Gay Jennings is elected president of the House of Deputies

House of Deputies President-elect Gay Jennings reads a statement after her election July 10 in Indianapolis. ENS photo/Mary Frances Schjonberg

[Episcopal News Service – Indianapolis] The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings from the Diocese of Ohio, an eight-time deputy to General Convention, was elected president of the House of Deputies this morning on the first ballot. She will begin her three-year term at the conclusion of General Convention on July 12.

She will be the third woman elected to the position and the first to succeed another woman. Bonnie Anderson of the Diocese of Michigan is completing a second, three-year term at this convention and chose not to stand for election to a third term.

Jennings addressed her fellow deputies immediately after the vote totals were announced and thanked them for their confidence in her. She said, “I will do my very best to serve you, this great house and the church that we all love.”

She said a special thanks to Deputy Martha Alexander of North Carolina and the Rev. Frank Logue, deputy from Georgia, who also had been nominated, and said she looked forward to working with them. Jennings received 426 votes, five more than the required number to elect. Logue received 266 votes, and Alexander received 140 votes. Alexander then asked that Jennings be elected by acclamation.

Jennings’ husband, the Rev. Albert Jennings, joined her at the podium as she asked deputies to share their ideas with her. “Please let me know how I can best serve you,” she said.

In a written statement released afterward, Jennings said she stood for election because “I believe that God is calling me to work with leaders across the church to change the way we do business in the next triennium. For the Episcopal Church to matter in the 21st century, we have to find ways to move forward together.”

At a news conference, she was asked how the debate over restructuring the church will inform her work as president. Jennings, who was co-chair of the convention’s Committee on Structure, said the group’s deliberations had helped her to see that “this is something that we have to do.” She said, “Bishops, deputies, staff, all kinds of people are saying, ‘We need change.’ I’m not sure we’ve heard a lot of concrete suggestions, but an appetite to delve into a process of exploration and discernment.”

She also said she looks forward to working with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, whose term ends in three years. “I will do everything in my power to work collaboratively and collegially,” she said, adding, “The presiding bishop speaks for the whole church. I speak for the House of Deputies.”

The House of Deputies is one half of the bicameral General Convention, the Episcopal Church’s legislative body that meets every three years. It includes up to four deputies who are lay people and four who are clergy from each of the Episcopal Church’s 111 jurisdictions represented there. The House of Bishops, made up of all sitting and retired bishops, is the other half. Legislation must pass both houses to be adopted.

In addition to presiding during General Convention, Jennings now also will serve as vice president of the Executive Council and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (the Episcopal Church’s corporate entity). She also will appoint clergy and lay members of all the standing commissions and convention legislative committees.

Jennings left the staff of CREDO, a wellness program of the Church Pension Fund, in June, after working there for nine years. Before that she was canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Ohio for 17 years. She was ordained deacon in 1978 and priest in 1979, and served parishes in Virginia and Ohio early in her ministry. She just completed a six-year term on the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council. She also is the clergy member of the Episcopal Church’s delegation to the Anglican Consultative Council, the Anglican Communion’s main policy-making body, which next meets this fall in Auckland, New Zealand.

– Melodie Woerman is a member of the Episcopal News Service team at General Convention.

Comments

  1. Warren Young says:

    Congratulations Gay, from an old St. Davidian…who remembers your Mom and Dad with affection. Please say hello to Dad for me.
    Warren Young
    youngjw3@gmail.com

  2. martin john bagay says:

    Dear Gay,
    I am so happy for you. You are so capable and the best person to do this job.
    best greetings to Al for me. blessings,
    Martin+

  3. The Rev, Canon Anne W. Robbins, Retired says:

    Dear Gay,
    Great news! You bring a depth and breadth of experience to the position which will benefit the whole church. Blessings, Anne

  4. Patricia Ellertson says:

    Dear Gay,

    I could not be happier about your election. It brings back fond memories of meeting with you during our bishop search. That experience in the Diocese of Southern Ohio convinces me that you will do a great job with care and love and a dash of humor. God bless, Pat

  5. Suzanne Lawson says:

    Congratulations, Gay! What an honour and what a responsibility! We’ll have much to discuss when we meet in Auckland.

  6. W. Lee Hicks says:

    Dear Gay:

    Congratulations! May God’s blessing be with you in your new challenges. We in the Diocese of Pittsburgh remember all you have done for us and we will be pulling for you in the next three years. My best to Al; remembering with gratefulness the leadership of both of you in my CREDO experience.
    Lee

  7. Very Rev. Walter Brownridge says:

    Congrats to Gay and to Byron.

  8. Harriet Warnock-Graham says:

    Congratulations, Gay! Living in the Diocese of Albany, you can only imagine how much I miss the leadership of the Diocese of Ohio.

  9. The Rev. Holly Eden says:

    Congratulations from a central New Yorker. You will bring many gifts and talents to this ministry. I am looking forward to seeing your ministry as President of the HOD unfold and you will remain in my prayers.

  10. Fran Toy says:

    The fact that you were elected on the FIRST ballot demonstrates the confidence people have in you and your God-given gifts! TEC is blessed indeed!

  11. BETTY BROCKMAN says:

    Congratulations! We’re in South Carolina for about 18 years. A good Mexican lunch would be great. Best to your family.

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