The Church of Ireland

The Church Of Ireland
Press Release

   Synodical Structures Working Group

Wednesday 19 May 1999

In June 1998, the Standing Committee of the Church of Ireland set up a committee to undertake a full review of the present structures of General Synod.

At present, the General Synod, the legislative and debating forum of the Church, meets once each year with a membership of 660 for three days. There are 216 clergy representatives, 432 Lay representatives and twelve Bishops. The Synod operates on a parliamentary system and has remained virtually unchanged since Disestablishment in 1870, despite huge changes in the demography of the Church.

The report, introduced by Lady Shiel & Denzil Auchmuty, focused the Synod’s attention on the issues of the size and representation of Synod.

It was argued that the Synod should be reduced by half whilst retaining the current representation across the dioceses.

In the following debate, concern was expressed that a reduction in the size of the Synod would lead to a narrow elite "establishment" which would perpetuate itself without the full authority of the church. There were also calls for a change to reflect greater representation for the more populous areas of the church. Some people also asked for more places for young people and women among synod members.

The motion was passed that :

1. The Report of the Standing Committee’s Working Group on Synodical Structures be received and

2. That the Working Group on Synodical Structures be requested to continue its work and, in particular, to prepare the necessary legislation to implement its recommendations.

   It was stressed by the Committee that the suggested legislation could be rejected at a later stage and that no commitment was being made at the moment. By accepting the motion, the Synod was giving approval to the continuing work of the committee in its search for a better system.

Return to General Synod 1999 Index

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