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Back to the page on Lay Presidency

Primate responds to Sydney vote on Lay Presidency

20 October 1999

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Archbishop Keith Rayner, has issued the following statement following the vote of the synod of the Diocese of Sydney to allow lay people to preside at the Holy Communion:-

'The vote of the Sydney synod to permit lay people to preside at Holy Communion has potential consequences of a very serious kind.

'The Anglican Church understands itself as part of the one, holy, catholic, apostolic church, going back to Christ and his apostles. This is clearly set out in our constitution. The Sydney vote represents a fundamental break with catholic order.

'At the Reformation in the 16th Century, the Anglican reformers made it clear that they were not starting a new church. They specifically reaffirmed the received orders of bishop, priest and deacon and the functions which they fulfilled. The Sydney vote represents a fundamental break with the principles of the Anglican reformers.

'The vote sets the synod of the Diocese of Sydney at odds not only with the rest of the Anglican Church of Australia but with the world-wide Anglican Communion. The Appellate Tribunal, the church's highest judicial body, has specifically given the opinion that it does not lie within the authority of one diocesan synod to make this kind of change. The vote therefore challenges the constitution and canons of our church.

'I have no doubt that the Archbishop of Sydney will bear this in mind in making his decision as to whether he (or any bishop) could give assent to this legislation. Without his assent it has no effect.'

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