The Dean’s Forum: The Evolving Church

The Rev. Gay Jennings
Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015
Guest preaching: 9 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.
Dean’s Forum: 10:10 a.m.

The Church finds itself in the midst of social and cultural change. How the church engages its community is becoming redefined. No longer are churches simply places where people convene for worship. Rather, the church is being called to participate in God’s mission in a way that is both faithful and life-giving.

In other words, the church is in a position where it must reimagine what it means to be the church. This reimagining will necessitate changes in the Church’s structures, governance and administration. Although structural and technical changes, by themselves, will not be sufficient for reimagining the Church in the midst of a changing world, it is nonetheless essential to progress. These changes, if chosen wisely and implemented well, have the potential to give the local congregations more time, energy, and financial resources for innovation and adaptation; provide Church leadership with a bold and holistic agenda for change; and reinvent the roles of the ministries of the church away from “doing” mission toward enabling mission by connecting communities and individuals for mutual support, learning, and collaboration. In other words, we must learn how to form Christian Community and practice Christian witness in environments where the culture is no longer exclusively “Christian” but pluralistic and tolerant of other faith traditions.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings was elected president of the House of Deputies by her peers at the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2012 and reelected by acclimation in 2015.

As president, Gay is committed to fostering a new generation of leaders in the Episcopal Church and encouraging the church to stand with children in need through the actions of General Convention and the work of Episcopalians throughout the church. She works closely with the Presiding Bishop and other church leaders for wholeness, reconciliation and justice in the Episcopal Church and the world.

Gay is a priest, ordained in 1979, and an eight-time deputy from the Diocese of Ohio. She is also the Episcopal Church’s clergy representative to the Anglican Consultative Council. She previously served for 17 years as canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Ohio and for nine years as associate director of CREDO Institute Inc., a church wellness program.

From 2006-2012, Gay served on the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, which governs the church between General Conventions. She has held many elected and appointed leadership positions since her ordination, including chairing the General Convention legislative committees on Structure, World Mission, Communications, and Canons. She is a founding steering committee member of the Chicago Consultation, which supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians.

Gay is a graduate of Colgate University and Episcopal Divinity School. She lives in Sagamore Hills, Ohio (outside Cleveland) with her husband, Albert, who has been a parish priest for 35 years. They have been married for those same 35 years. Their son, Sam, lives nearby and is a sound engineer. Their beloved daughter, Lee, died in 2010.