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Sydney defies Tribunal

21 October 2010

by Muriel Porter Australia Correspondent

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.

Seconding the motion, Arch­deacon Narelle Jarrett said that the bar on deacons’ administering holy communion was nowhere legislated in scripture. “It is a tragedy that deacons cannot fulfil the full sacra­mental ministry,” she said. “It is pastorally appropriate that deacons who are chaplains in schools, prisons, and hospitals be allowed to ad­minister the Lord’s Supper.”

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.

In 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.”

This view was disputed by Alan Hohne, of Cherrybrook parish, who had moved that the motion be not put: “This is not a gospel issue, and it’s not worth complicating our good and improving relations with An­glican bishops around the world.”

He had been countered by the Revd Andrew Katay, Rector of Ash­field, Haberfield, and Five Dock, who wanted the synod to provide clarity. “I have a female deacon licensed to me who administers the Lord’s Supper,” he said. “I am now confused about the Appellate Tri­bunal decision and what it means for her. We need the synod to speak and give its opinion.”

Mr Hohne’s motion was lost. Dr Davies’s motion was passed easily.

Since 2008, Sydney diocese has implemented a permanent dia­con-ate, and ordains clergy to the priest­hood only when they become parish rectors.

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