Gay Jennings speaks out on UTO controversy

The president of the House of Deputies speaks out about recent events regarding governance of the United Thank Offering, at the HOD Web site. Gay Jennings writes:

Last Friday afternoon, Bishop Katharine released a statement about the ongoing conversations with the UTO, and I commend her statement to you. I agree with her assessment of the situation, and especially her reminder that, “The goal of all of this long work is to the continued existence and thriving of the ministry of the United Thank Offering.” I continue to be grateful for the strong working relationship that the Presiding Bishop and I have built, both on this issue and many others.

Unfortunately, both an unattributed summary of the situation and private correspondence between UTO board members and DFMS employees were also released on Friday. I had no prior knowledge of the planned release of these documents and I received them at the same time as the rest of the church. Had I been consulted, I would have voiced strenuous objection both to the tone and content of the unattributed summary and to the release of private correspondence without the consent of everyone involved. I am dismayed to be associated with this action by virtue of being mentioned in the unattributed summary.

What now? Some of the remaining members of the UTO board and those representing DFMS have resumed working on the draft bylaws and MOU, and it appears to be a positive engagement. Next month at Executive Council, the elected leaders of the church will be briefed, and depending on the status of these discussions, Council may need to consider additional ways forward to foster healing and reconciliation and to ensure that UTO is strengthened for the next 125 years of service. At that meeting, I will advocate for reconciliation and for a respectful, transparent outcome that is shaped and supported by the UTO board and Executive Council to ensure the continued vitality of the United Thank Offering.

I am also making a personal gift to the United Thank Offering today in gratitude for its 125 years of ministry and for the unstinting service of the laywomen who founded it and continue to lead it today. I invite you to join me by mailing your check to:

United Thank Offering
DFMS – Protestant Episcopal Church US
P.O. Box 958983
St. Louis, MO 63195-8983

Read her letter in full here.

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