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media/Cathedral of St. James, South Bend, March 2016.jpg
Cathedral of St. James, South Bend
The Episcopal Church in St. Joseph County has its origin as early as 1840, when visiting clergy conducted occasional services in South Bend. On 7 August 1840, the South Bend Free Press noted, "The Rev. Mr. Manna of the Episcopal Church will preach at the Presbyterian Church in this town on Sunday at 3 o'clock p.m." Bishop George Upfold, the first bishop of Indiana, also made occasional visits.
New impetus for a church began in 1867, when the Rev. Frank M. Gregg, rector of St. Paul's, La Porte, visited during the summer and conducted services on Sunday afternoon at Shively Hall. As winter approached, Bishop Upfold dispatched the Rev. Richard Brass of St. Paul's, Mishawaka, to hold services in the afternoons at the Dutch Reformed Church, a half block north of the present Cathedral. Brass organized St. James Episcopal Church informally on 15 December 1867, appointing a committee to act as a vestry that included Hiram Doolittle as senior warden, George S. Reed as junior warden, and C. W. Guthrie, S. R. King, George W. Matthews, Dwight Deming, and Col. Norman Eddy. The name of St. James was chosen three days later.
Bishop Joseph Talbot, Bishop Coadjutor of Indiana, visited South Bend in the fall of 1867 and again in February 1868. He recruited a Nashotah House graduate, the Rev. George P. Schetky of St. John's Church, Philadelphia, to be the first rector in July 1868. On 6 July, the informal vestry, never properly organized, petitioned Upfold for "approval, consent, and permission" to formally organize the parish of St. James according to diocesan canons. Permission was granted three days later, and the first official vestry was formally seated on 28 July at a meeting in the director's room of the First National Bank.
Despite Schetky's best efforts, the new parish got off to a shaky start, and by October, the vestry voted that it was "inexpedient to continue the effort to maintain an Episcopal Church in this city." Schetky resigned in January 1869, lamenting in a letter his "regret for which language has no expression for the sad results of this reserved attempt to establish and build up the Church in this growing city." The vestry still praised him for his efforts. Later that year, the Rev. Frank Gregg of La Porte returned to South Bend to see what could be done for the fledgling church, and despite the fact that services were poorly attended, he resolved to build a church edifice as a way of firming up its presence. A small women's group had continued to meet in private homes, and the spark for the church had refused to die. Accordingly, the congregation built a small wood frame chapel on Wayne Street east of Lafayette Boulevard for $2,200 under the direction of Gregg, J. Beeson Brownfield, S. R. King, and C. W. Guthrie. Services began under Gregg's direction in September, but he soon departed, and Bishop Talbot sent the Rev. William Richmond as a missionary in 1870 with the understanding that the congregation could not guarantee his salary. Richmond reorganized the parish and had a new vestry elected on 10 April 1871. C. M. Heaton became senior warden and Hiram Doolittle was junior warden. The first Sunday School class was confirmed by Bishop Talbot on 12 May 1871, and the number of communicants increased from 16 to 36. A Sunday School picnic, the first of the parish, was held on 6 July.
Believing that the location of this first church was not suited for its growth, the vestry decided in 1872 to move the building to the northwest corner of Lafayette and Jefferson boulevards after purchasing a lot with a small brick house (used as a rectory) for $5,400. On 20 February 1873, the church reopened and a cabinet-style pipe organ was installed at a cost of $400. In November 1877, Bishop Talbot returned for a visitation, confirming four and ordaining the Rev. Alfred T. Perkins, who became the new rector.
St. James continued to struggle for a number of years, but Bishop David Knickerbacker, Talbot's successor, refused to allow the parish to close. Schuyler Colfax, the Vice President of the United States under Ulysses S. Grant, was a member of the congregation and gave it an important level of support. When he died in 1885, his family presented the church with a processional cross in his honor. In 1891, the Rev. Augustine Prentiss became rector at a salary of $1,300 a year, and he brought much-needed stability. The vestry decided in September 1892 to build a new church, and Corwin B. Van Pelt, the junior warden, was authorized to purchase a lot on the west side of Lafayette Boulevard between Washington and Colfax streets. Mrs. Marian Van Pelt gave much of the money for the construction. The congregation under the leadership of Prentiss's successor, the Rev DeLou Burke, broke ground on 1 June 1894, and the cornerstone was laid just over a month later on St. James Day, 25 July. The South Bend Daily Times reported: "The St. James Episcopal Church congregation on this St. James Day have every reason to be proud and thankful over a result of long years of effort to give that congregation a church structure commensurate with the needs of Episcopalians of South Bend and in every way an architectural ornament of our city."
The new Gothic Revival brick edifice, located at 117 North Lafayette Street, was designed by the architectural firm of Austin & Parker and held its first service at midnight on Christmas Eve, 1894. The following day a Christmas service was held at 10:30, and a dedication service was conducted on 13 January 1895. Burke's successor, the Rev. Francis Milton Banfil, a New Hampshire native, served as rector from 1898 to 1909, and during his tenure the pledge system of envelopes was adopted, the mortgage reduced, and many fine pieces of furniture and art were added to the parish. He left in 1909 after suffering a nervous breakdown.
More improvements followed in the mid-twentieth century. In 1929, the parish completed its first parish hall, known as Cathedral Hall, in the undercroft of the church. The Bishop White Memorial Chapel, later known as the Chapel of the Holy Angels, was remodeled in 1944, as was the baptistery, given in memory of the Rev. Lawrence Cecil Ferguson, who served as rector from 1928 to 1942.
St. James did not become the cathedral of the diocese until 1957 during the episcopate of Bishop Reginald Mallett. When the diocese was founded, Trinity Church Michigan City was designated the cathedral on 25 April 1899. However, the first bishop, John Hazen White, found himself at odds with Trinity's vestry over a number of matters, leading to his decision to move to South Bend in 1912 (when he served as rector of St. James) and split his time there and at his lakeside home at Wawasee. On 4 November 1917, Trinity Michigan City ceased to be the cathedral, and for many years the diocese was effectively without one. Under White's successor, Bishop Campbell Gray, plans were drawn up for a new cathedral in Mishawaka, but due to the onset of the Great Depression, all efforts to raise money for construction were shelved. St. Paul's Mishawaka served as the pro-cathedral during Gray's episcopate, but that designation would survive only a few years into his successor's epsicopate. Bishop Mallett decided to move his residence from Mishawaka to South Bend in 1946, purchasing with a combination of his own and donated funds a house at 2117 East Jefferson Street. Four years later in 1950, he announced that St. Paul's Mishawaka would no longer serve as the pro-cathedral. While he did not affix blame on St. Paul's, Mallett clearly preferred South Bend as his See city.
In 1956 at an Annual Council Meeting in South Bend, Mallett announced that he had accepted the offer of St. James Parish to become the new cathedral. The vestry of St. James had purchased the United Fund Building next door in 1953 and began converting into potential office and educational space for the diocese. It became known as Cathedral House. Mallett was enthroned at the new cathedral on 20 January 1957, and the Very Rev. Robert F. Royster was made the new dean. The St. James Building was purchased in 1962 as a gift from Mrs. Leon B. Slaughter, and the interior was extensively renovated in 1964 after a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Bert K. Patterson.
Since the 1960s, the cathedral has undergone a number of other renovations, including a significant project in 2010 under Dean Brian Grantz. During the 1980s under the episcopate of Francis Gray, an adjacent building was acquired and leased to St. Margaret's House, a day center for women in need in the community. Three deans, the Rev. Robert Bizzaro, the Rev. Frederick Mann, and the Rev. Brian Grantz, all made major contributions to the life of the cathedral. In 2018, during the episcopate of Bishop Douglas Sparks, the old office building was gutted and refurbished to accommodate a newly renovated office to better serve the needs of the growing diocesan staff.
Robert J. Center, Our Heritage: A History of the First Seventy-five Years of the Diocese of Northern Indiana (South Bend: Diocese of Northern Indiana, 1973).
Anonymous, "A Short History of St. James Cathedral," typescript, undated.
Richard Brass, 1867
George Patterson Schetky, 1868-1869
Frank Mark Gregg, 1870
William Richmond, 1870-1877
Alfred Thomas Perkins, 1877-1879
Francis B. Dunham, 1881-1884
John Plummer Derwent Llwyd, 1885
Frederick Towers, 1885-1887
Frederick Thompson, 1887-1890
Augustine Prentiss, 1891-1892
DeLou Burke, 1893-1896
William Charles Hengen, 1897-1898
Francis Milton Banfil, 1898-1909
Walter Simon Howard, 1910-1912
Bishop John Hazen White, 1912-1920
Howard Russell White, (vicar), 1912-1920
Robert James Long, 1920-1923
John Maurice Francis, 1923-1928
Lawrence Cecil Ferguson, 1928-1942
Don Herbst Copeland, 1943-1953
William Paul Barnds, 1953-1956
Robert Frank Royster, 1956-1969
Robert Ayres MacGill, 1970-1975
Robert Bizzaro, 1975-1992
Frederick Earl Mann, 1993-2004
Martin Irving Yabroff, 2004-2007
Brian Glenn Grantz, 2008-
"A Look Back: Cathedral of St. James," South Bend Tribune, 6 April 2015
Parish Register, 1868-1900
Parish Register, 1868-1900 (alternate digitizing)
Parish Register, 1899-1937
Parish Register, 1899-1935 (alternate digitizing)
Parish Register, 1937-1942
Parish Register, Index of Communicants
Parish Register, 1943-1953
Parish Register, Marriages, 1949-1989
Parish Register, Confirmations, 1950-1986
Parish Register, Baptisms, 1953-1989
Parish Register, Marriages Index, 1931-1939
Parish Register, Burials, 1962-1988
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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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Edward Stuart Little II, Seventh Bishop
Edward Stuart Little, the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Northern Indiana, held office at a time of intense changes in the national church. An outstanding preacher, he brought an evangelical zeal for the Gospel that ushered in a new leadership style for the diocese. As Linda Buskirk has written, Bishop Little personified "the lighthouse on the diocesan seal" and "delivered powerful messages that illuminate priorities for Christ centered living and ministry."
Little was born in New York City on 29 January 1947, the son of a nominally Episcopalian father and Jewish mother. He grew up agnostic and attended school in Manhattan and Norwalk, Connecticut. He received his Bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California in 1968. He credits a college class on the Bible as literature as bringing about his conversion to Christianity and his joining the Episcopal Church. The same year of his graduation he married Sylvia Gardner at Palm Desert, California. They had two children: Gregory and Sharon.
After deciding to enter the Episcopal priesthood, Little received a Master of Divinity degree from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in 1971 and was ordained a deacon and priest that same year in the Diocese of Chicago. He served as a curate in two parishes: St. Matthew's Evanston and St. Michael's, Anaheim, California, before becoming vicar of St. Joseph's Episcopal Church in Buena Park, California. When that church achieved parish status, he became its first rector. Little became rector of All Saints Church in Bakersfield, California, in 1986, and from here he was elected bishop on the first ballot on 5 November 1999.
Little was consecrated bishop at a ceremony in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame on 30 April 2000, with Bishops Gray and Sheridan, his two predecessors, among the consecrators. His sixteen-year episcopate that followed might best be understood as defined by three distinct eras: The Mission and Evangelism era lasting from 2000 to 2003; the Reconciliation Era from 2003 to 2007, and the Congregational Development Era from 2007 to 2016.
The initial focus of Little's tenure was mission and evangelism. At the time of his seating as bishop, he articulated four core values for the diocese that he hoped would guide it during his episcopate:
1. A passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ
2. A heart for the lost.
3. A willingness to do whatever it takes.
4. A commitment to one another.
Taking a strongly evangelical and Jesus-centered view of ministry, one of his early actions was to hold a Rally for Mission and Evangelism at Goshen College in 2001 with Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana as the keynote speaker. About 700 attended, and Little intended it as an inspirational kick-off for getting church-goers to invite others to church and help the diocese grow. Bishop Sheridan, the diocese's last tradition Anglo-Catholic bishop, also took part, even though the approaches of the two men to ministry differed significantly.
The second era, Reconciliation, began in 2003, when Gene Robinson, an openly gay priest living in a same-sex relationship, was elected and consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire with the General Convention's consent. The election had occurred against the backdrop at the national level of a church rent by internal divisions over issues of sexuality and same-sex marriage. Robinson's election caused a firestorm within some congregations of the diocese and at the national level, it prompted many conservative Anglicans to leave the Episcopal Church and form the Anglican Church in North America. The election of Katharine Jefferts-Schori as Presiding Bishop in 2006 prompted three dioceses, Quincy, Fort Worth, and San Joaquin, to leave the Episcopal Church. While Little opposed same-sex marriage and forbid them from occurring in the diocese, he remained within the Episcopal fold. As a compromise, he would eventually allow same-sex couples to marry outside the diocese and permit priests in the diocese to perform those rites. He reached out to liberals, even befriending Bishop Robinson, and agreed to provide pastoral care to some congregations who had opposed Robinson's election. Within the diocese, a number of parishes experienced losses as members left the church, but other parishes strongly affirmed gay rights and differed with the bishop's stand on same-sex marriages.
The third era of Little's episcopate, the Congregational Development era, began in 2007. Attendance trends in parishes throughout the diocese followed those of the national church as membership in many parishes decreased and in some, dwindled. Little sought to infuse them with new life through dynamic preaching and encouraging people to tell their own faith stories. He had inherited his first Canon to the Ordinary, David Seger, from his predecessor and acknowledged to Seger his appreciation for the continuity and knowledge he brought with his ministry. After Seger's retirement in 2007, Little called the Rev. SuzeAnne Silla as the new canon, blessing her extensive experience in congregational development with the Diocesan Congregational Development Institute (DCDI). The purpose of DCDI was to give clergy and laity across the diocese more confidence and skill in problem solving, visioning for the future, and conflict management. About 20 congregations took part, and it had the side-benefit of bringing leaders from different parishes together and fostering inter-parish relationships.
In 2013, Little articulated five imperatives for the diocese in using DCDI: Focus on Jesus; Think Biblically; Proclaim Good News; Feed people who are hungry; and Mentor young people. As the vision played out, some parishes began offering bilingual services while others sought new ways of meeting the needs of their communities.
One of the challenges faced by Little's episcopate was the dwindling membership of certain parishes and their inability to support a priest. Many priests were necessarily bi-vocational to support themselves, but the problem of clergy shortage became particularly acute in the Calumet area of the diocese, where some parishes were floundering and in danger of closing. A major success story was the Calumet Episcopal Ministry Partnership (CEMP), which first formed in 2010. Three congregations, St. Barnabas-in-the-Dunes, St. Paul's Munster, and St. Timothy's Griffith, came together in dialogue, and what emerged was a vision of one church in three locations, all sharing the same full-time priest. The program proved successful, and not only was a full-time priest, the Rev. Michael Dwyer, ordained in 2012 for the post, but three other part-time priests also signed on. In June 2015, St. Christopher's Crown Point joined the partnership, followed by two others, St. Stephen's Hobart and St. Augustine Gary, under Little's successor, Bishop Douglas Sparks.
Bishop Little announced his retirement effective 30 June 2016 and served as a consecrator of his successor. He and his wife Sylvia continued to live in Indiana and take up residence in Mishawaka. As his greatest overall goal, Little has said: "When I became bishop, I committed myself to helping the diocese become increasingly Christocentric; to helping every man, woman, and child in the diocese to speak openly of their relationship with Jesus; and to helping parishes to see the world beyond their doors as their mission field." The core values were the guiding principles of his tenure.
Source: Email message of Bishop Edward Little, August 2019.
Holy Eucharist and Ordination of Edward Stuart Little II ...18 March 2000
Pastoral Letter on Same Sex Marriage, 2012
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Douglas Everett Sparks, Eighth Bishop
Bishop Douglas Everett Sparks, the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Northern Indiana, is the current incumbent. Born on 8 January 1956, he studied Philosophy at St. Mary's Seminary College, graduating with a Bachelor's degree in 1980. Subsequently, he received a Master's degree from De Andreis Institute of Theology in 1984. Ordained a priest in the Roman Catholic Church in 1984, he served parishes in Missouri, Colorado, and Illinois. In 1989 he was received as a priest into the Episcopal Church, serving as rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Whitewater, Wisconsin, from 1990 to 1995. He also married Dana Wirth and had three children: Christina, Graham, and Gavin.
Sparks later served at St. Matthias Church in Waukesha, Wisconsin, then went to New Zealand to become Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in Wellington. On returning to the United States, he became rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Rochester, Minnesota. From here he was elected bishop on 6 February 2016. He was consecrated at Trinity English Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, on 25 June 2016 by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.
Bishop Sparks has adopted a five-point plan of mission that will guide his episcopate:
1. Tell the Good News of the Kingdom.
2. Teach, Baptize, and Nurture new believers.
3. Tend to human need with loving service.
4. Transform unjust structures of society.
5. Treasure God's Creation and renew the Earth.
Bishop Sparks has reversed previous diocesan policy and approved same-sex marriages being performed in the diocese with the consent of individual parishes. He was personally present for the wedding of South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg to Chasten Glezman on 16 June 2018 in a ceremony at the Cathedral of St. James in South Bend. He has also formed a strong pastoral partnership with Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows of the Diocese of Indianapolis, marching for social justice issues, against gun violence, and in favor of greater acceptance of all marginalized groups in the Church. He is an "activist bishop" and comfortable in that role, but he is always careful to ground that advocacy in his faith.
On a national level, the Episcopal Church began an initiative under Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to become a "Beloved Community" to promote racial reconciliation. Part of that process involved studying and apologizing for sins committed against minority groups throughout its history. During his sabbatical in 2022, Bishop Sparks walked the Potawatomi Trail of Death, traveling on foot from Plymouth, Indiana, to Kansas. He left an account of his pilgrimage. It symbolized the work of the Diocese of Northern Indiana to account for acts of racism in its past.
Episcopal News Service:
Consecration of Bishop Douglas Sparks, 25 June 2016, Trinity English Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne