Wednesday, 17 June 2015

At the Deanery Synod

It's something all non-Anglicans ask frequently. PCCs we understand. General Synods we have read Twitter feeds from. But, given they produce no obvious output, have no effect on the external environment, are universally feared and occupy astonishing amounts of time without seeming to do anything - what actually is  a Deanery Synod?

Well, the word comes from the Old English word denu, meaning a clearing in a forest, and the Latin word, "syn-nod", meaning "Everybody indicate agreement and we can all go home". To get onto a Deanery Synod, in theory, involves a fiercely-fought-out election campaign between people desperate to represent their church in the wider area, followed by a vote at the Church AGM. Or in practice, you just have to be the slowest to duck when the minister asks for volunteers.

Deanery Synods are nominally held in church buildings. This maintains a sense of decorum and strict Puritan rectitude. But it is only a legal fiction. In fact, once everyone has gathered, they sneak out the North Door and off into the woods.

But do not be over-excited, Little Ones. This is not some Beaker Fertility Folk frenzy of frolicking 'midst the Flora. No, the Deanery Synod makes for the nearest glade, sits on the giant toadstools that have unexpectedly grown in a circle, and there engage in earnest discussion with the Little Folk.
At this Deanery Synod, all the attendants are invisible.

Now, I know what you're thinking. The Faerie of legend are quarrelsome, skittish little creatures, known for swapping babies with changelings and spinning straw into gold. Surely, you are thinking, the Deanery Synod must be a wild old affair. But you are forgetting.

The Little People are 500 years older now than they were when Fairyland had a large adherence and it was expected that elves, goblins and bugbears would want to go to faerie gatherings. But these are modern times. Young bogeymen and women want to play football on Sunday mornings. Hobgoblins and foul fiends are obsessed with playing on Minecraft. And the atheist movement, though intellectually weak in a society of supernatural creatures, nevertheless has had a dampening effect on the urge of faerie folk to get together and cast spells.

And so, at Deanery Synod, the parish representatives get to sit and listen to assorted woodland denizens complaining that the glade has a leak, wishing things were like they were in the 9th century, and complaining that they ache. They will frequently reminisce about when Oberon and Titania were in charge, and remark that dialogue at woodland gatherings isn't so memorable now the language of Shakespeare has been removed from their spell books.

The main function of Deanery Synods, from a human perspective (let's not bring the Divine into these things) is to elect people to be on the Diocesan Synod. This is achieved by leaving everybody in the glade until the last two are left, not having rushed off to go to the toilet. Dependent upon the age of the Synod, this can last up to 20 minutes. Once they get to Diocesan Synod, they will need even stronger bladders to qualify for the General Synod or, as it is known to Synod junkies, "Mainstage".

Some say that, once the people of the Deanery Synod have been enchanted by the glamour of the little people, they fall into a deep sleep and wake up 40 years later.

Others say it merely feels like it.


  1. Doesn't anyone get to walk widdershins thrice around the blasted oak any more? How disappointing.

  2. We sneak out the south door and go to the pub.....font of all knowledge lives there


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