The General Synod

The General Synod exists in order to share how we relate to each other as a national Christian community and how the church might be faithful in this society, for its spiritual, moral and social welfare.

The Synod is a way for elected representatives to come together as a group of Anglican Christians to share the concerns about our Christian faith and practice and to discern God’s will for the Christian community. In Anglicanism there is a strong tradition of the authority for decision-making belonging to the whole church. That is why lay and ordained members are involved. This sharing takes place through common worship, legislative processes, considering motions, information sessions and informal fellowship.

Historically the Church has used parliamentary models of decision making because for many centuries parliament was the way in which decisions were made in the Church of England due to the established position of the church. In Australia, that has not been the church’s relationship with the state and the parliamentary model has been taken over almost by accident. The models of decision making are expressed in Rule I – Standing Orders.

Over the course of recent Synods, some alternative methods of decision making have been trialled for the management of amendments to bills and motions and for group discussion to facilitate the way forward on complex or contentious issues. Successful innovations have been incorporated into the Standing Orders and continue to evolve.

Section 26 of the Constitution grants power to the General Synod to:

  • Make canons, rules and resolutions relating to the order and good government of our Church, including canons in respect of ritual, ceremonial and discipline;
  • Make statements as to the faith of our Church;
  • Declare its view on any matter affecting the Church;
  • Declare its view on any matter affecting spiritual, moral or social welfare;  and
  • Take such steps as may be necessary or expedient in furtherance of union with other Christian communities.

Between sessions of the General Synod, its business is conducted by the Standing Committee and through various Committees, Working Groups, Commissions and Task Forces.