Comments: General Synod elections

This next General Synod could be an agency of real Reform within the Church of England, OR, it could seal the fate of collegial relationships with TEC, the Anglican Church of Canada, and all other progressive Anglican Churches throughout the Communion. For C. of E. Diocese to allow a new G.S. to be stacked with conservatives could put the Communion back thirty years at least.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 1:19am BST

Fr. Ron, it's not for the dioceses to "allow" a new General Synod to be stacked with conservatives. The Houses of Clergy and Laity of the Diocesan Synods are not the electorate. The electorate are the members of the respective houses of the *Deanery* Synods and the election procedure is by Single Transferable Vote. This actually makes it quite difficult to "stack" the General Synod with any grouping, TBTG.

As an aside, I do feel sorry for lay electors in London who have 52 candidate to decide among for ten places. At least I only have to decide between ten candidates for the three places available to my diocese.

Posted by RPNewark at Sunday, 26 September 2010 at 1:46pm BST

Thanks, RPNewark for your information. the idea of Deanery Synods does seem to provide just one more opportunity for jerrymandering.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 27 September 2010 at 9:38am BST

Well, actually not so, Fr Ron, as in most, if not all, dioceses, the elections to general synod are held as a diocesan-wide event. All the members of each of the deanery synods vote in the same pool, for the entire diocesan-wide slate of candidates. Thus in St Albans this time, there are 15 candidates for 6 places in the House of Laity. All the DS lay members across the diocese have the same ballot paper.

And, as noted, the election is by STV, so the voters have to rank all the candidates in order, 1,2,3... 15.

The real problem is that in their written election addresses which are sent to every elector at diocesan expense, some candidates are disingenuous (or worse) in what they say about their position on key issues.

Hustings are held, at which candidates can be asked sharply worded questions, but hardly any electors attend these meetings. At the St Albans Laity hustings, I did indeed ask a very specific question of all the candidates about their position on women bishops. Several of them then replied in more candid terms than what they had previously written. As a result I altered my voting intentions.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 27 September 2010 at 2:11pm BST

The fundamental problem with the elections to General Synod is that the electorate, for the house of laity, are the elected members of the Deanery Synods. We all know the definition of a a Deanery Synod meeting to be "a group of people waiting to go home". It is an "electoral college" in which the members from a particular parish may or may not represent the variety of opinion of people on the electoral roll of their parish. Indeed, in my 20 years of experience in these matters, it is precisely the more politically motivated who stand for election. Every parish maintains an electoral roll - I see no reason why we could not have elections using the entire membership of those rolls.

Posted by Christopher Smith at Monday, 27 September 2010 at 6:17pm BST

Simon, what is the percentage of the electorate who actually vote? When I was in a parish I always did , and urged my deanery synod reps to vote...but I have been told a suprising number of electors dont actually bother to vote. I find that extraordinary. Do we know if it is true?

Posted by Perry Butler at Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 1:13pm BST


We published an analysis of the voting turnout in 2005. You can find it here:

Posted by Peter Owen at Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 2:17pm BST

Thanks Peter...but how depressing. I would have hoped for percentage figures in the 90%..after all how long does it take to vote! the H of Laity figures are appalling..yet the women Bishops legislation may well be scuppered in the H of Laity!

Posted by Perry Butler at Monday, 4 October 2010 at 1:25pm BST
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