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The '''Holy Synod''' is the ecclesiastical governing body for a church. It is presided over by the [[primate]] of the area and consists of all the [[bishop]]s who normally are members, to whom the primate is accountable. ''Holy Synod''
is used as a formal name for the body itself, as distinct from ''[[synod]]'', which more often refers to the actual meetings of these bodies.
All [[autocephaly|autocephalous]] and some [[autonomy|autonomous]] churches have their own church-wide holy synods, and there may also be local ones (often called ''[[eparchy|eparchial]]'' synods), as well, especially if a particular church has territory spread out over a large area. Membership
in the holy synod is determined by the traditions and [[canon]]ical documents of a particular church. In some churches, all bishops who hold the title of [[metropolitan]] are considered members (e.g., the [[Church of Antioch]]), while in others, all active bishops—whether [[diocese|diocesan]] or [[auxiliary bishop|auxiliary]]—are considered to be members (e.g., the [[Orthodox Church in America]]). Local synods typically consist of the primate and all diocesan bishops within the territory.
in this usage is distinct from an ''[[Ecumenical Council]]'', which may also informally be called a ''holy synod'' and consists of bishops from throughout the [[Orthodox Church]], acting together to deal with Church-wide issues.