The synod is a provincial council which consists of the ministers and representative elders from all the congregations within a specified number of presbyteries, in the same way as the presbytery is representative of a specified number of congregations.
Though higher in rank and larger than most presbyteries it is practically of less importance, not being, like the presbytery, a court of first instance, nor yet, like the general assembly, a court of final appeal.
The synod hears appeals and references from presbyteries; and by its discussions and decisions business of various kinds, if not settled, is ripened for consideration and final settlement by the general assembly, the supreme court of the Church.
In 1581 the Middelburg Synod divided the Church, created provincial synods and presbyteries, but could not shake off the civil power in connexion with the choice of church officers.
Similar associations or presbyteries were formed in London and in the midland and eastern counties; but the privy council was hostile.