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Reginald Mallett, Third Bishop
Of the eight episcopates that have characterized the first 120 years of the Diocese of Northern Indiana, that of Reginald Mallett, the third bishop, stands in many ways as the most difficult and turbulent. Mallett came to office during the middle of World War II, and his authoritarian leadership style and personal prejudices brought strain to much of the diocese, in spite of the paradox that it grew significantly under his troubled administration. This irony makes the Mallett years with all of its flaws the most challenging to appreciate among those of his predecessors and successors.
When Bishop Campbell Gray died unexpectedly in 1944, there were no organized plans in place for a successor. The diocesan archdeacon, Ven. J. McNeal Wheatley of Trinity Fort Wayne, enjoyed strong popularity with the laity but not with his fellow clergy, nearly all of whom disliked his leadership style. At a Special Council held in South Bend on 28 June 1944, a divisive meeting was held that included a resolution calling for investigating a possible reunion with the Diocese of Indianapolis, but it was declared out of order. Seven priests were nominated for bishop, but none secured a majority. The Rev. Robert J. Murphy of St. Mark's Church in Howe received sufficient clerical votes on the eleventh and twelfth ballots, while Wheatley led the lay order on fifteen consecutive ballots. When it became obvious that the meeting was deadlocked, it adjourned for a month.
At a second convocation on 26 July, the Rev. Reginald Mallett of Grace and St. Peter's Church in Baltimore received the necessary clerical and lay support on the first ballot. Mallett had no idea he was under consideration for bishop, and when he received the call notifying him of the election, he thought at first it was a joke.
James Reginald Mallett, who never used his first name, was born at Fernbank, Ohio, on 27 February 1893, the son of the Rev. Frank James Mallett and Mary Emily (Long). His father had been a prominent and respected priest in North Carolina and Ohio. Reginald attended Erasmus Hall in New York, received his Bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina in 1915, and then attended General Theological Seminary, graduating in 1918 during World War I. He was ordained to the priesthood later that same year by Bishop Joseph Blount Cheshire of North Carolina. He then served several parishes in North Carolina, including St. John's in Wilmington. He married Lucy Atkinson Murchison, known to her friends as "Miss Lucy," on 12 February 1924. As the granddaughter of the late Bishop Thomas Atkinson of North Carolina, Lucy came from an old Episcopal family and was warmly remembered across the diocese for her hospitality, graciousness, and keen sense of humor. They would adopt a son, Reginald II, who was later ordained a priest by Bishop Mallett in 1960.
Mallett had gone on to serve several parishes, including canon of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio; rector of Holy Trinity, Greensboro, North Carolina; rector of Christ Church, Chattanooga, Tennessee; and rector of Grace Church in White Plains, New York. He then had a long stint at Grace and St. Peter's Church in Baltimore, beginning in 1936, where he solidified his reputation as a strong Anglo-Catholic, a qualification that brought him to the attention of Northern Indiana as a compromise candidate for bishop. His consecration took place at St. James Church, South Bend, on 25 October 1944. A reporter for a Protestant newspaper, The Chronicle, complained about the copes, miters, candles, and incense at the service, writing, "Oh, it was very, very Catholic, and blessings were as thick as gooseberries in July."
In 1944, the diocese was still suffering from the dual effects of the Great Depression and World War II. It had just nineteen parishes and ten missions, only fifteen active clergy, and 199 total confirmations had been celebrated. The diocese paid to the national church a quota of just $3,500. When asked about what his new policies would be, Mallett said, "I made up my mind that it should be to change things as little as possible and to learn in these days of changing conditions how to plan hopefully for the future." He would continue Bishop Gray's focus on the Eucharist as the centerpiece of the liturgy every Sunday, and even those not confirmed, he believed, should be present and worship at Holy Communion even if they could not fully partake.
Early on, Mallett took a strong interest in evangelism and wanted to see a rise in the total number of confirmations across the diocese. No new parishes had been added to the diocese since Christ Church, Gary, in 1908. The new bishop challenged his priests and laity to achieve a ten percent yearly growth in the total number of communicants, doubling the national average of just five percent. His challenge came at an opportune time, just as veterans were returning from the war, starting families, and launching the Baby Boom generation. By 1946, every parish in the diocese met its annual financial assessment, having both a seat and vote at the annual convention. Northern Indiana followed only the dioceses of Florida and South Florida in the rate of growth. "From having been on its last legs during the Depression," said one writer, "the Diocese enjoyed considerable advance in the post-war world."
Having had his institution at St. James Church in South Bend, Mallett took a liking to that city and decided to sell the bishop's residence in Mishawaka and move there. He purchased a house at 2117 East Jefferson Boulevard, paying a third of the cost himself and using donations from his former parishioners in Baltimore for the remainder. In 1950, he announced that St. Paul's in Mishawaka would cease to have its pro-cathedral status, and he eventually accepted the invitation of St. James to become the new cathedral. Its vestry agreed to purchase a nearby building for use as diocesan office space. Between 1950 and early 1957, however, the diocese operated without a cathedral. The bishop had an oratory for celebrating Mass and an office in his official residence. On 30 January 1957, Mallett was formally enthroned as bishop, and the status of St. James officially changed.
If Mallett's liturgical and evangelical styles proved a good fit for his times, his leadership style did not. By his own acknowledgement, he was not a good speaker. Though he had a sense of humor, the new bishop was also authoritarian in his relations with his fellow clergy, and within a short time turned his back on several priests and made them outcasts. Some observers concluded that the behavior was decidedly unchristian and not befitting the chief pastor of the diocese. According to Robert Center, "While he was a devoted pastor to many of his clergy, there were some who, for good reason or ill, were persona non grata. There were alienation and ill-conceived hostility among them. Assigning the culpability for this pastoral breakdown would be difficult. But as any priest knows all too well, a sense of alienation is destructive of the pastoral relationship. Until the day of Bishop Mallett's death, some deep wounds were never healed. There was a price to be paid for this unhappy situation. It cost the bishop in terms of his spiritual well being, cost some of the clergy a warm relationship with their father-in-God, and cost the diocese in terms of as shadow which hovered over the diocesan family."
Part of the problem undoubtedly stemmed from Mallett's personality. Soon after becoming bishop, he became accustomed to giving orders and having them unquestionably obeyed without any attempt at collegiality. In 1947, he ordered, without first requesting, that William Sheridan leave Marion and assume the rectorship of St. Thomas, Plymouth. Sheridan obeyed and gave Mallett his stalwart support. Similarly, when the mission of St. Michael and All Angels was founded in South Bend, the bishop ordered all parishioners of the Cathedral living east of Twyckenham Avenue to join the new church and terminated their membership at the Cathedral without their consent. He forbid them to return to the Cathedral.
The same obedience did not hold at Trinity, Fort Wayne, where its rector, James McNeal Wheatley, the diocesan archdeacon who had almost been elected bishop, displeased Mallett with his independence. Without consulting Wheatley beforehand, Mallett eliminated the archdeacon office and ordered him by mail to take charge of the chaplaincy of Howe School and chairmanship of the Diocesan Council. Wheatley refused curtly in a replying telegram, infuriating the bishop. In 1947, when open conflict erupted at Trinity Fort Wayne, Mallett did nothing to intervene until Wheatley had resigned. However, in the wake of the departure, the conflict produced a deeply divided parish, half of whom despised the bishop. Once at a meeting, in an effort to challenge his heavy-handed approach to personal relations, a vestryman had called him "Reggie," much to his displeasure. The bishop excommunicated the senior warden after he urged fellow Wheatley supporters to withhold their pledges and refusing to recognize Peter Langendorff as priest-in-charge. Indeed, Mallett developed such a strong dislike for Fort Wayne that years later, when conducting a rehearsal for a confirmation class, he warned the teenagers, after ordering them to kneel, that they were required to kiss his ring during the ceremony: "Do you know how I got my name? I am Bishop Mallett, and if any of you fails to kiss my ring, I will hit you on the side of the head with a mallet." It was not spoken as a joke, and many youths later recalled being terrified of him.
Contrasted with this attitude was the friendly sentiment Mallett felt for Christ Church Gary, its retiring rector, the Rev. James E. Foster, and the incoming rector, the Rev. James Curtis. Photographs show him sharing laughs with the priests and with Mrs. Curtis in a parish that was clearly much closer to his heart. Those whom the bishop liked remembered him and his wife, Miss Lucy, as friendly, affectionate hosts, who thought nothing of hosting fifty faculty members of Howe School for dinner in their large home. He enjoyed playing the parlor organ in his home, and the bishop and his wife often hosted various diocesan ECW groups, where the members recalled him playing. With certain priests he maintained close friendships, even Horace Varian, whom he defrocked for sexual impropriety, and kept in contact for years afterward.
Bishop Mallett took an interest in acquiring Central Normal College in Danville, Indiana, and in partnership with Bishop Richard Kirchhoffer of the Diocese of Indianapolis, hoped to turn the school into a liberal arts Episcopal college. In 1946, its president, Edgar Cummings, had approached both dioceses about its purchase. It had five buildings and assets of $300,000. Upon approval by both dioceses, the new school was called Canterbury College. In spite of high hopes of both bishops for its success, they both came to realize that the amount of money needed to sustain the school proved too great to be sustained with the available budget. Moreover, the liturgical styles of the two dioceses differed so greatly that Mallett and Kirchhoffer, who disliked each other personally, could seldom agree on strategy for the school. After years of struggling membership, the school closed permanently in 1951.
Mallett and his wife continued to extend hospitality to those priests and families in the bishop's good graces by sending invitations to the bishop's home for overnight retreats, as well for picnics at Lake Wawasee in the summers. The diocese was able to acquire additional land in 1951 when Bishop White's daughter, Mrs. George Doubleday, presented two cottages as a gift. For those whom the bishop liked, these lakeside events were warm and well-remembered for the hospitality provided. Some priests and congregations were frozen out of these events, however. In 1956, the Rev. Harold Kappes of Holy Trinity, South Bend, a popular priest with his parish, was abruptly removed from his post without explanation.
The Baby Boom years led to significant growth in the diocese, but it was uneven. New missions were formed, and some older congregations grew while others experienced little change. The Church of the Good Shepherd, East Chicago, a mission of long-standing, was admitted as a parish in 1956, followed in quick succession the following year by St. Michael and All Angels, South Bend, and St. Andrew's, Long Beach (now Michigan City); by St. Andrew's, Valparaiso, in 1960, and by St. Augustine and St. Barnabas in Gary, both in 1961. Mallett had opposed a new building for St. Augustine's, an African American congregation, telling its rector, Wallace Wells, that the plans drafted by Chicago architect Edward Dart were "too ambitious for a colored congregation." The congregation raised the funds anyway ($100,000), and did receive some diocesan financial support.
New diocesan missions were begun during this era with Mallett's encouragement, including St. Christopher's at Crown Point, St. Charles the Martyr at Butler, St. Peter's at Rensselaer, and Holy Family at Angola. Of these four, only that of Butler would close. Two parochial missions also were founded, including St. Alban's, a mission of Trinity Fort Wayne, and St. David's, a mission of St. John the Evangelist in Elkhart. Mallett also supported the Benedictine monks who had taken charge of Valparaiso, urging them as a matter of personal growth to establish their own self-sustaining priory at Three Rivers, Michigan. In 1961, the diocesan convention approved the creation of the Diocesan Expansion Fund with the goal of raising $200,000. The goal was to provide low-cost loans out of the fund for parishes planning to make renovations. Some felt this sum was far too low, and because of poor planning, there was no follow up to help shepherd the campaign to its conclusion. Nevertheless, the growth was real. In 1963, Northern Indiana had 22 parishes, 12 missions, and was paying a national quota of more than $24,000.
Bishop Mallett also took an interest in the church overseas. He and his wife made a number of foreign trips. In 1956, the Archbishop of Canterbury sent him with two other Anglican bishops on a secret mission to Spain, where they consecrated the Rev. Santos Molina as bishop of the Spanish Episcopal Church. The church there had been persecuted under the Franco regime, and it faced extreme hostility as a non-Catholic church. Mallett was deeply satisfied with the success of this trip and securing the Anglican Church's future in Spain.
Miss Lucy died in 1959, and by 1961, Mallett's own health began to fail. He was diagnosed with cancer, and according to Robert Center, "the constant pain and intensive treatment required effected a definite change in his normal personality." He called for the election of a Bishop Coadjutor on 12 December 1962, and March 1963, Walter Conrad Klein was elected. He retired the following October, moved back to North Carolina, and died there in 1965.
Rev. William Sheridan, then rector of St. Thomas Church in Plymouth and later bishop, commented: "[Bishop Mallett] suffered from as many weaknesses as you and I, being human. But side by side these weaknesses, there was great human warmth, kindness, and profound charity." For several years in the late 1960s the diocese ran a summer camp for youth named the Bishop Mallett Camp, but by the 1970s, perhaps due to his unpopularity, the name was changed to the Bishop White and Bishop Gray camps. Mallett's primary legacy remains the growth the diocese enjoyed under his leadership, even though the laity and clergy should take most credit for that accomplishment.
Order of Service for the Consecration of the Reverend Reginald Mallett ... 25 October 1944
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Walter Conrad Klein, Fourth Bishop
Walter Conrad Klein, fourth bishop of the Diocese of Northern Indiana, was born on 28 May 1904 in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from Lehigh University and General Theological Seminary, receiving Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral degrees in theology. He later received a PhD in Semitic languages from Columbia University in 1940. Ordained to the priesthood in 1928 by Bishop Sheldon M. Griswold, Klein served on the staff of St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church in Manhattan and as curate of Grace Episcopal Church, Newark. He had brief stints as vicar of St. Augustine's Parish in Norristown, Pennsylvania, and as rector of St. Barnabas Parish in Haddington, Pennsylvania, before entering World War II as a U.S. Navy chaplain. He married Helene Rosentreter in 1935 and had two children, a daughter, Katherine, and a son, John.
Klein discerned early in his career that he had little interest in parish ministry. After the war, he had the opportunity to go to Jerusalem, serving two years as canon residentiary of St. George's Anglican Cathedral. There he researched several future books on the psalms and on Eastern Orthodox liturgy. From 1950 to 1959, Klein was Professor of Old Testament Literature and Languages at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. Then in 1959, he became Dean of Nashotah House in Wisconsin, an office that brought him to the attention of the diocese. He had earned a reputation within the national church as a spiritual leader of parish retreats, was well-known for his books on spiritual development, and had visited Northern Indiana in 1955 to lead a Lenten Quiet Day for women.
The choice of Klein as fourth bishop was influenced in many ways by his Anglo-Catholic liturgical beliefs and the feeling that he would uphold the Catholic character of the diocese. Even so, many came to regard him as an unfortunate choice because he lacked the temperament to be a successful bishop. Introverted, serious, formal, occasionally cantankerous, aloof, and deeply intellectual, he had little ability to show personal warmth. Since he had never served as a rector, he possessed few if any pastoral skills. He disliked making parish visitations and avoided learning names of the laity he met. Clergy were never invited to his home and were also kept at a distance. One priest said of him as an aside to a colleague, "There by the grace of God goes a German U-Boat commander." He would sometimes arrive at parishes by taxi, fully vested and even in a cope. As Robert Center observed, Klein's sense of discipline "had the tendency to leave congregations feeling that the bishop's visitations were the fulfillment of duty rather than a chief pastor mingling delightedly with his flock."
With the Baby Boom generation fully underway, Klein took an interest in evangelism, capitalizing on the spirit that had motivated Bishop Mallett. The diocese commissioned the Summerfield Report in 1965, which made proposals for more effective work in the diocese. It recommended closing some missions and opening others. It also promoted the opening of the Wawasee Retreat Center, a proposal acted on swiftly with the opening of the center in 1966 under the ministry of the Rev. David Hyndman. It also recommended parish status for St. Anne's, Warsaw; Holy Trinity, South Bend; and St. Paul's, Gas City. Center criticized the report for having exaggerated expectations and for making proposals that had already been considered.
Klein was interested in finding intellectual solutions to complex problems, sometimes hastily. The Calumet area had always proved challenging to administer, so he decided to join with the Diocese of Chicago in a joint Pilot Program, headquartered at Christ Church, Gary, to develop a ministry program to serve people in the area that bordered the two dioceses. The plan included seeking ecumenical cooperation with leaders of other denominations, hoping to utilize interdiocesan resources for development and use existing buildings for missionary work. Missionary outreach to Spanish-speaking residents became a priority, and two priests, the Rev. Jose Irizarry of Puerto Rico and later the Rev. Aquilino Vinas of Cuba, reached out successfully to the Hispanic communities, but funding became a major factor that led to its suspension in 1969. As Center writes, "the Pilot Program was seen as but one among many programs in competition for time and money."
Wishing that the diocese had an endowment, Klein became interested in increasing stewardship across the diocese in 1965 and launched a program called Tithing Transforms. Despite his personal shortcomings at effective pastoral communication, the event proved successful. In 1967 the diocese approved a missions budget of $100,000, a 30% increase from the previous year. Even so, Klein himself often turned off individual donors with his cold demeanor and lack of skill at fundraising. Once, a gathering of wealthy business men was held in Fort Wayne with a bar for drinks. Men helped themselves without paying. When the bishop arrived, he upbraided the men for thinking that the diocese would underwrite the cost of the alcohol and demanded that they pay up. His words had been so caustic that they had the effect of leaving the men feeling humiliated with no incentive to give any money to a missionary cause. Some recalled that they had been prepared to write four-figure checks.
This lack of sensitivity on the part of the bishop carried over to the social issues of the 1960s. When Bishop John Pares Craine of Indianapolis was actively endorsing the civil rights movement and taking positions against the Vietnam War, Klein remained silent on these issues and did not perceive himself in any sense an agent for the social gospel. This silence was particularly felt in the largely African American parish of St. Augustine's, Gary, whose own membership had endured years of discrimination and had found little support from diocesan leadership.
Not all clergy agreed with the bishop's silence. At South Bend, Dean Robert Royster served on the board of the Urban League and was interested in improving race relations. At Trinity Fort Wayne, the Rev. George B. Wood endorsed the ministry of Martin Luther King, attended a King speech, and supported integrated housing. Because he served as chaplain of the 82nd Airborne Division Association, however, he remained strongly in favor of the Vietnam War and assured that there would be no peace protests. The pro-war stand was also echoed at St. John the Evangelist, Elkhart, where its rector, the Rev. Carl Richardson, was active in the National Guard. At Gethsemane, Marion, however, the rector, the Rev. Timothy Riggs, gave an anti-war sermon.
The future Bishop William Sheridan, then rector of St. Thomas, Plymouth, explained the diocese this way in a 1999 letter to the historian Jason Lantzer: "The diocese [in the 1960s] was a typical Midwestern one - conservative. Its reaction to civil rights and Vietnam was Midwestern." In truth, however, the diocese had a national reputation as a "citadel of Anglo-Catholicism" and was more conservative than many other dioceses, even in the Midwest. Klein distrusted Presiding Bishop John Hines and believed him too liberal, both politically and theologically for the time.
Klein and the diocese were forced to address the racial situation when the Special General Convention II was held at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend in 1969. It was the first such special convention held by the national church since 1822. This time, the Diocese of Northern Indiana and the Diocese of Indianapolis were co-hosts with the expectation that the convention would serve as a forum for discussions on ecumenical relations with several churches. Klein seemed well adapted for this role, having written about ecumenism and developing a warm relationship with the leadership of the Polish National Catholic Church. Moreover, the meeting of Pope Paul VI and Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, had given many Anglo-Catholics the hope of greater Episcopal-Catholic cooperation. For the convention, Klein assumed chairmanship of the Arrangements Committee, and Dean Robert Royster of the Cathedral had taken on a large, full-time planning role for the convention. A controversial proposal, opposed by Klein, held that the convention would seat a variety of extra unelected delegates, including women and minority groups, to better reflect the changing social mood of the time.
On August 31, a group led by the Rev. Paul Washington and Muhammad Kenyatta, an official with the Black Economic Development Council, took the floor and demanded time to present their case to the convention. Kenyatta argued that the Episcopal Church had profited from decades of racism, and according to the Black Manifesto passed several months earlier, the church owed the African American community reparations from its support of slavery. The delegates agreed to give the Union of Black Clergy and Laity $200,000 for black community development. The delegation from Northern Indiana and several other dioceses had opposed the move, demanding that any contributions be specified and designated. While the reaction to the move in Northern Indiana was strongly unfavorable, it failed to win the support of even more moderate dioceses, who agreed with conservatives and voted against the payment of what they considered ransom. Many parishioners enacted a so-called "pocketbook boycott" by withholding pledges to the national church, greatly affecting its budget church and leading eventually to Presiding Bishop Hines's resignation. In Fort Wayne, Rev. George Wood hired plain-clothes police to sit in the congregation since he feared someone would take over the microphone of the parish. A more positive result from the proceedings was that a wider group of the church's leadership recognized that it needed to listen more closely to the demands of constituents and have more diversified leadership.
Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of Klein's episcopate was a restructuring program from 1966 to 1968 that cleared away many unnecessary committees and made the diocese operate more effectively as an entity. Under the leadership of Paul Philips, a Fort Wayne attorney, the Diocese of Northern Indiana became a single corporate structure, and the Board of Trustees was eliminated. The bishop became president of the corporation with the Diocesan Council serving as the board of directors, while the former "Bishop and Council" was disbanded. The Council would play a legislative role in any interim period between bishops but would not play an executive role. Operations were limited to the bishop and his cabinet. The Standing Committee, consisting of three priests and two laymen, continued to as the diocese's judicial function. In addition, the new program created five executive divisions: Administration, Development, Operations, Treasurer, and Chancellor (in charge of legal affairs). For the first time women were allowed to serve as delegates on committees, and the canons were amended to reflect the change. The restructuring plan was approved at the diocesan convention in 1968.
Klein announced his intention to retire in 1971, and unlike previous elections, a special convention now considered an array of candidates that had been gathered by a sub-committee of the Standing Committee. The Rev. William C. R. Sheridan, rector of St. Thomas Church, Plymouth, was chosen on the ninth ballot, and the Kleins retired to a quiet, private life in an apartment provided to them in La Porte. He died of cancer on 1 March 1980, and Sheridan would hail him as "the master of the spiritual life in nearly all its aspects" and "a strong tower of orthodoxy."
If Klein's episcopate was disappointing for those who desired the diocese to be more responsive to change, he nonetheless administered the diocese competently on a shoestring budget with only a secretary as support staff and no Canon to the Ordinary. A godly bishop with a cold veneer, he had a compassionate side that he kept deeply private, but it could be seen in the effort he made to visit priests in the hospital and in the detailed correspondence he maintained with some priests, sometimes over long periods. He was profoundly disappointed that no capital drive had occurred, that he had no staff, and that some parishes remained divided despite his best efforts at reconciliation. Yet the number of clergy in the diocese went from 52 to 63 and total giving increased significantly. His dislike of evangelicals and his unwillingness to diversify the diocese liturgically were perhaps major weaknesses. He told the Rev. Cory Randall, then on a veto interview for the rectorship of Trinity Fort Wayne, "I don't want any evangelicals in my diocese." Randall had replied, "If I found them, I would encourage them." He approved of Randall, thinking him tough enough to take him on. A strict conservative Anglo-Catholic to the end, his great accomplishment, he later said, was preserving the liturgical orthodoxy of the diocese at a time when the national church was undergoing significant change.
Interview with Bishop Walter Conrad Klein by Rev. Robert Center, 4 January 1971, Audio File
Order of the Consecration of the Very Reverend Walter C. Klein ... 29 June 1963