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Church of the Good Shepherd, East Chicago, Indiana
The first Episcopal services in East Chicago were held on 18 November 1888 by the Irish-born Rev. Robert C. Wall, who preached and opened a Sunday school. The mission of Good Shepherd was formed in 1892 out of that congregation which had been St. Mary's, New Carlisle. East Chicago was then a tangle of competing and divergent ethnic groups, including Hungarians, Romanians, Slovaks, Poles, Canadians, Welsh, African Americans, and Hispanics. Bishop White noted in his annual address of 1903 that he had placed the Rev. Vincent C. Lacey at Indiana Harbor, and through his efforts, "a number of devout church families were found at East Chicago, lying between Indiana Harbor and Hammond, and a most interesting work begun there." In 1907, the bishop formally organized Good Shepherd as a diocesan mission after receiving a petition from a number of residents. The vicar at the time, the Rev. Charles Albert Smith, also had charge of St. Paul's in Hammond and St. Alban's, Indiana Harbor.
The congregation was comprised mostly of Welsh and Canadians who had arrived in East Chicago to work in the steel mills. Meeting initially in a local Odd Fellows hall, the diocese, through the efforts of the Rev. Thomas Hines, arranged for the former St. Mary's edifice at New Carlisle, a small frame structure, to be moved to East Chicago in 1914. The building was partly disassembled and moved by rail car, together with suitcases full of Books of Common Prayer, to a location at 4525 Baring Avenue for $3,600. Money for the move had come from the sale of the New Carlisle property. In January 1915, Bishop White reported attending the first service in the rebuilt church, but he later said in September that it was still being framed. He was likely referring to the resurfacing of the wood frame church in brick, giving it a much different appearance. Bishop White does not appear to have consecrated the new building, having deemed the previous consecration in 1893 by Bishop Knickerbacker sufficient. In 1920, under Hines's leadership, Good Shepherd became a parish but was still not fully self-supporting. Hines died at his post in 1925, and the church later reverted to mission status.
After World War II in 1945, after many years of financial hardship, Bishop Mallett attempted to persuade the congregations of Good Shepherd and St. Alban the Martyr at Indiana Harbor to merge. One suggestion was that the Indiana Harbor building be retained and shared with East Chicago, while another was to sell both churches and build a new one at a different site. Mallett asked Dom Leo Patterson, a Benedictine monk based in Valparaiso, to take charge of St. Alban's, but it did not survive after World War II. St. Luke's Whiting, another area church that never had its own building, folded into Good Shepherd
After many years of mission status, Good Shepherd was admitted again as a parish under Bishop Mallett in 1956, the first formal new parish added to the diocese since 1908. A 1958 article described the parish's industrial location with its ever-present soot and smoke. Nine railroads carried off steel to other parts of the country, and one out of four people were foreign-born. Membership in the church at that time numbered 233.
For many years Good Shepherd was served by the Rev. Canon C. Richard Phelps, who labored to reach out to the poor of the surrounding community. He celebrated daily Mass, which became the "backbone" of the parish, as well as the full rite of Holy Week. Seven stained glass windows gave witness to the seven sacraments.
In the 1980s East Chicago had the highest population density of any town in the state. Life was regulated by shifts in the steel mills. However, by the 1990s, Good Shepherd was located in the most economically-challenged part of the diocese, where it remained a beacon. In 2014, Phelps reported drawing 100 visitors on Sunday, most of them poor in the area who stayed for lunch. The rectory attached to the church was renamed the "mission house," where lunches were served and other care given. Good Shepherd received donations from other churches, including food and clothing. The recipients helped with the meal preparation. When Father Phelps retired, the parish closed its doors in 2018. The records, as well as those of St. Luke's Whiting, are now in the diocesan archives and have been digitized.
Open Doors Save a Parish
Robert Carter Wall, 1888
Henry Borradaile Collier, 1892
George Moore, 1896-1897
Vincent Corbett Lacey, 1903
Charles Albert Smith, 1901-1909
Thomas Hines, 1914-1925
Frederick Murray Clayton, 1925-1927
William Edward Hoffenbacher, 1927
Alexander Eberhardt Pflaum, 1929-1936
William Edward Hoffenbacher, 1936-1945
Gail Colyer Brittain, 1946-1952
Horace Lytton Varian, 1952-1954
Willis Jay Handsbury, 1954-1960
Charles Sutton, 1960-1961
William E. Smith, 1961-1962
Donald L. Bell, 1963-1967
Michael Grant, 1967-1975
Cecil Richard Phelps, 1980-2017
Parish Register, 1892-1940
Parish Register, 1941-1971
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Edward Stuart Little II, Seventh Bishop
Edward Stuart Little, the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Northern Indiana, held office at a time of intense changes in the national church. An outstanding preacher, he brought an evangelical zeal for the Gospel that ushered in a new leadership style for the diocese. As Linda Buskirk has written, Bishop Little personified "the lighthouse on the diocesan seal" and "delivered powerful messages that illuminate priorities for Christ centered living and ministry."
Little was born in New York City on 29 January 1947, the son of a nominally Episcopalian father and Jewish mother. He grew up agnostic and attended school in Manhattan and Norwalk, Connecticut. He received his Bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California in 1968. He credits a college class on the Bible as literature as bringing about his conversion to Christianity and his joining the Episcopal Church. The same year of his graduation he married Sylvia Gardner at Palm Desert, California. They had two children: Gregory and Sharon.
After deciding to enter the Episcopal priesthood, Little received a Master of Divinity degree from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in 1971 and was ordained a deacon and priest that same year in the Diocese of Chicago. He served as a curate in two parishes: St. Matthew's Evanston and St. Michael's, Anaheim, California, before becoming vicar of St. Joseph's Episcopal Church in Buena Park, California. When that church achieved parish status, he became its first rector. Little became rector of All Saints Church in Bakersfield, California, in 1986, and from here he was elected bishop on the first ballot on 5 November 1999.
Little was consecrated bishop at a ceremony in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame on 30 April 2000, with Bishops Gray and Sheridan, his two predecessors, among the consecrators. His sixteen-year episcopate that followed might best be understood as defined by three distinct eras: The Mission and Evangelism era lasting from 2000 to 2003; the Reconciliation Era from 2003 to 2007, and the Congregational Development Era from 2007 to 2016.
The initial focus of Little's tenure was mission and evangelism. At the time of his seating as bishop, he articulated four core values for the diocese that he hoped would guide it during his episcopate:
1. A passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ
2. A heart for the lost.
3. A willingness to do whatever it takes.
4. A commitment to one another.
Taking a strongly evangelical and Jesus-centered view of ministry, one of his early actions was to hold a Rally for Mission and Evangelism at Goshen College in 2001 with Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana as the keynote speaker. About 700 attended, and Little intended it as an inspirational kick-off for getting church-goers to invite others to church and help the diocese grow. Bishop Sheridan, the diocese's last tradition Anglo-Catholic bishop, also took part, even though the approaches of the two men to ministry differed significantly.
The second era, Reconciliation, began in 2003, when Gene Robinson, an openly gay priest living in a same-sex relationship, was elected and consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire with the General Convention's consent. The election had occurred against the backdrop at the national level of a church rent by internal divisions over issues of sexuality and same-sex marriage. Robinson's election caused a firestorm within some congregations of the diocese and at the national level, it prompted many conservative Anglicans to leave the Episcopal Church and form the Anglican Church in North America. The election of Katharine Jefferts-Schori as Presiding Bishop in 2006 prompted three dioceses, Quincy, Fort Worth, and San Joaquin, to leave the Episcopal Church. While Little opposed same-sex marriage and forbid them from occurring in the diocese, he remained within the Episcopal fold. As a compromise, he would eventually allow same-sex couples to marry outside the diocese and permit priests in the diocese to perform those rites. He reached out to liberals, even befriending Bishop Robinson, and agreed to provide pastoral care to some congregations who had opposed Robinson's election. Within the diocese, a number of parishes experienced losses as members left the church, but other parishes strongly affirmed gay rights and differed with the bishop's stand on same-sex marriages.
The third era of Little's episcopate, the Congregational Development era, began in 2007. Attendance trends in parishes throughout the diocese followed those of the national church as membership in many parishes decreased and in some, dwindled. Little sought to infuse them with new life through dynamic preaching and encouraging people to tell their own faith stories. He had inherited his first Canon to the Ordinary, David Seger, from his predecessor and acknowledged to Seger his appreciation for the continuity and knowledge he brought with his ministry. After Seger's retirement in 2007, Little called the Rev. SuzeAnne Silla as the new canon, blessing her extensive experience in congregational development with the Diocesan Congregational Development Institute (DCDI). The purpose of DCDI was to give clergy and laity across the diocese more confidence and skill in problem solving, visioning for the future, and conflict management. About 20 congregations took part, and it had the side-benefit of bringing leaders from different parishes together and fostering inter-parish relationships.
In 2013, Little articulated five imperatives for the diocese in using DCDI: Focus on Jesus; Think Biblically; Proclaim Good News; Feed people who are hungry; and Mentor young people. As the vision played out, some parishes began offering bilingual services while others sought new ways of meeting the needs of their communities.
One of the challenges faced by Little's episcopate was the dwindling membership of certain parishes and their inability to support a priest. Many priests were necessarily bi-vocational to support themselves, but the problem of clergy shortage became particularly acute in the Calumet area of the diocese, where some parishes were floundering and in danger of closing. A major success story was the Calumet Episcopal Ministry Partnership (CEMP), which first formed in 2010. Three congregations, St. Barnabas-in-the-Dunes, St. Paul's Munster, and St. Timothy's Griffith, came together in dialogue, and what emerged was a vision of one church in three locations, all sharing the same full-time priest. The program proved successful, and not only was a full-time priest, the Rev. Michael Dwyer, ordained in 2012 for the post, but three other part-time priests also signed on. In June 2015, St. Christopher's Crown Point joined the partnership, followed by two others, St. Stephen's Hobart and St. Augustine Gary, under Little's successor, Bishop Douglas Sparks.
Bishop Little announced his retirement effective 30 June 2016 and served as a consecrator of his successor. He and his wife Sylvia continued to live in Indiana and take up residence in Mishawaka. As his greatest overall goal, Little has said: "When I became bishop, I committed myself to helping the diocese become increasingly Christocentric; to helping every man, woman, and child in the diocese to speak openly of their relationship with Jesus; and to helping parishes to see the world beyond their doors as their mission field." The core values were the guiding principles of his tenure.
Source: Email message of Bishop Edward Little, August 2019.
Holy Eucharist and Ordination of Edward Stuart Little II ...18 March 2000
Pastoral Letter on Same Sex Marriage, 2012