5 candidates for president, vice president to participate in upcoming House of Deputies forums

By David Paulsen
Posted Jun 1, 2022

[Episcopal News Service] At least four deputies have expressed interest in running for president of the House of Deputies, along with one candidate for the house’s vice president, according to a June 1 announcement of the lineup of participants in upcoming candidate forums.

The candidates for president who signed up to participate in the June 4 and 13 forums are the Rev. Devon Anderson, Diocese of Minnesota; Julia Ayala Harris, Diocese of Oklahoma; Ryan Kusumoto, Diocese of Hawai’i, and the Very Rev. Ward Simpson, Diocese of South Dakota. The only candidate to come forward publicly for vice president is the Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton, Diocese of Olympia.

The General Convention Office facilitates all churchwide elections. Any deputy interested in being considered for president or vice president was required to submit an application to the General Convention Office by March 8 and agree to a background check. The General Convention Office declined to provide Episcopal News Service with the number of deputies who submitted applications by the deadline.

Those applicants still have time to decide whether or not to officially declare candidacies. The House of Deputies’ Rules of Order specifies that candidates for president must officially inform the house’s secretary of their intent to stand for election by General Convention’s third legislative day, with the election occurring on the fourth day. That timeline likely will need to be amended for the 80th General Convention, to accommodate convention’s shortened duration, set for July 8-11 in Baltimore, Maryland.

The election of vice president takes place after the election of the president. The two positions cannot be held by members of the same order, clergy or lay. If a priest is elected president, for example, only lay deputies will be on the ballot for vice president.

Participation in this month’s forums is not required for candidates to be considered for either office at General Convention. The two Zoom forums, at 2 p.m. Eastern June 4 and 2 p.m. Eastern June 13, are intended for deputies and alternates, and they will be moderated by the Rev. Albert Cutié, rector of St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church in Plantation, Florida.

Information about all five candidates who will be participating in the forums can be found on the House of Deputies website:

  • Devon Anderson, the daughter of former House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson, is rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Excelsior, Minnesota, and has served in the past on Minnesota’s Diocesan Council and Standing Committee, including as president. She currently serves on The Episcopal Church Executive Council.
  • Julia Ayala Harris, with two decades of experience in the nonprofit sector, also serves on Executive Council, including as chair of council’s Committee on Mission Within The Episcopal Church. She also served from 2012 to 2015 on the Task Force to Reimagine The Episcopal Church and is a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Norman, Oklahoma.
  • Ryan Kusumoto, a deputy since 2006, follows in the footsteps of his grandfather, Arthur Kusumoto, a prior deputy from the diocese. He has served on the Hawai’i Diocesan Council, is a co-chair of the House of Deputies’ Asian Caucus and has been as a trustee to the Church Pension Fund for the past 10 years.
  • Ward Simpson has served as dean of Calvary Cathedral in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, since 2009. In addition to multiple terms on the Standing Committee and Diocesan Executive Council, he has filled numerous committee leadership positions in the House of Deputies since his first year as a deputy in 1997.
  • Rachel Taber-Hamilton, who is Shackan First Nation, has served on Olympia’s Diocesan Council and Standing Committee, including as president. She has participated in past Episcopal delegations to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the Conference of the Parties meetings on climate change, or COP.

Both Anderson and Harris had previously declared their run for president.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings is finishing up her third and final term as House of Deputies president and, according to term limits established by The Episcopal Church’s Canons, will step down at the end of the 80th General Convention. Byron Rushing of the Diocese of Massachusetts, the current vice president, is completing his third term as well and cannot run again, so deputies will also elect his successor.

This also will be the first time the House of Deputies will elect a new president since the 79th General Convention in 2018 approved a financial compensation plan for the position. Previously an uncompensated volunteer, the president is now considered a contractual employee and paid a fee for her work, set annually by Executive Council.  Jennings’ compensation is set at $223,166 for 2022 and receives no employee benefits.

The vice president remains an unpaid volunteer position.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.