Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana Archives

Diocesan Officers and Governance

Since the inception of the Diocese of Northern Indiana, a variety of administrative bodies have existed to provide for its governance. Each body is established and defined by the prevailing set of canons in force at the time. Understanding their roles and how the overall structure has changed over time are important keys to its historical narrative.

When the Diocese of Michigan City was inaugurated in 1899, its administrative structure resembled what existed in other dioceses at the time. A clear division among executive, legislative, and judicial functions remained essential components of that structure. At the head of the executive branch was Bishop John Haven White. His chief officers included the Rev. Walter J. Lockton of Logansport as Secretary; Walter Vail of Michigan City as Treasurer; H. B. Morris of Michigan City as Registrar; and Stuart MacKibbin of Michigan City as Chancellor. In addition, there were three examining chaplains that advised the bishop.

The Diocesan Council (the name at the time for the annual convention) served as the chief legislative body, while the Standing Committee, consisting initially of only clergy, represented the judicial function. Working with the chancellor, the Standing Committee handled legal matters involving the diocese and would eventually oversee the ecclesiastical trial court. Several other committees were also created that reported to the Council: New Parishes, Constitution and Canons, State of the Church, Finance, Christian Education, and several others. Some of these committees changed their names and functions or combined with others over time. An archdeacon's office was created in 1900 and was held by a rector of a church in the diocese (initially by the Rev. George P. Torrence of Marion), who had charge of all diocesan missions. In 1905, a Missionary Committee was formed to support the work of the archdeacon. All of these offices were held exclusively by men, while women's efforts were restricted only to the Women's Auxiliary, which raised money for outreach and missionary work.

In 1921, following the lead of the National Church, the diocese, now known as the Diocese of Northern Indiana, revised its structure. A new set of canons were adopted that created the "Bishop and Council," a legislative body comprised of the bishop, secretary, treasurer, and eighteen elected members, half priests and half laity. This body managed the diocesan functions during the time between councils. Another body created at this time were the Trustees of the Diocese, consisting of the bishop, treasurer, chancellor, and three elected laity. The Standing Committee remained, and there were now separate lists of so-called Departments and Standing Committees. If the size of the structure had grown increasingly unwieldy, the bishop deemed necessary for the future growth of the diocese in the 1920s. This essential structure would remain in place until 1969.

In 1969, after several years of study and planning by Fort Wayne attorney Paul Philips, the convention adopted a major reorganization plan. The Board of Trustees was abolished, and several committees whose work the convention deemed extraneous were eliminated. There were still three clear branches of governance. The executive branch, headed by the bishop, also included the secretary, assistant secretary, treasurer, chancellor, board of examining chaplains, and the bishop's cabinet. The legislative branch remained the diocesan convention, now held in November, along with the Diocesan Council (no longer called "Bishop and Council"), comprised of members from six deaneries (Calumet, Michigan City, South Bend, Elkhart, Fort Wayne, and Wabash Valley). The judicial branch consisted of the Standing Committee and the Ecclesiastical Court. Other independent bodies included the Diocese of Northern Indiana Foundation (a non-profit organization that oversees the diocese's charitable work), the Cathedral Chapter (St. James's vestry), the Wawasee Episcopal Church board, the deputies of General Convention, the deputies of the Provincial Synod, the Indiana Council of Churches, and Episcopal Church Women.

In 2001, a third restructuring occurred. The executive branch now consisted of the bishop, the Canon to the Ordinary, the secretary, assistant secretary, the Commission on Ministry, and the chancellor. The Canon to the Ordinary served as the bishop's chief assistant. The Commission on Ministry advised both the bishop and Standing Committee on candidates interested in discerning a call to ordained ministry. The legislative branch continued as the convention and as before had several connected committees: Constitution and Canons, Credentials, Nominations, and Diocesan Council. The Standing Committee remained the judicial branch. Other bodies included the Diocese of Northern Indiana Foundation, the Greater Cathedral Chapter, Deputies for the Provincial Synod, the Trial Court, the Ecumenical Officer, the E.C.W., and Finance.

When Douglas Sparks became bishop in 2016, the Canon to the Ordinary office was abolished and replaced with several "missioners" who had charge of various aspects of administration. The Congregational Revitalization and Development Committee advised the Diocesan Council about opportunities for growth and explores places for possible new mission.

All of these structures and committees are reflected in the records housed in the Diocesan Archives. Some have been digitized as part of an on-going effort to make the records of the diocese more accessible.

Diocesan Officers

Diocesan Staff

Standing Committee Minutes, 1899-1921

Standing Committee Minutes, 1922-1958