The General Synod is the national assembly of the Church of England, commonly referred to as the Church’s Parliament. There are currently 483 members of General Synod. Together with the Westminster Parliament, it is the only body in the land which is entitled to make national law for England.

General Synod considers and approves legislation affecting the whole of the Church of England, authorises new forms of worship, debates matters of religious and public interest, and approves the annual budget for the work of the Church at national level.

Members of General Synod are arranged into three Houses: the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy (all ordained members, excluding bishops), and the House of Laity, the lay members from every diocese of the Church of England, who are elected by their Deanery Synods.

The papers and minutes of General Synod can be found on the Church of England website. Meetings are livestreamed on YouTube and the official Twitter feed keeps everyone up to date with news and announcements.

Stand for election to General Synod

Information and details about standing for election to the General Synod for the next five-year term 2021-2026 are summarised below.

Elections will take place to the House of Laity, and the Convocation of Proctors (House of Clergy). Details of who can be nominated for election can be found in the Presiding Officer’s note.

Changes to this page

17 July – an update to the summary text for the qualification for nomination to the House of Laity. The change provides that, where a person has been unable for reasons connected with coronavirus to receive Holy Communion at least three times in the past year, that does not disqualify the person from standing for election to the House of Laity of the General Synod.

The quinquennium ended with the dissolution of General Synod at 6am on 13 July.

Why you should stand for General Synod

This is an opportunity to represent the concerns of your community and your diocese at a national level. You can have a say in national legislation that affects all parts of the Church of England. You can also raise issues and contribute to debates on social and policy matters.

Who can stand?

Each diocese is allocated a number of seats in the Houses of Clergy and Laity – the number of seats varies according to the size of each diocese, but Oxford is one of the largest dioceses in the Church of England. In the next five-year term, the diocese will have ten proctors and nine laity.

Any member of clergy who holds ecclesiastical office in a diocese or cathedral or who has permission to officiate can stand in an election to the House of Clergy for their diocese. Clergy representatives (known as “proctors”) are elected by their peers, i.e. other clergy persons in that diocese.

To be elected to the House of Laity, a person must be a communicant member of the Church of England, at least 18 years old and have their name on the parish roll in the diocese or on the community roll of a cathedral church of the diocese. A recent amendment to the Church Representation Rules means that you are not disqualified from standing for election if you’ve been unable to receive Holy Communion due to Coronavirus.

Further details of who can be nominated for election can be found in the Presiding Officer’s note.

How do I get nominated?

For clergy and laity, you need two people from your category to nominate you to stand for Synod; clergy will need two clergy people to nominate them, and lay candidates will require two members of a Deanery Synod to nominate them.

All clergy in a diocese may vote for members of the House of Clergy in their diocese. Members of Deanery Synods may vote for lay members of the General Synod. Members of both Houses are elected by Single Transferable Vote.

The presiding officer (Darren Oliver, the Diocesan Registrar) will, no later than Friday 30 July 2021, issue invitations to nominate to all qualified electors, inviting them to send nominations to the presiding officer.

In a change to previous years, the issue of election papers and timetable is being handled on behalf of the registry and presiding officer by Civica.

For further information, please refer to the presiding officer’s note.

Find out more

Time commitment and expectations

General Synod usually meets twice a year for five days each in London and in York. Each synodical term (known as a “quinquennium”) lasts for five years. At the start of each quinquennium, Synod also meets in London in November for a three-day Inaugural Synod. It is very unusual for Synod to meet three times a year outside the inaugural years.

Payment and reimbursement of expenses

The Diocese of Oxford will reimburse your expenses up to a nominated amount including travel expenses and accommodation at London Synods. For York Synods, accommodation and meals are provided on the campus of York University where Synod meets each July. Synod members may claim expenses for travel to York Synods.

When will voting take place?

Voting invitations will be issued (with instructions on how votes can be cast) on 17 September. Electors may wish to have the benefit of reading and watching the candidates’ addresses and responses during the election process before casting votes. Voting will close on 8 October.

A full timetable for elections within the Diocese of Oxford is below. This should be read in conjunction with the presiding officer’s note.

Dissolution of General Synod / finalisation date for electorate6.00 am on 13 July
Invitations to nominate issued30 July
Notice to electorate inviting questions to candidates9 August
Closing date for nominations12 noon on 8 September
Candidates’ video recordings take place8 to 16 September
Deadline for submission of written election addresses12 noon on 15 September
Voting invitations issued17 September
Candidates’ video recordings posted on diocesan website17 September
Deadline for submission of questions to candidates5pm on 20 September
Questions issued to candidates22 September
Deadline for return of candidates’ responses to questions9am on 27 September
Questions and candidates’ responses posted on diocesan websiteWednesday 29 September 5 pm
Deadline for return of votesFriday 8 October
Count11, 12, 13 or 14 October (tbc)