Sydney move to diaconal & lay presidency rebuffed

The Anglican Church of Australia’s Appellate Tribunal disagrees with the Diocese of Sydney’s decision that people other than priests may preside at Eucharist.

Episcopal News Service reports:

Sydney’s diocesan synod in 2008 overwhelmingly agreed that lay people and deacons could be permitted to preside at Eucharist and consecrate the communion elements– a role that is usually limited to priests.

The tribunal — consisting of three bishops and four senior lawyers — has given an advisory opinion both on lay administration, which is not sanctioned in the Diocese of Sydney and on administration by deacons, which the diocese practices, according to an Aug. 10 news release.

Since the 2008 decision, some Sydney parishes have allowed deacons to preside at Eucharist where a priest is not able to do so. The diocese does not allow lay people to do so, however, the release said.

The tribunal’s advisory opinion considered both lay and diaconal presidency and concluded that a general synod canon would be required to implement either practice. The tribunal was not asked to consider the theological merits of persons other than a presbyter administering the Lord’s Supper, given a previous opinion which endorsed its doctrinal validity. Instead, it considered only legal argument, the release said.

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