Monday, July 9, 2012

Endorsement for Gay Clark Jennings for PHoD

Gay Clark Jennings
I am endorsing Gay Clark Jennings for President of the House of Deputies (PHoD), because she is both the most qualified nominee and the one who has the most fulsome vision for how she would live into the role of PHoD, if elected. Her faithfulness, humility, sense of humor, interest in people, creativity, and logical mind are characteristics of God created in Gay that will stand her in good stead, if elected.

Frank Logue (facing forward)
My first piece of advice to Gay, if elected, would be to appoint fellow nominee for PHoD Frank Logue of Georgia to her Council of Advice. Frank is a very philosophical observer and thinker, and The Episcopal Church could really benefit from a PHoD and Vice PHoD team of Gay and Frank. Gay said, if elected, she would invite the new VPHoD to go on retreat with her to dialogue for several days so that they could explore together how best to work as a team. To do anything less would be insufficient from my point of view.


I just returned to my room from a two hour “meet the nominees” session that immediately followed the close of the afternoon legislative session in the House of Deputies. The three nominees for PHoD, Gay, Frank, and Martha Bedell Anderson, gamely answered questions from a steady stream of deputies for two hours. With the exception of one question, all questions were directed to all three nominees.

I believe that Gay is the most qualified, because she has a 30,000-foot view of the church, General Convention (GC), and how both relate to the wider world of the Anglican Communion, and also the on-the-ground view of chairing and participating in Executive Council, the current PHoD’s Council of Advice, prior Committees, Commissions, Agencies, and Boards (CCABs), GC legislative committees, and the Anglican Consultative Council. 

I very much appreciate the fact that Gay has chaired committees on World Mission, Structure, Governance and Administration, in times of declining resources and anxiety, and has led her committees to produce excellent and robust work products. This woman works very, very hard, and is dogged in her determination to dig deep and reach wide.

I had some early reservations when Gay announced that she would stand for election to PHoD, because I was concerned about Gay being too much of an “insider.” I worried that she would be too mired in the same old, same old, and that the church would not be gaining a leader able to embrace a new vision.

I also worried about electing an “outsider,” who wouldn’t know enough about how things have been done to be able to step carefully through the streams, gulleys, and buried boulders of the church’s traditions and more recent history. From my first triennium on Executive Council, I know that the learning curve is steep, and I don't believe the church can wait 6 to 9 to 12 months for a new PHoD to learn the ropes. There is too much coming out of GC, and the work, as well as the economy and the church in the world are moving right along. Deliberate is good; slow probably not. 

In the nominees conversation, I was impressed by Gay’s description of the orders (lay, clergy, and bishops) of the church, the GC’s bicameral structure, the role of governance in service to mission, and how they are all connected. Gay was able to articulate clearly where she sees opportunities for building on existing structural pieces and relationships and where she sees new opportunities. She also has a strong grasp of the pockets of fatigue and conflict among people and ministry areas and some good ideas of what is needed to address them.

I believe that Gay will be able to work collegially with anyone who is elected as VPHoD, as well as with our current Presiding Bishop and the Chief Operating Officer. I believe that Gay and her leadership will be respected by members of Executive Council. And I believe that the church will be well represented by Gay in our ecumenical and interreligious relationships. 

So, I'm voting for Gay Clark Jennings for PHoD.

1 comment:

Dora said...

Thanks deputy Leland for this insightful endorsement for Gay Clark Jenkins. I pray that those with the privilege to vote will take note. Gay will be a perfect and the most qualified among the nominees.