Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Australians appeal administration ambitions

Via Titus One Nine based in the States I see that an appeal has been lodged against Sydney Diocese's move in its synod last year to permit both diaconal and lay administration (i.e. presidency) at the eucharist (though, for the sake of clarity, please understand that ++Peter Jensen has not subsequently permitted any lay person so to preside).

An SMH report is here.

And I understand better why Mark Thompson yesterday made a point about lay presidency there.

From the SMH report:

"... The highest court of the Australian Anglican Church, the Appellate Tribunal, has been convened to decide on the contentious issue of whether church law allows deacons or church workers to preside over the Lord's Supper, a duty exclusively performed by ordained priests and bishops.

"Eight diocesan bishops from Wangaratta, Bathurst, Bunbury, Riverina, Rockhampton, Grafton, North Queensland and Willochra, and 20 clergy and laity from 13 dioceses around the country outside of Sydney have applied for a legal ruling. ...

"...Three Sydney rectors - all from the Anglo-Catholic tradition - have also joined the legal fray against their own synod, arguing that bishops and priests should continue to have the exclusive right to preside over this central sacrament.

"The rector of St John's Church, Gordon, Father Keith Dalby, said diaconal and lay presidency contravened the type of church services and ministry role as prescribed in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which is the ultimate standard of worship in the Anglican communion.

"''By allowing for diaconal and lay presidency you collapse the office of deacon and priest into the one order so you actually effectively destroy the traditional threefold order of deacon, priest and bishop, that has been upheld way back to 110AD.''

"The Melbourne Anglican Dr Muriel Porter, one of the 28 signatories to the tribunal's reference, said who presided at Holy Communion was not a ''trivial in-house issue'' but one ''at least as important as women's ordination and gay clergy''.

"''Who presides at Holy Communion - the central worship service for Anglicans - is about who are the leaders in the Anglican Church, who is authorised to lead,'' she said. ..."


Janice said...

Hi Peter,

From the SMH article:

The Bishop of North Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, who convinced his synod that there was no legal impediment to deacons' presiding, says a General Synod canon carried in 1985 already authorised deacons to assist the priest in the administration of the sacraments.

"Previously, deacons were a stepping stone to priests, they were probationary priests for a year, but we say that deacons in the Bible is an order of ministry with its own integrity.

Deacons can marry, bury, preach, baptise, why shouldn't they be able to administer the Lord's Supper?

This gives women the full range of possibilities in ministry without being head of a parish."

I find that last sentence both amusing and telling.

But apart from that, and with regard to, "the traditional threefold order of deacon, priest and bishop," if the diaconate is, "is an order of ministry with its own integrity," such that being ordained deacon should be considered an exit qualification rather than entry into a period of probationary priesthood then, for the sake of consistency, shouldn't the priesthood be similarly regarded? Shouldn't it be that being priested is no qualification for being made a bishop? Since both bishops and priest already can preside at communion could that be considered as collapsing the office of priest and bishop into one order? I have no idea.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Janice
I think you are offering more food for thought than Bishop Davies on the points you make!