Thinking Anglicans

Sydney votes for deacons to preside

Updated Sunday evening

Muriel Porter reports in the Church Times that Sydney votes for diaconal and lay presidency.

SYDNEY DIOCESAN SYNOD has affirmed that deacons — including women deacons — may preside at holy communion.

In a motion moved by a Sydney regional bishop, Dr Glenn Davies, the synod accepted arguments that there was no legal impediment to deacons’ presiding, given that, under a 1985 General Synod canon, deacons are authorised to assist the priest in the administration of the sacraments.

A report accompanying the mo­tion argued that, because deacons can administer the sacrament of bap­tism “in its entirety”, and because “no hierarchy of sacraments is ex­pressed in describing the deacon’s role of assisting the presbyter,” deacons are therefore authorised to “administer the Lord’s Supper in its entirety”.

Bishop Davies told the Synod that the Archbishop could not prevent a deacon’s “administering the Lord’s Supper”. But the motion, though it also affirmed lay presidency, could not approve lay people’s presiding at Sunday services, as the Archbishop would need to license them, Bishop Davies said. “The Archbishop will not license a lay person at this time.”

This reluctance is believed to relate to Sydney’s relationship with the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) bishops…

There is also a report of this on the Sydney Anglicans website Sydney restates Lord’s Supper position.

Sydney Synod has overwhelmingly restated its principled support for lay and diaconal administration of the Lord’s Supper.

More significantly – in what supporters said is ‘a great outcome’ for women deacons – the motion also ‘accepts’ the argument that there is no longer any legal impediment to deacons officiating at Holy Communion given the wording of The Ordination Service for Deacons Canon 1985 and the repeal of the 1662 Act of Uniformity by a recent General Synod Canon.

However the motion itself does nothing to change the legal situation.

“We don’t make law or change law in a motion,” said the Bishop of North Sydney, Glenn Davies, in moving the motion “we merely express our view.”

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BillyD
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Surely the “orthodox” outcries against this innovation will begin any moment. Won’t they?

Cheryl Va.
Guest

No, BillyD, they won’t. Sydney is a lynchpin in the ultraorthodox movement. This is a move to enable “plantings” outside of their diocese. They can begin communions without using priests, which bypasses the conflicting status that they came up against in TEC. It’s just another way of keeping the assets whilst running their divergent theology, which still represses women and shows contempt for those who are “not like them”. They worship a Jesus that is only for them, and rush to the pulpit to gloat that God is going to condemn and abuse all other souls. God is God of… Read more »

Aaron Orear
Guest

I would caution against the use of “orthodox” or “ultraorthodox” as a descriptor for dioceses, parishes or individuals who take particular stands regarding women’s ordination or sexuality issues. These are NOT matters of orthodoxy, which are matters of faith restricted to core issues such as those covered in the creeds, but rather of social conservatism. Social conservatives might like to claim the work orthodox as their own, but that is mere spin.

Raspberry Rabbit
Guest

Will this be the long hoped for occasion where the Diocese of Sydney finally trips over its own dink?

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Ah yes Sydney, the holier than thou throne of elevation and universal mean Anglican judgment.

Can Sydney have its own special big tent while it systematically trash talks and tears down any possible big Anglican tent that could include the rest of us?

A sideshow, interesting – except for the real, true harm of real, alive people (believers, unbelievers alike?) that will likely be carried out by Sydney in God’s name, alas, Lord have mercy.

David Keen
Guest

Oh dear, this is already turning into something that’s seen only in political terms, rather than on its own merits. Jesus is present wherever two or three gather in his name. So when Christians gather, the host or the leader of the group would make a natural ‘president’ if they wanted to break bread and remember the death and resurrection of Jesus. There are centuries of theological and cultural barnacles all over this one, and if the Sydney action opens up a proper debate in the rest of the church then well done them. It probably needs a church which… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Both Stand Firm and Virtue on Line ( the voice of Global orthodoxy) are silent! Sydney Anglican media report: Archdeacon for Women’s Ministry, Narrelle Jarrett, seconded the motion saying she wanted Synod to understand the way the ministry of deacons – male and female – is currently restrained. Women can be deacons in Sydney Diocese but not presbyters (priests). Archdeacon Jarrett said the current situation “seriously diminishes the ministry of women” explaining the right to administer the Lord’s Supper “is forbidden them for entirely unbiblical reasons”. “Why can’t women deacons administer the Lord’s Supper in a girls’ school or a… Read more »

dodgey_vicar
Guest
dodgey_vicar

Hmm,
I dont like the idea of deacons (non-presbyters) presiding at holy communion. Why can’t the bishop just ordain some chantry priests?

John Robison
Guest

This aint orthodoxy at all.
Nor is it Calvinism.
Nor Anglicanism.

This is Anabaptist or Arminian ecclesiology combined with Donatism.

I have noticed that on at least one Anglo-Catholic blog they are blaming the inclusion of laity in the synodical process for this mess. GAFCON has certainly done little but the bring down burning coals up the heads of that little group.

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Well, RR, Matt Kennedy posted the Church Times article on the Stand Firm site, with the question: “Why do this now?”And the comments (especially from Anglo-Catholics) have not been exactly supportive of Sydney’s decision. So, yes, it could be as you say.

JPM
Guest
JPM

Can we now drop the pretense that the Jensenites are in any meaningful way Anglican?

Prior Aelred
Guest

I think Sydney can argue that it is simply stating its opinion but not yet (officially, at any rate) acting on it — as if New Westminster had approved same sex blessings in principal but not done it or TEC had said that sexual orientation was not a bar to the episcopate but refused to approve the election of Bishop Robinson (but OCICBW).

JPM
Guest
JPM

>>>(exits to don bullet-proof chasuble)

Just don’t wear that chasuble in Sydney. Such vain and superstitious popery is forbidden there.

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Bishop Davies told the Synod that the Archbishop could not prevent a deacon’s “administering the Lord’s Supper”. But the motion, though it also affirmed lay presidency, could not approve lay people’s presiding at Sunday services, as the Archbishop would need to license them, Bishop Davies said. “The Archbishop will not license a lay person at this time.” – – Statement from Sydney Diocesan Synod – Of course the Archbishop could not prevent a deacon from ‘administering ‘ the Lord’s Supper – anyone may do that, even a lay person – if they have the licence. BUT ‘administering’ is not the… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

“A report accompanying the mo tion argued that, because deacons can administer the sacrament of bap tism “in its entirety”, and because “no hierarchy of sacraments is ex pressed in describing the deacon’s role of assisting the presbyter,” deacons are therefore authorised to “administer the Lord’s Supper in its entirety”.” Not only can deacons administer Baptism, but any lay person can. That still isn’t an argument for anyone but a priest presiding at the Eucharist, since different Sacraments have different ministers. Because one requires a priest and the other doesn’t does not imply a hierarchy. Only bishops can ordain, but… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

“Oh dear, this is already turning into something that’s seen only in political terms, rather than on its own merits.” That it *has* merits is a pretty big assumption. “Jesus is present wherever two or three gather in his name.” Yeess, with you so far… “So when Christians gather, the host or the leader of the group would make a natural ‘president’ if they wanted to break bread and remember the death and resurrection of Jesus.” And if that were all that the Eucharist were, you might have a point. As it happens, that’s not all it is. And whatever… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“So when Christians gather, the host or the leader of the group would make a natural ‘president’ if they wanted to break bread and remember the death and resurrection of Jesus.”

If I were a Baptist, I’m sure I’d agree. But as I’m Episcopalian, and ergo Catholic…

Weiwen
Guest

I’ve got to agree with David. The church’s restricting presidency over the Eucharist to full priests is a matter of tradition only. It’s not scriptural. Sydney merely chose to modify the tradition to suit their own needs.

Furthermore, in a Diocese which doesn’t ordain women, allowing their female deacons to preside over the Eucharist is a significant step forward for those deacons.

Remember, Jesus wasn’t ordained and he didn’t say anything about us having to ordain people.

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

The Sydney Anglicans have never been happy with the Elizabethan Settlement. I wish we had a bit of it back again, myself:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlgtDqMRtxk&feature=related
(even though I know it didn’t really happen this way).

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

… rather than on its own merits. Merit? A breach of order is a merit? Well, it would have to be argued Theologically and Biblically first, wouldn’t it? Just like TEC did a few years ago over the inclusion of gays in Setting our Hope in Christ, and just as was done over the ordination of women a couple of decades ago. “Jesus is present wherever two or three gather in his name.” This is Church, as I understand it. Not Eucharist, although sometimes heard since the 16th century. “It probably needs a church which is on the margins of… Read more »

Cheryl Va.
Guest

David I agree about labels, but what to call them? Evangelicals? There are a lot of decent kind-hearted evangelicals who don’t deserve to have their name sullied by such souls. Catholic? At least the Pope and Mother Mary might have some objections to that. Broad tent? Sydney Anglican leaders are very proud of their solo scriptural interpretations and very offensive and belligerent against alternative readings. Liberal? Well, they are hardly liberal when it comes to women, GLBTs, abuse prevention, concerned for the well-being of the occupants of this planet (particularly the non-male, non-human kind). Mystics? Hardly, when they are the… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

The story has just blown on Stand Firm and the Anglo-Catholics are very upset…they don’t seem to realise that the Church of England in South Africa ( a Gafcon signatory ) has had lay presidency since 1936.

Indeed a Sydney assistant bishop at the Sydney Synod remarked that diaconal celebration was already occuring in UGANDA.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

This IS an interesting moment to make this decision. We have to remember that preventing proposed changes in eucharist presidency figured as an important sidebar to the deliberations of the Lambeth Commission. In a reflective piece the Archbishop of Sydney described TEC’s ordination of Gene Robinson as a badly timed “tactic”, and there is some truth in that many within TEC have been overwhelmed by the fierceness of the opposition often from former friends. Perhaps over 30 years of toleration and acceptance of gay people had dulled their senses and blocked out the memory of divinely approved homophobia. Similarly the… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“It probably needs a church which is on the margins of European Christendom to challenge the clericalisation of communion which we’ve wrongly accepted as the norm.” – David Keen – Yes, David Keen, I do agree. And in the person of the present Archbishop of Sydney we do have a prelate who conforms to that description. The sooner the rest of the Communion recognises his profound unsuitability to remain within its traditional purview, the better. You, personally, may think the Anglican Communion is mistaken about its fidelity to catholic order -in its retention of the priestly charism which is part… Read more »

David Ould
Guest

“They worship a Jesus that is only for them, and rush to the pulpit to gloat that God is going to condemn and abuse all other souls.”

A simple question, Cheryl. Can you (or anyone) point us to a sermon either in audio or text form this year from any Sydney Anglican preacher gloating over God’s condermnation and abuse of souls?

Just one will do.

kieran crichton
Guest
kieran crichton

For what it’s worth, Sydney has done this before. The problem was the Harry Goodhew is a reasonable man and listened to the then Primate (Keith Rayner), who took the view that Sydney’s Synod had ultimately acted ultra vires, with the upshot that the Synod legislation was vetoed on that occasion. Goodhew was never forgiven for that, and this is the result. Perhaps we should wonder that it’s taken them so long. This is probably a motion that probably reflects an existing practice. Nevertheless, we can be sure something more formal will be forthcoming in the very near future, and… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Oi Folks..you are being spied on..John Richardson (Reform) is telling the folks on Stand firm to look at how Thinking Anglicans is reacting to the Sydney decision…so as to expose how sacramentalism is wedded to liberalism. I am now taking bets… will the headline in the Church Times be…… GAFCON primates ask Sydney to step down Emergency meeting of Anglican Primates called. jensen called to Lambeth palace. Crisis moves ftom TEC to Sydney Forward in faith pull out of Gafcon. Anglican Province of North America on rocks Archbishop williams asks Bishop Robinson to chair Commission on lay presidency. Somehow or… Read more »

Ian Arch
Guest
Ian Arch

I am moved by a strange and unsettling sense of deja vu. A diocese authorises to a ministry those who have historically and universally been excluded from it. They do so with a generous exegesis of an authoratative text, dismissing its plain sense. They conclude by saying that though this is at odds with the practice of the rest of the Anglican Communion they are legally powerless to do anything else.

Who would ever have thought Sydney would adopt New Hamshire’s methods?!

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

Quite frankly, even of the Sydney “Anglicans” were to go through with permitting deacons to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, I would not go on a campaign to expel Sydney from Church or Communion. As a liberal Anglo-Catholic, I would oppose such an innovation; but if others want to experiment, following democratic debate and decision, that’s fine with me. Just as long as they don’t try to shove it down my throat. Too bad these folks don’t live and let live regarding womens’ ordination and gay clergy in other parts of the Communion. They are against “innovation” unless THEY want to… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

Chantry priests and “deacons” aside, I wonder if the idea of “Canon 8” priests that we’ve had here in the ECUSA (in our minimally populated dioceses, such as Northern Michigan) may have influenced Sydney. All kidding aside, the outback of Australia is probably similar in demographics to the U.P.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

David Ould is quite right…no Sydney Anglican would be that crass and they have a genuine zeal for Our Lord and include not stern Puritan type, but genuine loving people.Indeed Archbishop Jensen is a mild mannered but principled man, with a sharp wit. For traditionalists there has been lay presidency in the Anglican Communion since the advent of women priests! However I question the Evangelical alliance with Anglo-Catholics which is totally false and the fact that Anglo Catholic bishops who openly flout the 39 articles are GAfcon bishops…like Schofield and Iker. I asked David to explain this anomaly and he… Read more »

David Keen
Guest
David Keen

“And whatever else it is, it’s an action of the whole Church” Hmm, the first ‘eucharist’ was a Passover meal, which was something celebrated within Jewish family groups by the head of the family. Sure it linked to the story of the whole people, but then so does the Eucharist by the words we use, and the fact we remember the cross and the resurrection. Does that link to the whole church have to be the priesthood, or is the link the presence of Jesus and the remembrance of the cross? BTw the chasuble comment was a throwaway one, I… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“”So when Christians gather, the host or the leader of the group would make a natural ‘president’ if they wanted to break bread and remember the death and resurrection of Jesus.” And if that were all that the Eucharist were, you might have a point. As it happens, that’s not all it is.” You got to it before me, BillyD. But this is the point, isn’t it? I mean, look at this, that RIW gaffed from Stand Firm: “to expose how sacramentalism is wedded to liberalism.” You see, for them, sacraments are suspect. If there can be concrete act of… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“For traditionalists there has been lay presidency in the Anglican Communion since the advent of women priests!”

Oh foo, RIW. Just because “traditionalists” (i.e., anti-WO) dislike the authorized expansion of the sacramental priesthood to those made female, is no justification to term these called/formed/ordained PRIESTS as “lay”.

John
Guest
John

We should all engage with David Keen’s concerns and dump knee-jerk castigation of Sydney’s proposal (still only that) simply because we reject (quite rightly, of course) said Sydney’s silly attitudes to gays and can thus ‘prove’ that we liberal Anglo-Catholics are, on essentials, far more ‘orthodox’ than they are. My personal view is that ‘the Apostolic Succession’ is a construct and a construct that must frequently have been sundered in practice. The notion that there can be circumstances where someone in some rather weak sense ‘authorised’ can celebrate the Eucharist seems deeply Christian and deeply in accord with Jesus’ own… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

John: I agree. To that end, I’m reposting part of a comment by Phil Snyder, Deacon in the Diocese of Dallas (Episcopal Church US), originally on the Stand Firm! IMHO he gets at the real issue here: “I object to this change in who may administer the Sacraments…. [P]residing is not a normal diaconal charism. I have, with the permission of my bishop, presided at an administration from the Reserved Sacrament, but it is not something that is or should be normal for a deacon to do.” What Phil Snyder is licensed to do on occasion is not preside, but… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

“Hmm, the first ‘eucharist’ was a Passover meal, which was something celebrated within Jewish family groups by the head of the family. Sure it linked to the story of the whole people, but then so does the Eucharist by the words we use, and the fact we remember the cross and the resurrection.” It is by no means certain that the first Eucharist (notice the absence of scare quotes) took place at a Passover meal. The Synoptics say it did; St. John says that it did not. The Eastern Orthodox are pretty sure that St. John has it right (and… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

“I’ve got to agree with David. The church’s restricting presidency over the Eucharist to full priests is a matter of tradition only.” Only? “It’s not scriptural.” Since when is sola Scriptura an Anglican concept? “Furthermore, in a Diocese which doesn’t ordain women, allowing their female deacons to preside over the Eucharist is a significant step forward for those deacons.” Yes, it would be – if presiding at the Eucharist were some sort of personal achievement. “Remember, Jesus wasn’t ordained…” Quite right. And since he wasn’t, I’d say that any other human being who was also the Incarnation of the Second… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Lay presidency means that suitable members of our church congregations should be allowed to run the communion service, in the same way that they are licensed or allowed to preach. “Should the Diocese, or St Pewsitters ever be crazy enough to allow the pewsitter to run communion, I would be happy to. I agree with the Synod that there’s nothing in the Bible to suggest that the communion service is more special than preaching.” – Sydney Diocesan web-site – This item, presumably by a local lay-person, on the Diocese of Sydney’s web-site, shows just how far the Jensen Brother’s have… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

“The Elizabethan Prayer Book (followed subsequently by all revisions, AFAIK) gives two formulas for the administration of the Sacrament by the priest. One is Catholic (“The Body of Christ…) the other Zwinglian (“Take and eat this in remembrance…”). “

Doesn’t it, rather, take those two formulae and wed them into one? It’s not as if those distributing Communion get to pick one that best accords with their own private views on the Sacrament.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Sydney Anglicans are true to Cranmer and the Protestant spirit of Anglicanism. Anglo-Catholicism is a nineteenth century aberration. The early high Church tradition on careful examination is Protestant…Archbishop Laud never prayed to the Saints or for the dead..wore a chasuble or even a mitre. The non-jurors failed to join with the Grek Orthodox because they wanted them to give up transubstantiation and invocation odf Saints. The Anglo-Catholics re-introduced ritual and Roman Catholic doctrine into Anglicanism…and Sydney stayed the same, vociferously rejecting it. how many reader realise that the chasuble was only re-introduced to Anglicanism in the mid nineeenth century and… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

Oh foo, RIW. Just because “traditionalists” (i.e., anti-WO) dislike the authorized expansion of the sacramental priesthood to those made female, is no justification to term these called/formed/ordained PRIESTS as “lay”.

I agree it sounds provocative language – but when push comes to shove I am not sure how else the ministry of women can be regarded by the majority of Christendom – however it is ‘authorized’.

Weiwen
Guest

Billy, In Matthew 16, where Jesus allegedly tells Peter that He will build His church on Peter, the Greek word for “church” is “ekklesia”. Literally (according to wikipedia), ekklesia meant assembly, congregation or council. That’s all we have to go on as far as Jesus (the un-ordained Jewish guy) is concerned. The funky hats, the robes, the incense, the wine and the bread … all that is tradition. It’s not to be lightly discarded. I knowingly chose to be confirmed in a church whose polity is episcopal. However, let’s not place too much weight on tradition. And let’s condemn Sydney… Read more »

bobinswpa
Guest
bobinswpa

David Ould: I think what some people are trying to say is “it’s alright for Sydney to do it’s own thing but when TEC and ACofC did “their own thing” we heard nothing but outcries such as apostate and heretics.” Why can one national church, well, not even a church but a diocese do something innovative and it’s Okey Dokey but when other national churches open their doors for everyone we hear “they’ve made a pack with the devil?” I’m sure this argument isn’t going to settled since there seems to be double standards all over the place. I’m too… Read more »

Alcibiades Caliban
Guest

“… it is *theoretically* possible to wear the chasuble in the diocese of Sydney without infringing the diocesan vesture rules.” Not unless things have changed drastically under +Jensen – which I very much doubt: in the mid 90’s all ordinations were subject to the candidate signing an agreement to never wear “a chasuble or any other eucharistic vestment” while in the diocese. An “import” friend of mine trained and ordained elsewhere (a rare phenomena in Sydney) was required to sign a similar statement before being licensed to officiate. BTW even in those parishes where lay/diaconal presidency is already (illegally) being… Read more »

Cheryl Va.
Guest

David O Don’t play statistics games. That means that 2004 & 2005 weren’t that remarkable in terms of natural disasters. The 2004 Tsunami happened 26 December, so missed by 5 days being in 2005, and then there were the blimps in 2005 e.g. the Pakistani quake. Much more interesting to take a twelve month period e.g. 22 December 2004 to 21 December 2005 and then do a comparison on the blimps. I’m not looking for new battles, I’m settling old ones. Archbishop Jensen 16 January 2005, Bishop at local minister’s ordination February 2005: http://www.wombatwonderings.org/files/peace_in_our_time_sanitised.pdf Of course, I could go into… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Hmm, the first ‘eucharist’ was a Passover meal, which was something celebrated within Jewish family groups by the head of the family” – – David Keen – Not so! Whichever version of the description of the Last Supper you want to cite as evidence for this statement, David Keen, it won’t wash! Yes, I have heard of certain evangelical Christian communities who have settled for a Seder Meal as a substitute for the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, but no traditional Anglican Church would find this an adequate way of celebrating or commemorating the events in the Upper Room on the… Read more »

MrsBarlow
Guest
MrsBarlow

Readers may not be aware that this has all happened before – in the Diocese of Armidale in northern New South Wales. In the early-1990s the diocesan bishop permitted several deacons to preside at communion. When this came to light (much to the shock of many Armidale parishioners) the Australian bishops insisted that he ordain those deacons to the priesthood. This lead to the bizarre circumstance whereby the diocese of Armidale passed the General Synod canon permitting women to be ordained priest for a period of five days, in order to ordain a female deacon who had presided at the… Read more »

Israel J Pattison
Guest
Israel J Pattison

It’s not clear from the original post or any of the comments: does this ruling allow deacons to consecrate the blessed sacrament or are they only distributing communion from hosts originally consecrated by a priest?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“The only reason that priests do it now is because the numbers of Christians grew rapidly, and one celebration per city became unrealistic. Bishops couldn’t be everywhere, so with the multiplication of celebrations they delegated priests to be their agents; since priests are ordained by bishops, the link with the bishop and his celebration was maintained”

So where is the theological problem with extending that principle to lay people, provided they are given their auhority either by a bishop or a priest, so the link is maintained?