What is the Synod?
The Synod is the annual gathering of representatives of the churches of the Diocese with the Archbishop. The Synod meets to consider matters affecting the order and good government of the Diocese. It has been doing so since 1866!
At present there are 830 members of the Synod. The membership is broadly divided into clergy and laity. Usually clergy and laity vote on matters together. Sometimes, on important matters, clergy and laity vote separately when there is a need for both to agree on a matter.
A new Synod is elected every three years.
What does the Synod do?
The Synod has 5 main functions. These are -
* Electing persons to diocesan bodies
* Making ordinances
* Passing resolutions and making policy
* Receiving reports
* Providing a time for diocesan-wide fellowship.
There are currently about 46 diocesan bodies to which Synod elects members. These include the councils of diocesan schools and other large diocesan organisations, such as Moore Theological College, Youthworks and Anglican Community Services.
Before each meeting or session of the Synod, members are asked to nominate persons to fill these positions. During the session, members cast their votes in contested elections (i.e., where the number of nominees is greater than the number of positions to be filled).
Nominating and electing people with appropriate experience, qualifications and Christian commitment to positions on diocesan bodies is generally considered one of the most important functions that Synod members undertake.
The Synod also makes ordinances (i.e., diocesan legislation). Ordinances establish formal diocesan structures and set out the rules by which activities within those structures are to be conducted.
Formal structures and rules are clearly no substitute for dealing with one another in a godly manner. However good structures and rules can help the churches, organisations and office holders within the Diocese work together in an orderly and effective manner.
Examples of ordinances recently passed by the Synod include -
* Pastoral Supervision Ordinance 2023 which provided for a mandatory system of Pastoral Supervision, in response to Synod resolution 54/22 and recommendations 16.5b and 16.45 of the Royal Commission into Institutional Respones to Child Sexual Abuse.
* Parochial Cost Recoveries Ordinance 2023 which provides for the charges to be recovered from and levied on parishes in 2024 in a manner that is broadly similar to the actual charges and levies payable in 2023.
* Synod Appropriations and Allocations Ordinance 2023 which provides for Synod funding in 2024 to be distributed to various ministries and support activities across the Diocese.
Resolutions and policy
The Synod can pass resolutions to enable Synod members to express their collective mind on a wide range of matters. Resolutions are also the way in which the Synod transacts its business.
For example, in recent sessions the Synod has passed resolutions on matters such as the purpose and priorities for our Diocesan Fellowship, Indigenous reconciliation, partnership with Anglican Schools, and an exposure draft of a revised Governance Policy for Diocesan Organisations.
At each session, the diocesan leadership reports on progress in mission and other important issues. This occurs principally through an address given by the Archbishop (i.e., the Archbishop's Presidential Address) and various sessions highlighting specific diocesan activities.
The Synod also receives reports and audited accounts from about 45 diocesan and other organisations.
Synod also provides a time for diocesan-wide fellowship. This mainly happens through shared bible teaching, prayer and a Synod service.
What are the responsibilities of parish representatives on the Synod?
Parish representatives form the largest group in the total membership of the Synod. At present there are 760 parish representatives out of a total Synod membership of 830. Accordingly parish representatives play an important role in the functions exercised by Synod.
To enable Synod to fulfil its functions effectively, parish representatives have 4 basic responsibilities. These are -
1. Attending the Synod sessions over the 3-year Synod cycle (or as much of each session as possible). Sessions for the 53rd Synod are due to be held between 3.15pm and 9.30pm on the following days -
First Session - 11, 12, 13, 18 and 19 September 2023
Second Session - 14 (Saturday, proposed Synod in Greenfields event), 16, 17, 18, 23 and 24 September 2024
Third Session - Dates have not been confirmed for sessions beyond the second ordinary session of the 53rd Synod, however it is expected that ordinary sessions will continue to be held in the final weeks of school term 3 (early September)
2. Preparing for the matters to be considered at the Synod. This generally involves reading the materials which are sent to you before the Synod (or as much of the materials as you can).
3. Understanding the basic processes at Synod, or at least coming to Synod ready to learn the basic processes. An overview of the basic processes can be found under Synod Procedures. However words cannot fully describe all that goes on at Synod. The best way to understand Synod is by experiencing it first hand!
4. Participating in Synod as far as you are able. This may involve nominating candidates for elections and should involve voting in those elections. It may also involve contributing on the floor of Synod by moving and/or speaking to motions and, when ordinances are considered, asking questions about the ordinances. Possibly the most important way of participating in Synod is the informal networking that goes on before, during and even after the Synod session.
Who is eligible to be a parish representative on the Synod?
You are eligible to be a parish representative if you are a lay person who is -
1. 18 years of age or older, and
2. a communicant member of the Anglican Church of Australia.
You are a communicant member of the Anglican Church of Australia if you are baptised and regularly participate in Holy Communion or the Lord's Supper at an Anglican church.
Considering standing for election?
The role of a parochial representative is an important one. The quality of the decisions made by the Synod is directly related to the quality of the representatives that are on Synod.
If you consider you have the capacity to undertake the role and responsibilities of a parochial representative and are eligible to do so, you may want to consider standing for election at a forthcoming annual general meeting of parishioners.
Current as at 29 January 2024