THE diocesan synod in Sydney has reaffirmed its 2008 decision to permit deacons to preside at holy communion, despite the recent majority decision by the national Church’s Appellate Tribunal that diaconal presidency is unconstitutional.
The synod rejected several attempts to amend a motion, brought by a Sydney regional bishop, Dr Glenn Davies, which “noted” what it described as “the advisory opinion” of the Tribunal but reaffirmed the 2008 motion that the Tribunal declared unconstitutional.
The 2008 motion asserted that the synod’s “conviction that lay and diaconal administration of the Lord’s Supper” was “consistent with the teaching of scripture”, and that “the Lord’s Supper in this diocese may be administered by persons other than presbyters”.
This first motion, on the basis of which deacons have presided at the eucharist in some Sydney churches, prompted the reference to the Tribunal.
According to a report on the Sydney diocesan website, the Dean of Sydney, the Very Revd Phillip Jensen, said that “the Appellate Tribunal opinion displayed little understanding of the real pastoral and theological issues. . .
“The way forward is to say thank you for your opinion; here is our opinion; and that is how we fellowship together in disagreement. The Lord’s Supper is a gospel issue, and we need to make clear it is a gospel issue in world Anglicanism.”
Since 2008, Sydney diocese has implemented a permanent diaconate, ordaining clergy to the priesthood only when they become parish rectors. Assistant clergy and chaplains remain in deacon’s orders. The 215 active deacons in Sydney constitute just over one third of the licensed clergy, and are increasingly leading new congregations and church plants.