Synods and Councils
A synod is a formal meeting of Christians by which the Church is governed. The Church of England has three tiers of Synods: the General Synod, Diocesan Synods, and Deanery Synods.
The General Synod is the national assembly of the Church of England. It came into being in 1970 replacing an earlier body known as the Church Assembly. It continues a tradition of synodical government which, in England, has its origins in the medieval period. Like Diocesan Synods it is divided into three parts; House of Bishops, House of Clergy and House of Laity.
Synod considers and approves legislation affecting the whole of the Church of England, 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.
The following people were elected in October 2015 to serve on General Synod for the next 5 years:
House of Laity
Mrs Anne Foreman
Miss Emma Forward
Dr Jack Shelley
House of Clergy
The Ven. Douglas Dettmer
Rev Preb Cate Edmonds
Rev Preb Karl Freeman
Revd. Graham Hamilton
Further information on the work and discussions of General Synod can be found on the Church of England website.
The Exeter Diocesan Synod is the body that governs the Exeter Diocese. It is the main policy-making body of the diocese and the forum for the discussion of issues important in diocesan life. It is made up of three Houses:
- The House of Bishops consists of the Bishop of Exeter, the Bishop of Plymouth and the Bishop of Crediton.
- The House of Clergy consists of clergy representatives elected by the clergy in each Deanery Synod together with a number of ex officio members including the Dean of Exeter Cathedral, the four Archdeacons and the clergy elected to General Synod.
- The House of Laity consists of lay representatives elected from each Deanery Synod as well as ex officio members including the lay representatives elected to General Synod.
Representatives are elected for a three year term of office and meet 2-3 times each year under the Presidency of the Bishop of Exeter. Members of the Diocesan Synod are also members of The Exeter Diocesan Board of Finance Limited (a Company Limited by Guarantee) and they often form the electorate for elections to other bodies (such as the Bishop’s Council and Standing Committee). Generally meetings are held in the council chambers at County Hall in Exeter.
The Bishop’s Diocesan Council
The Bishop’s Diocesan Council operates on behalf of Diocesan Synod between meetings, and is responsible for arranging the implementation and monitoring of synodically agreed policy for the diocese. There are three separate statutory bodies which make up the Council: the Bishop’s Council & Standing Committee, the Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee, and the Executive of the Diocesan Board of Finance. These three bodies have a common membership and meet at the same time and place.
To find out more about the work of the Bishop’s Diocesan Council, follow the link below.
Nomination form for elections 2015
What do Deanery Synods Do?
- Consider matters concerning the Church of England
- Bring together the views of the parishes of the deanery
- Act as a channel of communication between parishes and Diocesan Synod
- Effect decisions made by Diocesan Synod
- Raise matters with Diocesan Synod
- Elect representatives to Diocesan Synod and General Synod
A Deanery Synod consists of two Houses, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity. Membership of these two Houses is as follows:
House of Clergy
- All Clerks in Holy Orders (clergy) beneficed or licensed by the Bishop who reside or work within the deanery.
- All Clerical members of the General or Diocesan Synods resident in the deanery.
- One or more Clerks in Holy Orders holding permission to officiate, one for every ten such Clerks resident or habitually worshipping in the deanery, elected or chosen from amongst their own number.
- Co-opted Clerks in Holy Orders up to 5% of the total members of the House or three whichever is the greater.
House of Laity
- Lay members of the General and Diocesan Synods whose names are entered on the roll of any parish in the deanery.
- Deaconesses and other full-time lay workers licensed to work in any part of the deanery.
- Parochial representatives elected by the Annual Meetings of the parishes, in accordance with a formula. Formula for Deanery Synod reps
- Co-opted members (actual Communicants of sixteen years or upwards) up to 5% of the total members of the House or three whichever is the greater.
Each Deanery Synod has a Secretary, Treasurer, Rural Dean and Lay Chair.
The rules governing deanery synods are set out in Church Representation Rules part III, 24 – 29.
(Church Representation Rules 2011 edition: Church House Publishing ISBN-10: 0715110411)
Key Diocesan Committees
Working alongside synods are key committees, some of which hold statutory functions. These include:
- Board of Patronage
The Diocesan Board of Patronage has a number of livings in the diocese in its gift, and is responsible for nominating a priest to the Bishop when a vacancy arises.
Membership: Mrs. Shirley-Ann Williams, Mr. Keith Rushforth, Mr. Christopher Goldsmith, the Revd Robin Eastoe, the Revd Dr Ruth Hansford, Revd. Jon Marlow and Mr Graham Lea.
- Vacancy in See Committee
The key function for this committee is to prepare a statement of the needs of the diocese in support of appointing a bishop when a vacancy arises and to appoint members to the Crown Appointments Committee.
The Bishop of Crediton, the Bishop of Plymouth, the Dean of Exeter Cathedral, the Archdeacon of Barnstaple, the Archdeacon of Plymouth, the Chairman of the House of Clergy (Revd. Preb. Michael Partridge), 2 Proctors in Convocation (Revd. Graham Hamilton, the Ven. Douglas Dettmer), 2 elected clergy members (Revd. Rosemary Austin, Revd. Preb. Karl Freeman), Clergy nominated by the BCSC: (), Chairman of the House of Laity (Mrs Marguerite Shapland), elected members of General Synod (Mrs Anne Foreman, Miss Emma Forward, Dr. Jack Shelley), 7 elected lay members (Dr David Smith, Mr Julian Payne, Mrs Sandra Andrews, Mr Graham Lea), and 3 vacancies, 2 laity nominated by the BCSC (Canon Prof. Michael Winter, Mrs Lesley Thurley ).
The Diocesan Registrar, Mr Martin Follett is the secretary of the committee. Mrs Anne Foreman is the chair of the committee.
- Assets Group
The Group meets as a conglomeration of the Diocesan Glebe Committee under the Endowments and Glebe Measure 1976 and the Diocesan Parsonages Committee under the Repair of Benefice Buildings Measure 1972.
The scope of the Group’s work is:
- Glebe management
- Parsonage house management and repair
- Internal audit
- Management accounts (for all areas)
- Investment policy and returns
- Common Fund receipts and appeals
- Finances involved in work on Church schools
- Operation of EDPS Ltd
- Properties with development potential
- Applications from parishes for grants and loans
Membership: Vice Chair of the DBF (Bruce Beacham), Chair of the DBF (Giles Frampton), Clerical Vice Chair of the DBF (The Rt. Revd Dame Sarah Mullally), the four Archdeacons, four elected deanery treasurers (Paul Cooper, Vivian Eddy, Clare Born, vacancy), BDC appointments (Bob Mills, Jan Keliher). Also in attendance the diocesan secretary, property services manager (Graham Davies), diocesan accountant (Neil Williams), mission resources adviser (Katie Stevenson).
Exeter Diocesan Board of Finance
The financial affairs and assets of the Diocese of Exeter are managed through the Exeter Diocesan Board of Finance Limited, which was set up in 1922 as a company limited by guarantee and which is also registered as a charity.
How the Diocese is funded
The work of the diocese throughout all of its parishes and congregations is funded in a variety of ways.
Responsibilities of the Board of Finance
The principal responsibilities of the Board of Finance are:-
• The custody and management of funds and assets of the Diocese and the Exeter Diocesan Board of Education
• Advising Diocesan Synod on the financial aspects of its policies
• The preparation of an annual estimate of income and expenditure for the Diocese for approval by Diocesan Synod
• Advising on the action needed to raise the income necessary to finance expenditure
• The preparation of annual accounts
• Acting as employer in respect of Diocesan staff and liaising with the Central Church on the payment of stipends to clergy
• Acting as custodian trustee in respect of all parish property and parish endowment funds.
The Members of the Board of Finance are the members of the Diocesan Synod and the Directors are the current members of the Bishop’s Council and Standing Committee. Some of the detailed financial work is delegated to the Assets Group or to the Board’s Standing Committee.