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St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Howe (formerly Lima), and Howe Military School
The Episcopal Church in LaGrange County can trace its origin to 1834, when Bishop Philander Chase, formerly of Ohio and later Bishop of Illinois, visited Lima from his home in Gilead, Michigan. He held services for nine local Episcopalians and preached. Between that time and 1851, no attempt was made to establish a parish, though itinerant Episcopal priests, including the Rev. Henry W. Whitesides, would visit occasionally due to its proximity to the Michigan state line.
A church called St. Mark's was organized formally in the spring of 1851, forming a vestry and inviting the Rev. John O. Barton of Wisconsin to become the first rector. Barton, a Nashotah graduate, held services on the second floor above the Williams store in Lima. In July 1852, the congregation laid the foundation for a simple church edifice using a plan designed by W. R. West, architect of Cincinnati. John Badlam Howe and James Blake Howe, local residents and sons of an English-born Anglican priest in Boston, gave most of the funds for its construction. The new church, a small rectangular wood-framed chapel nicknamed "the little brown church," was located on the south side of Defiance Street. Its length stood parallel to the street and had a steeple with a bell on its east end. The yard surrounding the church was enclosed by a fence, and inside was a crystal chandelier providing light. It included a small organ which James B. Howe played.
After Barton resigned and moved to Lafayette, the Rev. Albert Bingham arrived in May 1853, and two months later the church was consecrated by Bishop Upfold on 28 July 1853, with Barton returning for the service. Bingham left in 1855, and the Rev. Henry C. Stowell arrived for a few months in the spring before returning to New York. Bingham then returned to Lima but died four years later after the church had experienced considerable growth.
Several rectors of short duration followed. The Rev. Wellington Forgus of New Jersey assumed the rectorship in 1868 but moved to St. John's, Bristol, in 1874. His daughter Sally is said to have improved the church's choir during this period. Bishop Talbot ordained two priests, the Rev. F. R. Cummings, a former Presbyterian, and the Rev. Abraham Gorrell, a former Methodist, in 1870. In 1876, the Irish-born Rev. Samuel C. M. Orpen arrived, beginning a period of active ministry. Under his leadership the parish established St. John's Mission in LaGrange, which became a separate parish two years later but eventually folded. One writer recalled that Orpen was "a splendid worker among the young people of the village and made the church with its religious and social activities the very center of the lives of those who were privileged to have a part in it." Orpen built a large Sunday school class, baptized 35 and sponsored 39 confirmations during his rectorate.
In 1883, John Badlam Howe died, leaving $18,000 for a new church in Lima dedicated as a memorial to his family. Orpen led the congregation in raising additional funds and broke ground for a new building in July 1884 on land formerly owned by the Presbyterian Church. The new building was larger and constructed of wood and brick in a cruciform shape. It was consecrated by Bishop David Buel Knickerbacker on 21 May 1885. The LaGrange Standard called it "a substantial brick building, artistic in design and graceful and harmonious in proportions."
Howe had also left money for a church school, leaving thirteen acres and $10,000 toward a school for boys to study for the ministry. The money was left in trust to the Bishop of Indiana until $50,000 could be raised. After Bishop Knickerbacker deliberated, a new school, the Howe Grammar School, opened in September 1884.
Under the Rev. Dr. Charles Nelson Spalding, Orpen's successor, the former brown church on Defiance Street was moved to the campus to serve as a chapel for the boys, while Bishop Knickerbacker acquired additional 30 acres two miles west of the school. Beginning in 1890, the grammar school became Howe Military School, offering drilling, officer training, and military instruction for the boys who attended. By 1894, a former graduate, Warren William Holliday, was made Commandant of Cadets.
On 28 November 1902, school leaders laid the cornerstone of St. James Chapel, designed by architect John Sutcliffe and given in memory of James Blake Howe, John B. Howe's half-brother. It was modeled after the chapel at Magdalene College, Oxford, with ornately carved pews that faced the main aisle. An unsubstantiated tradition holds that a student did much of the carving work in exchange for tuition at the school. The chapel was completed in four stages and included a crypt below for members of the Howe family and future bishops of the diocese. A transept was added in 1909, the Mother Chapel in 1914, and bells in 1915. Stained glass windows with the images of bishops look down at the scene. At the time, most of these figures had blank faces, which were to be painted in when new bishops were elected.
Under the leadership of the Rev. John Heyward McKenzie, who became rector of St. Mark's in 1895, the school grew substantially with an influx of students and the construction of more classroom buildings. McKenzie attempted to hold worship services both at the chapel and at the parish in Lima, but by 1908, the task of maintaining both churches proved impossible. The older church was decommissioned, and all services at St. Mark's were moved to the St. James Chapel on the Howe campus. Indeed, the town of Lima would change its name to Howe in 1910 at the insistence of a railroad line because of confusion with Lima, Ohio. McKenzie died in office in 1920 and was praised as a far-sighted leader.
Howe School continued to grow under McKenzie's successors. The Rev. Charles Herbert Young headed the school from 1920 to 1933. The Rev. Robert J. Murphy arrived in 1934 and held many leadership positions in the diocese. During his tenure in 1955, the chapel was resurfaced with Indiana limestone to bring it into harmony with other campus buildings. In 1960, All Saints Chapel, a separate facility, was constructed on the Howe campus for use by its cadets. Murphy retired in 1968, and several priests followed, including Theodore Sirotko, Richard Curtis, George Minnix, and Philip Morgan.
Howe Military School flourished for more than a century. The bishop of the Diocese of Northern Indiana served on its board of directors, and the two entities enjoyed a close relationship. However, by the twenty-first century, declining enrollments forced the school to curtail many of its operations. The relationship between the school and the diocese became strained and ended in 2016. Three years later in 2019, the school officially closed its doors. St. Mark's continued to hold services at St. James Chapel on the Howe School campus until 2016. Afterward, the parish moved to a building the parish owned at 709 Third Street in Howe. Built in the 1940s, it had been used formerly as its parish hall. It was remodeled to include both worship and hall space. In its sanctuary, the parish uses the original altar of St. Mark's that had formerly been stored in the crypt of St. James.
Anne Wade Haglind, A History of St. Mark's Parish, Howe, Indiana (undated typescript).
Raymond R. Kelly, Here's Howe: The First 100 years. (Indianapolis: Raymond R. Kelly, 1984).
Karen Yoder, Historic Howe: The Philomaths of Howe, Indiana (Kearney, Nebraska: Morris Publishing, 2014).
St. Mark's, Howe, Marriages, 1896-1912, typescript
Parish Register vol. 1, 1852-1885
Parish Register vol. 2, 1885-1894 (missing)
Parish Register vol. 3, 1895-1913
Parish Register vol. 4, Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages, Burials, 1895-1912 (duplicate register in later handwriting)
Parish Register vol. 5, 1913-1956
Parish Register vol. 6, 1956-1976
Parish Register vol. 7, 1976-1986
Parish Register vol. 8, 1986-2021
Alternate digital link to all the above records
John Oliver Barton, 1851-1853
Albert Bingham, 1853-1854
Henry Cook Stowell, 1855
Albert Bingham, 1856-1858
William Henry Stoy, 1858-1859
Henry M. Thompson, 1859-1867
Wellington Forgus, 1868-1874
Samuel Campbell Montgomery Orpen, 1876-1885
Charles Nelson Spalding, 1885-1895
John Heyward McKenzie, 1895-1920
Charles Herbert Young, 1920-1933
Kenneth Owen Crosby, 1933-1934
Robert James Murphy, 1934-1968
Theodore Francis Sirotko, 1968-1970
Richard Arthur Curtis, 1971-1974
George Myers Minnix, 1974-1986
Philip Morgan, 1986-2000
David Yaw, 2000-2010
Michael Thomas Fulk, 2010-2015
Rachel N. Evans, 2016
Beverly Collinsworth, 2017-2018
Paul Wheatley, 2019-2021
David Evans, 2022-
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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. Seminarians at Nashotah House were fond of saying of him, "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."
It was Klein's practice to celebrate the first Mass of Easter on the evening of Holy Saturday, and he required all the clergy to attend. He followed the Mass with a large dinner with the result that all the clergy returned home in the early hours of the morning and were often exhausted on Easter morning.
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, a former Urban League president, 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