The role of the deanery synod secretary
The Deanery Synod Secretary is appointed by the deanery synod from among its own members. (See deanery model rule 11).
The Deanery Synod Secretary cooperates with the other officers of the deanery synod, i.e. the Area Dean, Lay Chair and Treasurer, in carrying out tasks which ensure the smooth running of the deanery synod, and more widely in the deanery as necessary. In particular, the Deanery Synod Secretary is required to:
- Keep a roll of the members of the synod constantly up-to-date, including the name, address and parish of any person notified to him/her by the Synodical Secretary of the Diocese and qualified as an ex-officio member. (Deanery model rule 1)
- Ensure that at least two meetings of the deanery synod are held each year. (deanery model rule17).
- Ensure that at least 6 weeks before each meeting of the synod a notice signed by the Deanery Synod Secretary, specifying any business proposed to be transacted at the meeting, and inviting other business, is sent to every member of the synod. (Deanery model rule 19).
The Deanery Synod Secretary is responsible for
- Circulating an agenda to every member at least two weeks before a meeting of the deanery synod, or in the case of a meeting called at less than two weeks’ notice, at the same time as the notice. (deanery model rule 23)
- Receiving notice of any business for a meeting of the synod. (deanery model rule 28)
- Preparing minutes of every meeting of the synod. The minutes are then circulated to members of the synod. (deanery model rules 33 & 60).
- Reporting to the Synodical Secretary the decisions on matters referred to the deanery synod by the Diocesan Synod. (deanery model rule 64).
- Circulating to PCC Secretaries in the deanery a report, approved by the standing committee, of the proceedings of meetings of the deanery synod. (deanery model rule 66).
During meetings of the deanery synod
- The Deanery Synod Secretary should listen carefully to what is said.
- It is important to make a note of the following: those present; of decisions made (including where necessary, the wording of resolutions passed and the results of any votes taken); of the outcome of discussions; and of important facts brought up at the meeting.
- The minutes when written should not attempt to be a verbatim record: Notes of discussion are not vital, but if they are included should be concise, giving a flavour of the discussion and of any significant points leading to the decision made or final outcome of discussion.
- The Deanery Synod Secretary should sit near to the Chair to give guidance where necessary, for instance, to ensure that all items on the Agenda are covered, or to assist with any aspect of the procedure of the meeting.
The Deanery Synod Secretary in relation to the deanery synod standing committee
The Deanery Synod Secretary is included amongst the membership of the deanery synod standing committee. (see deanery model rule 12)
The Deanery Synod Secretary will have a key role in the administration of the deanery synod standing committee as it carries out its functions, which are to:
- initiate and advise on proposals;
- ensure that members are adequately informed on questions raised and other matters of importance to the deanery
- prepare the agenda
- transact the business of the synod between meetings
- make such appointments and do such other things as the synod may delegate to it. (Deanery model rule 14)
- References by the Diocesan Synod to the deanery synod need to be included in the agenda of a meeting which the standing committee considers appropriate. (Deanery model rule 61 )
Relations with the Synodical Secretary of the Diocese
The link between the Synodical Secretary and Deanery Synod Secretaries is an important one. Deanery Synod Secretaries should always feel free to contact the Synodical Secretary with any questions and queries, or just for encouragement!
Deanery Synod Membership – and the importance of accuracy
The Church Representation Rules 2011 (CRR), which can be found on the Annual Meetings page , contain the statutory provisions on the operations of deanery synods, PCCs and Annual Meetings, Electoral Rolls etc. The CRR make specific reference to Deanery Synod Secretaries, which include the following :
It is important to be aware that the deanery synod, as well as meeting as a synod, also serves as an electoral college. This means that each individual member of the deanery synod (apart from any co-opted members) is part of the body of electors responsible for electing a number of key bodies in the life of the church. These include the London Diocesan representatives of the General Synod, the Diocesan Synod, and Area Councils.
It is therefore very important that the membership list of the deanery synod (which is, in fact, made up of two lists: clerical and lay) is accurate and kept up-to- date at all times, and that Deanery Synod Secretaries inform the Synodical Department of any changes to the list. (CRR 24(5)).
Regarding the election at Annual Parochial Church Meetings (APCMs) of representatives to the deanery synod, the CRR requires that not later than 31 December in the year before the elections, the Synodical Secretary sends confirmation to each PCC Secretary in the diocese, of the number of representatives to be elected by the APCM. The Rules also require that the Synodical Secretary sends to each Deanery Synod Secretary the information relating to all of the parishes for their respective deaneries. (CRR 25(3))
In the years when elections, for instance, to the General Synod are being conducted, the CRR has a specific requirement which serves as a check that the register of electors (i.e. the membership of the deanery synod) is up-to-date and accurate. The CRR requires that the Synodical Secretary, not later than 21 days before nomination papers are circulated, sends a copy of the names and addresses of clerical and lay electors for each deanery – according to the diocesan records – to each Deanery Synod Secretary. The Deanery Synod Secretary is then required within 7 days to certify that the names and addresses are either correct or that changes are needed, and to specify what those changes are. This is an important part of the electoral process, and it has to be carried out within the given timeframe.
The names and addresses of deanery synod members are, of course, now held centrally on the diocesan database, to which as Deanery Synod Secretaries you have a direct ongoing access. Our IT Department has issued the passwords for access to this information. Please get in touch with the Head of IT if you are having any difficulties in accessing the information, or have forgotten the password.
Diocesan Synod By-Elections
The main elections to the Diocesan Synod (of which there are 48 in all, i.e. 24 deaneries, each with two houses) are conducted by the Synodical Department. However, it is the custom for by-elections in the individual deaneries to be conducted, as and when they arise, by deanery officers, with assistance, as necessary. Training material has been provided here. Please also feel free to contact the Synodical Secretary if you have any questions or queries.
Annual letter to PCC Secretaries
Deanery Synod Secretaries are sent copies of the annual letter to PCC Secretaries, which is available in the Parish Governance section. These letters contain information on APCMs, Elections, PCCs, changes in the rules on these, and any other governance information which may be useful to parishes.