Synodical Governance and Committees

There's a phrase that the Church of England often uses to describe it's structures: that it is 'episcopally led and synodically governed'.

This looks to bishops to provide leadership; while the governance of the church's various parts - nationally, as dioceses and as deanerys is done by synods - bodies comprising three houses  - for representative bishops, other clergy, and laity.

General Synod

The General Synod is the national assembly of the Church of England. It came into being in 1970 under the Synodical Government Measure 1969, replacing an earlier body known as the Church Assembly. It is made up of clergy and laity from every Diocese, and could be described as the 'parliament' of the Church of England.

The next elections to General Synod will take place in 2026.

Our current General Synod representatives are: (click to email)

Clergy:

Laity:

All General Synod representatives are open to hearing your views or answering specific questions about their roles.

For more information on General Synod, please click here.

Diocesan Synod

The Diocesan Synod brings together clergy and lay members from all of the Diocese's 28 Deaneries. More locally, each deanery has a Deanery Synod, which is made up of clergy from the deanery and lay representatives from every parish.

Role/Terms of Reference of Diocesan Synod (common membership with the Diocesan Board of Finance):

  • To consider matters concerning the Church of England and to make provision for such matters in relation to their diocese, and to consider and express their opinion on any other matters of religious or public interest;
  • To advise the bishop on any matters on which he/she may consult the synod (It shall be the duty of the bishop to consult with the Diocesan Synod on matters of general concern and importance to the diocese)
  • To consider and express their opinion on any matters referred to them by the General Synod, and in particular to approve or disapprove provisions referred to them by the General Synod under Article 8 of the Constitution
  • To consider proposals for the annual budget for the diocese and to approve or disapprove them;
  • To consider the annual accounts of the diocesan board of finance of the diocese.

The next triennial elections to Diocesan Synod will take place in 2024. The elections are carried out by Deanery Synods, and any Clerk in Holy Orders who is a voting member of a deanery synod, and any lay person who is a member of a church electoral roll may stand as a candidate. Members of deanery synods are the electors. 

Diocesan Synod meets three times per year, individuals are encouraged to submit ideas for agenda items.

Dates of meetings in 2023 and 2024 are:

Date/Time Venue Papers Post-meeting summary
Saturday 18th March 2023, 9.30 am Telford Minster DS March 2023 Spring 2023 meeting summary
Wednesday 28th June 2023, 6.30 pm St John the Baptist, Barlaston DS June 2023 Summer 2023 meeting summary
Saturday 18th November 2023, 9.30 am Catalyst Building, Leek Road Campus, Stoke DS November 2023

Autumn 2023 meeting summary

Saturday 16th March 2024, 9.30 am Telford Minster    
Tuesday 2nd July 2024, 6.30 pm tbc    
Saturday 9th November 2024, 9.30 am tbc    

Deanery Synods

Elections to deanery synods are triennial and are carried out at each APCM in an election year. They are taking place in 2023, 2026 and so on. The representation is based on electoral roll numbers and is availalble here.

The rules (Standing Orders) for the operation of Deanery Synods are available here.

Lichfield Diocesan Board of Finance (LDBF)

The Lichfield Diocesan Board of Finance was established under the Diocesan Boards of Finance Measure 1925 and registered as a charity with the Charity Commission. It is a charitable company, limited by guarantee, with members of the Bishops Council as Directors. It is the financial and legal executive of the Diocesan Synod and is responsible for financing its activities. It has a common membership with Diocesan Synod. The LDBF through its Finance and Central Services Committee, Bishops Council and Diocesan Synod agrees an annual expenditure budget. Its roles and responsibilities are the same as Diocesan Synods. The Council or Executive Committee (which is the same as Bishops Council of Diocesan Synod) manages the affairs of the Board, whose members are defined in the Memorandum and Articles of Association.

Bishops Council and Standing Committee of Diocesan Synod

The Bishops Council is responsible for considering matters of policy, for advising the Diocesan Bishop, and for determining how matters should be taken forward to the Diocesan Synod for further consideration. To do this, the Bishops Council handles a wide range of financial and strategic business, and considers issues raised by the LDBFs sub-committees, the deaneries and the national church. Members act as Directors and Trustees of the Diocesan Board of Finance, a limited company and registered charity, and are responsible for the management of finance subject to the direction of the Synod; members also act as the membership of the statutory Lichfield Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee.

Agenda Planning Committee

Agenda Planning is a non-statutory sub-committee of the Bishop's Council (provided for by Standing Orders). Agenda Planning is therefore accountable to Bishop's Council. Its role is to ensure a smooth flow of business to the Bishops Council and to the Diocesan Synod by:

  • Preparing the agenda for diocesan synod on behalf of Bishops Council
  • Planning the agenda of Bishops Council.
  • Reviewing Synods Standing Orders when required

Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee

The Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee (DMPC) is a statutory committee and shares a common membership with the Bishop's Council. It takes responsibility for ensuring that the policies of the Diocesan Synod are carried out with respect to the deployment of ministry resources, in particular stipendiary clergy, available to the Diocese. This provides for a structured and holistic approach to the provision of ministry, its deployment and resourcing, as well as the development of new areas of ministry, with clear intent to further the mission of the church.

It is possible for the Bishop to restrict the Patrons right of presentation to a benefice for one year under the Mission and Pastoral Measure and a paper explaining when this is considered and the process involved is available from here.

Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC)

A statutory committee established by earlier legislation and currently formed under the provisions of the Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1991.

Role/Terms of Reference of the DAC:

  • to act as an advisory body on matters affecting places of worship in the diocese and, in particular, to give advice when requested by any of the persons specified in paragraph 2 below on matters relating to:

a. the grant of faculties;
b. the architecture, archaeology, art and history of places of worship;
c. the use, care, planning, design and redundancy of places of worship;
d. the use and care of the contents of such places;
e. the use and care of churchyards and burial grounds;

  • to review and assess the degree of risk to materials, or of loss to archaeological or historic remains or records, arising from any proposals relating to the conservation, repair or alteration of places of worship, churchyards and burial grounds and the contents of such places; 
  • to develop and maintain a repository of records relating to the conservation, repair and alteration of places of worship, churchyards and burial grounds and other material (including inspection reports, inventories, technical information and photographs) relating to the work of the committee
  • to issue guidance for the preparation and storage of such records;
  • to make recommendations as to the circumstances when the preparation of such a record should be made a condition of a faculty
  •  to take action to encourage the care and appreciation of places of worship, churchyards and burial grounds and the contents of such places, and for that purpose to publicise methods of conservation, repair, construction, adaptation and re-development;.
  • to perform such other functions as may be assigned to the committee by any enactment, by any Canon of the Church of England or by resolution of the diocesan synod or as the committee may be requested to perform by the bishop or chancellor of the diocese

Vacancy in See Committee (VIS)

A committee established under the Vacancy in See Committees Regulation 1993 (as amended)

A Vacancy in See Committee is required to be in existence at all times in every diocese. The committee only meets when there is a vacancy in the see. In other words, in the case of the Diocese of Lichfield, when the post of Bishop of Lichfield has become vacant. The committee holds at least two meetings, the first of which is held as soon as practicable after the vacancy has been announced. At its second meeting the committee discusses the needs of the diocese. It then prepares a statement setting out those needs and sends it to the Crown Nominations Commission of the General Synod, together with such factual information about the diocese and its organisation as the commission may have requested. The committee elects by ballot from among its members, persons to be members of the Crown Nominations Commission. Such election is normally taken as the final business of the second meeting of the committee, and is conducted by the method of the single transferable vote in accordance with the regulations of the General Synod currently in force. Not less than half of the members elected must be lay members of the committee.

Finance and Asset Management Committee (FAM) (formerly FACS)

A non-statutory sub-committee of Bishop’s Council. Established 2003/4.

Role/Terms of Reference of FAM

  • To oversee the management of diocesan finances and assets on behalf of the members of Bishop’s Council (in their role as directors of the Diocesan Board of Finance) by:
  • Reviewing the draft annual budget for presentation to the Council ensuring that it has been prepared in accordance with the policy guidelines set down by the Council and by Synod
  • Monitoring on a regular basis the current year’s income and expenditure drawing to the attention of the Council any significant variances
  • Reviewing the draft annual DBF Report and Accounts prior to their approval by the Council and Synod
  • Monitoring the receipt of parish shares, to deal with issues arising from the Share process, to approve applications for arrears write-offs and, as necessary, to develop changes in the Family Purse formula and administration for approval by the Council.
  • Acting as the delegated committee that scrutinises work under both the Parsonages Measure and the Glebe Measure; overseeing the work of both the Property and Glebe operating groups and approving strategic recommendations from these groups.
  • Receiving reports from the following sub-committees/operations groups
    1. Budget Review Group (BRG)
    2. Investments (DIG)
    3. Parish Assessors (PASC)
    4. Trusts, Grants and loans (TGL)
    5. Pay and conditions (PACS)
    6. Risk Management (Risk Group)
  • Preparing and keeping under constant review the five year financial forecast including the management of diocesan reserves.
  • Overseeing, on behalf of the Council the investments of the diocese
  • Undertaking regular reviews of major risks facing the Council and to develop appropriate risk policies
  • Looking for ways of improving the communication of financial information to parishes
  • Carrying out such other financial tasks in relation to diocesan finances as the Bishop’s Council shall direct by the Council.

Budget Review Group (BRG) 

A committee which reports to FAM
Role/Terms of Reference of BRG:

  • To oversee the construction of the Diocesan Budget and ensure that there is synergy between Diocesan Strategy and Finance 
  • Specifically address:
    • recommending the increase in Parish Share 
    • increase in stipends and salaries 
    • ensuring the diocese remains financially sustainable 
    • setting budgets for each area of work 
  • To oversee the Mission Development Fund. 
  • To oversee the Resourcing The Future Budget and making recommendations to FACS and Council.
  • To consider any applications for additional work and expenditure 

Diocesan Investments Group (DIG)

The Investments Group is a working group of the Finance and Central Services Committee (FACS), from which it derives its authority.

Role/Terms of Reference of DIG: 

The role of the Diocesan investment group is to look after the Investments and Assets of the Board of Finance on behalf of FACS. The need for such a group was identified by the Future Planning Working Party who met through out 2003 to give an overview of the Diocesan finances and identify weaknesses in managing assets and decision making on financial issues. In accordance with the Bishops Council review of terms of reference the objectives for DIG are as follows below:

  • To set up and regulate the Diocesan Investment Policy 
  • To agree the asset allocation to maximise the Total Annual Return 
  • To manage the Pastoral and Diocesan Stipend Fund and capital asset expenditure 
  • To carry out investment proposal b. recommend on acquisitions and disposals of houses and developments 
  • To appraise investment proposals from Glebe Committee and make recommendations on Glebe Developments 
  • To draw up and manage a policy on the appropriate level and portfolio of reserves the Diocese should hold in order to ensure its long-term viability 
  • To draw up a set of simple Financial Regulations for the management of Diocesan assets which will enable the Bishops Council to monitor key financial trends and for the Boards Senior Officers to manage with confidence within clearly defined boundaries of authority

Trusts Loans and Grants Committee (TLG)

The Trusts Loans and Grants Committee is a working group of the Finance and Assets Management Committee (FAM), with delegated authority as set by FAM. Previously known as Resourcing Parish Mission (RPM).

Role

To review all existing parish and associated loans approved by the Board of Finance. In addition, the group will review, assist and identify all parishes with existing and proposed projects taking into consideration financial constraints, Mission and Ministry opportunities and other resources available. The Committee will look at new loan applications and possible grants that may be available to a particular project including considering small support grants to enable projects to access larger grants.

Terms of Reference

To oversee the management of diocesan and parish projects, parish trusts (Lichfield Diocesan Trust) and Mercian Community Trust; loans and specific grants on behalf of FAM.

Parish Assessors Sub-Committee (PASC) 

PASC is a sub-committee of FACS, which itself is a committee reporting through Bishops Council to the Diocesan Board of Finance. PASC lies within the Parish Resources section of the Diocese. PASC is accountable to FACS which is its immediate reporting line.

Role/Terms of Reference of PASC:

  • To ensure that money and mission are mutually supportive 
  • To see that the total share is levied in a fair way 
  • To maximise the income from Parish Share in a fair way 
  • To help Parishes meet the challenge of responding to their Share commitment 
  • To monitor the working of the Parish Share formula and provide feedback, including suggestions for change, to FACS via the STG 
  • To assist in promoting the Diocesan objectives/vision/strategy

Pay and Conditions Committee (PACS)

A committee which reports to FACS

Role/Terms of Reference of PACS:

  • To oversee the pay and conditions of all lay staff, ensuring consistency and fairness in both St Marys House and the satellite offices by: 

    (a) approving annual cost of living awards
    (b) considering individual merit awards

  • To consider annual stipend rates set by the national church and to decide Lichfields response. 
  • To oversee Stipend Payment Policies for the clergy across the Diocese
  • To administer central sector ministry staff salaries and housing allowances

Risk and Audit Committee (RAC) 

A committee which reports to FAM

Role/Terms of Reference of Risk and Audit Committee

  • To identify and manage the Diocesan Risk Register
  • To make recommendations to FAM and other bodies on High Risk areas
  • To recommend to FAM appropriate procedures and internal controls to minimise risk to the Board
  • To review any matters relating to the appointment of the external auditors for the diocese, the audit fee and any questions of resignation or dismissal.
  • To discuss with the external auditors before the audit commences the nature and scope of the audits, including changes from statutory or regulatory requirements
  • To review draft year end accounts and financial statements of the Diocesan Board of Finance and other Diocesan accounts, and to facilitate the finalisation of the accounts for review by members of FAM before their meeting. To assist the Finance Director with the implementation of changes to accounting policies and practice.
  • To review and discuss with the auditors any changes to the accounting policies and practices or methods of presentation.
  • To discuss problems and reservations arising from the audits and any matters the auditors may wish to discuss including a meeting with the auditors, without management present, to take place each April as a minimum and at such other times as the Committee wishes.
  • To review the external auditors’ management letters and the respective management response.
  • To review and report upon the internal financial and non-financial control policies
  • To consider other topics that Council or FAM request or the Committee think appropriate.

Safeguarding Scrutiny Panel (SSP) 

A group approved by Synod

Terms of Reference of SSP

  • The development of policy, procedures and good practice guidelines which includes:
    • keeping well informed and up to date with the development of government policy, church policy and good practice;
    • developing and regularly reviewing the diocesan safeguarding children policy, ensuring that it is easily accessible and understandable to licensed and paid workers and to volunteers.
    • ensuring each parish has adopted and implemented the diocesan policy and procedures;
    • monitoring and checking parish policies and providing advice and guidance on these;
    • briefing the national adviser on all cases which go to public court or tribunal or which draw media attention.
  • Receiving regular reports from the Bishop’s Safeguarding Adviser, the Diocesan Advisor for the safeguarding of children and the Diocesan Advisor for the safeguarding of vulnerable adults.
  • Overseeing the development of parish training
  • Having a strategy for dealing with specific crisis incidents in place
  • Ensuring all appropriate statutory relationships are in place
  • Overseeing arrangements for DBS
  • Ensuring arrangements are in place for risk assessment and risk management
  • Ensuring Archdeacons include monitoring the implementation of parish safeguarding policies, procedures and good practice in their visitations.

St Chads Retreat Centres 

The objects and powers are detailed in the Memorandum and Articles of Association; company registered as number 8922281 on 4 March 2014 and updated in 2019.

Role/Terms of reference of St Chad’s Retreat Centres

The objects of the charity are the advancement of the Christian religion in accordance with the doctrines and principles of the Church of England, in particular (ut not limited to) by the provision and maintenance of retreat centres to:

  1. Promote Christian spiritual and religious teaching and education generally;
  2. Provide hospitality in the Christian tradition; and
  3. Promote, protect and preserve spiritual, emotional and psychological health and wellbieing.

DBE Committee

The DBE Committee is the committee of the Diocesan Board of Finance (Board of Finance) established under s.3(7) of the Diocesan Boards of Education Measure 2021 (the 2021 Measure). The DBE Committee exercises the powers and duties conferred on the Diocesan Board of Education (DBE) by or pursuant to the 2021 Measure and which must be delegated to the DBE Committee by the Board of Finance (the DBE Functions).

Functions of the DBE Committee

The DBE Committee is established pursuant to s.3(7) of the 2021 Measure to exercise the DBE Functions. The DBE Functions are set out in the 2021 Measure and are:

    • To:
      1. promote or assist in the promotion of education in the diocese that is consistent with the faith and practice of the Church of England;
      2. promote or assist in the promotion of religious education and religiousworship in schools in the diocese;
      3. promote or assist in the promotion of church schools in the diocese;
      4. promote co-operation between itself and other  persons  concerned with education in the diocese.
    • To give Advice in accordance with s.7 of the 2021 Measure;
    • To give Consent in accordance with s.8 of the 2021 Measure;
    • To take part in a consultation under s.9 of the 2021 Measure;
    • To give Directions under s.10 of the 2021 Measure;
    • To engage in accordance with s.11 of the 2021 Measure;
    • To request information in accordance with s.12 of the 2021 Measure;
    • To comply with requirements imposed on it by the code of practice issued by theHouse of Bishops on safeguarding children and vulnerable adults in accordancewith s.13 of the 2021 Measure;
    • To enter into the arrangements envisaged in s.14 of the 2021 Measure; and
    • To undertake such other functions as may be conferred on the DBE by the Scheme in accordance with s.15 of the 2021 Measure.

For more information see the Governance Handbook here


List of Committee and Group Members

List of Committee and Group Members

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