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St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Valparaiso
The Episcopal Church in Porter County has its roots in several small earlier congregations established in Valparaiso. On the Feast of the Epiphany 1861, an Episcopal missionary, the Rev. Edward P. Wright, rector of Trinity Michigan City, conducted the town's first Episcopal service in a rented hall. He maintained fortnightly services, and Bishop George Upfold organized this informal group into a congregation on 2 June 1861 as the Church of the Holy Communion. About 40 persons, including six communicants, gathered at these early services. Upfold expressed his hope that a church would take root here and at Warsaw, since both towns were on the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, and Chicago Railroad line.
As the Civil War progressed, the congregation struggled to survive. In 1862, the departure of Wright from his post in Michigan City and the removal of a few key members of the congregation diminished its initial progress. Several deaths and other changes ended the fledgling congregation, and it was formally terminated by the Diocesan Council. Two prominent members, John C. Feebles, an attorney, and John C. Thompson, a merchant, along with their wives, had supported the congregation.
In 1863, a schism occurred among a group of German Lutherans in Valparaiso. Led by their pastor, the Rev. William Jahn, the congregation of more than 400 members left the Lutheran Church and formed German St. John's Episcopal Church, affiliating with the Episcopal Diocese of Indiana. Jahn, a native of Holstein, Germany, held worship services in German for 450 new members (including 230 communicants) in space rented from Valparaiso University. Bishop Upfold ordained him to both the diaconate and priesthood in two separate services in February 1864. The event was so novel that the editors of a national church publication, The Church Monthly, took note. Writing in April 1864, they observed: "Seeking our Communion as a refuge from rationalism and from an earnest conviction of its conformity with Scripture and primitive usage, we trust these new converts to Episcopacy from the land of Luther may be the earnest of a far greater ingathering." They added that the move "cannot fail of awakening a wide interest both in our own Church and in the Lutheran body."
After a momentous and unusual beginning, Jahn went west in September 1864 in order to visit potential donors and obtain funds for a church building. On the way he was shot in a guerilla raid while riding on the Northern Missouri Railroad. Bishop Upfold observed in his Council address in 1865 that the death "has filled my heart with grief and sadness, and with serious apprehension for the success of the enterprise so auspiciously begun..."
Efforts for a church continued in the wake of this tragedy, but Jahn's death had dealt it a severe blow. A new German-speaking missionary, the Rev. Ignatius Koch, assumed leadership of German St. John's and reported to the diocesan convention that he had worked with both Lutherans and Episcopalians and had raised $540 for a church. He asked the diocese for $8,000 more to complete a church building. He noted in his report, "I visited all the Germans of Valparaiso and some in the country, introducing myself as their pastor to whose jurisdiction they belong through their Baptism, and invited them kindly to come forward for the union."
The money was not forthcoming, however, and the church failed to grow. Koch left for Pennsylvania, where he died in 1872. Bishop Coadjutor Joseph Talbot visited Valparaiso during the winter of 1866-67 and deemed it inadvisable to reorganize the congregation. By 1867, German St. John's had lost its affiliation with the diocese.
According to parishioner Claribel Dodd Smith, whose family moved from New England to Porter County, Episcopal services were held in private homes in Valparaiso in the 1890s. Whether members from the earlier congregations attended is not clear. Those services conducted in the home of James Wilson included use of a piano box for an altar and a gilded wooden cross. The missionary priest-in-charge at that time, the Irish-born Rev. George Moore of Momence, Illinois, would pick up worshipers in his sleigh for services in winter for services at the home of Mrs. J. Seymour Wilcox. Services were also held in larger venues in the 1890s, including Moltz’s jewelry store across from the Courthouse and at a later period above a hardware store, but the congregation remained officially unorganized.
By 1900, this group of Episcopalians had grown, and the Annual Council of the new Diocese of Michigan City granted the congregation mission status under the name of St. Andrew’s, apparently after St. Andrew's Church in Chicago where two of its prominent members, Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Parker, had been members. A church had the status of mission church if it depended on the diocese for some part of its funding.
According to a 1912 history of Porter County, Bishop John Hazen White was determined to plant a more permanent church in Valparaiso and enlisted the help of several lay leaders, including Charles H. Parker, J. Seymour Wilcox, A. W. Barnhart, M. A. Snider, J. C. Rock, and others in reorganizing the mission in a rented hall. The Rev. Legh W. Applegate became its first resident priest.
In 1902, under Applegate's leadership, the congregation built a wood frame church at 100 Erie Street in downtown Valparaiso for about $25,000. It was 32 by 64 feet in size with a twelve foot square tower, dedicated on 6 July 1902. A major renovation in 1916 led to the removal of the tower's third story and changing the entrance from Franklin to Erie Street. A stained glass window was placed where the old entrance had been.
Applegate moved on to establish Christ Church in Gary. A succession of rectors of short tenure followed, none of them staying long enough to strengthen the congregation. Walter B. Williamson, who served from 1912 to 1916, added a stucco exterior finish and remodeled the rectory at a cost of $5,000. He also reached out to found a new mission at Hobart. During the Great Depression, the task of finding permanent leadership for the mission proved challenging for White's successor, Bishop Campbell Gray. In 1939, a group of monks led by Dom Paul Severance from the Order of St. Benedict arrived from training in England and at Gray's urging, settled in a house in Valparaiso. Gray assigned them to serve St. Andrew’s as well as other parishes, and their work endeared them to the diocese. They left in 1946 when they built their own monastery in Three Rivers, Michigan. The diocese was enriched by having been the first home of the American Anglican Benedictines.
In 1946, the Rev. Samuel H. N. Elliott, a former Army chaplain, arrived in Valparaiso and began an extensive renovation of the 1902 church. He located eight small stained glass windows being discarded by another church and purchased them for $100 each. Although members of the parish expressed initial dismay at the cost, they managed to raise the money for the installation. Several families contributed funds, as did the local Greek community and a group of local veterans. By 1948, the work had been completed and the windows installed. Elliott and a small group of parishioners did much of the restoration work themselves. The windows were later moved again and installed in the third church building in 2005. In 1950 under Elliott's leadership, the church marked its 50th anniversary, and a large celebration was held on St. Andrew’s Day (November 30).
The Rev. Forrest B. Clark, a beloved rector of long tenure, arrived in 1954. A native of Crawford, Texas, he had trained for the priesthood at Seabury-Western and Nashotah House. Within two years of his arrival the membership grew 30 percent. Under his leadership the church was able to advance from mission to parish status in 1960 and become self-supporting. Clark retired in 1969, but despite ill health, he agreed to serve again as a non-stipendiary priest from 1973 to 1977, seeing the congregation through a difficult time. His widow, Canon Kitty Clark, remained involved with St. Andrew’s many years afterward. In 1980, Bishop Sheridan dedicated the Forrest B. Clark Memorial Center at 104 Erie Street, which provided space for the church school and offices.
The Rev. Ross Mack succeeded Clark and served from 1977 to 1984. Mack began a long process of repairing old St. Andrew’s and oversaw the building of the attached Parish Center. He remained a member of the congregation after retirement and continued to serve as a supply priest.
Fr. Patrick Ormos (1991-2007) led the parish during a period of growth. During his tenure the congregation outgrew the church on Erie Street and moved to a new location on Bullseye Lake Road in 2005. That same year the parish purchased an 1889 Hook & Hastings organ, completely refurbished, that had formerly been installed in a Baptist church in Massachusetts. Since 2010, the church has been served by the Rev. Roger Bower.
Adapted from St. Andrew's website: https://standrewsvalpo.org/who-we-are/history/
Edward Purdon Wright, 1861-1862
William Jahn, 1864
Ignatius Koch, 1865-1866
George Moore, 1898-1899
Legh Wilson Applegate, 1902-1907
Marshall Mallory Day, 1908-1910
Robert Carpenter Ten Broeck, 1910-1911
Walter Blake Williamson, 1912-1915
Clinton Bradshaw Cromwell, 1916-1920
George Taylor Griffith, 1920-1925
Arthur G. Worger-Slade, 1925-1927
Alexander Eberhardt Pflaum, 1928-1933
Harry Kroll Hemkey, 1933-1935
Dom Paul Severance, 1939-1945
Harold McLemore, 1945-1946
Samuel Hanna Norman Elliott, 1946-1951
Forrest B. Clark, 1954-1969, 1974-1975
John Graham Colin Mainer, 1968-1973
Ross Mack, 1977-1984
Robert G. Bramlett, 1985-1990
Patrick Ormos, 1991-2007
Roger Bower, 2010-
Adapted from St. Andrew's website https://standrewsvalpo.org/who-we-are/history/
St. Gregory's Abbey, Three Rivers, Michigan
St. Gregory's Abbey in Three Rivers, Michigan, is not located in the Diocese of Northern Indiana, but the histories of the two are closely intertwined. In 1939, during the episcopate of Bishop Campbell Gray, two Benedictine monks, Dom Paul Severance and Dom Francis Hilary Bacon, took up residence at the bishop's invitation in Valparaiso, Indiana. They were given charge of three diocesan missions: St. Andrew's, Valparaiso; St. Stephen's, Hobart; and St. Augustine's, Gary. The bishop believed their coming had been God's response to fourteen years of earnest prayer, since these missions had been difficult to administer due to the severe shortage of priests in the Depression years.
In 1935, Rolland F. Severance, an American Episcopalian and Professor of Apologetics at Nashotah House Seminary, joined the Rev. Trevor Bacon of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and a group of others who went to Nashdom Abbey at Burham, Buckinghamshire, England, for training by Anglican monks in the Benedictine life. Once their training was completed, Severance, taking the name of Dom Paul Severance, became a life-professed monk and returned to the United States in search of a permanent place for establishing an Anglican-affiliated Benedictine house. Bacon took the name of Dom Francis Bacon. Together they had investigated Rye Beach, New Hampshire, as a possible location but without success. Canon Vivan Peterson, rector of St. James Episcopal Church, Cleveland, introduced Severance to Bishop Campbell Gray, and Gray was happy to provide the monks with housing in exchange for their taking charge of three missions in the Calumet area. The Anglo-Catholic liturgical life of the diocese made it a perfect fit for a Benedictine house.
Arriving in Valparaiso during Easter week, 1939, Severance and Bacon rented a house and converted the dining room into a small chapel. They called it St. Gregory's House, and in time, Bishop Gray was invited to be its Episcopal Visitor. Two other monks, Fr. Leo Patterson and Fr. Meinrad Black, made their solemn profession there on 29 June 1941, but the subsequent outbreak of World War II forced a cutback in the number of men. By 1942, only two monks, Severance and Bacon remained. The three missions were greatly enriched by their service. Black took over services at St. Andrew's, Valparaiso, while Bacon served St. Stephen's, Hobart, and St. Augustine's, Gary. The monks published a newsletter titled Benedicite, which drained their treasury.
Bacon and Severance had a strong interest in the arts. Bacon became a noted ecclesiastical artist and designed mosaics that were installed in various churches. He also created religious carvings. Severance was a musician and had taught music prior to taking religious orders.
In 1946, the Abbot of Nashdom House determined that the monks needed to leave parish ministry. "It proved ... too soon to be involved in this kind of work," writes Simon Bailey. "The community had not developed any stability or a life of its own and needed first to concentrate on that. In time the bishop [Reginald Mallett] saw this and effectively pushed the monks out to get on with developing the Religious life itself."
Severance and Bacon moved to a rural area near Three Rivers, Michigan, where they purchased 126 acres and an old farmhouse, converting it into St. Gregory's Priory, a space barely large enough for the monks to perform their duties. Bishop Mallett gave them his blessing and remained their Episcopal Visitor. He was there to bless the cornerstone of the first building they erected, a chapel, on 20 October 1950. His successor, Bishop Walter Klein, would bless the cornerstone of a second building in 1967. Severance suffered a brain hemorrhage in 1947 and died in 1949, dealing a severe blow to its early development. During the priory's first thirty years, it remained under the close pastoral care of Nashdom Abbey. Dom Gregory Dix arrived from there in February 1947 to take charge of the priory, raise additional funds for the construction of new buildings, and see to it that Severance received proper nursing care.
In 1969, the priory had grown sufficiently in size and independence to become officially known St. Gregory's Abbey. Accordingly, its prior, Dom Benedict Reid, was installed as its first abbot. Bishop Klein, as Episcopal Visitor, presided at the ceremony and celebrated the Eucharist. Many visitors attended the installation, including Bishop Richard Emrich of Michigan. Reid, who had a colorful career as an author, speaker, and pastoral mentor, resigned in 1989 and was succeeded by Abbot Andrew Marr, the present abbot.
Over the years many bishops, congregations, and other church members from Northern Indiana have made retreats at St. Gregory's, and in turn, Abbot Reid and Abbot Marr have visited the diocese to preach and conduct workshops.
Simon Bailey, A Tactful God: Gregory Dix, Priest, Monk, Scholar (England: Gracewing, 1995).
Andrew Marr and Abraham Newsom, Singing God's Praises: The First Sixty Years (Three Rivers, Michigan: St. Gregory's Abbey, 1998).
Dom Frank Rolland Paul Severance
Dom Paul Severance, born Frank Rolland Severance, was born in Willsboro, New York, on 7 December 1892, the son of Bert D. and Nellie Severance. He became a professor of Apologetics at Nashotah House Seminary, and in 1935 journeyed to Nashdom Abbey in England in 1935 to become a monk in the Anglican tradition. He became a novice in 1936, adopting the name of Paul, and made his junior profession in 1937. He returned to the United States in 1938 in search of a permanent home for an American monastery. Bishop Campbell Gray invited him to form St. Gregory's House in Valparaiso, Indiana, in 1939 and gave him charge of several churches that were in need of clergy, including St. Andrew's in Valparaiso, St. Stephen's in Hobart, and St. Augustine's in Gary. Three other monks shared the duties, including Dom Leo Patterson, Dom Meinrad Black, and Dom Francis Bacon, though Patterson and Black would leave in 1941 after a shortage of funds. Severance and Bacon made their formal professions under the Rule of St. Benedict in 1941 before Dom Anselm Hughes, O.S.B., prior of Nashdom Abbey. In 1945, Severance and Bacon went to St. Joseph County, Michigan, at the invitation of the Rev. Richard Cooper of Trinity Church in Three Rivers. There they found property suitable for building what would become St. Gregory's Abbey. In 1947, Severance suffered a massive stroke and died two years later at Nashdom Abbey in England on 1 November 1949, where he was buried.