By Kirk Petersen
On a voice vote, the House of Bishops overwhelmingly approved a resolution authorizing “director and officer fees” for the president of the House of Deputies, a demanding job that has always been filled by a volunteer.
Since the House of Deputies passed the same resolution July 5, it is approved, and proceeds to Executive Council for implementation. The deputies’ vote on B014 was 705 to 120.
Three times since 1997, the House of Deputies has approved a salary for its president, and the bishops have voted it down every time, out of concerns that the job had grown too big and was becoming almost a co-primate with the presiding bishop.
The most recent occasion was at the 2015 General Convention, after which the convention appointed a Task Force to Study Church Leadership and Compensation. That task force again recommended a salary, and issued a 14-page report in support of its resolution.
That proposal had little or no support among the bishops — not even the bishops who had served on the task force, who said the proposal was presented as a fait accompli, and yet made no effort to register their objections. The report therefore was presented as a unanimous recommendation, which it was not.
A group of bishops developed and proposed the director fees resolution as an alternative. In explaining the resolution and urging passage, Sean Rowe, Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania, explained that director and officer fees are a common occurrence in the corporate world, although less so in nonprofit agencies. He said the matter had been researched with church legal officials and that compensation would not change the church’s polity and give the president any additional authority.
Instead of a salary, the president of the House of Deputies will be paid fees in an undetermined amount for work that is canonically required, but will not be paid for speaking engagements and other activities she chooses to pursue in office.
The incumbent president, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, is running unopposed for a third and final three-year term as president. The election will be held Sunday. She could not immediately be reached for comment.