Dale Rye has written at Covenant under the title What’s Up Down Under?
The recent decision of the Diocesan Synod of Sydney, in the Anglican Church of Australia, to allow the administration of Holy Communion—i.e., the celebration of the Eucharist—by deacons and eventually laity seems outlandish to many overseas Anglicans. It makes considerably more sense within the context of Australian Anglicanism, which has a very different history than The Episcopal Church (TEC) and its various offshoots (I will get to that later). Australian Anglicanism is exceptionally diverse as a result of that history, and its diversity has led the Anglican Church of Australia to adopt a unique pattern of organization.
Just as some Episcopalians are frustrated when other Anglicans cannot understand TEC’s particular form of synodical governance, so I expect Australians feel when outsiders try to apply their own context to matters Down Under. I write the following as an American outsider, but one who has long been fascinated enough by the local variations on the common Anglican theme to make a study of them. (I hope that any Australians who read this will take the trouble to correct my inevitable mistakes by commenting below…)
Note: Dale Rye has added a substantial update to his original article.
Andrew McGowan who is Warden of Trinity College, the University of Melbourne, has written Power and Presiding: The Reality of “Lay Administration”.
The Diocese of Sydney’s reaffirmation, at its recent Synod, of lay presidency (or as many of its leaders prefer, “lay administration”) at the Holy Communion has had Anglicans around the world again wondering what we are putting in the (increasingly scarce!) water down here.
Sydney’s motives are quite unlike the occasional stirrings in this direction voiced on the liberal edge of US or British churches. The original theological engine driving this is the theology of Church and sacraments taught by former Moore College principal Broughton Knox, and now pursued by his students including key figures in the Sydney episcopal leadership and the present staff of Moore. Some of these, like their “Reform” counterparts in the UK, see the Reformation as an incomplete work and the Elizabethan settlement as a bit of a Laodicean compromise. The real interest in “lay administration” lies, for them, in carrying through a principled protestant disposal of catholic accretions upon a supposed New Testament model of ministry and worship.
There are links to other comments here.