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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, 2006-2021
Michael Fulk, 2022-
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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Douglas Everett Sparks, Eighth Bishop
Bishop Douglas Everett Sparks, the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Northern Indiana, is the current incumbent. Born on 8 January 1956, he studied Philosophy at St. Mary's Seminary College, graduating with a Bachelor's degree in 1980. Subsequently, he received a Master's degree from De Andreis Institute of Theology in 1984. Ordained a priest in the Roman Catholic Church in 1984, he served parishes in Missouri, Colorado, and Illinois. In 1989 he was received as a priest into the Episcopal Church, serving as rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Whitewater, Wisconsin, from 1990 to 1995. He also married Dana Wirth and had three children: Christina, Graham, and Gavin.
Sparks later served at St. Matthias Church in Waukesha, Wisconsin, then went to New Zealand to become Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in Wellington. On returning to the United States, he became rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Rochester, Minnesota. From here he was elected bishop on 6 February 2016. He was consecrated at Trinity English Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, on 25 June 2016 by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.
Bishop Sparks has adopted a five-point plan of mission that will guide his episcopate:
1. Tell the Good News of the Kingdom.
2. Teach, Baptize, and Nurture new believers.
3. Tend to human need with loving service.
4. Transform unjust structures of society.
5. Treasure God's Creation and renew the Earth.
Bishop Sparks has reversed previous diocesan policy and approved same-sex marriages being performed in the diocese with the consent of individual parishes. He was personally present for the wedding of South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg to Chasten Glezman on 16 June 2018 in a ceremony at the Cathedral of St. James in South Bend. He also permitted openly gay priests to be ordained and serve in the diocese. He has also formed a strong pastoral partnership with Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows of the Diocese of Indianapolis, marching for social justice issues, against gun violence, and in favor of greater acceptance of all marginalized groups in the Church. He is an "activist bishop" and comfortable in that role, but he is always careful to ground that advocacy in his faith.
On a national level, the Episcopal Church began an initiative under Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to become a "Beloved Community" and to promote racial reconciliation and more loving, Christian relationships. The movement provided materials to individuals and congregations to "help us to understand and take up the long-term commitments necessary to form loving, liberating and life-giving relationships" with one other. "Together," promoters said, "we are growing as reconcilers, justice-makers, and healers in the name of Christ." This effort was also coined "the Jesus Movement" by the Presiding Bishop. Part of that process involved studying and apologizing for sins committed against minority groups throughout the Church's history. During his sabbatical in 2022, Bishop Sparks walked the Potawatomi Trail of Death, traveling on foot from Plymouth, Indiana, to Kansas. He left an account of his pilgrimage. It symbolized the work of the Diocese of Northern Indiana to account for acts of racism in its past.
For several years during Bishop Sparks's episcopate, from 2020 to 2022, the nation suffered under a devastating COVID-19 epidemic. In-personal worship was canceled, and services were conducted remotely online through Zoom, a computer meeting software. When vaccines became available and the virulence of the epidemic eased, congregations met in limited form with enforced masking and social distancing. Bishop Sparks was instrumental in developing protocols that had never been previously considered in diocesan history.
In 2023, the Diocese of Northern Indiana embarked on an exploratory path to discern the possibility of reuniting with the Diocese of Indianapolis. That process remains ongoing at this writing.
Episcopal News Service:
Consecration of Bishop Douglas Sparks, 25 June 2016, Trinity English Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne