Have been able this morning to catch up a little on Communion news and views. Sometimes in my posts I feel that I may be sticking my neck out re the conclusions I reach, so I am always grateful when I find someone somewhere confirming something I have said!
Hat-tips to Fulcrum (for first alert), Stand Firm, Titus One Nine etc:
Here is Bishop Jack Iker on the significance of Sydney's recent declaration re lay presidency being valid for an Anglican Diocese (I have emboldened some words):
Greg Griffith: Moving from the general to the specific, one recent and troubling development has been the decision by the diocese of Sydney to authorize lay presidency. That appears to contradict the Jerusalem Declaration by GAFCON, of which Sydney is a member. Two-part question: 1) How easy is it going to be for a Jack Iker to live with lay presidency, and 2) What does this portend for unity within GAFCON in particular and the orthodox movement as a whole?
Bishop Iker: Well, obviously lay presidency or diaconal presidency of the eucharist is not Anglican, and I regret to see them moving in that direction, because it does mean further division among the orthodox. That's not something that Anglicanism is able to accept or affirm. So in a sense, Sydney is causing a similar kind of tear in the fabric of the communion as the Episcopal Church did by moving ahead with ordaining a practicing homosexual as bishop. So I hope they pull back from that, but it's not something that a reformed, catholic religion can affirm or accept. We've always said that the Anglican church is a reformed, catholic body owing to the unbroken faith and practice of the historic church, and this is certainly a departure from that.
Greg Griffith: If Sydney does not pull back from lay presidency, and if it's true that Sydney is tearing the fabric of the communion in a way that's comparable to what TEC has done, and if the GAFCON primates continue to agree to have Sydney as one of its members, doesn't that undercut GAFCON's objections to the actions by TEC and Canada regarding homosexuality?
Bishop Iker: I suppose the difference between the two is that one is a moral issue, and the other is not - it's more of a sacramental/theological issue. But the effect is the same - to break communion and cause division.
Greg Griffith: What is your suggestion to your colleagues - to your fellow American bishops, to the GAFCON primates - as to how to address that?
Bishop Iker: I think we just have to speak the truth in love, to say that this does not further our cause, our unity, our mission; and to ask Sydney to reconsider that development. I don't know that it's restricted to Sydney - there may be other parts of the communion where evangelicals are more supportive of that development - but you wouldn't find that support obviously among any of the Anglo-Catholic bishops or dioceses.
One objection to my initial posts re the Sydney decision was that it was 'just a motion'. But it is not so, as this correspondent on Titus One Nine makes clear:
The Archbishop of Sydney has already authorized Diaconal and Lay Presidency! Here is a posting by the Rev’d Adrian Stephens, Rector of the parish of Christ Church St Laurence in Sydney (http://www.ccsl.org.au):
“During Synod 2008 a particularly dishonest motion was carried which purported to be a statement of policy concerning Lay and Diaconal Presidency at the Eucharist. The motion was presented on the basis that it was not meant to permit any particular activity, but rather simply stated what Sydney Diocese believed.
The end result is this. The Archbishop has been quoted as stating that he would not license any Lay person or Deacon to celebrate the Eucharist. However a letter was immediately despatched by regional Bishops stating that Lay presidency was problematic, but Diaconal Presidency would be approved by regional bishops on request. Sadly I received such a letter from our regional bishop."
For the record my point in posting on this matter, at risk of diminishing respect and affection for the great Diocese of Sydney, is this:
Scripture may permit lay and diaconal presidency (being unclear on precisely who should preside at the eucharist), local synods may have authority to vary matters of Anglican practice, so, as an Anglican well aware of the potential of Anglicanism both to embrace considerable diversity and of the importance of respecting local autonomy, I do not object to Sydney acting in the way it has as a distinctive Diocese following its unique heritage. BUT I do object to inconsistency: I find it difficult, if not impossible to reconcile Sydney's commitment to GAFCON and the Jerusalem Declaration with its recent Synod decision re lay and diaconal presidency, since its decision is inconsistent with any plain reading of the meaning of the Jerusalem Declaration, and the commitment of its bishops to proceed with diaconal presidency is at variance with the demands of GAFCON fellowship which requires solidarity with fellow Anglicans about widely agreed matters of Anglican theology and practice. Logically I must, and will gladly withdraw all criticism if Sydney does the honourable thing and withdraws either its resolution or its membership and involvement with GAFCON. If Sydney wants to pursue its particular vision of Anglicanism, fine; but please do not think it's compatible with also supporting conservative Anglicans around the world!