Submission to Appellate Tribunal by Bishop Davies
ADMINSTRATION OF HOLY COMMUNION AND THE LORD'S SUPPER BY PERSONS OTHER THAN A PRIEST OR PRESBYTER
SUBMISSION OF BISHOP GLENN N DAVIES
1. In accordance with Section 63(1) of the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia ("the Constitution"), 28 members of the General Synod ("the Applicants") referred certain questions to the Appellate Tribunal as to whether any canons of General Synod authorise the administration of the Holy Communion or Lord's Supper by a layperson or deacon and whether Resolution 27/08 of the Synod of the Diocese of Sydney, affirming that persons other than a presbyter may administer the Lord's Supper, is consistent with the Constitution and the canons made thereunder.
2. On 20 August 2009 a Preliminary Conference and Directions Hearing was held in the General Synod office, where I was given leave to appear and make a submission supporting an affirmative answer to the central question in the Reference. I indicated at that Conference that I would limit my submission to supporting the proposition that there exists a General Synod Canon which authorises deacons to administer the Lord's Supper.
3. The President directed that the Applicants were to lodge written submissions by 20 November 2009. Mr Robertson Wright, the Revs Keith Dalby, Steven Salmon and Adrian Stephens ("the First Supporting Party") were also given leave to make submissions, and subsequently the Diocese of Newcastle (although representatives of the Diocese of Newcastle were not present at the Preliminary Conference) was also given similar leave. As a contradictor I was directed to make my submission by 20 January 2010.
The Central Issue
4. All parties present at the Preliminary Conference agreed that the Reference before the Appellate Tribunal is a question of law and not a question of doctrine. There is therefore no need to invoke section 58(1) of the Constitution. The Applicants' Reference recognises that the administration of the Lord's Supper by persons other than a presbyter is consistent with the Constitution (citing the Opinion of the Appellate Tribunal, 24 December 1997). While that opinion is clear and not in dispute, the Appellate Tribunal also expressed the opinion that any authorisation of the administration of the Lord's Supper by a deacon or layperson would require a General Synod Canon before a diocese could make provision for this practice. This is the central issue: does such a canon exist?