[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies Gay Clark Jennings have announced new appointments to the church’s standing commissions and joint standing committees of General Convention and committees of the House of Deputies and House of Bishops.
Jefferts Schori appointed 115 bishops to those commissions and committees, as well as to the Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop, the Title IV Disciplinary Board and nine House of Bishops committees.
Jennings was responsible for appointing 142 lay and clergy leaders to standing commissions, joint standing committees and the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church. Nearly 750 people were nominated for leadership during an online process that began in July.
The two also appointed the members of their councils of advice for the 2013-2015 triennium.
The resolution calls for them to create a special task force of up to 24 people who will gather ideas in the next two years from all levels of the church about possible reforms to its structures, governance and administration. Its work will culminate in a special gathering of people from every diocese to hear what recommendations the task force plans to make to the 78th General Convention. Its final report is due by November 2014.
The groups to which Jefferts Schori and Jennings made their appointments account for the majority of the church’s committees, commission, agencies and board (CCABs) that receive resolutions from General Convention and set policies for their implementation during the three years until the next meeting of convention. CCABs report to General Convention via what is known as the Blue Book, which is released in the months preceding each meeting of convention and includes recommended resolutions and policy decisions.
The presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies appoint people to those bodies whose members are not elected by convention.
Thirty percent of the newly appointed lay and clergy leaders are age 40 and younger, and nearly half — 47 percent — are age 50 and younger, according to Jennings’ release.
While the median age of all Episcopalians in 2010 was 57, according to the release, the median age of these appointees is 52.
“Thanks to many younger Episcopalians who volunteered to serve, the councils of the church will have much better representation from Gen X and Millennial leaders in the coming years,” Jennings said in the release. “We need to devote more energy and attention to cultivating younger leaders. We also need to identify and reduce the barriers that keep younger people from seeking positions of church leadership.”
Jennings said she will appoint a study committee of the House of Deputies to focus on young leadership in October.
Twenty-eight percent of the new appointees designated by Jennings are people of color.
“The leadership of the church needs to look more like the kingdom of God and less like a parish directory of the 1950s,” she said. “This group of new leaders will help ensure that the church’s recent progress in fostering diversity continues.”
The groups recently appointed include Jennings’ Council of Advice which, for the first time in memory, will include a bishop.
“Bishop Sean Rowe of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania has generously agreed to sit on my council and foster closer collaboration between the two houses of General Convention,” she said.
The council will meet for the first time in early December in Seattle, home to the group’s youngest member, 29-year-old Bryan Krislock.
Jennings noted in her release that she and Jefferts Schori met and consulted frequently as they were making their respective appointments and choosing appointees and nominees to committees of Executive Council.
“I am grateful for the warm welcome and collegiality of the Presiding Bishop and members of her staff during the first few months of my tenure,” said Jennings. “I’m learning the ropes, and I need the support of both new and old colleagues.”
Jennings has also launched a new website at www.houseofdeputies.org with news and information about the House of Deputies. People interested in receiving a monthly e-mail newsletter from the House of Deputies can sign up on the website.