Coventry Consistory Court: Gage Ch, May 2002
The church was built in 1930-1931 in Gothic style with a high altar for the celebrant east facing. There was no gap between the east side of the altar and the reredos at the east end of the church. A faculty was sought to move the altar one metre west to allow the celebrant at the eucharist to face west during the service. The petitioners argued that at the service the celebrant represented Christ and gathers the people of God together to celebrate with thanksgiving the salvation offered through his sacrifice on the cross, the celebrant is able better to minister to the congregation and participate with them in the communion by standing behind the altar and facing them and that the position is more welcoming. The objectors argued that the celebrant would be given undue importance distracting the congregation from the supremacy of God and detracting from the role of facilitator or mediator between the congregation and God; it would be difficult to observe what was going on and would interfere with the architecture of the church and there would be difficulties created by the confined space. The chancellor reviewed Canon F2(1), the rubrics before the Holy Communion and the Prayer of Consecration in the Book of Common Prayer, Ridsdale v Clifton (1877) 2PD 276, In re St John the Divine, Richmond  1 All ER 818 and R Bursell, Liturgy, Order and the Law (Oxford, 1996). He concluded that neither east nor west facing position was said to be unlawful. There was no doctrinal reason to support or oppose either side in the dispute. Having reviewed the arguments the chancellor concluded that the touchstone for his decision had to be the will of the majority giving due weight to the views of the vicar and accordingly he granted the faculty.
(2004) 7 Ecc LJ 490