Rev. Augustine Prentiss, rector of St. Paul's Mishawaka, St. John's Elkhart, and St. James South Bend, 18841 media/Rev Augustine Prentiss059_thumb.jpg 2020-07-30T16:29:44-07:00 John David Beatty 85388be94808daa88b6f1a0c89beb70cd0fac252 32716 1 Rev. Augustine Prentiss, rector of St. Paul's Mishawaka, St. John's Elkhart, and St. James South Bend, 1884 plain 2020-07-30T16:29:45-07:00 John David Beatty 85388be94808daa88b6f1a0c89beb70cd0fac252
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media/Cathedral of St. James, South Bend, March 2016.jpg
Cathedral of St. James, South Bend
The Episcopal Church in St. Joseph County has its origin as early as 1840, when visiting clergy conducted occasional services in South Bend. On 7 August 1840, the South Bend Free Press noted, "The Rev. Mr. Manna of the Episcopal Church will preach at the Presbyterian Church in this town on Sunday at 3 o'clock p.m." Bishop George Upfold, the first bishop of Indiana, also made occasional visits.
New impetus for a church began in 1867, when the Rev. Frank M. Gregg, rector of St. Paul's, La Porte, visited during the summer and conducted services on Sunday afternoon at Shively Hall. As winter approached, Bishop Upfold dispatched the Rev. Richard Brass of St. Paul's, Mishawaka, to hold services in the afternoons at the Dutch Reformed Church, a half block north of the present Cathedral. Brass organized St. James Episcopal Church informally on 15 December 1867, appointing a committee to act as a vestry that included Hiram Doolittle as senior warden, George S. Reed as junior warden, and C. W. Guthrie, S. R. King, George W. Matthews, Dwight Deming, and Col. Norman Eddy. The name of St. James was chosen three days later.
Bishop Joseph Talbot, Bishop Coadjutor of Indiana, visited South Bend in the fall of 1867 and again in February 1868. He recruited a Nashotah House graduate, the Rev. George P. Schetky of St. John's Church, Philadelphia, to be the first rector in July 1868. On 6 July, the informal vestry, never properly organized, petitioned Upfold for "approval, consent, and permission" to formally organize the parish of St. James according to diocesan canons. Permission was granted three days later, and the first official vestry was formally seated on 28 July at a meeting in the director's room of the First National Bank.
Despite Schetky's best efforts, the new parish got off to a shaky start, and by October, the vestry voted that it was "inexpedient to continue the effort to maintain an Episcopal Church in this city." Schetky resigned in January 1869, lamenting in a letter his "regret for which language has no expression for the sad results of this reserved attempt to establish and build up the Church in this growing city." The vestry still praised him for his efforts. Later that year, the Rev. Frank Gregg of La Porte returned to South Bend to see what could be done for the fledgling church, and despite the fact that services were poorly attended, he resolved to build a church edifice as a way of firming up its presence. A small women's group had continued to meet in private homes, and the spark for the church had refused to die. Accordingly, the congregation built a small wood frame chapel on Wayne Street east of Lafayette Boulevard for $2,200 under the direction of Gregg, J. Beeson Brownfield, S. R. King, and C. W. Guthrie. Services began under Gregg's direction in September, but he soon departed, and Bishop Talbot sent the Rev. William Richmond as a missionary in 1870 with the understanding that the congregation could not guarantee his salary. Richmond reorganized the parish and had a new vestry elected on 10 April 1871. C. M. Heaton became senior warden and Hiram Doolittle was junior warden. The first Sunday School class was confirmed by Bishop Talbot on 12 May 1871, and the number of communicants increased from 16 to 36. A Sunday School picnic, the first of the parish, was held on 6 July.
Believing that the location of this first church was not suited for its growth, the vestry decided in 1872 to move the building to the northwest corner of Lafayette and Jefferson boulevards after purchasing a lot with a small brick house (used as a rectory) for $5,400. On 20 February 1873, the church reopened and a cabinet-style pipe organ was installed at a cost of $400. In November 1877, Bishop Talbot returned for a visitation, confirming four and ordaining the Rev. Alfred T. Perkins, who became the new rector.
St. James continued to struggle for a number of years, but Bishop David Knickerbacker, Talbot's successor, refused to allow the parish to close. Schuyler Colfax, the Vice President of the United States under Ulysses S. Grant, was a member of the congregation and gave it an important level of support. When he died in 1885, his family presented the church with a processional cross in his honor. In 1891, the Rev. Augustine Prentiss became rector at a salary of $1,300 a year, and he brought much-needed stability. The vestry decided in September 1892 to build a new church, and Corwin B. Van Pelt, the junior warden, was authorized to purchase a lot on the west side of Lafayette Boulevard between Washington and Colfax streets. Mrs. Marian Van Pelt gave much of the money for the construction. The congregation under the leadership of Prentiss's successor, the Rev DeLou Burke, broke ground on 1 June 1894, and the cornerstone was laid just over a month later on St. James Day, 25 July. The South Bend Daily Times reported: "The St. James Episcopal Church congregation on this St. James Day have every reason to be proud and thankful over a result of long years of effort to give that congregation a church structure commensurate with the needs of Episcopalians of South Bend and in every way an architectural ornament of our city."
The new Gothic Revival brick edifice, located at 117 North Lafayette Street, was designed by the architectural firm of Austin & Parker and held its first service at midnight on Christmas Eve, 1894. The following day a Christmas service was held at 10:30, and a dedication service was conducted on 13 January 1895. Burke's successor, the Rev. Francis Milton Banfil, a New Hampshire native, served as rector from 1898 to 1909, and during his tenure the pledge system of envelopes was adopted, the mortgage reduced, and many fine pieces of furniture and art were added to the parish. He left in 1909 after suffering a nervous breakdown.
More improvements followed in the mid-twentieth century. In 1929, the parish completed its first parish hall, known as Cathedral Hall, in the undercroft of the church. The Bishop White Memorial Chapel, later known as the Chapel of the Holy Angels, was remodeled in 1944, as was the baptistery, given in memory of the Rev. Lawrence Cecil Ferguson, who served as rector from 1928 to 1942.
St. James did not become the cathedral of the diocese until 1957 during the episcopate of Bishop Reginald Mallett. When the diocese was founded, Trinity Church Michigan City was designated the cathedral on 25 April 1899. However, the first bishop, John Hazen White, found himself at odds with Trinity's vestry over a number of matters, leading to his decision to move to South Bend in 1912 (when he served as rector of St. James) and split his time there and at his lakeside home at Wawasee. On 4 November 1917, Trinity Michigan City ceased to be the cathedral, and for many years the diocese was effectively without one. Under White's successor, Bishop Campbell Gray, plans were drawn up for a new cathedral in Mishawaka, but due to the onset of the Great Depression, all efforts to raise money for construction were shelved. St. Paul's Mishawaka served as the pro-cathedral during Gray's episcopate, but that designation would survive only a few years into his successor's epsicopate. Bishop Mallett decided to move his residence from Mishawaka to South Bend in 1946, purchasing with a combination of his own and donated funds a house at 2117 East Jefferson Street. Four years later in 1950, he announced that St. Paul's Mishawaka would no longer serve as the pro-cathedral. While he did not affix blame on St. Paul's, Mallett clearly preferred South Bend as his See city.
In 1956 at an Annual Council Meeting in South Bend, Mallett announced that he had accepted the offer of St. James Parish to become the new cathedral. The vestry of St. James had purchased the United Fund Building next door in 1953 and began converting into potential office and educational space for the diocese. It became known as Cathedral House. Mallett was enthroned at the new cathedral on 20 January 1957, and the Very Rev. Robert F. Royster was made the new dean. The St. James Building was purchased in 1962 as a gift from Mrs. Leon B. Slaughter, and the interior was extensively renovated in 1964 after a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Bert K. Patterson.
Since the 1960s, the cathedral has undergone a number of other renovations, including a significant project in 2010 under Dean Brian Grantz. During the 1980s under the episcopate of Francis Gray, an adjacent building was acquired and leased to St. Margaret's House, a day center for women in need in the community. Three deans, the Rev. Robert Bizzaro, the Rev. Frederick Mann, and the Rev. Brian Grantz, all made major contributions to the life of the cathedral. In 2018, during the episcopate of Bishop Douglas Sparks, the old office building was gutted and refurbished to accommodate a newly renovated office to better serve the needs of the growing diocesan staff.
Robert J. Center, Our Heritage: A History of the First Seventy-five Years of the Diocese of Northern Indiana (South Bend: Diocese of Northern Indiana, 1973).
Anonymous, "A Short History of St. James Cathedral," typescript, undated.
Richard Brass, 1867
George Patterson Schetky, 1868-1869
Frank Mark Gregg, 1870
William Richmond, 1870-1877
Alfred Thomas Perkins, 1877-1879
Francis B. Dunham, 1881-1884
John Plummer Derwent Llwyd, 1885
Frederick Towers, 1885-1887
Frederick Thompson, 1887-1890
Augustine Prentiss, 1891-1892
DeLou Burke, 1893-1896
William Charles Hengen, 1897-1898
Francis Milton Banfil, 1898-1909
Walter Simon Howard, 1910-1912
Bishop John Hazen White, 1912-1920
Howard Russell White, (vicar), 1912-1920
Robert James Long, 1920-1923
John Maurice Francis, 1923-1928
Lawrence Cecil Ferguson, 1928-1942
Don Herbst Copeland, 1943-1953
William Paul Barnds, 1953-1956
Robert Frank Royster, 1956-1969
Robert Ayres MacGill, 1970-1975
Robert Bizzaro, 1975-1992
Frederick Earl Mann, 1993-2004
Martin Irving Yabroff, 2004-2007
Brian Glenn Grantz, 2008-
"A Look Back: Cathedral of St. James," South Bend Tribune, 6 April 2015
Parish Register, 1868-1900
Parish Register, 1868-1900 (alternate digitizing)
Parish Register, 1899-1937
Parish Register, 1899-1935 (alternate digitizing)
Parish Register, 1937-1942
Parish Register, Index of Communicants
Parish Register, 1943-1953
Parish Register, Marriages, 1949-1989
Parish Register, Confirmations, 1950-1986
Parish Register, Baptisms, 1953-1989
Parish Register, Marriages Index, 1931-1939
Parish Register, Burials, 1962-1988
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St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Mishawaka
On April 20, 1837, two Michigan clergymen, the Rev. Charles B. Stout, rector of St. Stephen's Church in Edwardsburg and the Rev. Henry F. M. Whitesides of St. James Church in Constantine, went south into northern Indiana to do missionary work. They held an organizational meeting for an Episcopal church on the outskirts of Mishawaka in St. Joseph County and conducted services for thirteen people in a schoolhouse. St. Paul's Episcopal Church, the oldest formally organized parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana, began on that date.
No specific record exists of those on St. Paul's first vestry, but by 1842 the congregation purchased property at the corner of First and Spring streets and conveyed it to Hiram Doolittle, John H. Orr, J. E. Hollister, Samuel P. Knight, and Norman Eddy, who were listed as "vestry" and "wardens" of St. Paulʼs Church. A year later the church building that came to be known informally as the “Church on the Hill” was completed under the leadership of the Rev. Richard S. Adams and was consecrated in 1845 by Bishop Jackson Kemper. This frame church in Greek Revival style contained the first belfry bell in Mishawaka, which was cast in 1836. According to one source, the bell was later sold for junk when the church was sold in 1906. Church leaders brought the first organ reportedly from Saratoga Springs, New York, sometime before 1850. Later, they installed a Van Dinter pipe organ, manufactured in Mishawaka. This organ, operated by a hand air pump, was eventually moved to the new church, along with some of the stained glass windows. Finally, John T. Niles, the senior warden, embellished these original structures when he donated a rectory, begun in 1872 and completed in 1876.
The early years were not without difficulties. In 1883, members of the congregation called for the closure of the parish, since no vestry election had occurred for five or six years. Despite these challenges Bishop David Buel Knickerbacker sent the Rev. Augustine Prentiss of South Carolina to serve at St. Paulʼs, along with St. Johnʼs in Elkhart. No one even came to meet Prentiss when his train came to town, yet he had a full congregation at his first service on Sunday, March 9th, preaching on the “Duty of the Hour.” Prentiss revitalized the congregation, and by the time of Bishop Knickerbackerʼs visit on Sunday, July 15th, he had prepared sixteen persons for confirmation. In 1885, the bishop moved him to Indianapolis.
In October 1885, Rev. J. Gorton Miller, B.D., assumed charge of St. Paulʼs jointly with the missionary responsibility of St. Johnʼs, Bristol. The working organizations of the parish consisted of the Wardens and Vestry, a Ladies Society, and a Young Ladies Altar Guild. The women's organizations raised funds for current expenses, repairs, and improvements. In addition, Miller organized a Sunday School. At the beginning of Lent 1886, he had established the custom of celebrating the Holy Eucharist at every Sunday morning service, more frequently than was typical in the Episcopal Church at that time. Miller also introduced the use of Eucharistic vestments of plain white linen, wafer bread, the mixed chalice (a little water with the wine), and the custom of the eastward position of the altar.
On January 1, 1899, after the new diocese had been formed, Bishop John Hazen White sent the Rev. Hamilton D. B. MacNeil to take charge of St. Paulʼs. The parish was free of debt and financially independent at that time. During the next year, the vestry ordered extensive improvements to the building, including the installation of electrical lights, enlarging the choir, and setting a new altar, the gift of Mrs. J. A. Roper and Mrs. E. A. Jurnegan. The rectory also received gifts of a new furnace and bathroom. During the period 1898 to 1902, some of the wardens and vestry of St. Paulʼs included H. H. Hosford, H. G. Eggleston, E. T. Reys, E. G. Richards, Jr., C. A. W. Ostrom, S. G. Todd, M.D., Harvey A. Foroots, Harvey A. Martling, G. G. Eggleston, F. J. Sytz, W. M. Dickinson, S. P. Wilson, W. E. Roe, G. S. Pomeroy, and Ralph H. Jernegan.
MacNeil resigned on February 12, 1902, and was succeeded that same year by the Rev. John Addams Linn (nephew of Jane Addams of Chicago Hull House fame). In 1905, the "Church on the Hill" on Spring St. was sold, and the parish made plans to build a new church and rectory on Second Street (now Lincolnway East), near the new Cedar Street Bridge. The old church was removed to South Union Street and eventually remodeled into a residence.
The construction of the new church came about through the untiring efforts of Linn and the progressiveness of the congregation. The complete cost of the structures was $15,000. Schneider & Austin of South Bend served as architects, and the construction contract was awarded to Hess & Hiner of Mishawaka. The rector laid the cornerstone on July 17, 1906. He fixed the goal of having the work sufficiently completed to hold the dedication on St. Paul's Day, a task that at times required up to 20 workers. Linn celebrated the final services in the old church on January 20, 1907, and he conducted the first service in the new church on Easter Sunday of that year. Bishop White dedicated the church. The windows on either side of the new church were brought from the old one and remain splendid examples of 19th century stained glass. The windows over the entrance, commissioned for the new church by Mrs. E.G. Eberhart, depict the conversion of St. Paul on the road to Damascus. The window above the altar, given by Mrs. J.A. Roper, represents the Risen Lord. The present altar is a larger copy of the original first altar and is adorned with the original symbols. Members of the Bishop Knickerbacker Guild erected the rood screen, designed by Oscar Brubaker in memory of Mrs. Nancy E. Sherman Jernegan in 1916. The hand carved figures from Switzerland were added in 1960 by Alfred S. Ostrom and Mrs. M.H. Goodman in memory of their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles A. Ostrom. The statue of St. Charles I of England, king and martyr, carved in Italy, was given in memory of Alfred S. Ostrom in 1964.
In 1908, Linn left the parish, and he was later killed in action in France in 1918 - the first of the so-called "fighting chaplains" to meet death in World War I. His service is commemorated by a plaque in the sanctuary. The Rev. Lewis C. Rogers began his twenty-five year service as rector later in 1908. That same year, Charles Fairbanks, the Vice President of the United States under Theodore Roosevelt, visited Mishawaka and dined in the undercroft at a meal hosted by the Bishop Knickerbacker Guild.
During the next quarter century the parish experienced significant change when Bishop Campbell Gray named St. Paul's as his Pro-Cathedral in 1925, an honor it would hold until 1951. The bishop had somewhat grandiose plans to build a magnificent new cathedral on the corner of Cedar and Lincoln Way, designed in the Gothic Revival style by the renowned architect Ralph Adams Cram. However, the Great Depression of 1930-1936 and subsequent World War II defeated any chance of realizing this dream when insufficient funds could be raised. The parish did acquire the corner lot as a result of these plans, however. J. Alvin Scott donated it with the provision that it revert to his heirs if not built upon in 25 years, though his heirs later released this provision.
The Depression hit the church so hard that when Rogers retired in 1933, the bishop took over as rector and had his salary paid to the Diocese to make up St. Paulʼs arrearage in its diocesan assessment. The parish began its financial recovery with the arrival of the Very Rev. Archie Ira Drake, a dramatic personage, who became rector in 1935. Although his personal problems with alcoholism forced him to resign in 1937, he laid a solid foundation for renewal of the parish. After leaving, Drake went to the Holy Cross monastery in New York where he edited the St. Augustineʼs Prayer Book and became the national chaplain of Alcoholics Anonymous.
The Very Rev. Russell R. Ingersoll, who served from 1938 to 1942, and the Very Rev. Erland L. Groton, who succeeded Ingersoll and served until 1952, continued the work of building up the parish. During their tenure, the organ was moved from the front, inside the rood screen (behind where the pulpit stands today), to its present location at the rear of the church, thereby enlarging the chancel. The Van Dinter organ was replaced by one of the early electric organs, and a later model donated by Miss Neitzel subsequently replaced this one. During this time, a boysʼ choir was organized under the direction of Miss Winifred Wonderlick, a music teacher at Bingham School, and the Ladies Service League was especially active in its ministry.
Many of the members of the church served in the armed services during World War II. Two members were killed, including Charles Butz, serving in the Army, and Elizabeth Richardson, serving in the American Red Cross. A plaque in the church nave commemorates their sacrifice. St. Paulʼs continued as the Pro-Cathedral of the diocese until Bishop Reginald Mallett, Bishop Grayʼs successor, chose to move the bishopʼs residence to South Bend, and in 1950 removed the title Pro-Cathedral from St. Paulʼs. In 1957, he was formally enthroned in the new St. James Cathedral in downtown South Bend, which remains the cathedral today.
In 1952, the Rev. Wilbur B. Dexter became rector of St. Paulʼs. A native of Cleveland and a graduate of Oberlin College and Nashotah House, Dexter brought continued growth to the parish in his early years as rector. A new rectory was purchased on Edgewater Drive, across the river from the church. The old rectory next to the church became the church school and a chapel. The parish hall was refurbished and paneling added; a new nursery was added; a new roof was put on the church and connecting building.
Dexter was one of the first priests in the diocese to adopt the Holy Eucharist Rite Two of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer as the regular service of the parish. He encouraged women to serve as members of the vestry and girls as acolytes, although he opposed women priests, as did most of the clergy of the diocese at that time under Bishop William Sheridan. A serious illness followed by a broken hip kept Fr. Dexter from his duties at the church for more than a year and led to his retirement to Florida in 1984 after 32 years as rector. During the last years of his tenure, St. Paulʼs saw a sharp decline in attendance.
The Rev. Bruce Mosier, a retired priest from Goshen, served as a supply priest following Dexterʼs retirement. With the encouragement of his wife, Dorothy, Mosier turned around the decline of the parish. The rectory, which had become rundown, was sold and those funds used to start the renovation of the church buildings. Mosier gave new hope to the members of St. Paulʼs, and membership increased to the point where Bishop Sheridan was able to have the Rev. Paul Tracy take over leadership the parish in 1986. When Tracy retired in 1995, the vestry wrote the following mission statement: “The people of St. Paul's Church celebrate the Good News of Jesus Christ and serve as witness of God's love through worship, fellowship, and outreach, daily living the promises made in our baptism.”
This statement proved an instrumental point of focus in the search process that led to the call of the Rev. David K. Ottsen to St. Paulʼs as rector in 1996. Previously, Bishop Gray had assigned him to serve the mission of Christ Church in suburban South Bend, which had folded after only a short time. Working with the vestry, Ottsenʼs hard work and leadership brought new vitality to the parish as it sought to live out its mission statement. A successful capital campaign allowed for many improvements to be made to the edifice, including a new roof on the church and the parish house, a new heating and cooling system, a new sound system, new windows in the parish house, refinishing of the floors, restoration of the pews, renovation of the undercroft, and the remodeling of the kitchen. On the outside, new landscaping was done to the front of the buildings and a beautiful memorial garden added to the river frontage in the back.
In addition to making physical improvements, St. Paulʼs leaders brought energy and commitment to minister to the community at large. Programs such as the Food Pantry and Thanksgiving Baskets expanded each year in the 2000s to provide food to the needy, and goals for participation were set and exceeded. In August 2007, St. Paul's became the site of a gun buy-back program in collaboration with area police departments, which resulted in over 250 guns being exchanged for gift certificates to area businesses. Bishop Edward Little observed that St. Paulʼs was unique in its ability to combine its concern for social justice with a zeal for evangelism. Attendance more than doubled during Ottsenʼs tenure. The congregation was composed of a wide variety of people of all ages, from senior citizens to college students as well as a growing number of families with young children due to several recent births. In October 2007, Ottsen announced that he had accepted a call to be the rector at St. Peter's in Brenham, Texas, and he celebrated his farewell Eucharist on 8 Epiphany 2008.
While the church searched for a new rector, Bishop Gray, now retired, served as its interim priest at the church in which he was baptized when his grandfather was bishop of Northern Indiana. On June 11, 2008, the Search Committee formally recommended a candidate, and accordingly, the vestry agreed unanimously to call the Rev. Susan Bunton Haynes, formerly Assistant Rector and later priest-in-charge of the Cathedral of St. James in South Bend, to be the new priest. Mother Susan accepted the call and officially took up the rectorship on September 1, 2008, and was installed by Bishop Little on October 10. After a successful rectorate, she was elected bishop of the Diocese of Southern Virginia in 2019.
Henry F. M. Whitesides, 1837
Charles Brockden Stout, 1839
Foster Thayer, 1842
Richard Samuel Adams, 1842-1846
Benjamin Halsted, 1846-1852
Stephen Douglass, 1852-1853
Martin Frederick Sorenson, 1854-1856
Elias Birdsall, 1856-1858
Colley Alexander Foster, 1860
Joseph Adderly, 1861-1866
Richard Brass, 1866-1871
John Gierlow, 1871-1873
Moses Clement Stanley, 1874-1876
Alfred Thomas Perkins, 1879-1880
Sherwood Rosevelt, 1881-1882
Augustine Prentiss, 1883-1885
Samuel Franklin Myers, 1885-1886
Joseph Gorton Miller, 1886-1888
Frederick Thompson, 1888-1890
Augustine Prentiss, 1890-1892
DeLou Burke, 1892-1898
Hamilton Douglas Bentley MacNeil, 1899-1902
John Addams Linn, 1902-1908
Lewis Curtis Rogers, 1908-1933
James Boyd Coxe, 1933-1935
Archie Ira Drake, 1935-1937
Russell Richard Ingersoll, 1938-1942
Erland Lawrence Groton, 1942-1952
Wilbur B. Dexter, 1952-1984
Bruce Bickel Mosier, 1985
Paul John Tracy, 1986-1995
David K. Ottsen, 1996-2007
Francis Campbell Gray, 2008
Susan Bunton Haynes, 2008-2019
Nathaniel Warne, 2020-
Adapted from St. Paul's website: http://www.stpaulsmishawaka.org/html/history.pdf
St. Paul's Parish Register, 3 volumes, 1837-1933
St. Paul's Parish Register with Vestry Minutes, 1837-1870
St. Paul's Parish Register, 1871-1901
St. Paul's Parish Register, 1903-1933
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St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church, Elkhart
The Episcopal Church in the town of Elkhart can trace its roots to the 1840s when three couples - Dr. Joseph Chamberlain and wife Caroline, Eliel Farr and wife Jane, and Chester Gore and wife Rheuanna - began holding prayer services using the Book of Common Prayer in their homes. They never formed a congregation, but in 1849, Bishop George Upfold visited Elkhart and held services in the Presbyterian Church. "At this public service," wrote the Rev. William Galpin, "very few knew how to make the responses, and to make the worship more hearty, the Bishop, before beginning, explained the service and then placed the prayer books he carried about with him on his missionary visits, in the hands of certain persons, and stationed them in various parts of the church, while all who could gathered about these persons and looked on with them. Thus the chants and prayers of the church were heard for the first time by any considerable number in this place."
During the 1850s, Upfold continued to make regular visits, as did several local clergy, including the Rev. Albert Bingham of Lima, the Rev. Henry M. Thompson of Bristol, and the Rev. Joseph Adderly, also of Bristol. However, no church was officially organized. Clearly interested in the town as a potential site for a church, Upfold remarked in his 1858 convention address that he had again visited Elkhart and that it had been occasionally visited by Bingham throughout the year.
Following the Civil War three local women, Ellen Augusta Mead, Ellen Mary Mabley, and Eliza Cornish, began making a trip every Sunday to visit either Bristol or Mishawaka for church services. Bishop Joseph Talbot took notice and in 1867 urged the ailing Bishop Upfold to appoint the Rev. Martin Van Buren Averill to establish a church in town. A register of baptisms was first kept in June of that year, and Averill conducted services at various sites, including Conley's Hall on Main Street. He organized a ladies' society, later known as St. John's Ladies Guild, to help raise money for a church.
Averill led the organization of St. John's Episcopal Church on 1 May 1868, with Benjamin Turnock and John Bostwick elected as the first wardens. The name had been chosen by secret ballot at a parish supper. Men and women brought sealed envelopes with their choices of names, and St. John's proved the overwhelming favorite. In 1869, the congregation under Averill's leadership arranged for the purchase of a lot at Third and Lexington streets. Two parishioners, Judge Oliver H. Main and Benjamin Turlock, gave their personal notes for the purchase and borrowed the money from Judge Howe of Lima. With the occasional help of the congregation, the men paid the notes back with interest, with Howe agreeing to donate $100 toward the lot.
Even before an edifice could be built, the congregation purchased an organ for its worship services in Conley's Hall, replacing a melodeon that was previously in use. Instead of securing a reed organ, they purchased a pipe organ to be used in the church whenever it was built. It was the first such organ in Elkhart and attracted much interest in the community. However, the effort to build a church languished. Averill left in 1870 and his successor, the Rev. Richard Totten, failed to generate enough interest.
Then in 1873, after the election of the Rev. Addis E. Bishop as rector, the congregation broke ground for a new building and completed it the same year. Bishop "soon aroused the people to the need of erecting a new church," and the parish regained the initiative begun under Averill's tenure. The rector worked side by side members of the congregation, carrying lumber and brick in order to complete the building. He donated one of the stained three glass windows out of his personal funds. This small rectangular wood-frame chapel served the parish for the next twelve years, during which time thirteen priests served as rector. Although the rapid turnover did little to promote stability, it improved when the Rev. Franklin Adams arrived in 1887. He stayed four years and completed construction of a rectory.
Realizing that a better church was needed, the vestry developed new construction plans immediately after the arrival of the Rev. William Galpin of Michigan in 1894. Galpin appointed a building committee to begin raising the necessary funds. In 1895, construction began on the present edifice in an elaborate Gothic Revival style under a design by local architect A. H. Elwood. Nicknamed "the Tower," the church became identified regionally as one of the most ornate and outstanding examples of that style. The first service was held on 5 July 1896, even while construction was still underway. The nave was completed in August. Bishop John Hazen White consecrated the building on 11 June 1902, once it was out of debt.
The twentieth century brought many changes to the parish. Under the rectorship of William Wesley Daup in 1918, St. John's constructed a new rectory. The Rev. Walter Lockton arrived in 1920 and served 17 years, taking an active role in the diocese. The Rev. Leslie Skerry Olsen, a native of Colorado and a graduate of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, took charge in 1943 and had another long rectorate of 14 years. During this time the parish grew to more than 1,000 communicants. In 1953-54, the parish constructed an addition with classrooms, offices, and a common room.
Olsen was succeeded by the Rev. Carl H. Richardson in 1957. An army reserve officer, Richardson served 17 years, during which time the parish established St. David's as a mission in 1964. Richardson died suddenly in 1974 and was succeeded by the Rev. John Thomas, a popular rector who served until 1981. Tall and imposing in stature, Thomas and his wife established a popular vacation Bible school and hosted a diocesan convention. His successor, the Rev. Howard Keyse, led a renovation of the chancel and the installation of a new Casavant organ in 1983. He left in 1986 to become rector of St. Ann Church in Woodstock, Illinois.
St. John's has worked with choral interns from the University of Notre Dame's Sacred Music Program to provide outstanding liturgies for the congregation. Keyse's successor, the Rev. Richard Kallenberg, arrived in 1987 and oversaw other renovations. Kallenberg was an unsuccessful candidate for bishop in 2000, when Bishop Gray retired. The parish was later served by the Rev. Daniel Repp and most recently, the Rev. Terri Peterson, who was originally trained and ordained as a Lutheran pastor.
Martin Van Buren Averill, 1867-1870
Richard Totten, 1870-1871
Addis Emmett Bishop, 1873-1875
Gustav Arnold Carstensen, 1876-1877
Erasmus Jurian Hopman Van Deerlin, 1877-1878
Moses Clement Stanley, 1879-1880
Gustav Edmond Purucker, 1882
Erasmus Jurian Hopman Van Deerlin, 1883-1884
Augustine Prentiss, 1884
Samuel Franklin Myers, 1885-1886
Franklin White Adams, 1887-1891
Stephen Elliott Prentiss, 1891-1892
John Frederick Milbank, 1893
William Freeman Galpin, 1894-1903
Richard Rathbone Graham, 1903-1906
Charles Silas Champlin, 1906-1910
Llewellyn Burton Hastings, 1910-1913
William Wesley Daup, 1913-1919
Walter Jay Lockton, 1920-1937
Virgil Pierce Stewart, 1937-1942
Reginald Williams, 1942-1943
Leslie Skerry Olsen, 1943-1957
Carl Hazard Richardson, 1957-1974
John W. Thomas, 1974-1981
Howard Richard Keyse, 1981-1986
Richard A. Kallenberg, 1987-2008
Daniel S. Repp, 2009-2016
Terri L. Peterson, 2017-
John A. Cawley and Robert Meacham, Centuries of Witness: One Hundred & Fifty Years of Christian Witness in Elkhart (Elkhart: Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist, 1995).
Parish Register 1, 1868-1893
Parish Register 2, 1893-1902
Parish Register 3, 1902-1918
Parish Register 4, 1914-1931
Parish Register 5, 1931-1943
Parish Register 6, 1943-1953
Parish Register 7, 1953-1978, Communicants
Burial Register, 1955-1982
Confirmation Register, 1952-1973
Baptismal Register, 1953-1964
Marriage Register, 1940-1968
Rev. Augustine Prentiss
The Rev. Augustine Prentiss was born on 1 September 1857 in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of William Otis Prentiss and Maria (Jenkins). He was the brother of the Rev. Stephen Elliott Prentiss, who would later serve as rector of St. John's Church in Elkhart. He was ordained to the diaconate in 1882 and came to St. Paul's Mishawaka as rector two years later, where he was instrumental in revitalizing the church. He also served briefly at St. John's Elkhart and after a brief return to South Carolina, came back to the diocese and served as rector of St. James, South Bend, from 1891 to 1892. There he helped organize a vested boys' choir. He moved to Baltimore and later Salt Lake City, Utah, where he was stationed from 1897 to 1898. His date and place of death are unknown, and he was not enumerated on the federal census of 1900.