This page contains most of the information and papers for the 2017 session of Synod to be held at the Bairnsdale campus of Gippsland Grammar (see above).
The word ‘Synod’ comes from a Greek preposition meaning ‘together’. Synodical government as we know it in Australia began with the growing independence of the Church in the Colonies and election of bishops other than by appointment of the Crown. The first synod of the Diocese of Gippsland was held in December 1905 replacing an earlier body known as the Church Assembly.
Constitution of Synod
The synods of the Dioceses in Victoria are established by an Act of the Victorian Parliament entitled The Church of England Act. The constitution, membership and operation of the synod is governed by the Synod Act 1997 of the Diocese.
The Diocesan Synod is elected for three years and normally has an annual session in May of each year.
The Synod of the Diocese of Gippsland has about 120 members. The majority comprise the parish clergy and three elected lay members from each parish.
The importance of the diocesan Synod in the government of the church needs to be recognised. It would not be too strong to say that in most things, which are not the sole preserve of the Bishop, it is the ultimate authority in the diocese.
In Synod the bishop, clergy and lay representatives meet after prayer seeking the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit in its deliberations. The decisions which it takes may at times have far-reaching effects on the future of the Diocese. It is therefore very relevant to all Anglicans and especially to those entrusted with leadership in diocesan and parish life.
The Work of Synod
The synod process is designed to permit the maximum exercise of initiative by church members. Too many synods are controlled by a small group because the average member is not aware of the potential that exists for introducing new ideas.
The business of synod falls into two main areas:
Internal Diocesan Affairs
Synod provides the opportunity for people from different parishes to meet for joint decision-making and debate on a number of questions including: evangelism, mission, liturgy, all aspects of ministry, church discipline and finance.
Finance is often judged as being of low importance but a budget offers a wonderful chance for us to clarify and agree on our priorities as Christians.
In all this there exist many opportunities for synod members to influence the direction of the church.
A synod at every level allows Christians to express a Christian mind on any topic of concern to the community in which God has placed us.
How Synod Functions
The Business of Synod
At the beginning of synod the Bishop delivers his presidential address or “charge” in which it is customary for him to speak about significant matters affecting the Church and nation.
Each day the business paper provides opportunities for presenting petitions and for giving notices of question and notices of motion.
Bills for diocesan legislation normally take precedence over motions and it is normal for motions to accumulate for discussion later in the session. As Synod is the chief legislative body of the Diocese, its legislative function is necessarily given a high degree of priority over most other business.
Elections in Synod
Synod members are called to vote in numerous elections, especially during the first session of a new Synod. These include the election of diocesan representatives, clerical and lay, on General and Provincial synod and of members of Bishop-in-Council.
What is the role of Synod members?
Synod members are able to influence the course of synod by:
- Getting Involved – Learning the process, studying the papers, asking questions both within and outside synod, moving or supporting a motion on a matters that interest or concern;
- Discovering and using the most effective channels of influence;
- Involving their parishes and parish councils – Being enthusiastic! Reporting back to their parishes before and after synod. Making the synod realise that their parish is discussing synod issues and providing input.
- Acting together with other synod representatives– Meeting with other synod representatives from their parish and region. Working and praying through the synod papers and preparing for debates even if it appears that your colleagues are going to vote in different ways.
- Keeping abreast with church affairs – Reading the Gippsland Anglican and other church newspapers and material.
- Participating in the synod services and fellowship activities of synod- Attending all the synod services and organised meals such as the synod dinner. Sitting with people from other parishes whom you may not have met before.
- Writing to the Bishop or the Registrar after synod – Making suggestions for improving synod, suggesting guest speakers for next year, maintaining contact with other synod members you have met.