Gray was born in Bolivar, Tennessee, on 6 January 1879, the son of the Rev. William Crane Gray and Fannie Campbell (Bowers). His family had long affiliations with the Episcopal Church, being collateral descendants of Bishop John Croes, the first Bishop of New Jersey. William Crane Gray, a native of Lambertville, New Jersey, had moved to Tennessee as a boy of ten, when his father, Dr. Joseph R. Gray, established a medical practice in Clarksville. William Crane had studied at Kenyon College, was ordained a priest in 1860, and served as chaplain of a Tennessee regiment in the Civil War. Afterward he had served churches in Bolivar and Nashville, including a 20-year rectorate at the Church of the Advent in Nashville. In 1892, William was elected bishop of the Missionary Jurisdiction of South Florida, during which time he became a pioneer in bringing the Episcopal Church to many small, under-served populations when Florida had seen little development.
A story that was often told about the elder Gray involved him missionary outreach to the Seminole tribe. As a gift, the bishop presented the chief with several gallons of ice cream. In the warm weather, the ice cream melted, and the chief is said to have complained that it was just like every gift from the white man, "it turns to nothing." The younger Gray often shared the story with a sense of humor.
Campbell Gray's ideological path toward Anglo-Catholicism is less well documented or discernible from extant records, but he was clearly a different churchman from his father. He graduated from the University of the South at Sewanee in 1901 and from General Theological Seminary in New York City in 1904 - and neither institution was strongly Anglo-Catholic. However, after he had become bishop, he obtained an honorary doctorate from Nashotah House in 1925, where his predisposition toward the Catholic Revival was solidified. For such Anglo-Catholic priests, returning the church to the rich and colorful liturgical heritage before the Reformation was preferred over what they perceived, according to Robert Center, as "the drab, colorless liturgy foisted off on the Church by eighteenth century latitudinarianism." Gray had clearly developed a taste for ceremonial liturgy apart and distinct from what his father had practiced.
Ordained to the priesthood by his father at the Cathedral of St. Luke, Orlando, Florida, in 1905, Gray married Virginia Neil Morgan of Nashville a few months later. He immediately went to work for his father in the missionary district of South Florida, spending nine years before being called as vicar of St. Augustine's Church, Rhinelander, Wisconsin. He had arrived by train, wearing a straw hat, with his wife, three children, and their African-American maid from the Bahamas. His time there, where Nashotah House had a strong theological effect, may have influenced his liturgical tastes. From there he moved to Peoria, Illinois, to become rector of St. Paul's Church, a position that won him notice from Northern Indiana.
After assuming office, Gray made clear his preference that the Holy Eucharist be celebrated every week in each parish. He added, "The ceremonial which accompanies the Holy Eucharist may be simple, moderate, or very elaborate...Your Bishop would like to meet you half way. Diocesan functions will have the full ceremonial. When the Bishop visits your parish, he will conform to your usage." In spite of this sense of adaptability, nearly every parish and mission became full ceremonial within a few years, bringing Northern Indiana into conformity with other so-called "biretta-belt" dioceses that bordered Lake Michigan, but making it out of step with the rest of the national Church. An increasingly wide ideological gulf would come to separate Northern Indiana from its sister diocese, Indianapolis.
A few years later, Gray would defend his churchmanship this way: "The need for the world today is Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God. Human souls will not be won to him be a weak explaining away of his Godhead ...Men today need, and when we see into their minds we find that they desire, a strong, definite, and fearless presentation of the Faith...There is but one way to draw men unto Christ, and that is to lift Him up. When, therefore, we obey His command and insist upon centering our whole religious life upon the Sacrifice of the Altar, there will almost always be a repetition of what took place in the hour of His agony." In other words, the centerpiece of all worship was the Holy Eucharist, but only the confirmed could receive it.
If the roaring Twenties were a time of economic adventurism, the increasing wealth of many did not translate into greater stewardship for the Diocese. When the national Church had announced the Nation Wide Campaign in 1924 to raise apportioned money from every diocese for missionary work, Northern Indiana had lagged far behind other dioceses. Of the $30,000 apportioned, only $7,000 was paid. The diocese had remained poor, and the bishop had no staff. Gray accepted a proposal that the diocese appoint an archdeacon among the clergy who could help him with some administrative duties, and in 1924 the Rev. Howard R. White filled that office. Gray also began the launch of a diocesan newspaper that had not been published for over a decade.
The new bishop was most concerned about finding a new permanent cathedral in the wake of the loss of Michigan City. The diocese purchased for him a home at 710 Lincolnway in Mishawaka, centrally-located near South Bend. Accordingly, he designated Mishawaka as his see city and St. Paul's as the new pro-cathedral. The parish purchased adjoining land for a new cathedral's construction, and architects, Ralph Adams Cram and Frank Ferguson, devised plans for a towering building with a pleasing Gothic Revival style that was still in vogue. The new cathedral would grace the banks of the St. Joseph River and face Cedar Street, though there was hardly enough land at the site for the structure. Even with other diocesan funds falling short, Gray pressed forward with raising money for the structure.
The lanky new bishop pleased many with his sense of humor and pastoral demeanor, a contrast from his more austere predecessor. A brief biographical sketch described him as possessing "the Franciscan hallmark of serene and saintly piety." Many recalled his genuine warmth that was devoid of White's prickly temper. One woman recalled him entering a room for a church meeting singing "The Old Gray Mare Ain't What She Used to Be" and receiving a warm welcome. He made his rounds of visitations in a Model T Ford, which he nicknamed the Lizzie, but his dress, even on these visits was the cope and miter in contrast to White's rochet and chimere. The Eucharist was usually chanted. Genuflecting, bowing to the processional cross, and crossing oneself became commonplace in most parishes, and many parishioners withheld eating breakfast on Sunday mornings until receiving communion. Some parishes installed confessionals and encouraged the sacrament of penance. Incense at worship was also introduced in some parishes, especially on high holy days. Girls wore chapel veils when presenting themselves for confirmation.
The onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s shelved forever any plans for building a cathedral in Mishawaka. Northern Indiana was especially hard-hit as many parishes struggled to remain open and support their rectors. Only a few paid their diocesan assessments in 1931. Bonds held in the diocesan endowment funds had defaulted on interest payments, while other funds in the endowment were used for regular operating costs. Gray refused to take a salary except what he received as a rector. The office of archdeacon was abolished and publication of the diocesan newspaper again suspended. The diocese wrestled with what to do with those parishes in arrears with respect to the diocesan convention, and at length Gray and other leaders decided to seat them with voice but no vote.
Gray worked to buoy the spirits of the diocesan family, even if the news every year seemed more grim. One of the most notable actions was the creation of the Howe Conference. The conference had its roots in the Summer Conference that Bishop White had begun at his cottage at Lake Wawasee in 1915. He had successfully launched it in a rare partnership with the Diocese of Indianapolis, but by 1929, Bishop Joseph Francis had pulled out of the event. In 1933, the leaders of Howe School offered the campus for a summer conference, and Gray at once saw it as an opportunity for offering spiritual nourishment and recreation as well as a means of bringing the diocese together in fellowship. Again, a co-sponsorship with Indianapolis was attempted with the bishops of each diocese alternating as conference president and chaplain. However, by 1935, Indianapolis discontinued its involvement. Nevertheless, between 50 and 100 high school students and adults from Northern Indiana enrolled, and Gray made tuition assistance available. By 1937, with the financial picture beginning to improve, he had named the Rev. J. McNeal Wheatley of Trinity Fort Wayne as the new archdeacon and tasked him with organizing the conference.
Gray faced a variety of administrative challenges brought on by the Depression, particularly with respect to the parishes in the Calumet region near Chicago on the western side of the diocese. White had promoted the establishment of missions in several industrialized areas, but they had proven difficult to sustain in the long term. In 1939, in an attempt to remedy the problem, Gray invited two Benedictine monks, Dom Paul Severance and Dom Leo Patterson, to take charge of three missions: St. Andrew's Valparaiso, St. Stephen's Hobart, and St. Augustine's Gary. They had received training at Nashdom Abbey, an English Benedictine house, that had hoped to establish a Benedictine presence in the United States. As unmarried monks they required only small salaries for subsistence and free housing. Taking up residence in a house in Valparaiso during Easter Week, they converted the dining room into a chapel and received donations of furniture for the other rooms. They named their residence St. Gregory's House, and here they prayed the daily office. Gray was invited to become the first Episcopal Visitor in 1941. Soon afterward Patterson left and was replaced by Dom Francis Hilary Bacon, a noted artist. Eventually, the order would move to Three Rivers, Michigan and founded St. Gregory's Priory.
The outbreak of World War II put further strain on the diocese just as the hardship of the Great Depression had begin to wane. Many men and women from across the diocese served their country in the armed services while several priests became Army chaplains. The parish house of Trinity Fort Wayne became outfitted as a civilian hospital by the Red Cross for the Emergency War Board. Its rector, Father J. McNeal Wheatley, paid regular visits to Baer Field, the local airport, to conduct services for visiting troops. In La Porte, the construction of the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant brought thousands of workers into the La Porte area and housed them in trainer courts. The Rev. George J. Childs, rector of St. Paul's in La Porte, attempted to reach out to them, opening the parish to worker families on Sunday afternoons and attempting to raise money for a missionary. However the effort received no interest from the workers, nor did the Home Mission Board of the national Church see fit to give the idea adequate funding, even though it did assign a missionary jurisdiction to the area.
For Gray, the early 1940s proved too taxing for his health. His daughter, Virginia, died after a surgical operation, and his son, Francis, daughter-in-law Jane, and grandson Francis Jr. were all taken prisoner by the Japanese in the Philippines. In 1943, Gray had surgery, which was followed by a bout of influenza and pneumonia. He recovered sufficiently to preside at the Annual Council on 3 May 1944, but less than two weeks later he suffered a heart attack and died on 16 May 1944. The diocese was stunned by the loss, especially as his health had seemed to be improving. The dual blows of the Depression and World War II had proven too much of a strain. He was well remembered a generation afterward for his kind pastoral presence and for the Catholic liturgical tradition he had instilled.
Robert J. Center, Our Heritage: A History of the First Seventy-five Years of the Diocese of Northern Indiana (South Bend: Dioceseof Northern Indiana, 1973), 18-31.
Order of Service for the Consecration of the Rev. Campbell Gray .... 1 May 1925
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This page references:
- Bishop Campbell Gray with Senior High Youth, Trinity Michigan City, ca late 1930s
- Trinity Hungarian Mission with Fr. Edwin Smith and Bishop Campbell Gray and Communicants 1920s
- Bishop Campbell Gray portrait ca 1930
- St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Mishawaka, interior design of proposed cathedral, 1920s Cram and Ferguson architects
- Howe Conference 1940, Father Shannen and Bishop Campbell Gray
- Bishop Campbell Gray newspaper clipping
- Howe Conference 1939, Bishop Campbell Gray standing right, others unidentified
- Bishop Campbell Gray and son Rev. Francis Gray, 1942 clipping
- Howe Conference 1938 or 1939, with Rev. J. McNeal Whealey and Bishop Campbell Gray
- Rev Campbell Gray newspaper portrait before bishop
- Howe Conference 1938 or 1939, with Rev. J. McNeal Wheatley and Bishop Campbell Gray in back
- Bishop Campbell Gray, side view, 1920s
- Bishop Campbell Gray in 1930s
- Bishop Campbell Gray, profile
- Bishop Campbell Gray, 1920s
- Bishop Campbell Gray color portrait 1920s
- Bishop Campbell Gray Consecration, May 1, 1925, Fort Wayne, Indiana
- Choir of Trinity Episcopal Church, Fort Wayne, 1930s
- St. Paul's Mishawaka Pro-Cathedral Architectural Plans, exterior, by Cram and Ferguson, 1920s