Synods and Councils
What is Diocesan Synod?
The Diocesan Synod is the democratically elected decision-making body of the diocese. Presided over by Bishop Nick, its membership comprises clergy and laity from across the diocese. The purpose of Diocesan Synod is to:
This Synod meets three times a year at different locations in the diocese – on Saturdays in March, June and November. Business normally takes place between about 9.30 am and 4 pm, to an agenda agreed by the Bishop’s Council. However, much of the formal work of Synod is carried out through diocesan boards and committees. Synod is required to approve their annual expenditure as part of the diocesan budget.
Synod consists of three Houses: Bishops, Clergy and Laity. The members of Clergy and Laity are elected from the eight deaneries in the diocese, for a period of three years, beginning in August in the year of their election. These Houses each elect a Chair, who also becomes a Vice-President of Synod. Together with the President, they chair meetings of Synod. Very occasionally meetings of the individual Houses may be held, but usually the significance of each House is only apparent when a “vote by Houses” is required on a motion in Synod. This can happen on motions from General Synod, or enough members of Synod call for such a vote.
Synod also comprises members that attend by right, such as the Diocese’s members of General Synod and the Archdeacons, and those directly appointed by the Bishop. This amounts to about 125 people.
Elected members of Synod are also ex officio members of their Deanery Synod and PCC. This requires a further commitment beyond Synod itself as members therefore occupy a pivotal role not only in taking decisions but also in ensuring good communications, throughout the Diocese, between Synod and parishes. Members’ responsibilities can be summarised as:
At meetings Synod benefits from having members who consider issues prayerfully, listen to others attentively, are willing to speak clearly and succinctly, and are able to make decisions for the good of the Diocese as a whole. There may also be a considerable amount of material to read before a meeting. Tact and a sense of humour also help!
The Bishop’s Council is responsible for planning the business of Synod, advising it and transacting its business between meetings. It operates on behalf of Diocesan Synod between meetings and is a body of around 30 people, about a third of whom are elected by deaneries. It usually meets four or five times a year, typically on a Thursday evening.
The Bishop’s Council is elected by Diocesan Synod to be the Standing Committee of the Diocesan Synod. The Standing Committee also acts as the Board of Directors of the Diocesan Board of Finance, a limited company, which is formally constituted “to assist and promote the religious and other charitable work of the Church of England in the Diocese of Bradford”.
The Council works with the Bishop to develop policies and programmes and to appoint members to Boards, Councils and Committees and other groups that work throughout the Diocese. Council is responsible for:
· Planning the business of the Synod, preparing the Agenda for its sessions and circulating information to members about matters for discussion
· Initiating proposals for action by the Synod and advising it on matters of policy that are placed before it
· Advising the President on any matters that he may have referred to Bishop’s Council
· Subject to the directions of the Synod, transacting the business of the Synod when it is not in session
· Appointing members of Councils, Boards, Committees and Working Groups or nominate members for election to the same, subject to the directions of Synod
· Receiving the reports of the Councils, Boards, Committees and Working Groups, on action taken and, subject to any direction from the Synod, to give policy guidelines to any of them
· Carrying out such other functions as the Synod may from time to time delegate to it.
Members of Bishop’s Council are elected following the Synod elections and serve for three years, beginning in September. Members of Bishop’s Council are trustees of a charity and are responsible for the financial and legal decisions they make. This however is the same as any other charity board and it should not deter prospective candidates from standing for Council. The meetings cover a wide range of subjects in a relatively short time; a significant part of business is the receiving of reports from committees and boards, and approving resulting actions. It is an opportunity to be at the heart of diocesan policy and decision-making.
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