ACR JournalMinistry

A View from the Pew – Andrew Buckley

Mr Andrew Buckley is a lay representative.

  1. Why do you serve on the synod?

I really value the opportunity to actively participate in the oversight and governance of the Diocese. Synod provides a transparent forum for advocating for and debating critical decisions about how God’s mission is to be carried out by the Anglican Church in Sydney. Even though to date my contributions do not extend beyond casting my votes, I am very conscious of the privilege and importance of my role.

  1. What role do you see lay people having in this ministry? (i.e., How do you believe this ministry serves the Kingdom?)

Diversity in representation and decision making is a widely recognised benefit to any organisation. In the same way that our congregations are made up of many parts that each serve the body as a whole, so too do the lay Synod Representatives, with their many varied life and professional experiences and perspectives, contribute greatly to the business of the synod. A strong and diverse lay representation, grounded in the gospel, is so valuable in ensuring that the Good News is being faithfully, passionately and prudently shared by the Diocese.

  1. Do you need a specific skillset to serve as a lay representative? (i.e., Do you need formal theological or legal training to be useful?)

I certainly have no theological or legal training so I hope not! Synod’s many rules and procedures can be intimidating, and the volume of papers overwhelming at times, but I’ve found the synod to be much more accessible than I first thought. Synod reps benefit from a love of (or at least tolerance for) rules and points of order and quick reading skills, but most importantly open-mindedness to carefully and respectfully consider different perspectives in matters of debate and the courage to prayerfully and respectfully ‘weigh in’ either through vote or active participation in debate.

  1. Do you have any lessons for new lay representatives?

I have leaned very heavily on the experience of ‘seasoned’ synod-ers over the few years that I’ve been involved in synod. I always try to strategically sit with someone who can help me navigate papers and procedure on one side, and often a ministry rep on the other. I don’t know all the answers, and frequently don’t particularly appreciate why a particular matter might be controversial or fiercely debated, so I am very quick to ask for help and advice to get up to speed. In advance, it’s also good to ask around to get help identifying the more important matters that will be coming before the synod so you can prioritise some pre-thinking.

  1. How can clergy help foster a desire and vision for lay folk to get involved in governance issues (i.e., Parish Council, Wardens, Synod Reps)?

Until I was approached to get involved, synod was always something ‘behind the scenes’ that I’d heard about a few folks disappearing to each year but not really discussed – quite an exclusive club for the chosen few. I think many might have the same view of getting involved at a parish level too. I’d encourage clergy, ministers, parish councils, wardens and Synod Reps to be deliberate (and optimistic!) in explaining what the synod and these other governing bodies are and what they do, and really give that permission for anyone to put their hand up and get involved. Lots of us also need a bit of a nudge too, so don’t be shy in asking people to help in these ways!