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Church of the Holy Trinity, South Bend
In 1911, after Bishop John Hazen White had left Michigan City and moved to South Bend, he began to take an interest in the inclusion of immigrant groups within the Episcopal Church who were not traditionally part of the Anglican Communion. A group of Hungarian immigrants approached him about being included in the diocese, and after consulting with the Standing Committee, the bishop consented to their request. A former Catholic priest, the Rev. Victor von Kubinyi, a Hungarian count and godson of the Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, applied for ordination as an Episcopalian. White delayed action for nine months to test Kubinyi's resolve before admitting him to the priesthood. Afterward, in 1913, 84 Hungarian families signed a petition to organize an Episcopal mission, which was immediately organized as the Trinity Hungarian Mission. Church minutes would be kept in Hungarian through 1948. The parish opened with 350 members, and White confirmed a class of 28 in the first year. Kubinyi requested permission to translate the 1892 prayerbook into Hungarian, and the Rev. John MacKenzie of Howe Military School and William Leonard, Bishop of Ohio, offered financial help. Kubinyi helped organize a variety of parish groups and assisted parishioners in becoming citizens.
The congregation met initially in a National Guard Armory building until Kubinyi raised the funds to erect a prefabricated church structure made by the Mershon and Morley Company of Saginaw, Michigan. The building, located at West Colfax Avenue and Elm Street, was dedicated by Bishop White on Christmas Eve, 1914. The congregation remained poor, however, and Bishop White supplied it with candlesticks, vestments, and a chalice. Many of the congregation were without jobs and had no money to support either the church or themselves. During the severe winter of 1914-15, Mary May White of St. James, South Bend, helped raise money for food, while a wealthy philanthropist in Indianapolis donated money for Christmas gifts for the children. The church building later caught fire.
Against the backdrop of this hardscrabble beginning, fissures developed by 1918 between White and Kubinyi, and the priest resigned. Kubinyi then denounced the ministry of the Episcopal Church in a public document, leaving some members understandably demoralized. White wrote to the Rev. Edwin E. Smith, asking that he take charge of the mission. A bachelor and late vocational priest, Smith maintained the services of the church ably into the 1920s. He organized large dinner-dances with Hungarian food as local fundraisers. He could not speak Hungarian, so the services were led in English with the hymns in Hungarian.
In 1938, Bishop Campbell Gray appointed the Rev. Harold G. Kappes as the new vicar. Although not a Hungarian, Kappes worked hard to learn the language, and he inaugurated a Grape Harvest Festival, which included dances in traditional dress. The church building had fallen into disrepair by this date and was condemned by the city. A new building campaign was launched in 1940, but post-war inflation left only enough to build a church edifice without a rectory or parish hall. Ground was broken for the new building at the corner of Prast Boulevard and North Olive Street on 11 July 1948, and in October, the cornerstone was laid by Bishop Mallett after the congregation had marched ceremonially from the old church. The building has an A-frame design, inspired by the abbey church at Three Rivers, Michigan, where Kappes had studied for his vocation. The new building was dedicated at Easter, 1950.
In 1955, for unknown reasons, Bishop Mallett removed Kappes abruptly as vicar. He was replaced by the Rev. James Halfhil, who served until 1961 when he was forced to resign for reasons of health. His successor, the Rev. James Moore, served until 1968 when he left after domestic issues. The Rev. William Hibbert arrived and had a successful ministry, during which he worked with youth and chartered a Boy Scouts troop, earning him recognition for his efforts from the Presiding Bishop. In 1970, the mission was admitted formally as a parish and the following year was renamed the Church of the Holy Trinity. Hibbert served until 1984 before leaving for Indianapolis. The Rev. Bradley McCormick served as interim rector until the election of the Rev. Jack Bliven in 1985. Lay ministry expanded and new windows were installed before Bliven was forced to resign on account of poor health in 1989. He died a year later.
The Rev. Paul Bradshaw served as interim until the Rev. Tina Velthuizen was called as rector in 1991. She was the first female priest to serve in the diocese and arrived as a result of the parishioners petitioning Bishop Gray specifically for a woman priest. Gray had initially said he would only approve a woman priest if she were raised up in the diocese, but he decided to change that policy and approved Velthuizen, who came from the Diocese of Western Michigan. A few parishioners left the parish on her arrival, but many returned and accepted her ministry after getting to know her. She would prove a popular priest. During her rectorate, the parish created a community garden. After suffering from a long illness, she announced her retirement in 2014.
The parish was last led by the Rev. Terri Bays, who also served the diocese as Missioner for Transitions and Governance. In September 2022, the parish voted to close.
Victor Alexander von Kubinyi, 1913-1918
Edwin Ellsworth Smith, 1919-1939
Harold George Kappes, 1939-1956
James Halphill, 1956-1960
Reginald Mallett II, 1961-1963
James G. Greer, 1963-1968
William Chattin Hibbert, 1968-1984
J. Bradley McCormick, 1984
Jack C. Bliven, 1984-1989
Paul Bradshaw, 1990
Teunis "Tina" Velthuizen, 1991-2014
Terri Bays, 2014-2022
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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 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" to promote racial reconciliation. Part of that process involved studying and apologizing for sins committed against minority groups throughout its 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.
Episcopal News Service:
Consecration of Bishop Douglas Sparks, 25 June 2016, Trinity English Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne