Diocesan Synod Election FAQs


What is the Diocesan Synod?

Who can stand? 

What is an electoral roll and how do I get on it?

Who can nominate and elect members? 

What deanery am I in?

How many members can be elected?

Election timetable

Term of office 

What is the time commitment? 

What’s expected from members? 

What gets discussed?

Will I understand the meeting procedures?

What about my accessibility needs and expenses?

What is the Diocesan Synod?

The Diocesan Synod is the largest and most representative governing body in a diocese, and operates at the highest level of overview. It contributes to setting direction by acting as a sounding board and forum for debate and giving higher level approval.

Who can stand? 

Clergy and lay people stand separately for Houses of Clergy and Laity. The House of Laity is made up of lay people; church members who are not bishops, priests, or deacons.

All licensed clergy and church members on an electoral roll can stand for election (lay members do not need to be a current Deanery Synod or Parochial Church Council (PCC) member).

What is an electoral roll and how do I get on it?

An electoral roll is the list of electors at a church. In the same way that being on the civic electoral roll allows you to vote in parliamentary and local elections and referenda, joining a church electoral roll means that you can vote on church matters, attend the Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM) and stand for election to the PCC and Deanery Synod.

You can speak to your PCC Secretary, churchwardens or vicar about how to get on the electoral roll.

Who can nominate and elect members? 

Deanery Synod members. This includes current Diocesan and General Synod members who are ex-officio Deanery Synod members.

A deanery is a collection of parishes across a wider area. In the Diocese of Bristol, there are seven deaneries. The Deanery Synod is the part of the synodical system between the PCC and Diocesan Synod, elected to represent parishes. 

What deanery am I in?

You can see a map of deaneries and find out who leads each deanery here. Find out exactly which deanery your parish is in and who the Deanery Synod members are in your and other parishes by searching here.

How many members can be elected?

Elected places for Diocesan Synod are in proportion to the number of clergy and church members in that deanery. If a larger number stand than there are places for, an election is required. Additionally, the synod has bishop’s nominees, ex-officio and co-opted members.

Deanery No. of clergy No. of laity
Bristol South 7 7
Bristol West 10 12
City 12 8
Chippenham 4 8
Kingswood & South Gloucestershire 12 13
North Wiltshire 3 6
Swindon 10 10
Total 58 64

Election timetable

Nomination forms and notices distributed 26 April

Nominations close 18 June

Ballot papers issued 23 June

Closing date for return of ballot papers 14 July

Election count 15 July

Induction meeting evening of 27 September

Term of office 

1 August 2021 to 31 July 2024

What is the time commitment? 

Normally, three in-person meetings a year. These have generally happened on Saturday mornings in accessible locations in Bristol and Swindon, but some shorter meetings may also happen virtually on a weekday evening. 

What’s expected from members? 

Members participate in small group discussions , provide feedback, can speak in debates and vote on decisions. They are supported in reporting back to Deanery Synod and PCCs. Members have the opportunity to join other key committees and working groups, including Bishop’s Council.

What gets discussed?

The Diocesan Synod considers matters relating to the work and mission of the Church of England. It formulates diocesan policy on a wide range of issues, advises the bishop and is consulted by them, and  contributes to and approves the diocese’s plans and budget. 

For example, over the last few years, the Bristol Diocesan Synod became the first diocesan synod in the Church of England to declare a climate emergency and commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2030. It also called upon bodies in the diocese to become Living Wage employers. In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the diocesan synod dedicated one of its meetings fully to prayer and another to engaging with Transforming Church. Together. The Diocesan Synod is the body that will agree the vision and plans that come out of Transforming Church. Together. 

The bishop gives an address at every meeting. Reports, business and motions are brought from boards and teams in the diocese (eg Education, Ministry Development) and from Deanery Synods. Matters are also referred from the General Synod. 

Will I understand the meeting procedures?

Although there are set procedures involved in parts of meetings to help manage participation, we work hard to ensure meetings are informal, participatory and accessible. We make sure that rules and processes are explained – in writing and on the day – and that members are inducted  and supported effectively. 

What about my accessibility needs and expenses?

We continue to develop measures in relation to papers and resources, venues, audio-visual elements and worship to ensure that the Diocesan Synod is inclusive as possible. We are keen to support individual needs and receive further recommendations. Please contact the Diocesan Disability Adviser, Alice Kemp if you would like to discuss further. Travel expenses and childcare arrangements will be supported for meetings.