Brian Prior, who is at present the Vice-President of the House of Deputies of The General Convention, was elected bishop in the Diocese of Minnesota recently. As a bishop, he is no longer eligible to serve in the House of Deputies.
There is no canonical procedure to follow when something like this happens, so President Bonnie Anderson has announced that she will follow the precedent established during the term of Pamela Chinnis.
She intends to announce her nomination of a sitting deputy to serve in the role of Vice-President one year in advance of the next Convention.
At that time, I will inform the deputies of my nominee and make available to him/her the necessary preparation required to enable him/her to preside in the House of Deputies at the 77th General Convention in my absence should he/she be elected to serve. Whoever is elected must be ready to begin serving immediately. As we move toward this time, I will keep you regularly informed.
The full text of letter follows:
November 16, 2009
Dear Deputies and First Alternates,
The Diocese of Minnesota, at its electing convention on October 31, elected The Rev. Brian Prior, as the ninth Bishop of the Diocese. Assuming the issuance of the required consents, he will be ordained to the episcopate on February 13, 2010. Deputy Prior currently serves as the Vice President of the House of Deputies.
The office of Vice President of the House of Deputies becomes vacant at the earliest of: (i) the resignation of the VPHOD; or (ii) the ordination of the current VPHOD to the episcopate (Canon V.4.1(b). There is no canonical provision for filling a vacancy in the office of VPHOD until the first day of the next General Convention.
Following the precedent set by Dr. Pamela Chinnis, President of the House of Deputies in 1993 when a vacancy in the office of Vice President occurred prior to the General Convention of 1994, I will nominate a clergy deputy, respected by the House, who has agreed to serve, if elected, for the 77th General Convention only, and not to run for any office to be elected by the House of Deputies at the 77th General Convention. This would enable the House to be served by a Vice President without compromising the election of the Vice President to be elected to serve during the succeeding triennium.
One year prior to the 77th General Convention, all the 77th General Convention deputies will be elected. At that time, I will inform the deputies of my nominee and make available to him/her the necessary preparation required to enable him/her to preside in the House of Deputies at the 77th General Convention in my absence should he/she be elected to serve. Whoever is elected must be ready to begin serving immediately. As we move toward this time, I will keep you regularly informed.
As you know, the canons provide for a Council of Advice to the PHOD. I have appointed a council smaller in size than the council appointed for work during the last triennium. I made note of this in my letter to you of September 14, 2009. With reduced staffing to support my office, it was my hope that the VPHOD would take on more responsibility during this triennium. I will rely on my Council of Advice and, from time-to-time as the need arises, I will ask for assistance from deputies with expertise in certain areas. I pray you will be generous in your prayers and support.
I have asked The House of Deputies Study Committee on Church Governance and Polity (see PHOD letter September 14, 2009) to look into the current canons regarding filling a vacancy in the office of Vice President of the House of Deputies and the possibility of proposing canonical revisions on this matter to the 77th General Convention.
I will keep you informed as we continue into the triennium. In the meantime, please join me in prayers of thanksgiving for the ministry of Deputy Prior in the House of Deputies and his ministry among us.
Bonnie Anderson, D.D.
President, The House of Deputies