The Role of Synod - Democratic Model
Anglicans belong to a church that is episcopally led and synodically governed. The fundamental unit of the Anglican Church is the Diocese, led by a Bishop. The Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island is but one of thirty in the Canadian Church. In order that there is a unity of faith and practice maintained across the country, the Bishops of the Dioceses meet twice a year as the Hosts of Bishops under the Presidency of the Primate. The Bishops' role is to exercise Christian authority, preside at the Sacraments, and preach the Gospel, as well as exercising responsibility for Doctrinal matters and the unity of the Church.
Through the Synod - the legislature of the church - the Laity (people), Clergy (ordained people) and Bishops are involved in the life and government of the church.
The Laity become members of the Diocesan Synod through election at the annual general meeting of their parish. The election to Synod automatically makes these persons members of the parish council. Every parish is represented at the Synod by its rector (priest) and specific numbers of lay people.
The Synod is a legislative body as well as an educational body where members learn of programs within the church emphasizing ministry and outreach.
Between the bi-annual meetings of Synod, there is an executive body called the Diocesan Council, which acts for the Synod between sessions. Its members are elected by the Synod and are joined by a number of appointments by the Bishop. The Standing Committees of the Synod report to the Diocesan Council and the Synod. Appointments to the Standing Committees offers lay people the opportunity to share their talents and expertise in various aspects of the churches work.
Synod Delegates are also elected to represent the Diocese at the Provincial Synod, which is comprised of the seven Dioceses in Eastern Canada and which meets bi-annually. Synod Delegates are also elected as members of General Synod, A tri-annual happening, which carries out the work of the Anglican Church of Canada. In addition, the National Church sends a Bishop, Priest, and Lay Person to the Anglican Consultative Council which is representative of the 31 Provinces of the Worldwide Anglican Communion and which meets every three years to discuss and reflect mission, ecumenism, doctrine, and social justice issues.
The Diocesan Synod encompasses the tradition of collegiality and cooperation. Each parish is not an island unto itself, but is part of a community of churches working together to fulfill the Diocesan Mission Statement. Undoubtedly, each parish will have its unique emphasis in programs, ministry, and outreach, but that can only be strengthened as Anglicans share with other parishes through the Diocesan and National Church Programs, Ministry and Resources.
Anglicans are linked by common tradition and heritage, worship, ordained ministry and the three cornerstones of scripture, tradition and reason. One body of Christ composed of churches which, united under the One Divine Head and in the fellowship of One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church ... and Worship One God and Father through the same Lord Jesus Christ by the same Holy Divine Spirit who is given to them that believe to guide them into all truth. (Solemn Declaration - Book of Common Prayer)
Finally, every ten years, there is a worldwide meeting of Bishops called the Lambeth Conference. Its' presider, the Archbishop of Canterbury, provides the spiritual leadership and holds a place of respect within the communion - first among equals.
Synod is a meeting of Anglicans from a diversity of backgrounds and communities who bear the responsibility of representing the whole Church in our Diocese. This means in essence that the common good of the whole Church takes precedence over personal or any other consideration.
Delegates to Synod are members of Synod and must appreciate the wider Church to which we belong. Synod is not comprised of separate and competing interests and groups. It is essential that we see ourselves as individual parts who are united into one body. An understanding and appreciation of this on the part of all who are members of Synod leads to a stronger and more effective Church.
Delegates to Synod should make an effort to understand the nature and function of Synod. While there are a number of responsibilities related to attending Synod itself, there are other aspects to being a member of Synod. Delegates should be committed to the Church at the local level and be prepared to be active at the regional level. In addition, Delegates should be aware of and accept the commitment of time and effort required prior to, during, and after Synod. Delegates should be prepared, if called upon, to allow their gifts and talents to be used at the Diocesan level.
The decisions of Synod are collective and must be shared in their entirety by Delegates when they return to their Parishes and Regions. These decisions are based on discussion and debate at Synod and, once made, they are the decisions of the whole Church in the Diocese. Each Synod Delegate is an important part of that decision making process and, of equal importance, is a vital link in the chain of carrying the decisions forward to Parishes and Regions.
Synod is a process of sharing-sharing thoughts and ideas-sharing feelings and approaches to issues-sharing responsibility for decisions flowing from these factors-and then sharing these decisions with our Anglican friends in our home Parishes and Regions.
Being a Synod Delegate is a challenging position which provides one with enormous opportunities to exercise our faith in Christ and His teachings of hope, grace, wisdom, peace, humanity and love
Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel in this Synod for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honour and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.