Perhaps the most shocked in the Australian church by the Sydney synod’s overwhelming support for lay/diaconal presidency should be the über-Catholic Diocese of Ballarat: the person bringing the motion was none other than their very own Canon Theologian Bishop Glenn Davies of North Sydney.
As part of the strange coalition formed to block people from following God’s to ministry in 2000 the former Bishop of Ballarat, +David Silk, made the unusual appointment of (then) Dr. Davies to this role: given Davies’ allegiance to hyper-Calvinists like the World Reformed Fellowship as well as his post-graduate qualification from Westminster, one might have thought +Silk could have found a more suitable candidate for the deeply Tractarian Ballarat. Still, bigotry makes for odd bedfellows, and the lecturer once known to a small group of ne’er-do-wells as “Dr. Bean” became Ballarat’s man. And anyone not understanding the nickname should take a close look at +Davies’ picture on the left before clicking here. Meanwhile anyone who does understand how the man who insisted his students believe turning one’s back to the congregation while presiding, or referring to the communion table as an altar are examples of “wicked superstitious popery” could proudly advertise his seat in a Cathedral so Catholic it makes the Vatican look moderate should only drop me an explanatory note if they can do so without using the word “hypocrite”.
Nor are Ballarat hard-liners trying to comfort themselves by claiming the appointment no longer stands; despite diocesan legislation specifying the appointment of Canon Theologian is for at most 3 years plus one further 3 year term, and thus should have by now expired, a call this morning to Ballarat diocesan offices resulted in the chirpy voice answering the phone informing me that +Davies does indeed still hold the post, as his own web site states. It’s worth noting, however, that the voice became considerably less chirpy when I explained my reason for calling… ;-)
Now I know this sounds like something from Father Christian Troll, but I can’t be the only one who finds it hilarious that lay presidency was introduced to the Anglican Communion by the Canon Theologian of one of the most loyal Forward in Faith dioceses in the world!