came in 1982, and has been practiced ever since. So those motives certainly don’t apply to Emmanuel’s practice.

Cheryl Clough
14 years ago

As someone from Sydney diocese, it is interesting to note that from my observations the introduction of lay presidency has not changed their perspective on women. Only men are invited to assist with the communion in my parish, but they do insist on an ordained minister to consecrate the bread and wine. The other thing I would comment on, and in this sense agree with some of the reasoning for lay presidency, is that the sharing of wine and bread was going on from Jesus’ last supper; decades before formal church structures and centuries before Protestantism. There was an interesting… Read more »

Dave
Dave
14 years ago

Simon wrote: “Giles Fraser is not connected with Changing Attitude. Giles Fraser is connected with Inclusive Cburch. Abp Williams is a trustee of neither organisation. Dave, please try to reduce the number of errors per comment :-)” Dear Simon, Oops – I stand corrected.. Maybe it’s a record ?! In slight mitigation – I got the idea that it is *ABp* Rowan Williams who is a trustee of CA from one of the recent articles on Anglican Mainstrean about Bp John Gladwin’s associations (or not) with Gay Campaign groups, and his current problems in Kenya… Giles is, as you rightly… Read more »

Bob
Bob
14 years ago

Hey Dave, As an out, gay Priest, I have bridled often at your observations but have had to admire the fairness and patience [most of the time] in putting forward your views. Your opening comments elicited a great laugh for me as I hooted ‘good for you Dave, don’t let them get away with a thing!’ I for one am not overly exercised about lay presidency and as one observer noted I would rather see lay people preside at the mysteries of the Lord’s Supper than have untrained preachers. Much less danger in someone having to follow a prescribed text… Read more »

Dave
Dave
14 years ago

Dear Cheryl, “lay presidency” is lay people consecrating the sacraments (ie leading the liturgy)… not just helping to dispense the sacraments – we’ve been doing that for years all over the CofE.

J. C. Fisher
14 years ago

I would much rather there be lay people voting at *Primates* meetings (one “Prime Lay Member” per national church/Primate? Hopefully, PLMs to be elected by other lay people?), than either celebrating OR preaching!

[With the caveat that I am a lay person who has preached before. What can I say? My soon-to-vacation priest begged… ;-)]

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