Anglican General Synod

Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

Te Hāhi Mihinare ki Aotearoa ki Niu Tīreni, ki Ngā Moutere o te Moana Nui a Kiwa

What is the General Synod / Te Hīnota Whānui?

What is the General Synod / Te Hīnota Whānui?

Christians pray and worship together in many forms of communities throughout the world. The Anglican Communion is a worldwide association of Christians who affirm an expression of the Christian faith in the local circumstances of the nations in which they live. The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) is an international forum at which Anglicans discuss matters of mutual interest and concern. The ACC has endorsed as principles of the mission of the Church the following five principles:

i) To proclaim the good news of the Kingdom;

ii) To teach, baptise and nurture the new believers;

iii) To respond to human needs by loving service;

iv) To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation;

v) To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.

In our part of the world, the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia ensures that the sacraments of the church are celebrated, and all other aspects of mission are promoted by ministers, both lay and ordained. This mission and ministry takes place in countless cathedrals, churches, and chapels; marae, homes, and halls; schools, hospitals, prisons, workplaces. Some of the ministry is structured; some is spontaneous. The origins of the church as Te Hahi Mihinare – the missionary work in Maori communities from 1814 – began without a national church structure.

Since 1857 there has been a representative governing body for Anglicans known as the General Synod. Now called the General Synod/ Te Hīnota Whānui. The synod/ hīnota has met regularly ever since and now meets once every two years. The most recent meetings of General Synod/ Te Hīnota Whānui have been held as follows:

2022 - Nelson (to be hosted by the Diocese of Nelson)

2020 - hosted by the Primates via Zoom on 25 July 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic

2018 - New Plymouth (hosted by the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki)

2016 - Napier (hosted by the Diocese of Waiapu)

2014 - Waitangi (hosted by Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa)

2012 - Nadi, Fiji (hosted by the Diocese of Polynesia)

2010 - Gisborne (hosted by Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa)

2008 - Wellington (hosted by the Diocese of Wellington)

2006 - Christchurch (hosted by the Diocese of Christchurch)

2004 - Rotorua (hosted by Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa)

2002 - Dunedin (hosted by the Diocese of Dunedin)

2000 – Mangere (hosted by the Diocese of Polynesia)

1998 – Auckland (hosted by the Diocese of Auckland)

1996 – Rotorua (hosted by Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa)

1994 – Nelson (hosted by the Diocese of Nelson)

1992 – Hamilton (hosted by the Diocese of Waikato)

The Anglican Church in our countries was constituted as a 'voluntary compact' – unlike the laws that 'established' the Church of England in England. The voluntary compact included a vision of decision-making and accountability in which bishops, clergy and laity are all required to share in leadership of the church. Thus General Synod/ Te Hīnota Whānui is comprised of the three 'orders' of bishops, clergy and laity representatives.

The journey of pilgrimage and faith in the life of our church led to a revised constitution coming into force in 1992. The Constitution's preamble recognised the importance of the Treaty of Waitangi and the principles of partnership and bicultural development. It was mindful, also, of the equality of the Diocese of Polynesia as a partner in this church. The General Synod/ Te Hīnota Whānui decided, therefore, to embrace a 'three tikanga' structure for our governing body. Thus members of the synod are elected to represent (i) Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa, (ii) the Dioceses in New Zealand, and (iii) the Diocese of Polynesia. The current membership of General Synod/ Te Hīnota Whānui comprises delegations of bishops, clergy and laity drawn from each of the Five Hui Amorangi of Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa, from each of the Seven Dioceses in New Zealand and from the Diocese of Polynesia.

There are three major tasks to be attended to at meetings of the General Synod/ Te Hīnota Whānui – to receive reports from the many commissions, agencies and organisations of the church's life and witness; to elect persons to the many bodies that carry out specialist and ongoing support work for the life of the church; and to pass laws that will regulate the common life of the church as a whole. The law-making function of the synod/ hīnota influenced the style of synod/ hīnota meetings for many years past. The parliamentary procedures of Westminster were the model for debating and voting. In recent years under the revised constitution, however, it has become customary to suspend the Westminster-based standing orders and to seek to achieve consensus for decisions after the pattern of hui on marae.

For a measure to be passed by General Synod/ Te Hīnota Whānui it must receive the support of all three orders and all three tikanga. If a matter is contentious, the preferred course is to caucus in tikanga groups and to negotiate mutually acceptable outcomes rather than to force a vote to be taken. The presidency of synod/ hīnota meetings is in the hands of the three Primates/ Archbishops, whose episcopal leadership is recognised by their leading in the facilitation of much of synod/ hīnota business. When synod/ hīnota is 'in committee' to go through the details of a proposed new canon or regulation there are a number of people responsible for chairing and recording – again selected to represent each of the three tikanga.

The Church is one body under one head, Jesus Christ. The three tikanga structure of the General Synod/ Te Hīnota Whānui is intended to serve the unity of Christian mission in our part of the world. To this end, the 'common life' of the Church is expressed in a number of Conferences and Commissions that report to General Synod/ Te Hīnota Whānui on various aspects of the church's mission and ministry.

Behind the scenes there are many people who contribute to the smooth running of an event such as a General Synod/ Te Hīnota Whānui meeting. There is the Standing Committee of General Synod that meets regularly between each biennial session of the synod/ hīnota. This is a microcosm of the synod/ hīnota as a whole with representatives of each order and each tikanga. There is an Order Paper Committee that plans the agenda and order of business of the synod/ hīnota. Finally, there is the church's General Secretary and General Synod Office that maintains communications, arranges meetings, takes minutes and performs countless other administrative tasks.

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