Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana Archives

Christ Church, South Bend

In 1994, Bishop Francis Gray urged the formation of three new congregations: Church of the Resurrection in Wabash, St. Mary's in Monticello, and Christ Church in South Bend. Under the leadership of its vicar, the Rev. David Ottsen, the diocese located property south of Scottsdale Mall on Miami Street. Using a book written by the Rev. George Martin of Minnesota, Ottsen and Gray made cold calls to local households in an effort to find potential members. By May 1995, 37 people attended. Christ Church had both a support group and a prayer chain. Bishop Gray made a visitation in September. For another year Christ Church struggled, but ultimately it failed to attract enough support, and it closed on 22 September 1996. Bishop Gray came to view the continuance of Ottsen as its full-time vicar as an unwise use of diocesan stewardship money. The congregation voted to close, and Ottsen was called to be rector of St. Paul's Mishawaka, which incorporated the Christ Church members into its fold. Gray reported in 1996: "I have heard the word 'mistake' used regarding the establishment of Christ Church. This is an unfair characterization. A congregation was established. It was disappointing that it did not grow as desired numerically...but it did grow as a spiritually vital faith community and is still bearing fruit within the context of an existing congregation. St. Paul's should be commended for its healthy attitude towards incorporation of an existing faith community." A report afterward concluded that the area around Christ Church was not growing sufficiently. There was a smaller percentage of unchurched in the area than predicted, and the congregation lacked sufficient lay leadership to make it successful.