Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana Archives

All Saints Episcopal Church, Syracuse (formerly All Saints Chapel, Wawasee)

In 1905, Bishop John Hazen White engaged in a dispute with the vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church, Michigan City, over his liturgical style. In anger and frustration, he began spending his summers at Vawter Park along the south shore of Lake Wawasee, renting a cottage from Charles A. Sudlow. Finding no church in the area, he conducted Episcopal services on the cottage lawn and drew visitors from around the lake to worship. As the rift at Michigan City began to deepen, White reported to the diocesan convention that he spent his winters at Howe Military School and his summers at Wawasee, where he began to conduct open air services for summer lake dwellers. The response to these services was so enthusiastic that in 1907, he made plans to build a chapel beside the lake. With the financial help of Mr. and Mrs. Judson and Joseph Lilly, he purchased a cottage as his summer residence, which he called Bishopcroft.

White then gave consideration to building the chapel. Using money from the diocesan Emergency Fund, he purchased the land, and then using additional funds given by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, he received $1,000 per year for five years with an additional $5,000 borrowed from the Capital National Bank of Indianapolis. Construction began immediately, and the building was consecrated on 7 July 1907. The chapel, called All Saints, was a rectangular, utilitarian structure with simple windows and pews and a small sacristy behind the altar. By 1917, when White had declared Michigan City's view of its cathedral an "empty illusion" and moved to South Bend, he continued to spend his summers at Wawasee and presided at services in the chapel. He inaugurated the Wawasee Conference, held in July at the South Shore Inn, where members of the diocesan family could worship and take classes.

After White's death, his successors, Campbell Gray and Reginald Mallett, also enjoyed the chapel and summer house, with the latter spending a great deal of time there. Members of other parishes would take turns worshiping and having picnics on the grounds. In the 1940s, Bishop White's daughter, Mrs. Doubleday, presented Mallett with several lots on the lake that had belonged to the White family. These gifts gave the diocese a permanent foothold at the lake. 

In 1966, All Saints became an official mission of the diocese, the same year that the Wawasee Episcopal Center was established. The Rev. David Hyndman served as vicar. Youth camps were held regularly in the summer, and the site remained an informal gathering place for the diocese. By the 1980s, however, the house and church had grown increasingly derelict in condition.

In 1991, during the episcopate of Bishop Francis C. Gray and after years of planning, the diocese determined to demolish both the house and chapel and construct a new, modern church, called All Saints Syracuse, along with a large, multi-bedroom center called the Episcopal Retreat Center. The Center became available for vestry retreats and other special occasions for members of the diocese. Bishop Gray also oversaw the return of a chalice and paten back to Trinity, Michigan City, after Bishop White had removed them without permission and placed them at Wawasee. Since 2006, the parish has been under the care of the Rev. Larry Biller, who was previously its senior warden.

David Lee Hyndman, 1966-1991
Mark Thompson, 1992-1995
Linda M. Hughes, 1995-1999
Martin Brownlee Lavengood, 2000-2003
Larry Biller, 2006-

Bibliography: 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).

Parish Register of All Saints Chapel, 1907-1945

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