Friday, August 13, 2010


I use 'chicanery' here in the motor-racing sense of trying to get from A to B by making some deft steering manouvres. This is what Right Reverend Dr Glenn Davies appears to have attempted in presenting the Sydney case for the legality of its synodical decision to authorise diaconal and lay presidency. Smart racing drivers do not drive into obstacles but around them so it is interesting to read that +Glenn offered no arguments in favour of lay presidency. But his attempts to justify diaconal presidency involve chicane driving around the words 'administration' and 'assist'. But to no avail. The Australian Anglican church has waved the red flag.

You can read about it briefly here at Thinking Anglicans (and then links to news media reports), read the Tribunal's report here, or read all the Tribunal's reports here.


John Sandeman said...

This decision has to be seen against the Tribunal decision that opened the way for women bishops. Glenn Davies points out that in that decision the tribunal decided not to look at the intent of the legislation biut instead concentrated on the actual words.
This time the tribunal has listened to the intent of the legislation, for example taking on board the argument that since Nicea the church has not allowed deacons to administer communion.
Perhaps racing car driver Glenn should be forgiven for thinking the race would be run on the same direction on the track as last time.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi John,
Excellent response.
Still, better to get it right on this one and find a way to come up with a better grounded decision on the other one (General Synod approval for women bishops would be good!), than get this one on the wrong track too.

Kurt said...

I still believe that much of this unpleasantness can be avoided by the use of the Reserved Sacrament. It is a very ancient custom, and need not be fused with the veneration of the Blessed Sacrament. Deacons and licensed laypeople can administer Holy Communion from the Reserved Sacrament when a priest is not available.

Prior to the Oxford Movement, some American Episcopal parishes followed the custom of the Scottish Church and set aside a portion of the Precious Blood in small cabinets called aumbries, in the sacristies. Holy Communion would thereby be available for the sick and dying 24-7 even if there were only monthly or quarterly celebrations of the Holy Eucharist. (The American Prayer Book of 1789 also made provision for celebrations of the Holy Communion for the sick or dying, but, of course, this was not always convenient).

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Andrew Reid said...

While a Melbourne boy like me likes nothing better than to heap it on Sydney, I hope this issue doesn't take away from the good initiatives the Diocese of Sydney is involved in. Their Connect 09 initiative, theological education, youth ministry centre and university student ministry is all top notch stuff that blesses not just their own diocese but many others.
Where Sydney is coming from on this, is that they want to put preaching and presiding at communion on the same level. It seems to me too that the Bible has more to say about who can lead and teach God's word, than who can lead the Lord's Supper. Also, they want to repudiate the mystical ideas about the bread and wine, that you somehow have to have a priest rather than a deacon for Communion to "work".
While I think they are right Scripturally on diaconal presidency, I'm not convinced they've picked the right battle. It opens them up to the same charges of innovation they are directing at others. And they've fought it rather strangely, too. Usually when Sydney is convinced about something, they send in the big guns to fight for it. Seems like Glenn Davies was on his own for this one.

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks for comments here, including interesting observation about not sending in the 'big guns.'

Sydney does great work, as do other groupings of churches around the world. But is their grouping of churches 'Anglican' when it subjects everything to Scripture (and a particular, 'not influenced by tradition' reading at that). To be Anglican is to accept that some things are not up for re-examination ... unless one wishes to do violence to the generally accepted meaning of 'Anglican'!

Peter Carrell said...

To an Anonymous commenter on this post: the policy is that commenters must name themselves with at least a first name, preferably with a first name and a surname.