Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana Archives

Francis Campbell Gray, Sixth Bishop

Francis Campbell Gray, Jr., the sixth bishop of the diocese, was the grandson of the second bishop, Campbell Gray. He was born in a Japanese prison camp in Manilla, the Philippines, to missionary parents, the Rev. Francis Campbell Gray and wife Jane. Growing up in the Midwest, he spent his teen years in Florida, graduating from Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, and serving a three-year stint in the U.S. Marine Corps. He attended Nashotah House in Wisconsin, where he received his Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1969. Ten years later he also received his Master's degree from there. Gray was ordained a deacon by Bishop Henry Louttit on 20 June 1969, and a priest by Bishop William Hargrave on 20 December 1969. On 19 February 1965, he had married Karen Brumbaugh of Orlando, and the couple had three children, Katherine, Elizabeth, and Timothy.
After becoming a priest, Gray served several parishes in Florida, including assistant at St. Wilfred's in Sarasota from 1969 to 1970; chaplain of Manatee Junior College in Bradenton from 1970 to 1974; rector of St. John's Church, Melbourne, from 1974 to 1979; and rector of Emmanuel Church, Orlando, from 1979 to 1986. He was elected Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Northern Indiana on the fourteenth ballot on 10 May 1986. The choice of more progressive delegates, Gray had signaled his willingness to accept women priests. The Rev. Richard Martin of Washington, D.C., the choice of conservatives, had said emphatically that he would never ordain a woman. The proceedings seemed deadlocked, and for a time a group of clergy came to the Rev. Corydon Randall of Trinity, Fort Wayne, as a potential compromise candidate, but he declined the offer without having the laity's clear support. Gray's victory by the progressives was a transformative moment in the history of the diocese and showed that the majority of the laity supported at least the prospect of change in Northern Indiana's liturgical and theological outlook.

Gray was consecrated in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame on 31 October 1986, with the Presiding Bishop, Edmund Browning, as chief consecrator. Browning's presence marked the first time a presiding bishop had ever consecrated a bishop in the diocese, and it opened a period of greater interest and cooperation with the national church in which Northern Indiana emerged from decades of isolation. When Bishop Sheridan retired on 10 January 1987, Gray officially became the new diocesan. He wrote in the diocesan newspaper, "As I approach consecration, I am consciously and constantly aware that the Bishop is to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church. The gathering of the assembled Bishops, Clergy, and Lay People are visible signs to me that this responsibility is never to be carried out alone. I thank God for calling me to this ministry."

From the inception of his episcopate Gray sought to kindle a new sense of piety throughout the diocese. He suggested that vestries open their meetings with short Bible study and prayer. He also urged vestries and rectors to have clean slates, analyzing strengths, defining expectations, and developing strong pastoral relationships. To that end, when vacancies occurred, he sought to improve the way vestries called priests to their parishes and how they were nourished once there. He insisted that parishes undertake a formal search process in preparation for calling a new rector, and he believed strongly in the use of interim rectors. Congregations should have search committees that carefully studied their members and prepare written profiles as part of a formal rector search. Once a new rector was installed, the bishop insisted that he or she be given opportunities for education and sabbatical for their continuing spiritual nourishment. Vestries and rectors should also take regular spiritual retreats together.

Evangelism and stewardship remained perennial issues and became the centerpieces of Gray's early ministry. The diocese had suffered a loss of 50 percent of its membership over the previous 22 years from when Gray was consecrated. Part of that decline had fallen on the Baby Boom generation that had grown up in the church in the 1950s and 1960s, but who had not sought to retain that affiliation after reaching adulthood. As the national church declared the so-called Decade of Evangelism in 1990, Gray asked the diocese some pointed questions directed at the appeal of the Episcopal Church. "Is our faith the kind that attracts converts? Is the vitality of belief and practice what makes undecided people want to identify with us? Are we stewards of the mysteries of Christ, or are we custodians of buildings and guardians of the status quo?"

With the decline in membership, stewardship had also fallen off, and many parishes continued to suffer shortages of both money and talent. "Evangelism," he wrote, "is the response of stewardship toward the world in which we live... [Both] are inextricably tied together ...Unless we are stewards of grace, who live and exhibit the Christian life ... we have nothing to evangelize. When we show forth Christian community, our lives become evangelistic by their very essence."  

To help counter the decline, the new bishop instituted a series of preaching and teaching evenings in parishes across the diocese to help renew energy and spirit. He attracted a number of new, younger clergy to the diocese to join in the building up of parishes, Dabney Smith and Shelby Scott among them. He also brought to life diocesan youth camp programs, was often personally present at the camps, and hired Brian Grantz, a full-time diocesan ministries youth coordinator. Grantz would go on to become an ordained priest. In addition, the bishop established summer service projects in urban areas of the diocese.

During Gray's episcopate, three capital campaigns were launched. The Wawasee Episcopal Center Fund raised money to rebuild the lakeside conference and retreat center at Lake Wawasee in Kosciusko County. The All Saints Syracuse Fund led to the replacement of the original chapel at the lake built by Bishop White. The third, the Forward in Faith campaign, raised money for diocesan missions and for the diocesan endowment. Three new missions were begun in 1994: Church of the Resurrection in Wabash, Christ Church in South Bend, and St. Mary's Fellowship in Monticello. Ultimately, all three would fail, but Christ Church's membership was folded into St. Paul's in Mishawaka. The experience of mission-planting enriched the diocese and gave its leadership many insights into the challenges of missionary growth.

Gray also took a strong interest in the world mission of the church. In the early 1960s, the diocese under Bishop Klein had entered into a companion relationship with the Diocese of Costa Rica. Under Bishop Sheridan, that relationship ended and another begun with the Diocese of Enugu in Nigeria. Gray breathed new life into that relationship. Several articles in the diocesan newspaper, The Beacon, featured the missionary activities in Enugu and its continuing needs, and Gray and his wife Karen later made a visit there. Later in 1998, the diocese would enter into another companion relationship with the Diocese of Honduras and invited its bishop, Leo Frade, to address a diocesan convention. Several parishes became actively involved with missionary work there. St. John of the Cross in Bristol sent a team with building materials to construct  a waterfront church in a ghetto community. Other congregations contributed to two schools, Nuestra Pequenas Rosas for girls and El Hogar for boys. A delegation from St. Thomas, Plymouth, visited Honduras for the dedication of two churches. In September 1998, after Hurricane Mitch struck Honduras and devastated many of its churches, Gray and a group of concerned parishioners organized a massive relief project with medical supplies, food, clothing, and building materials. 

At home, Northern Indiana remained deeply divided over the ordination of women, exacerbated by years of sustained opposition from Bishop Sheridan. Many of the old Anglo-Catholic guard agreed with the ban in the diocese, but an increasing number of younger members, mostly from the Baby Boom generation, began quietly advocating for change. In 1989, Gray had opposed the consecration of Barbara Harris as Bishop of Massachusetts, but he did so not because of her gender but because she lacked the necessary education and training. Even so, the new bishop was determined to bring Northern Indiana into the fold of the national church by embracing the priesthood of women, though he did so quietly without much fanfare.

On 27 July 1989, Gray sent a letter to all priests, deacons, and senior wardens. In it, he said that his original mandate to only ordain a woman who was raised up in the diocese would place too great a burden on her. Several vestries had wanted to call a woman, but he had denied their requests in violation of their rights under canon law. He added: "My own thinking on this matter has changed. When I was elected, I knew only one woman priest. I was willing to follow the canons, but I was not overly enthusiastic about women priests. Since that time I have met several women who are very effective priests. I have spoken with numerous bishops who attest to the vitality of ministry in areas where both men and women serve as priests. After thirteen years, I think it is time for our own diocese to be brought into conformity with our national canon law." While conceding that his decision would bring pain to some people and joy to others, he hoped that "Christian charity will continue to prevail in our diocese as this change takes place." He would not push candidates of either gender onto vestries, but the goal of the deployment process was to bring the best priests for each congregation.

The first female deacon to serve a parish in the diocese was the Rev. Sarah Tracy, who had held the post when Sheridan was still bishop. Sheridan had made a distinction between women in the priesthood versus those in the diaconate, having no problem with women in the latter. Tracy had come to the diocese from Idaho in the spring of 1985 to work at the Cathedral and at St. Peter's, Rensselaer. Though she had received an anonymous death threat, she was formally installed deacon in August 1986, just as Gray was about to be consecrated. As the new diocesan archdeacon, she became the prime mover for the establishment of St. Margaret's House, a daytime shelter for women that opened in a building adjoining the Cathedral in June 1990.

Gray ordained two other women to the perpetual diaconate soon after his consecration: Gloria Taylor at St. Paul's, Munster, on 12 June 1989, and Mary Finster at St. Andrew's, Kokomo, on 8 May 1990. The perpetual diaconate did not entail eventual ordination to the priesthood. It was a stand-alone, non-stipendiary ministry of pastoral care that those ordained to this office could offer a larger parish as a means of assisting the rector. Gray encouraged this ministry but would not allow deacons to celebrate a Deacon's Mass with pre-consecrated host. He also remained cautious initially in support of women priests, stating that he would accept one if she were raised up in the diocese.

After sending out a letter announcing his intention to accept the ministry of ordained women priests, Gray received from the Diocese of Western Michigan the Rev. Teunisje "Tina" Velthuizen, on 12 September 1991. Her approval came after the bishop had modified his initial position of only approving a woman priest if she rose up from a congregation in the diocese. The parishioners of Holy Trinity, South Bend, had specifically petitioned the bishop to approve Velthuizen, and she proved herself a trail-blazer, enjoying the warm backing of her parish. The following year Gray ordained to the priesthood the Rev. Susan Jo Blubaugh at St. Peter's Rensselaer on 8 July 1992. More ordinations followed on 9 October 1991 at the Cathedral of St. James, when Gray ordained to the perpetual diaconate Roberta Ring and Leslie Richardson, both of Fort Wayne. In February 1992, the Rev. Robin Thomas arrived from Maine to serve as curate of Trinity, Fort Wayne.

In all, the diocese weathered these changes well. Consternation and hurt feelings existed in some parishes, and a few members left over the changes. The Episcopal Synod of America, a conservative organization opposed to women priests, made some inroads, mostly among older Anglo-Catholic parishioners, but the movement would sputter out by the late 1990s. In some parishes, more traditional-minded laity refused to receive communion from women or even stand for the Gospel when read by a woman, but these protests were remote and widely scattered. Priests who had opposed women's ordination, such as the Rev. Richard Alford of La Porte, quietly left the diocese. A greater loss occurred when the congregation of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Peru, rent by internal divisions, seceded from the diocese in 1990 and joined the Anglican Church of America, a new Anglican province created to preserve the 1928 prayerbook and oppose the ordination of women.

While many in the diocese regarded him as a progressive (when compared with Sheridan), Bishop Gray saw himself as a conservative on many issues of the time, especially on matters of sexuality. When Bishop John Shelby Spong of Newark ordained a gay priest who subsequently announced that monogamy was only an option, Gray wrote a public letter that was critical of the ordination. The New York Times quoted Gray as saying, "Jack, I am angry, not just for what you have done, but for the manner in which you have proceeded. One wonders where is Christ in all of this? How is the Gospel proclaimed?" In later years his position became more moderate and accepting of homosexuality.

Bishop Gray had a close circle of eight other priests in the diocese with whom he shared a weekly lunch. The group included the dean of the cathedral, Fred Mann, as well as Michael Basden, Derek Harbin, Stephen Gerth, Shelby Scott, Martin Lavengood, and several others. They became his close friends and supporters, though other priests were noticeably left out of the group and felt they could never be part of the bishop's close personal network. Unlike the Mallett episcopate, however, there was always cordiality among the bishop and his priests.

After eleven years of being diocesan bishop, Gray decided to take a new assignment. He accepted a call to become the Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia in 1998, assuming his new duties on 1 January 1999. At the time he was touted in Virginia as having wide experience in the world mission of the church. He retired in 2005 and became Commissary to the Episcopal Church in Sudan. He returned to South Bend with his wife Karen and has spent his retirement there, supporting both Bishop Little and Bishop Sparks.

Gray's episcopate is best remembered for "tremendous enthusiasm and initiative." His episcopate saw a profound philosophical turn in the early 1990s that rejected both far-left liberalism and far-right conservatism but embraced the more moderate, mainstream theology of the national Church. Said a promotional brochure of the late 1990s, "the diocese was becoming aware of its mission, both catholic and evangelical." Quite consciously Gray moved the diocese away from the extreme Anglo-Catholicism that had isolated it for much of its history. The old generation was passing away and a new generation of younger priests and laity, more liturgically diversified and either moderate- or liberal-minded, joined the bishop in changing the diocese from within. Many believe that in doing so, the bishop, clergy, and laity, working together, saved Northern Indiana for the Episcopal Church.

Consecration of Bishop Francis Campbell Gray, 31 October 1986, Part 1

Consecration of Bishop Francis Campbell Gray, 31 October 1986, Part 2

Consecration of Bishop Francis Campbell Gray, 31 October 1986, Part 3

Consecration of Bishop Francis Campbell Gray, 31 October 1986, Part 4

Order of Service for the Ordination and Consecration of the Rev. Francis Campbell Gray ... 31 October 1986

Interview with Bishop Francis C. Gray by Rev. Robert C. Center, 28 January 1988

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