What a joy this weekend to be able to attend a retirement dinner for a seminary classmate, Ed Little, Bishop of Northern Indiana! Ed and Sylvia were at Seabury-Western during the same years my wife and I were there and have been colleagues and friends ever since. Ed Little has been remarkably and faithfully consistent over the years. He was a thoughtful, articulate conservative in seminary and remains so today.
While being in a “theological minority” in the House of Bishops (as many of us were thirty years ago!), Ed has remained in relationship with everybody in the HOB, has served in leadership capacities, and has been personally supportive of our presiding bishops even when he may have disagreed with them.
As a “Communion Partner” bishop, he has been anguished over the stresses and strains in the Anglican Communion and has voted consistently against any changes in our teaching on marriage. Yet, he never speaks in anger, never threatens to leave the Episcopal Church, certainly never speaks ill of others.
In short, Ed Little is a Christian.
If other conservative bishops had followed his example, we would not have suffered the schisms of recent times. The House of Bishops would have continued to have the witness of even more theological conservatives and we would have been able to model, even more than we have, that it is possible to remain together as fellow members of the Body of Christ even when we disagree.
If politicians today could learn from Ed Little’s gentle but firm witness and how to honor those “across the aisle,” assuming (as Ed has always done) that those with whom he disagrees have also reached their very different conclusions in good faith and with a attempt to be faithful and to strengthen our common life, this country would be in better shape as well.
It has been an honor to serve alongside Ed Little all these years. I have learned much from him. This church, and this communion, are better because of his witness and his ministry. Well done, good and faithful servant!