ACR JournalChurch History

A View from the Pew: Lessons from Lay Members of Sydney Synod

With Sydney synod fast approaching, it is worthwhile remembering that two-thirds of the synod are lay members. Quite apart from the numerical majority, lay folk play an important role in the business of the synod, and in its ministry outcomes. The ACR took some time to interview various lay representatives (old and new!) in order to gain a ‘view from the pew’. We hope this will be encouraging for lay and clergy alike.

The Honourable Justice Michael Meek served on the synod some decades ago between 1987-1992 (or thereabouts). More recently, Michael has served since 2011. He is currently the Chancellor of the Diocese. This is an ex-officio role under Part 9 Synod Membership Ordinance 1995 (clause 51).

  1. Why do you serve on the synod?

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us: Rom 12:6. Using our gifts for our Heavenly Father’s purposes is a means of honouring him and helping others.

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

The body of Christ includes Christian believers, lay and clergy. All play an important role. None are indispensable: 1 Cor 12:12-27. The Diocese is a network of Christian ministries which is parish based. We are episcopally led and synodically governed. Laity are a vital part of the synod. 

  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?)

The primary ‘skillset’ laity can bring is that of humility, a gospel focus and a heart of service. The laity are a wonderful group of mature Christians who can participate from that perspective. Further, the synod considers many matters covering areas of human relationships, education, medical, finance (and the list goes on). The large number of individual laity members will have unique gifts and be able to contribute across many of the matters considered and discussed in synod. Usually, they will be able to contribute in a particular way with insights and learning from their God-given giftedness.

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

First, pray for guidance and wisdom. None of us serve in our own strength. Secondly, aim to contribute as best you can. Considering a resolution, policy or ordinance and voting is a valuable contribution, not to be underestimated. If you would like to participate in debate, please do so. Don’t be daunted by the procedural rules. You are welcome to participate. The synod staff and other seasoned members will help you.

  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)?

By praying for our Heavenly Father to work out his purposes for his people, and by modelling how relationship with others works through humble leadership. Clergy can helpfully remind laity that gospel work including governance is a partnership born out of God’s word to us in the Bible, love, and prayer: Phil 1:3-6.