News stories that have appeared with suggestions that the Diocese of Sydney is about to commence the practice of lay and diaconal presidency are incorrect.
A committee report will be debated at the June meeting of the diocesan Standing Committee. The report contains the suggestion that a process of consultation with the bishops of the Anglican Communion be set in train later this year before the matter is fully debated by the Sydney Synod in October 2004.
The committee was set up by an October 2001 Synod resolution that requested an investigation as to whether there was a legal option for commencing the practice of lay and diaconal presidency in the Diocese of Sydney.
The Sydney Synod has been debating lay presidency (called in Sydney 'lay administration') since 1977, and there is now a strong commitment based on biblical and theological reasoning for the practice to be introduced into the ministry of the diocese. Yet it is also realized that this would become a matter of strong debate within the Anglican Communion, and the Synod committee has appropriately recommended this process of careful consultation.
The recommendations of the committee are that the report and draft legislation be sent to the 2003 Synod and also that the Synod should request Archbishop Peter Jensen 'to write to the bishops of the Anglican Communion explaining the intention of the Synod to consider the bill at its 2004 session, and inviting comments to be forwarded to him by 1 June 2004.'
The suggestion is also that Jensen arrange for a report to be prepared on the responses that are received for the Synod session in October 2004.
'Clearly a firm intention to consult with the episcopal leadership of the entire Anglican Communion is central to the planned process for the Sydney Synod,' said Bishop Glenn Davies of North Sydney, the committee chairman.