By Lauren Anderson
The House of Deputies has elected the Rev. Gay Jennings President of the House of Deputies with 426 votes, five more than what she needed.
Jennings is an eight-time deputy from the Diocese of Ohio and was ordained in 1979.
“I will do my very best to serve you,” Jennings told the deputies. “I look forward to your ideas.” Her election enables the candidacy of Sally Johnson of Minnesota for vice president of the deputies.
In a media conference following the election, Jennings shared what she hopes to accomplish in her tenure.
“I intend to foster leadership of young people, people of color, and those who haven’t had a place at the table,” Jennings said.
Jennings said she will surround herself with a diverse advisory board, which she hopes will include a bishop, young people, and seasoned leaders in the church.
“One of the things that drew me to the Episcopal Church is its comprehensiveness; I think the fact that the Episcopal Church has a vocation to the world, that Episcopalians and Anglicans can live a common life while not always agreeing on every matter, that our unity is not in uniformity or likeminded thinking, but rather our unity is in Jesus Christ,” Jennings said.
“I fully intend to use my canonical power of appointment to make sure that there are people across the political, theological and spiritual spectrum serving in leadership positions,” Jennings added. “That includes both ends of the spectrum.”
Jennings added that she hopes to maintain strong relationships with bishops, while strengthening the relationship between the House of Deputies and House of Bishops.
Jennings said she will respond to the Episcopal Church’s “appetite for change,” adding that her work on the Structure Committee has made her aware of the need for structural change.
Regarding the Anglican Communion, Jennings said she is committed to the church’s relationship with its partners across the Communion. Jennings added that she will be the first president of the House of Deputies to have also been elected to serve as a clergy representative to the Anglican Consultative Council, which will meet in New Zealand in the fall.
“I’m committed to the conversation. I’m committed to the relationships. I’m committed to be a full partner in the Anglican Communion,” Jennings said. “I also understand that the 38 provinces determine for themselves how they will live out their faith within their own context. I think the challenge will be helping maintain those relationships.”
Photo of the Rev. Gay Jennings and her husband, Albert, after the election. Matt Townsend/TLC