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Church Council and Synod members


“What I would say to people that are sitting in the pews is talk to your leadership at church. I’m sure there’s lots of jobs that they can support you in… it’s all learning and there’s lots of support along the way.”

James Cowley, Deanery Lay Chair, Christ Church, Pennington



Have you ever wondered how you might get involved in the discussions and decisions made in the Church of England? Have you thought about how you might be able to bring your skills from your work life into your church life? Lay people are invited to take part in governance at parish, deanery, diocese and national level through meetings known as Parochial Church Councils (PCCs) and Synods. 

If you are interested in getting involved, first speak to your local vicar to find out how you can contribute your time and talents.

PCC members

Parochial Church Councils support local clergy in the running and management of their parish.  All PCC members play a valuable role in the life and leadership of the Church and are vitally important in the day-to-day running of parish and church life.

To be a member of the PCC is to be part of the governing body of a parish, made up of clergy and lay members of the parish. Together they are responsible for the finances of the parish and the overall well-being, practical as well as spiritual, of their worship communities, their members and their buildings. The PCC also promotes the mission of the church within the wider community. More information about PCCs and how they work is available here. 


  • Support all leaders in the parish prayerfully and personally.
  • Prepare for and attend PCC meetings, review papers in advance and be an active, supportive part of the decision-making process. 
  • Be punctual, and send apologies promptly when you are unable to attend.
  • Suggest strategic and/or creative agenda items, put forward questions, tabled in good time and offer solutions, options and choices in the way ahead.
  • Vote and make decisions for the good of the diocese as a whole.
  • Communicate with members of the parish to keep them informed and take their questions / issues / feedback to PCC meetings.


To be elected to the PCC, a person needs to have been on the Electoral Roll for at least six months, if 18 years old or over, consent to being appointed and should also have received communion at least three times in the previous year. (If aged 16 or 17 years on the day of their election, the six-month Electoral Roll membership requirement does not apply).

Commitment required

PCC members should aim to attend all PCC meetings. PCC members are usually elected for a three-year term. However, the post holder should always feel free to talk to the PCC Chair at any point to discuss continuing in the role, or seeking a more suitable alternative for current circumstances.

Deanery Synod members

A Deanery Synod is made up of representatives elected by each parish within the deanery. The number of representatives for each parish is dependent on the electoral roll of that parish.

Every Lay Deanery Synod member is elected as a parish ‘representative’ and they play an important role in tending the relationship between Deanery Synod and the parishes or other groups they represent. 


  • Support the development and implementation of the mission of the deanery as expressed by the deanery mission plan, under the guidance of the Area Dean and Lay Chair.
  • Communicate messages between Deanery Synod and your parish. This includes giving a report back to your PCC following each Deanery Synod meeting.
  • Read any papers before meetings, prayerfully consider points made, attend and make an active contribution to Deanery Synod meetings.
  • Establish and maintain links with members from other parts of the deanery for mutual encouragement and to improve understanding of the challenges and needs facing the church in different places.
  • Act in a collaborative and mutually supportive way for all the leaders of each parish, bringing prayer, encouragement and challenge as needed.
  • Members of Deanery Synods vote for lay members of the General Synod. 
  • Consider, if time allows, representing the deanery on Diocesan Synod or one of its sub-committees that require deanery representation.


Members of Deanery Synod must be on the electoral roll of their parish and are automatically members of the PCC. Membership of Deanery Synod is for three years and the next elections are due to take place in summer 2026. As such the role of a PCC Member will also apply. These church representation rules apply Church Representation Rules online - part 3

Commitment required

Wherever possible the post holder should attend all Deanery Synod and PCC meetings. Deanery Synod representatives will stay in post for a three-year term.

Diocesan Synod members

Diocesan Synod is the body of representatives of the clergy and lay people in the diocese, which meets together with the bishops, archdeacons and other senior post holders to discuss matters of concern to the Diocese of Manchester.  The Bishop of Manchester consults the Synod about matters when it is appropriate to do so. The Synod also has a role in representing the views of the Diocese of Manchester to the General Synod and wider national Church, particularly when asked to do so by the General Synod or Archbishops’ Council. Synod also receives the accounts of the Manchester Diocesan Board of Finance. 

Diocesan Synod is made up of three Houses – that is, three sets of members: the bishops, the other clerical members, and the laity (i.e. the non-clerical members). These are referred to as the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy, and the House of Laity. When it is appropriate to do so these Houses meet separately, for instance, when a matter before the Diocesan Synod affects the clergy and laity in different ways. However, normally the Diocesan Synod meets together as a whole. 

Membership of Diocesan Synod is split into two broad categories: Elected Membership and Ex Officio Membership.

Ex Officio members are in post on account of another role they hold within the diocese. For example, the Bishops, Archdeacons and members of General Synod are all Ex Officio members of Diocesan Synod.


Elections are held every three years to elect members from each deanery within the diocese. Information about elections is usually sent to every member of Deanery Synod and is publicised on this website and via our weekly e-newsletter.

You do not need to be a member of Deanery Synod to be elected to the Diocesan Synod, but the Deanery Synod acts as the electorate. This means that if you would like to become a member of Diocesan Synod, you must be nominated by a member of your local Deanery Synod. Your nomination must also be seconded by another member of your local Deanery Synod. If there are more nominees than vacancies on the Diocesan Synod, an election would be held to select which nominees become members. It is Deanery Synod members who would vote in this election.

A full membership list of the Diocesan Synod can be viewed here Membership of Diocesan Synod 2021-24 This also details where there are current vacancies. If you are interested in filling a vacancy listed for your deanery, please contact your Area Dean or Lay Chair.

Commitment required

Diocesan Synod members should aim to attend all Synod meetings which usually meet three times per year in March, June and October at St John's House, Bury. Members hold office for three years and are elected by the deaneries. 

General Synod members 

General Synod is the national assembly of the Church of England. It considers and approves legislation affecting the whole of the Church of England, formulates new forms of worship, debates matters of national and international importance, and approves the annual budget for the work of the Church at a national level.

This is an opportunity to represent the concerns of your community and your diocese at a national level. You can have a say in national legislation that affects all parts of the Church of England. You can also raise issues and contribute to debates on social and policy matters.

There are currently two casual vacancies in the House of Clergy, more details are available here.


The General Synod has three Houses: Bishops, Clergy and Laity. Diocesan bishops are automatically members of Synod by virtue of their office. In addition, each province of the Church of England elects two suffragan bishops from each Province. Each diocese is allocated a number of seats in the Houses of Clergy and Laity – the number of seats varies according to the size of each diocese.

Any member of clergy who holds ecclesiastical office in a diocese or cathedral or who has permission to officiate can stand in an election to the House of Clergy for their diocese. Clergy representatives (known as “Proctors”) are elected by their peers, i.e. other clergy persons in that diocese.

To be elected to the House of Laity, a person must have received Communion according to the use of the Church of England, or a Church in communion with it, at least three times in the twelve months up to 12th July; be at least 18 years old on 12th July; and must have their name on the parish roll in the diocese, on the roll of guild church in the diocese of London, on the roll of a chaplaincy in the diocese in Europe, or on the community role of a cathedral church of the diocese.

Commitment required

General Synod usually meets twice a year for five days each in London and in York. Each synodical term (known as a “Quinquennium”) lasts for five years. At the start of each Quinquennium, Synod also meets in London in November for a three-day Inaugural Synod. It is very unusual for Synod to meet three times a year outside the inaugural years.

More information about Elections to General Synod is available here.

Requirements of members of all boards

Members of all governance groups must also:

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