General Synod 2001
Anglican Church of Canada home page
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada home page
general information
GS2001 logo
residential schools
Waterloo Declaration
People of synod
Synod 98 archive

event information
reports and resolutions


Background to General Synod

      The first General Synod met in Toronto over a century ago (1893). Three fundamental decisions were made at that time; that Synod consist of three orders (bishops and equal members from the clergy and laity); that the Provincial system be maintained; and that the Solemn Declaration be adopted as the basis of the constitution. The balance of clergy and laity was modified in the early seventies by adding one youth member (usually lay) from each diocese; and today there are four ecclesiastical provinces instead of two. General Synod continues to adhere to the Solemn Declaration, which cannot be amended, as the basis for doctrinal decisions.

      The first General Synod also laid out specific areas of responsibility delegated by the dioceses to the national body. These responsibilities include such matters as doctrine and worship, and relations with the Anglican Communion, other denominations, and other faiths - areas where it was seemed important to have a common national vision.

      But much has changed since the first Synod. In the early days, Synod concerned itself mostly with the internal government of the Church. Gradually, that changed as the Church began more and more, to see itself as an active player in the life of the nation. During World War II, Synod discussed the internment of the Japanese. The Hendry Report of 1969 was a landmark document calling for changes in the way church and society related to aboriginal peoples. In 1983, General Synod called on the government and the Church to fight the nuclear arms race, reaffirming its stand of 1955, 1962 and 1965. In 1989, Synod discussed the ethics of surrogate motherhood. In 1995 the minimum age of youth members was changed from twenty-five to sixteen years old. Due to downsizing in the early 1990s and a need for a new vision for the church the 34th General Synod passed, in 1995, a new strategic plan called Preparing the Way . This plan for the national church is still current and will be an important part of the discussion of the future direction on our Church at this General Synod. To help prepare you for General Synod you have received a copy of that plan, along with an overview of the resulting national structure.

      Another significant change took place in 1969 when Synod moved to a unicameral system. Formerly, the upper house (the House of Bishops) and the lower house (clergy and laity) met separately and communicated with each other by relaying messages. The change means that there is common debate and bishops now vote publicly, whereas before, the actual breakdown of the bishops’ vote was confidential.

      Generally speaking, Synods today are less formal, less confrontational, and more open and conciliatory that they once were. The formal gowns and lengthy speeches have given way to a more relaxed atmosphere and a sense of being “in this together” - not to mention shorter speeches!

[ACC Home] [News] [Ministries] [Resources] [Directories]     [Sitemap] [search]

These pages ©1998-2007 the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada
While this is the official site of the Anglican Church of Canada, the material published here does not necessarily reflect official positions of the General Synod or any other body of the church. In cases where an official position is represented, that is indicated on the page or in the text in question.

Contact: for general inquiries and requests; for Web site corrections