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General Synod seeks younger and more diverse members through first ad campaign

08 July 2021

YouTube/Church of England

The Archdeacon of Croydon, Dr Rosemarie Mallett, features in the #StandforSynod film

The Archdeacon of Croydon, Dr Rosemarie Mallett, features in the #StandforSynod film

AN ADVERTISING campaign to encourage people to stand for election to the General Synod has been created for the first time in the Church’s history in an attempt to broaden the range of candidates.

The campaign, which includes a 90-second film, a short explanatory animation, and a dedicated webpage, has featured in the Church Times for the past two issues and is being promoted by the national Church and dioceses on social media using the hashtag #StandforSynod.

The secretary-general of the Archbishops’ Council and of the Synod, William Nye, said: “We are praying that the leadership of the Church of England, including bodies like General Synod, may become more representative of the people of England — and that means younger and more diverse.

“This campaign has a very clear message which we hope will reach everyone in the wider Church: if you want to be part of making decisions affecting the whole Church of England and debating matters of national and international importance, this is your chance. Will you stand?”

The short film features current Synod members, including the Archdeacon of Croydon, Dr Rosemarie Mallett, who led the debate on serious youth violence in 2019 (News, 12 July 2019). She explained on Wednesday: “Reports back from Synod and images of meetings were so unrepresentative of people of colour — and I hoped that I could be elected and make my views heard on issues of social justice and inclusion.”

YouTube/Church of EnglandA lay member, Annika Mathews, features in the #StandforSynod film

She described her experience of Synod as being “quite overwhelming and alienating” but said: “The best way to overcome this was to just jump in and get involved and to participate as much as possible. It is best to try to engage on a range of topics that fit not only within your own area of focus but also the growth and development of the whole church.”

A lay member, Annika Mathews, decided to stand for Synod after initially attending as an observer. She said: “I found it really interesting meeting people from across the breadth of the Church of England and listening to the things being talked about and finding out more about how the Church functions at a national level and within its governance.

“There were a variety of things spoken about during my time on Synod — climate change, food poverty, the Anglican Communion, and knife crime — to name a few.”

The chair of the House of Laity, Dr Jamie Harrison, said: “Being on General Synod can feel both daunting and inspiring. It is a place to meet others who share a common desire to serve God’s Kingdom. At times it is frustrating. Yet it is also a place of hope and vision into which you may be being called — especially if you are a bit hesitant.”

The nominations will open on 30 July and the closing date is 8 September. The elections were originally due to take place in 2020 but are now due to take place this autumn after the term of the current Synod was extended for one year under a provision in the Coronavirus Act 2020 (News, 8 May 2020).

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