The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana, meeting in its 108th annual Convention on October 28 at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Valparaiso, heard its bishop, Edward Little, remind them that "Jesus invites us to come before the throne of grace with miraculous expectations."
Little spoke about two disciples: Simon the Zealot, whom he called a "former terrorist" because the Zealots were committed to the overthrow of their Roman occupiers, and Luke, who was a Roman tax collector before following Jesus.
"Simon and Matthew were sworn enemies -- and Jesus brought them together in the same apostolic college," Little said.
"At the heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the ministry of reconciliation," Little noted. "If Jesus can put the terrorist and the traitor in the same band of disciples, he can handle you and me and 2.3 million Episcopalians and 80 million Anglican Christians around the world. Jesus invites us to come before the throne of grace with miraculous expectations."
Little also spoke about the 75th General Convention's response to the Windsor Report.
"Given the incredible diversity among deputies and bishops, Convention went as far as it could in crafting that response," he said.
"I believe that General Convention, while working with painful diligence for almost two weeks, did not completely respond to the wider Communion as it grappled with the Windsor Report; but in the end it will be the Archbishop and the primates of the Anglican Communion who will make the determination," Little said, adding that he is "committed without reservation to the Episcopal Church" and "equally committed" to the Anglican Communion.
"The Windsor Report, I believe, provides us with the best road map to live out these twin commitments, and to do so with integrity," he said.
Little noted that the diocesan Standing Committee in the summer of 2005 officially endorsed the Windsor Report and "agreed to live by its teachings."
Little, reminding the convention that the Windsor Report "is not a teaching on human sexuality," said it is right that the church should "welcome and provide pastoral support for gay and lesbian Christians."
"What has happened in recent years, however, is that our conversation about human sexuality has been overshadowed by legislative wrangling," he said. "The Windsor Process provides us with a gift. It invites us to pause, to stop legislating about human sexuality; it asks us instead to create a safe pastoral space where we can have the conversations that we so desperately need. I am grateful for the gay and lesbian members of this diocese and for their contribution to our life together; and I pray that in embracing the Windsor Report, we will be freed in new ways to enter significant conversation with them and with one another."
The complete text of Little's address is available at here.
The convention later passed a resolution proposed by Little, the Standing Committee and the Diocesan Council affirming the Standing Committee's stance on the Windsor Report and adopting essentially the same stance "in order to provide a time for healing within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion."
The convention also passed a resolution committing 0.7 percent of the diocese's budget to support work that aims to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
The Diocese of Northern Indiana comprises about 6,100 Episcopalians worshipping in 37 congregations.