[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] The House of Deputies reelected the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings July 8 to her third and final three-year term.
Jennings faced no opposition in the election and was elected 786-26. Vice President Byron Rushing chaired the vote and the house rose to its feet in applause.
Jennings was first elected at the 77th General Convention in 2012. At the 78th General Convention in 2015, she was re-elected by acclamation. Jennings is the first ordained woman to hold the position.
“Thank you to this house. I love this house and I love this church and so I am grateful for the confidence you have expressed in electing me for a third and final term,” Jennings said after the vote. “In the last six years, you have afforded me the privilege of making a life and serving this church and all of you. I thank you for the opportunity to do it for three more years.”
The president is limited canonically to three consecutive three-year terms.
Her election was the last of a series of elections that took nearly three hours of the house’s planned three hour and 45-minute session.
Jennings’ re-election took place two days after the convention agreed to pay the president of the House of Deputies for the work of the office, ending a two-decade-long compensation effort.
The president’s role has been changing since 1964, when the convention gave the position a three-year term instead of simply being elected to preside during convention.
In addition to chairing the House of Deputies during convention, the president also is canonically required to serve as vice chair of Executive Council and vice president of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, or DFMS, the nonprofit corporate entity through which the Episcopal Church owns property and does business. He or she has a wide swath of appointment powers. The president also travels around the church, speaking at conferences and other gatherings and meeting with deputies and other Episcopalians.
Jennings is a graduate of Colgate University and Episcopal Divinity School, and she has received honorary doctorates from both institutions. She lives outside Cleveland in Sagamore Hills, Ohio, with her husband, Albert, who has been a parish priest for 36 years. They have been married for those same 36 years. Their son, Sam, lives nearby and is a sound engineer. Their daughter, Lee, died in 2010.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.