"General Synod is the national assembly of the Church of England"
What is the General Synod?
The General Synod is the national assembly of the Church of England. It considers and approves legislation affecting the whole of the church, formulates new forms of worship, debates matters of national and international importance, and approves the annual budget for the work of the Church at national level. It is therefore the Church’s Parliament and elections to it for the next five-year term will be taking place in 2021.
Who are the members of General Synod?
Synod is made up of three Houses – Bishops, Clergy and Laity.
The House of Bishops consists of all 42 diocesan bishops and 9 elected suffragan bishops.
The House of Clergy is largely made up of clergy representatives elected within each diocese by licenced clergy of that diocese.
The House of Laity is largely elected by dioceses, elected by the lay members of deanery synods in each diocese.
Numbers of clergy and laity vary according to the size of diocese, but there are usually at least three of each per diocese, and each house has around two hundred members in total. The 2021 elections will set the tone of debate in the Church for the next five years, and it is vital that we elect representatives reflecting the will of the majority in the Church, supporting inclusion and opposing discrimination.
Who can stand for election?
Clergy - any member of the clergy who is (a) beneficed or licensed by the bishop, or (b) has permission to officiate and is a member of a deanery synod.
Laity - any lay person who is an actual communicant, is aged 18 years or older, and whose name is on the electoral roll of a parish in the diocese. You do not have to be a current member of a PCC, deanery synod or diocesan synod to stand for election.
What is the commitment?
General Synod usually meets twice a year, in February and July. The February meeting is in London and alternates between long weekends and midweek meetings; the July meeting is in York, usually from Friday to Monday or Tuesday. A few days in November are always marked down as a contingency in case of extra business, but in practice these are rarely used except for the first session of a new Synod. While members are encouraged to be present as much as possible, there is no requirement to be present for every session. Members' expenses in terms of accommodation, travel and subsistence are covered by their diocese.
What business comes before Synod and how is it conducted?
The agendas and papers of General Synod are available online, and sessions are recorded and available to watch on Youtube. Follow these links to find out more:
General Synod agendas and papers (C of E website)