Sally Johnson may stand for House of Deputies vice president

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
Posted Jun 25, 2012

Sally Johnson

[Episcopal News Service] Sally Johnson, a seven-time General Convention deputy from the Diocese of Minnesota, said June 24 that she will stand for election as vice president of the Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies if a clergy person is elected president of that house.

“I have been encouraged to seek the vice president’s office and believe that I am being called not because I have the answers to the question of how we should change, but because I understand how the Episcopal Church is currently put together; what the rules are; and how decisions are made,” Johnson said in announcing her intentions on her Facebook page. “I understand how to make change work, how to take a vision and making it a functioning reality. I have a proven track record of assisting people in making organizational and structural change in the Church.”

“From my work in helping the Church strengthen its misconduct, Title IV, and background screening protocols, I know what it feels like and what it takes to challenge the church’s usual way of doing business. I know, too, the good that can come from persevering in campaigns to change an entrenched culture.”

Johnson, an attorney, is vice president of risk management and education with the Church Pension Group. She oversees the creation of resources to help leaders in congregations and dioceses prevent and deal with risks to their employees, members and visitors, as well as to their buildings.

Johnson, 59, led the creation of CPG’s Safeguarding training series meant to teach church employees how to prevent child sexual abuse and adult sexual exploitation and harassment. Johnson also consults with congregation leaders and others to respond to reports of misconduct in the church.

She plans to retire from CPG by the end of the year, according to a June 22 posting on her Facebook page.

Johnson noted in her announcement that she has trained more than 500 people in safe church programs, and trained and worked with chancellors, canons to the ordinary, diocesan staff, other church leaders and seminarians in misconduct prevention and response, ecclesiastical discipline under Title IV, as well as in church polity, governance and canons.

“Perhaps most importantly as we seek to work together to change our church, I have trained and/or worked with nearly all of the bishops as a regular presenter at the College for Bishops and at House of Bishops meetings, and as an advisor on misconduct, discipline and canons,” Johnson said. “I have good working relationships with many bishops across the geographic and political spectrum, and as vice president, I would be eager to continue collegial work with them for the benefit of the entire church.”

Johnson began working for Church Insurance Co. in January 1998 and moved from there to CPG four years later. Prior to joining CPG, Johnson practiced law in Minneapolis for 19 years. She worked with personal injury and product liability cases, and was an advisor for religious and nonprofit organizations on a variety of matters.

She lives in Minneapolis with Kay Kramer, her partner of 32 years.

Johnson has been a General Convention deputy since 1994 and currently is the first lay deputy of the Minnesota deputation. Johnson has served as chancellor of the Diocese of Minnesota and currently is chancellor to House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson.

Anderson has said she would not ask General Convention, which meets July 5-12 in Indianapolis, to elect her to a third and final term as president. Thus, an election for her successor will be held during this meeting of convention with nominations opening July 9, a “meet the nominees” reception that evening and the election on the 10th.

Thus far, the Rev. Gay Jennings and Martha Bedell Alexander have announced they intend to stand for election as president.

Canon I.1.1(b) requires that the president and vice president be of different orders.

Nominations for House of Deputies vice president will open July 10 and that election will take place the next day, July 11.

The office of vice president has been vacant since Feb. 15, 2010, when Diocese of Minnesota Bishop Brian Prior, who had been vice president, was ordained bishop.

At the organizing session of the House of Deputies on July 5, the house will elect a vice president to serve at the 77th convention. The Very Rev. Scott Kirby, retired dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and a deputy from that diocese, has agreed to be nominated to serve as vice president. Other persons may also be nominated from the floor. If Kirby is elected, he has indicated that he will not stand for election for any office for the next triennium.

The president-elect and vice president-elect take office at the adjournment of the regular meeting of the House of Deputies at which they are elected and continue in office until the adjournment of the following regular meeting of the General Convention. They are both eligible to stand for election for three three-year terms in each office.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.