Letters from 17
to 23 November 2008
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(letters about this
Boling is right. "Administration" of the elements (eg by deacons or lay-people)
should mean distribution in contrast to celebration (by a priest). Sydney
claims diaconal celebration is already legal and needs no ordinance because
a General Synod canon law already allows diaconal "administration" which
the Diocese has perversely interpreted as celebration.
(Sydney not the New South Wales) has again moved motions in support of
diaconal and lay celebration but motions are not binding. The Archbishop,
however, supports the motions but has stated that he "will not licence
a lay person AT THIS TIME (italics please)" to celebrate Communion -
perhaps because Sydney's place in Gafcon would thereby be threatened.
Already, however, representatives of the "open Evangelical" body,Fulcrum,
and of the US Prayer Book Society have called for Sydney to leave Gafcon
because of its support of departure in this respect from Anglican church
principles! In practice, unofficially, "diaconal and lay administration",
ie.celebration, is quite common - certainly in this parish but on non-licensed
premises (buildings not licensed for worship, houses, and hospitals).
The Revd Dr
St John the Baptist's Parish Church, Canberra, ACT
Campbelltown, NSW, AUSTRALIA
17 November 2008
I refer to
Helen's letter of
last week. I
am a minister in Sydney Diocese and read your letter today on Anglicans
clarification may help:
- The action
refers to leading the communion service, not just distributing the elements.
- It is
in the DIOCESE of SYDNEY – and not the state of New South
Wales. (Sydney is one of 5 or so Diocese in the state of New South Wales).
- The Diocese
has been discussing this for 30+ years, so it is not new.
- No law
or canon was changed at the synod, but a resolution was passed that the
synod already considers is legal for deacons to assist the minister,
by leading the communion.
it to my congregation in our Sunday NEWS sheet this way: (I tried to
clock back at church some 50 years, and the minister did everything in
the service but take up the offertory! He would lead the service, read
the lessons, lead the prayers, preach, lead the Lord’s Supper and
if he had a good voice, give a lead in the singing as well! Ministry
by people other than clergy was pretty much limited to teaching Sunday
school and Scripture in schools.
years, we have grown in our understanding of God’s Word
and seen that we have all been given gifts for ministry and that the role
of ministers is to equip people for their ministry. So now, all of us are
involved in ministry! And what great blessing has come! We have been able
to significantly multiply ministry! E.g., typically, churches had one Bible
study—led by the minister. At St Andrew’s we now we have over
20 with over 250 people involved! When we gather on a Sunday, there is
tremendous blessing in having various others involved according to their
gifts—reading the Scriptures, leading in prayer, leading the service
etc. How good it was to have Leigh Hatcher preach recently! And all of
us have an understanding that we are to minister to one another.
the one area of ministry that has not been exercised by people other
than clergy is the Lord’s Supper. (Perhaps you hadn’t
noticed that I am usually the only person that leads that part of the service!)
That is because it was considered ‘illegal’ in terms of church
rules. Certainly the Bible is silent about who may lead the Lord’s
Supper—except that it occurred in people’s homes and was presumably
led by the head of the family—in much the same way as they had led
in the Passover remembrance. (And it is certainly not because the Anglican
church teaches that there is something happening in the Supper that only
an ordained minister can bring about. That is actually what Archbishop
Cranmer in 1552 was fighting against, which cost him his life!)
Our practice has not matched our theology. More than that, the fact that
only clergy have led the Lord’s Supper has actually
taught or enforced an incorrect understanding of the Supper. For over 30
years now, Sydney Diocese has endeavoured to address this anomaly. Initially,
the legal minds sought to change the official church rules (canons). But
on further research, no real legal barriers were actually found! It has
been more by tradition than actual rule.
As a result,
synod expressed its opinion this week that there are no theological or
legal barriers to people other than senior ministers leading the Supper.
How good to be in a Diocese that seeks to be faithful to the Scriptures
and bring practice in line with theology."
may be interested in viewing argument for deacons leading the communion
as set out here; also
I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
The Rev Mark
St Andrew's Roseville
Roseville, Sydney, AUSTRALIA
17 November 2008
on personalization at the rail
I missed your letter
about names at Communion so had to read it after reading the letters
written in response. My own response comes in the form of two stories.
In 1988 I
happened to be in London's Southwark Cathedral when Archbishop Desmond
Tutu was celebrating (it was Lambeth Conference time). Many of us had
South African connections - some were exiles. I was blown away and immensely
touched when the Archbishop went along the Communion rail giving the
sacrament. At a guess he probably knew at least 60% of the people by
name, including mine. I have never forgotten that!
relates to a sermon I preached on Baptism and the giving of a Christian
name. I commented on how sad I found it that so many people in church
insisted on calling people Mr X or Miss Y rather than use Christian names.
A ninety-three year old spinster spoke to me at the door after the service. " I
was brought up to call the doctor Dr and the priest Mr or Fr and have
done that all my life. But what you said makes sense, and from now on
I shall call you Frank. You know my name!" I did, and she did. Blanche
died a few weeks later. It was a happy and joyous funeral.
Wellington Cathedral of St Paul
Wellington, NEW ZEALAND
20 November 2008
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