Sydney votes to allow diaconal and lay presidency at the Eucharist

The Archdiocese of Sydney in Australia has broken with Anglican tradition and voted to accept a report which calls for allowing lay people and deacons to celebrate the Holy Eucharist without a priest present.

The Church Times reports in their article:

“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.’”

Read the full article here.

The article speculates that the reason for Archbishop Jensen’s reluctance to license lay people to preside at the Eucharist is that he is concerned about the reaction of the GAFCON leadership. But licensing deacons is, by itself, a departure from the Ordinal and the traditions of Anglicanism.

Here is some background information to the controversy.

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