A few posts below a stream of comments has been generated around questions of Anglican priesthood, with specific reference to presidency at communion and whether it is necessary to have a priest preside.
Last night, catching up on the internet, I noticed a comment along the following lines (wording deliberately revised so you cannot google this person!), "Anglican ordination is coming up for me soon, but it's not my understanding that a priest is required for eucharistic presidency. Hope no one finds out before I am ordained (despite me giving my diocese and my first name in this comment)."*
Here, for what it is worth, is a brief and beginning reflection on the reasons for priestly presidency, from an evangelical perspective:
(1) Many things Anglican, including priestly presidency, have been inherited unreformed from the undivided church of the apostles, first bishops, and church fathers. To reform them now should be on the basis that we now have sufficient grounds to judge that (a) the English reformers were wrong to pass this reformation by, and (b) our ancient forbears in the undivided church were wrong. I suggest that sufficient grounds should include a Communion wide consensus for change. I do not detect such an emerging consensus, do you?
(2) Evangelical Anglicans have many options to progress the cause of evangelicalism, including leaving the church for another, or founding a new church, as has happened on many occasions in the past (Puritans, Dissenters, Methodists, Brethren, etc). If the strength of concern over priestly presidency is sufficient to seek change without consensus then the door to departure is open. Conversely, evangelical Anglicans who remain in the Anglican church need to squarely face the fact that our church is a church in which many Anglicans are committed to priestly presidency, unlikely to change that commitment, and thus it might be a better investment of time and energy appreciating why we have priestly presidency rather than arguing against it!
There is a subsidiary note to this observation: as I understand the way other denominations work, the number of non-Anglican/Catholic/Orthodox denominations which permit 'lay presidency' at the eucharist is less than the number of non-Anglican/Catholic/Orthodox denominations! That is, it is not uniquely Anglican within the Protestant wing of the worldwide church to have a high view of the connection between 'the minister' and eucharistic presidency!
(3) The fact that many Anglican churches permit lay preaching but not lay presidency is not a very good argument for permitting lay (or diaconal) presidency. The premise seems to be this: the ministry of the word and the ministry of the sacrament are equal, so if one, then the other. But such argument cuts another way: if the unintended consequence of sharing the pulpit between lay and clergy is pressure on eucharistic presidency, why not prohibit lay preaching?!
That's enough for today ... more to come on another day.
* I am not sure which is the more egregious misunderstanding: re Anglican eucharistic presidency or the public nature of internet comments :)