A better offer came the way of one of our Synod reps and in a temporary lapse of taste parish council sent your pewsitter instead. So I got to try out the comfy chairs in the Wesley Centre, Pitt Street, where Synod meets deep underground.
It was a real shock. Synod is very professional/middle class, old and very white. I live a sheltered life and it is not often I come across this type of crowd. Not at work, church, or on the train.
Now, as someone who celebrated his 100th birthday party this year (together with my twin), I can’t afford to be anti-old. Sending your elders to Synod might even be biblical.
But it was the whiteness of the crowd that got to me. It felt like I wasn’t in Sydney. Many of my fellow pewsitters were not there.
From some well-meant-but-revealing speeches it was clear that the “house” considers itself as made up of the “well educated”. “The poor” were outsiders.
Fair enough, five days of Synod meeting in the afternoon and evening in the CBD does serve to select the membership somewhat.
“I’m glad we’re [a] provisional [parish]”, one rector I sat next to at random told me. “I only have to find one Synod rep. In plenty of parishes Synod rep possies go begging.” No, it wasn’t a North Shore parish.
One day the tidal wave of reform may get around to changing Synod to make it look more like the Diocese. I hope so, because “synod” simply means meeting. It should include all the sorts of people we are; no longer Anglo yet Anglican.
In the meantime we should be grateful that Synod keeps a lot of lawyers off the street. They do useful things, like tightening sex abuse regulations so that charges will stick, or loosening rules to let independent congregations join with us.
The meeting rules resemble parliament’s; they are more your Gothic cathedral than your shelter shed. Synod is roughly the size of the British House of Commons or the US House of Reps. But better behaved.
The scariest thing is that I am the sort of guy who might memorise the “rules of Synod” for the fun of it and get to enjoy Synod.
But my church is too smart to send me more than once.
In short, Synod is both imperfect and impressive. A French general once said “C’est magnifique. Mais ce n’est pas la guerre”. Roughly translated it means the parish is the real thing, folks.