A synod is simply a meeting or assembly of ecclesiastical persons concerning religion (Black’s Law Dictionary, 5th Ed.). In the Diocese of Ontario, our governing body is known as a synod, and is made up of all the licensed clergy in the Diocese and lay members (non-clergy).
At its Annual Vestry meeting, each parish (or congregation, in the case of a multi-point parish) elects Lay Representatives to Synod to attend the Diocesan Synod which meets every other year.
It is at Synod that members determine, at a high level, the priorities for Synod Council and its Boards and Committees, and refocus the mission of the church throughout the Diocese. Synod gatherings are a time of worship, inspiration and education, as well as a forum for affirming the direction of our ministry together.
In between Synod sessions, Synod Council is tasked with meeting on a regular basis to carry on the work of the Synod. Synod Council is responsible to the Synod for development and oversight of priorities to implement the mission and vision set by Synod, and budget development, recommendation, oversight and mid-term adjustment if required.
Once priorities have been approved by the Synod, Synod Council acts at a strategic level to assign priorities to boards and committees in order to implement the plan. It can also create special working groups or task forces to address issues raised in the plan that do not fall into the mandate of an existing board or committee. Synod Council has oversight of all boards and committees, and monitors their work through a regular reporting framework.
Therefore, it is through the collective and mutually supportive effort of councils, boards, committees, and Diocesan Centre staff that the priorities of the Diocese are brought to life and the needs of the diocese are fulfilled.
Canons (Church Laws)
The Incorporated Synod of the Diocese of Ontario (the Synod) is a formal entity that is recognized under Ontario law (32 Victoria Cap 51, as amended by 62 Victoria Cap. III) as having legal status, which means that it has legally recognized rights and responsibilities. In the case of the Synod, the structure of the Synod and the rules outlining how it carries out its functions are found in the Canons. As an incorporated entity, the Synod must comply with the laws of the land (both Canada and the Province of Ontario) and with the rules set out in the Canons.
Synod Council – Membership
The membership of Synod Council is structured as follows:
Ex-officio members shall include; The Bishop of Ontario, the Diocesan Executive Officer, the Dean of the Cathedral, the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor, the Diocesan Financial Officer, the Lay Secretary and the Clerical Secretary.
Three members elected from each deanery, at least one of whom will be clergy and at least one being lay. At least two of the elected members will be members of Synod at the time of their election. The elected representative must be a member of the congregation within the deanery at the time of their election.
The Bishop will have the right to appoint up to six additional members.