What is the General
Synod and what does it do?
The General Synod is the national assembly of the
Church of England, commonly referred to as the Church's Parliament.
It considers and approves legislation affecting the whole of the
Church of England, authorises new forms of worship, debates matters
of religious and public interest, and approves the annual budget
for the work of the Church at national level.
Find out more:
Because your voice counts! To serve the breadth of
the Church of England, Synod needs to hear the voices of clergy and
lay people of all ages, backgrounds and traditions and with a
wide range of experience and skills. Teachers, stay at home
parents, students, counsellors and fulltime volunteers were
among the laity in this Synod. Clergy range from people in the
early years of their ordained ministry to those with extensive
senior ministry experience.
Everyone has something to offer and the Synod can
learn from everyone. Don't let age put you off - we need younger as
well as older members! If you are 18 or above, you are eligible to
stand. We particularly encourage BAME and people with disabilities
to stand as both groups are currently underrepresented amongst the
membership of the General Synod.
Why your voice counts - watch interviews with current
Any serving clergy or retired clergy with permission
to officiate in a diocese and any communicant lay person who is on
a church electoral roll (or cathedral roll) and is 18 or above can
stand. There is no need for lay candidates
to be on a PCC, deanery synod or diocesan synod.
Suffragan bishops, deans, service chaplains, clergy
and lay members of religious communities and clergy employed
to teach and research at universities and theological
education institutions have their own separate elections.
Find out more:
Being a member of Synod can be a confusing experience
in the beginning. But it can also be tremendously rewarding and
make you feel that you are part of something really worthwhile.
Listen again to what some members have to say
about serving on the General Synod!
Each year being on Synod involves a commitment of up
to around eight working days and one weekend. If you are
elected this will be for a five year period from 2015-2020, (but if
you move from your diocese, you normally have to leave the Synod,
Many people take some annual holiday to attend Synod.
Some employers allow staff additional time off to attend. Some
employers allow staff to take unpaid leave (see also
Do I get paid?). If you are employed, it's a good idea to check
with your employer what the position is.
The new General Synod will meet for the first
time from 23-25 November this year and then meets each
year for up to five weekdays (usually less) in February
in London and over a long weekend in July at the University of
York. November meetings are only called if business requires it (up
to three weekdays in London).
All dates are published well in
Nobody will expect you to feel confident with the
Synod's procedures immediately and returning members and staff will
do what they can to help you get into the swing of things. As a
minimum, it is important that all members read the papers that are
circulated to them in advance of each meeting of the Synod. This
will make it easier to take an active role in listening to debates,
contributing when you feel able to do so and voting in an informed
Once a member, you might stand for election to a
committee or be appointed to one. This will involve an additional
commitment of time. You also automatically become a member of your
local church council, deanery synod and diocesan synod and you will
be expected to make regular reports to one or more deaneries in
Do I get paid?
No. Like serving on a jury or as a school governor,
being a member of the General Synod is unpaid, but you can claim
expenses from your diocese.
Your travel costs to and from Synod are normally met
in full, but accommodation and meal costs may only be met up to a
certain level. The expenses policies are set locally by your
diocese, so it's always a good idea to check what you can claim for
before you commit to spending any money.
Accommodation and meal costs when the Synod meets at
the University of York are paid directly by your diocese, but you
will have to pay travel costs to and from York and London yourself
as well as accommodation and food costs in London and then reclaim
them from your diocese.
You may, in some circumstances, also be able to claim
a care allowance or claim for loss of earnings. Check with your
Both clergy and laity need
to find a proposer and seconder (clergy need to be nominated
by clergy electors in their diocese and lay people need to be
nominated by two lay members of a deanery synod in their
Your diocese will send nomination papers to those
eligible to vote. Your diocesan office will also be able to provide
you with nomination papers if you are not yourself an elector. The
nomination paper and your diocesan website will include the exact
closing date for nominations (around the beginning of
You can find your Diocesan contact here.
You will also need to think about producing an
election address to send to the electors. Your diocese will print
and circulate this for you (along with the election addresses of
other candidates) so long as you keep it to one sheet of A4 (both
sides). Photos are really important to put a face to a name.
Remember: you bring your own views
to the Synod. You are elected to represent the electors in your
diocese, but they cannot tell you what to say or how to vote. So,
what you stand for will be an important factor in the
elections. Be as clear and honest about that in your election
address as you can!
The election period is between
mid-July (after the current Synod is dissolved) and
mid-October. Each diocese is responsible for its own elections and
there is some flexibility on dates so do check with your
diocesan office or on your diocesan website for the exact timetable
and for specific advice about submitting nomination forms and
Find your local diocesan website here.
Clergy in the diocese vote for clergy candidates,
while lay members of deanery synods vote for lay candidates.
What is the voting system?
The Church of England uses the Single
Transferable Vote, STV, system for General Synod
elections. If you are eligible to vote (ie you are clergy or a lay
member of deanery synod) please read Making the most of your
vote. There can be misunderstandings about
how the STV system works and important votes can be lost if
instructions are not followed. The document has been written
drawing on past misunderstandings about the voting system! For
further information, please see the Explaining
Once the deadline for nominations has passed every
voter will receive a ballot paper. There is a minimum voting period
of 21 days - in 2015 the close of the voting period will be in the
first half of October (again, check with your diocese for the exact
date). But if the number of nominations is the same as or is
less than the number of seats to be filled there is no need for a
voting period and the results will just be declared.
Can I be involved
if I am not standing?
Absolutely. Encouraging a broad range of people to
stand is vital to make General Synod as representative as possible.
It may be you are coming off Synod or have
decided not to stand but this should not stop you seeking out
suitable candidates and encouraging them to be
There are many people involved in our churches,
particularly lay members, who will have much to offer but may be unaware about the important work of
General Synod and that they are eligible to stand for election.
Your encouragement and support may make all the difference.
Do use this downloadable leaflet Your voice counts: Make a difference
on General Synod which sets out basic information
(there is a black and white version available here).