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synods. A synod is a meeting of clergy, or clergy and laity, convened to discuss and decide upon matters of doctrine, church policy, and discipline. The meeting of bishops and representatives of the churches in the early centuries, the ecumenical councils, formulated through decree agreed statements of orthodoxy and belief. Throughout its history, however, all branches of the Christian church have summoned more local councils, synods, and assemblies, to debate and to rule on matters of current concern. Today in the Church of England a general synod meets once or twice a year with the traditional agenda. However, from the 19th cent. there was an increasing recognition that synods of the church should include lay as well as clerical representation, and the General Synod as now constituted contains three ‘houses’, the bishops, representatives of the clergy, and of the laity, the latter two made up of those successful in an electoral process. When the Church in Wales was disestablished in 1920, the synod then set up, the Governing Body, was given such a constitution. The process of democratization has spread through all levels of church life, and is common in different forms to most denominations. The fundamental purpose of the synod, however, remains the same.

Revd Dr John R. Guy

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