Sydney votes for diaconal and lay presidency

by
23 October 2008

by Muriel Porter, Australia Correspondent

Australian Primate re-elected: The Archbishop of Brisbane, Dr Phillip Aspinall, has been re-elected as Primate of Australia. He has been Primate since 2005. A meeting of the Primate Board of Electors, held in Sydney last Friday, confirmed Archbishop Aspinall for a further six-year term, the maximum term now possible under revised General Synod legislation. Dr Aspinall is a member of the Primates’ Standing Committee.

SYDNEY DIOCESAN SYNOD has affirmed that deacons — including women deacons — may preside at holy communion.

In a motion moved by a Sydney regional bishop, Dr Glenn Davies, the synod accepted arguments that there was no legal impediment to deacons’ presiding, given that, under a 1985 General Synod canon, deacons are authorised to assist the priest in the administration of the sacraments.

A report accompanying the mo­tion argued that, because deacons can administer the sacrament of bap­tism “in its entirety”, and because “no hierarchy of sacraments is ex­pressed in describing the deacon’s role of assisting the presbyter,” deacons are therefore authorised to “administer the Lord’s Supper in its entirety”.

Bishop Davies told the Synod that the Archbishop could not prevent a deacon’s “administering the Lord’s Supper”. But the motion, though it also affirmed lay presidency, could not approve lay people’s presiding at Sunday services, as the Archbishop would need to license them, Bishop Davies said. “The Archbishop will not license a lay person at this time.”

This reluctance is believed to relate to Sydney’s relationship with the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) bishops.

Another Sydney regional bishop, the Rt Revd Peter Tasker, supported an attempt to remove general af­firma­tion of lay and diaconal presid­ency from the motion out of concern for a potential adverse GAFCON re­sponse, but the amendment was lost.

The motion was seconded by the Archdeacon for Women’s Ministry, the Ven. Narelle Jarrett, who wel­comed the opportunity the motion gave for women deacons to preside at services for women and children, as, for example, in “a girls’ school or a women’s prison”.

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The Dean of Sydney, the Very Revd Phillip Jensen, argued that allowing deacons to preside would turn the diaconate into “a real diaconate”. “We don’t want to specialise the presbyters in administering the Lord’s Supper

. . . but we want them to specialise in their incumbency.”

The motion was passed un­amended, and, the Sydney diocesan website reported, “overwhelmingly”. It read:

Synod —

(a) accepts the report concerning legal barriers to lay and diaconal administration of the Lord’s Supper which was submitted to the 3rd session of the 47th Synod, and

(b) affirms again its conviction that lay and diaconal administration of the Lord’s Supper is consistent with the teaching of Scripture, and

(c) affirms that the Lord’s Supper in this diocese may be administered by persons other than presbyters, and requests the Diocesan Secretary to send a copy of The Lord’s Supper in Human Hands to all bishops who attended the GAFCON.

SYDNEY SYNOD has “overwhelmingly” endorsed the GAFCON Jerusalem Declaration, the diocesan website reports, writes Muriel Porter. A motion endorsed the declaration “as exempli­fy­ing the tenets of orthodoxy which underpins our Anglican identity”.

SYDNEY SYNOD has “overwhelmingly” endorsed the GAFCON Jerusalem Declaration, the diocesan website reports, writes Muriel Porter. A motion endorsed the declaration “as exempli­fy­ing the tenets of orthodoxy which underpins our Anglican identity”.

In a separate motion, the synod congratulated the Archbishop of Sydney and the Sydney regional bishops for attending GAFCON and for their moves “to continue our development as a truly Bible-based Anglican Church”. The synod had earlier made provision of “appropriate financial support to enable Archbishop Jensen to adequately discharge his responsibilities as Honorary Secretary to the GAFCON Primates’ Council”.

In a separate motion, the synod congratulated the Archbishop of Sydney and the Sydney regional bishops for attending GAFCON and for their moves “to continue our development as a truly Bible-based Anglican Church”. The synod had earlier made provision of “appropriate financial support to enable Archbishop Jensen to adequately discharge his responsibilities as Honorary Secretary to the GAFCON Primates’ Council”.

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