For Bonnie Anderson, being elected president of the House of Deputies comes at a time of tremendous opportunity.
“I’m really excited about working with the church in this new way,” says the deputy from Michigan, who was unanimously elected on June 14. Her three-year term of office began at the close of General Convention.
Although Anderson and Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori will be the first all-female leadership team in the church, Anderson stressed in an interview with Episcopal Life that the focus should be on their work as much as on their gender.
"I think we will be able to do good things with the mission of the church; that's what we are all about," Anderson said. "The 'we' here is the church, not just women."
Anderson called herself a collaborative leader who likes to ask advice before acting and said that she was committed to engaging the deputies long after they leave convention. She called them an "untapped resource" to the national church.
"[Members of] the House of Deputies can plan on hearing from me," she said. Anderson said her presidency came at an opportune time. "We have an atmosphere of change and, to me, change is opportunity," she said. "We are embodying that change, and we can use it and do the work we are being called to do."
With 35 years as an active member of the Episcopal Church laity, Anderson, 63, is no stranger to controversy or hard work. She said she felt uniquely called to this particular role at this time, considering it simply “a little bit of a change of venue.”
“The ministry is the same,” she said. “The particulars around the ministry will change, and the intensity of it will change, but what I feel called to do won’t change. The big venue is the church and the reconciling mission of God’s work in the world.”
She received an enthusiastic standing ovation during introductions in the House of Bishops.
“It’s great to be here,” she told the bishops and introduced her husband Glen, daughter Devon and son Justin. “I’m very much looking forward to engaging in conversation with the new presiding bishop and with other constituencies in the church.”
Her first order of business will be, along with the newly elected presiding bishop, to review memberships in the committees, commissions, agencies and boards of the church.
“My big hope is that the new presiding bishop and I can work closely together and have a collaborative and growing relationship, because we can do some really good things together,” she said.