An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


This term comes from the Greek synodos, “a meeting” or “a coming together.” It means an assembly of bishops or a meeting of church people. Before the Council of Nicaea (325), synod and council were used interchangeably. After the Council of Nicaea, the term “council” was used for an ecumenical council and the term “synod” was used for a meeting of bishops. The Episcopal Church is divided into nine provinces. Each province has a Provincial Synod or a Synod of the Province. Each synod consists of a House of Bishops and a House of Deputies, which meets on a regular basis as determined by the province. Every bishop having jurisdiction within the province has a seat and voice in the House of Bishops of the province. The House of Deputies of a province consists of presbyters, deacons, and lay persons from each diocese and area mission in the province. The president of the province may be a bishop, presbyter, deacon, or lay person elected by the synod. In Oct. 1984 the Synod of Province VII elected Dixie Hutchinson president, the first lay person and first woman to be president of a province. Each province elects one bishop or presbyter or deacon and one lay person to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church. Each Provincial Synod has the power to elect judges of the Provincial Court of Review. The convention of a missionary diocese may, in lieu of electing a bishop, request that the election of a bishop be made on its behalf by the Synod of the Province, or by the House of Bishops of the province subject to confirmation by the Provincial Synod. Lutherans and Presbyterians use the term “synod” for geographical districts.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.