Group charged with adaptive thinking travels to Minneapolis

The members of the House of Deputies State of the Church Committee met earlier today with the House of Bishops. The group, which President Jennings asked “to identify, study and report on the Episcopal Church’s most significant opportunities to innovate and experiment so that we are equipped for 21st century mission and ministry,” was invited by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry after he met its members at their organizational meeting last year. It is believed to be the first State of the Church Committee invited to consult with the House of Bishops.

“This committee has existed since 1821, and while it is the oldest committee in the church, President Jennings has appointed only Gen X and Millennial members,” said Deputy Louisa McKellaston of Chicago, the group’s vice-chair, in her introduction of the group. “Our committee, which we lovingly call the ‘Hot Sauce’ committee because that’s what it sounds like when you spell out the acronym “HoD SOTC” was given a very specific mandate: to be an energetic think tank and incubator for adaptive thinking, innovative ideas, and fresh approaches to the church’s leadership, organizational thinking, and common life.”

Chris Rankin-Williams of the Diocese of California, the committee’s chair, wore a purple shirt to the meeting (on the far left in the photo above) in honor of the artist Prince and his song “Purple Rain.”

“We are in Prince’s hometown,” he told the House of Bishops. “In the song he sings,
“Honey, I know, I know
I know times are changing
It’s time we all reach out
For something new, that means you too”


“What a great description of the moment we are living in as the church,” Rankin-Williams said. “Jesus is God’s intervention into the adaptive challenge of humanity and salvation history. In Jesus, God invites us to be transformed. Our job is to make sure the church isn’t a technical solution to this adaptive challenge.”

After introducing themselves and playing introductory videos from three members who were unable to travel to Minneapolis, the committee members seated themselves at the bishops’ tables to facilitate more than an hour of conversation. Topics included the challenges and opportunities of ministry in the 21st century and the ways that the structure of the church both facilitate and limit innovation.

The meeting with the House of Bishops is the first step in the State of the Church Committee’s process of gathering data from deputies, bishops and the wider church. Early next year, the committee expects to solicit data from deputies and alternates; watch the newsletter for more details.

photo:  The members of the House of Deputies State of the Church Committee before their presentation to the House of Bishops earlier today.