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Increasing our influence

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Posted by Debbie Buggs, 9 May 2018

Debbie Buggs explains the value of engaging with the Church of England through Diocesan Synods.

Participation in Church of England politics is one of the strands of our corporate church life, sitting alongside faithful preaching, intentional discipleship and courageous evangelism. The elections for Members of the Diocesan Synod for the 2018-21 triennium give the opportunity to increase our influence at diocesan level, in order to encourage church growth, church planting and good use of historic funds and common fund. These things will facilitate our obedience to Christ’s Great Commission.

What is the Diocesan Synod?
The Diocesan Synod is the body of representatives of the clergy and lay people in the diocese, which meets together with the bishops, archdeacons and other senior post holders in the diocese to discuss matters of concern to the diocese, and to make provision for those things that require some form of action or statement. The Synod may from time to time express its opinion on matters of religious or public interest. The Bishop consults the Synod about matters when it is appropriate to do so. The Synod also has a role in representing the views of the diocese to the General Synod and wider national church, particularly when asked to do so by the General Synod or Archbishops’ Council. The Synod receives the accounts of the Diocesan administrative body, the Diocesan Fund, and approves the total amount of Common Fund to be collected each year. Diocesan Synod approves the budget for the Diocese. It is important that the Synod reflects the range of views and opinions present in our churches, and that it goes about its business prayerfully and faithfully. The Diocesan Synod may not make any statement purporting to declare the doctrine of the Church; this role is reserved for the General Synod.

The Diocese can submit to General Synod motions to debate. Diocesan Synod members can submit written questions to diocesan office holders for a written response – this can be used to hold people to account, or air matters of concern.

Why should we participate in Diocesan Synod?

Participation in the system can help to stop or slow error. It can lend weight and strength to clergy negotiating with Church authorities. Diocesan Synod helps to support churches running under Bishop’s Mission Orders. It is important to ensure the diocese uses financial resources to good effect and especially to ensure that Common Fund calculations do not penalise growth. Finally, it has a direct influence on General Synod, since lay members of the Diocesan Synod (and Deanery Synods) have a vote in the General Synod elections (next coming up in 2020).

Who should stand for election to Diocesan Synod?

An ideal candidate would be articulate, winsome, discerning, stubborn, confident and have time and skills to participate on other committees (eg experience in property, finance, law, charities governance, schools, youth work, unconscious bias, theological education, mental health issues, safeguarding etc). However not every candidate will end up serving on other committees and the most important requirement is that a candidate know and love the Lord Jesus Christ and be willing to stand up for and vote in accordance with an orthodox Biblical perspective.

Debbie Buggs is a lay member of General Synod.

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