This year’s Melbourne Synod will run between 16 -19 October

What is synod?

In the Anglican Church, a diocese is governed by a synod (pr. [sinuhd]), that is, a bishop acting with the advice and consent of representatives of the clergy and laity of the diocese.

The presiding bishop (in the case of the Diocese of Melbourne, the Archbishop) calls the synod to meet, usually annually, to discuss, debate and decide on various matters of business such as the Diocesan budget, legislation for consideration by the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia, and other issues that concern the church.

The synod also elects people to various committees and boards in the Diocese, as well as choosing General Synod representatives.

The synod is divided into the House of Clergy, and the House of Laity. All clergy licensed to the Diocese of Melbourne are automatically members of the synod. Parishes elect lay synod representatives from their congregation. The number of representatives from each parish depends on the structure and size of the parish.

In the Diocese of Melbourne, a special election synod is also called when necessary to elect an Archbishop.

Acts of Synod

Diocesan legislation

Diocesan legislation is binding, in that clergy, lay office holders, such as Churchwardens, Parish Council 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 members

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.
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