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.

General Synod

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 have been elected to serve on General Synod:

House of Laity
Mrs Anne Foreman
Miss Emma Forward
Dr Jack Shelley
Mr Simon Friend

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.

Diocesan Synod

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 or in other venues as best suits the agenda.

On 9 July 2020 the Bishop of Exeter made legal provision for the Diocesan Synod to meet remotely for a period of 1 year.  Read the document here

What do members of Diocesan Synod do?

Diocesan Synod Standing Orders 2018

Guidelines for promoting Deanery Synod Motions to Diocesan Synod

Membership list 2018-2021

Agenda October 2019

Draft Minutes October 2019

Draft Minutes to October 2019 Appendix

Agenda June 2019

Draft Minutes June 2019

Draft Minutes June 2019 Appendix

Agenda March 2019

Draft Minutes Synod March 19

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.

What do BDC members do?

Disclosure and Conflicts of Interests code of conduct (for induction)

Membership of BDC 19-21

Nomination form for elections 2018

Agenda BDC September 2020

Agenda BDC July 2020

Draft Minutes BDC July 2020

Agenda BDC February 2020

Draft minutes BDC Feb 2020

Agenda BDC November 2019

Draft minutes BDC Nov 2019

Agenda BDC July 2019

Draft Minutes BDC July 2019

Agenda BDC 8 May 2019

Draft Minutes BDC May 2019

Agenda BDC February 2019

Draft Minutes BDC February 2019

Deanery Synods

Deanery Synods:

  • 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

What do Deanery Synod Members Do


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, 14 – 28.

(Church Representation Rules 2020 edition: Church House Publishing ISBN 9780715111581)

On 9 July 2020 the Bishop of Exeter made legal provision for Deanery Synods to meet remotely for a period of 1 year. Read the document here

Model Rules for Deanery Synods

The role of the deanery synod secretary

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: Revd Debbie Parsons, Revd Jackie Taylor, Revd Nick Weldon, Revd David Caporn, Mrs Shirley-Ann Williams, Mr Graham Lea, Mr Keith Rushforth, Mrs Anne Eyre, Mr Adrian Miller.

  • 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.

Membership 2019-2021:

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), 4 Proctors in Convocation (Revd. Graham Hamilton, the Ven. Douglas Dettmer, the Rev Preb. Cate Edmonds, the Rev Preb. Karl Freeman), 2 elected clergy members (Revd. Rosemary Austin,  Revd. Ed Hobbs), Clergy nominated by the BCSC: (), Chairman of the House of Laity (Mrs Annie Jefferies), elected members of General Synod (Mrs Anne Foreman, Miss Emma Forward, Dr. Jack Shelley, Mr Simon Friend), 7 elected lay members (Dr David Smith, Mr Julian Payne, Mrs Marguerite Shapland, Mr Keith Rushforth, Mr Stephen Macey, Dr Jack Shelley and 1 vacancy), laity nominated by the BCSC (The Rt. Hon. Ben Bradshaw, Miss Hannah Dunn, Dr Liz Grier and Mrs Lesley Thurley).

The Diocesan Registrar 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 (Bob Mills),  Chair of the DBF (Giles Frampton), Clerical Vice Chair of the DBF (Mike Williams), the four Archdeacons, four elected deanery treasurers (Paul Cooper, Vivian Eddy, Clare Born, Mike Jefferies), BDC appointments (Jan Keliher). Also in attendance the diocesan secretary (Stephen Hancock), property services manager (Graham Davies), diocesan accountant (Neil Williams), mission resources adviser (Brigit Kiyaga).

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.

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