Deaneries are small geographical divisions of the Diocese, within which parishes are grouped under the care of an Area Dean. Each deanery is governed by a deanery synod.
The deanery synod is a statutory body under the Synodical Government Measure 1969. There are 24 deanery synods, one per deanery, each consisting, in the main, of the licensed and beneficed clergy of the deanery; the lay parochial representatives elected by the annual parochial church meetings of each parish in the deanery, and ex-officio (General and Diocesan Synod) members.
Deanery Synods potentially have a significant role in the synodical system. They are located between PCCs at parish level and the higher synodical levels of Area and Diocese. One of the most important objectives of the Synodical Government Measure 1969, was to strengthen church organisation at deanery level. The task of the deanery synods, as set out in the Measure is as follows:
- to consider matters concerning the Church of England and to make provision for such matters in relation to their deanery, and to consider and express their opinion on any other matters of religious or public interest;
- to bring together the views of parishes of the deanery on common problems, to discuss and formulate common policies on those problems, to foster a sense of community and interdependence among those parishes, and generally to promote in the deanery the whole mission of the Church, pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical;
- to make known and so far as appropriate put into effect any provision made by the Diocesan Synod;
- to consider the business of the Diocesan Synod, and particularly any matters referred to that synod by the General Synod, and to sound parochial opinion whenever they are required or consider it appropriate to do so;
- to raise matters, as the deanery synod consider appropriate, with the Diocesan Synod.
The deanery synod may not issue any statement purporting to declare the doctrine of the Church on any question.
Standing Order 104 of the Diocesan Synod makes provision for the raising of matters with the Diocesan Synod by deanery synods. The deanery synod is governed by the latest edition of the Model Rules for Deanery Synods, which were adopted by the Diocesan Synod on 14 February 1970. Standing Order 105 of the Diocesan Synod and Model Rule 67 of the deanery synod provide for raising matters with the deanery synod by parochial church councils, and also for the subsequent raising of that matter with the Diocesan Synod.
The deanery synod in addition to the above synodical functions, also serves as an electoral college to various bodies, including the General Synod, Diocesan Synod and Area Councils.
An area dean is an officer of the bishop. They are joint chairs of their deanery synod along with the lay vice chair.
Area deans’ duties include:
- The care of vacant parishes
- Convening the deanery chapter
- Caring for the clergy of the deanery
- Providing a means of communication between the parishes and the Area bishop of the Diocese.
The duties, responsibilities and other practical arrangements are set out in more detail in the Area Deans Handbook.
Deanery synod secretaries
Information about the role of the secretary to the Deanery Synod is available in this article, Deanery Synod Secretaries.
Diocesan synod by-elections
On occasion, deanery officers undertaken the election of new representatives to Diocesan Synod. This article explains the required procedure for elections.