Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana Archives

Howe Conference

In 1915, Bishop John Hazen White inaugurated the Summer Conference at Lake Wawasee in Kosciusko County, where he had moved after the rupture of his relationship with vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church, Michigan City. The bishop held open-air services and later constructed All Saints Chapel there, next door to Bishopcroft, the name he gave to his summer residence. For a number of years the conference enjoyed the joint sponsorship of the Diocese of Michigan City and the Diocese of Indianapolis, but that arrangement ended with the onset of the Great Depression, the last one being held in 1929.

In 1932, with the Great Depression still in full swing, Bishop Campbell Gray conceived the Howe Conference, a five-day summer camp of learning and inspiration to be held on the campus of the Howe Military School. The conference would be open to anyone 14 years old and older at a subscription of $10, though some scholarships were offered. By assembling clergy and church leaders from around the diocese for worship and inspiration, Gray and his supporters believed it would help uplift the spirits of the diocese. At that time, many parishes were in arrears for their diocesan assessments and had been seated at the diocesan convention with voice but no vote.

The first conference was held in 1933, again with the sponsorship of both dioceses, but by 1935, it fell again under the sole control of the Diocese of Northern Indiana. Guest speakers were brought in to offer preaching and instruction. The Rev. J. McNeal Wheatley articulated the aims of the conference in an article for the Pastoral Staff in 1937: "No other opportunity is offered in this Diocese to bring as many of our people of our Parishes to the privilege of living together for a week's time and thereby exchange their views and their hopes for the Church in general and weld together a Diocesan spirit that will enable them to carry into their Parishes and Missions the feeling of greatness of the Holy Church."

This spirit of optimism for both adult and youth learning did not survive Bishop Gray, and by the late 1940s, the Conference had become exclusively a camp for high school students. Attendance remained high, however, and in 1965 it was renamed briefly the Bishop Mallett Conference after Bishop Reginald Mallett, Gray's successor, who took a strong interest in the camp. Soon after this name was abandoned, and two camps were formed: the Bishop White Camp and the Bishop Gray Camp, both still held at Howe.For a time the camp moved to Lake Wawasee under the ministry of the Rev. David Hyndman.

In the 1990s, the venue for the summer camp moved out of Wawasee to Lake Waubee near Milford in northern Indiana.

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), pp. 27-28.


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