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Gethsemane Episcopal Church, Marion
The first service of the Episcopal Church in Marion occurred when the Rev. Joseph S. Large of Trinity Episcopal Church, Fort Wayne, visited the town in 1850 and preached in the Presbyterian Church, reporting "a large congregation, responses good and chants well sung." In 1874, the Rev. Thomas R. Austin of St. James Church, Vincennes, preached in the evening at the courthouse and reported seven families. In 1881, the Rev. John Jacob Faude of Plymouth and the Rev. William Wirt Raymond of Goshen both conducted services during the year at the urging of Bishop Talbot.
Little happened for another three years until a group of Episcopalians began holding regular services under Raymond's leadership at the home of John Nelson Turner. On 9 April 1884, the congregants organized Gethsemane as a mission, and the following day Raymond celebrated the Eucharist in Turner's private library. The first baptism occurred in June of that year at the Grant County Courthouse. According to Rolland Whitson's Centennial History of Grant County, Bishop David Knickerbacker chose the name Gethsemane after his former parish in Minnesota. He arrived in Marion on 23 May 1884, and after conducting services in the Christian Church, organized the vestry of the new church, with Frank E. Forster becoming its warden and Fred Wilson helping to organize a Sunday school. A ladies' aid society was organized on 19 November 1884.
Services were held sporadically in the early years without a regular pastor. Raymond, who was still rector at Goshen, had charge of the mission but could only conduct services irregularly. A room was "fitted up for a chapel" in the Webster block on the east side of South Washington Street between Fifth and Sixth streets. On 28 July 1886, the vestry purchased a lot for $1,000 from the Wesleyan Methodist Church that also contained a small frame church building. One writer said it was "of no architecture and little worth." Nearly a year later on 17 July 1887, the Rev. William G. Woolford, a deacon who had served as a missionary at Warsaw and as an assistant in Lima, became the first resident minister. He stayed only two months but baptized eleven. He was followed by the Rev. George Davis Adams, who served from 1887 to 1890. During this period the church received a stone octagonal baptismal font that is till in use.
The discovery of large deposits of natural gas in the area in 1887 led to the rapid economic development of Marion and the influx of new members for the fledgling church, including many English immigrants. On 25 June 1890, the congregation broke ground for a sandstone church building at 9th and Washington streets at a cost of just over $6,000. Its Gothic Revival design by local Marion architect Arthur Labelle included a classic cruciform shape. The vestry had purchased land for the project from the trustees of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. The vestry called its first rector, the Rev. Lewis F. Cole, a Civil War veteran and Maine native, to lead the building project. Cole raised $4,500 in subscriptions for the new building. Bishop Knickerbacker laid the cornerstone on 23 July 1890, and on 4 October 1891, the building was completed. Cole furnished it with pews and other fixtures purchased from a neighboring church, Webster's Chapel. The first service was held on 24 October 1891.
Cole had also given his time as chaplain of the local Soldiers' Home. He remained rector until 1893, when Bishop Knickerbacker named him archdeacon of the diocese. His successor, the Rev. James J. Purcell, arrived in November 1893. During this period, after several large donations from Miss Julia Norton and her brother Arthur, the parish constructed a rectory to house Purcell and his family. This building was poorly constructed and within a decade needed major repairs, which the vestry accomplished with a gift from the estate of Oliver H. P. Carey in 1904. Purcell also assumed charge of neighboring St. Paul's Episcopal Church is Gas City (founded in 1892), dividing his time between the two churches. He was succeeded by the Rev. Edward Pressey from England and later the Rev. George P. Torrence, who became diocesan archdeacon. During his rectorate, the remaining debt was paid off, allowing Bishop White to consecrate the church on 19 July 1902. The vestry decided to purchase a house north of the church property for use as a Parish House with money from the Mary A. Carey Fund. Torrence left for Lafayette in 1910 and was followed by the Rev. Howard Russell White, the son of Bishop White, who served two years until 1912. His successor, the Rev. Forrest B. B. Johnston, led the purchase of a Pilcher pipe organ for the church in 1913 at a cost of $1,800. Johnston also purchased Gethsemane's first Eucharistic vestments in 1927.
Gethsemane's congregation still had no place for hosting parish activities. In 1920, the vestry purchased a lot to the south of the church to build a different parish hall, selling the old rectory to help raise the $5,000 cost. After years of economic austerity resulting from the Great Depression, the town of Marion experienced an economic boom in the 1950s. In 1958, the old hall was demolished and a new one built under a design by Fort Wayne architect Lloyd Larimore that connected to the church. An extensive remodeling of the church took place in 1963 and again in 1994.
Because of its proximity to the Diocese of Indianapolis, Gethsemane was sometimes influenced by that diocese. In the late 1970s, after Bishop Craine had begun ordaining women priests, the Rev. Jacqueline Lantzer came to Gethsemane to preach at the invitation of the rector, the Rev. Bill Murphy. The sermon, according to one source, "wigged out the congregation" and led the parish to vote to officially not recognize the ordination of women. However, little more than two decades later in 1997, the attitude and leadership of the parish had changed sufficiently to call the Rev. Megan Traquair as rector. She had a successful pastorate and many years later was elected bishop of the Diocese of Northern California. The transformation reflected a generational change in leadership that affected changing attitudes in other parishes across the diocese.
In the 1990s and into the 2000s under the leadership of the Rev. James Warnock, Gethsemane began a period of significant outreach to its neighborhood. It purchased and refurbished an old Victorian house near the church. It also launched a program called the Lunch Box on the last two Sundays of each month. Members of the parish prepared meals for the poor in the neighborhood of the church. It also held neighborhood prayer walks and helped endow a children's fund for medical needs.
In 2006, Warnock became interested in reconciliation ministry. He traveled to Syria under the auspices of the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy and the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles to have face-to-face meetings with members of other faiths. The meetings continued the following year in Cyprus. Several parishioners attended conferences in Los Angeles on cultural and racial diversity in 2008 and 2009. Gethsemane began offering seminars on reconciliation in 2008, and the following year Bishop Little asked the parish's reconciliation team to work with clergy in the debate over the issue of same-sex marriage blessings and the Anglican Covenant. Gethsemane is also affiliated with the Community of the Cross of Nails, based in Coventry Cathedral in England which was destroyed during World War II.
William Wirt Raymond, 1885-1886
William Gillis Woolford, 1887
George Davis Adams, 1887-1890
Lewis Frank Cole, 1890-1893
James Johnstone Purcell, 1893-1895
Ernest Albert Pressey, 1896-1899
George Paull Torrence, 1900-1910
Howard Russell White, 1910-1912
Forrest Bowley Breckinridge Johnston, 1913-1931
Henry Lewis Ewan, 1931-1939
Sydney Hugh Croft, 1939-1942
Samuel Hanna Norman Elliott, 1942-1943
William Cockburn Russell Sheridan, 1944-1947
John E. Stevenson, 1947-1949
David Reid, 1949-1956
Robert J. Center, 1956-1963
Thomas Kreider Ray, 1964-1971
Steven Powers, 1972-1975
William McKee Murphy, 1976-1989
Ronny Dower, 1990-1994
Charles Hensel, 1994-1996
Megan McClure Traquair, 1997-2002
James Howard Warnock, 2002-2019
Mindy Bowne Hancock, 2020-
History of Gethsemane Episcopal Church, undated typescript, ca. 1960s.
Matthew Powers, "Gethsemane Episcopal Church," Marion Wiki, http://wikimarion.org/Gethsemane_Episcopal_Church
Rolland Lewis Whitson, Centennial History of Grant County, Indiana, 1812 to 1912 (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1914), 1: 617-618.
Parish Register, 1887-1905
Parish Register (Baptisms, Confirmations, Communicants, Burials), 1905-1958
Marriage Register, 1905-1958
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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
Ordinations by Bishop Edward Little (various)