Diocesan legislation is binding, in that clergy, lay office holders, such as Churchwardens, Vestry members and Incumbency Committee members, and all members of the church resident in the Diocese are required to act in accordance with its directives on matters concerning ministry, church membership and church property. Clergy swear to uphold the Acts of Synod when they are ordained and again when they are inducted into parish appointments.
For the Church to hold its consensual unity, its legislation needs to be uniformly respected even if its operation is inconvenient in particular situations. Many ordinary church attenders might be surprised to learn what some pieces of Melbourne church legislation say about their membership obligations and limitations. Synod members need to give careful thought to potential long term implications when exercising their vote to adopt new legislative requirements intended to have effect indefinitely.
Legislation passed at General Synod is referred to as a Canon. Legislation passed at Diocesan Synod is known as an Act.
Canons passed by General Synod
Certain Canons passed by General Synod need to be adopted by the Diocese by means of Diocesan legislation before they can take effect.
For example, the Canon providing for the ordination of women as priests was adopted by Melbourne Synod in December 1992 following its passing by General Synod the previous month.
Draft legislation promoted by Archbishop-in-Council
Draft legislation promoted by Archbishop-in-Council is usually drafted on the Council’s behalf by the Diocesan Law Committee.
For example, the 2009 Professional Standards legislation brought to Melbourne Synod on behalf of Archbishop-in-Council.
Synod can also ask Archbishop-in-Council to prepare legislation in a particular area for consideration at a future session, and individual Synod members can bring draft legislation privately. However, this is both unusual and generally not advisable unless they believe their proposal is likely to attract a high degree of support.