Dr. Fredrica Harris Thompsett, Mary Wolfe Professor of Historical Theology at EDS, was elected on the first ballot as a lay member for the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church for a six-year term. The election was held at the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, on July 10. She is a member of the Diocese of Massachusetts’ deputation to the General Convention.
As a well-known lay leader, Dr. Thompsett has devoted her life to education and formation in the Episcopal Church. For almost 40 years Dr. Thompsett has taught history, theology, and preaching at the Episcopal Divinity School, where she also served as Academic Dean for 14 years. She is the author of several books on the history and leadership of ordained and lay women and men and was quoted in the opening remarks of the President of the House of Deputies, Bonnie Anderson, earlier in the week. Since 2011 Dr. Thompsett has been serving a partial term as a lay member of the Executive Council.
“I have done my best at EDS to provoke wisdom, persistent questioning, and humor in the classroom and within the wider community. I wish to build on the long and strong tradition of EDS faculty leadership that was clear in Ian Douglas’ and Ed Rodman’s distinguished membership on Executive Council,” said Dr. Thompsett.
Dr. Thompsett has a strong record of service on various committees and commissions at parish, diocesan, national, and international levels. For example, as a member of the Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation and Education, she assisted in the development of comprehensive and coordinated policies for children, youth, adults, and seniors for lifelong Christian formation.
The Executive Council oversees the ministry and mission of the Episcopal Church and enacts programs and policies adopted by the General Convention. As it represents the diversity of the whole Church, it is comprised of officers of the Church and 38 lay and clergy members, 20 of whom are elected for six-year terms at General Convention. The Council meets quarterly between the triennial Conventions in various provinces.
“The current challenge for the Church, and its Executive Council, is how to live with tradition, and at the same time move beyond familiar patterns to address the new realities of a postmodern church in fearless and inspired ways,” said Thompsett. “I believe I can help the Church at this exciting and yet anxiety-provoking moment. I look forward to the opportunity to serve.”