Synod (from σύνοδος, a gathering), a meeting or assembly of ecclesiastical persons to consult on matters of religion. (See the monographs cited in Volbeding, Index Programmatum, p. 165.) Of these there are four kinds, viz. —
1. General, where bishops, etc., meet from all nations. These were first called by the emperors; afterwards by Christian princes; till, in later ages, the pope usurped to himself the greatest share in this business, and by his legates presided in them when called. See AECUMENICAL.
2. National, where those of one nation only come together to determine any point of doctrine or discipline. The first of this sort, which we read of, in England, was that of Herudford, or Hertford, in 673; and the last was held by cardinal Pole in 1-555. SEE COUNCIL.
3. Provincial, where those only of one province meet, now called the convocation (q.v.).
4. Diocesan, where those of but one diocese meet to enforce canons made by general councils or national and provincial synods, and to consult and agree upon rules of discipline for themselves. These were not wholly laid aside till, by the act of submission (25 Hen. VIII, art. 19), it was made unlawful for any synod to meet but by royal authority. SEE SYNODS.
Synod is also used to signify a Presbyterian Church court, composed of ministers and elders from the different presbyteries within its bounds, and is only subordinate to the General Assembly (q.v.).