House of Deputies Award presented to Sarah Lawton by President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
Sarah Lawton, a lay deputy from the Diocese of California, was awarded the House of Deputies medal in October. The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies, presented the medal to Lawton during the Diocese of California’s convention at Grace Cathedral.
In presenting the award to Lawton, who is a longtime social justice advocate, three-time deputy and the chair of the Standing Commission on Social Justice and Public Policy, Jennings said, “I think that we are called to raise our voices for those who have no voice and to work for Gospel justice in the world now more than ever. The imperative to proclaim generous Christianity is greater now than it has ever been in my lifetime.”
Jennings praised Lawton as an example for Episcopalians, saying, “Sarah’s passion for building relationships that break down barriers and create change in the world is grounded in simple, profound Christian love.”
Lawton, a second-generation deputy who served in 2006, 2009 and 2012, was elected at the California Diocese Convention to serve again in 2015. She lives in San Francisco with her family and is development coordinator for the University of California Berkeley’s Labor Center.
In a recent interview for the House of Deputies website, Lawton said that Episcopalians need to take the long view when working for justice. “We stand on the shoulders of Anglicans like William Wilberforce and Frances Perkins,” she said. “There’s no way we finish the work in our generation. We do our part.”
She cited legislation passed by General Convention as among the best ways to put faith into action. “We listen to each other and learn from each other, and I think General Convention resolutions incorporate the voices we hear and the minority opinions,” Lawton said.
Speaking of her experience as secretary of the National and International Concerns legislative committee in 2012, she added: “I learned a lot about how important the process is from my fellow deputy Russ Randle, who chaired the committee. It takes work and time for deputies to meet. It couldn't just be done by a committee in New York. As large and unwieldy as the House of Deputies can be, there’s something that would be lost if we didn’t have it.”
Jennings, who was elected at the 77th General Convention in 2012, established the medal in October of that year to honor clergy and laypeople who have given distinguished service to the House of Deputies and the Episcopal Church.
The triennial General Convention is the governing body of The Episcopal Church and includes the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies. The next General Convention will be held in June 2015 in Salt Lake City.
The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org