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St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Munster (originally in Hammond)
The earliest efforts to establish an Episcopal Church in Lake County began in 1859, when Bishop George Upfold sent the English-born Rev. Robert Trewartha there to minister to English immigrants who had settled in the area and worked in factories. The effort failed, however, and Trewartha moved on to other missionary fields by the end of 1860.
Decades passed, when a group of eight Episcopalians gathered in downtown Hammond in 1888 for a worship service led by the Rev. Thomas B. Kemp. The English-born missionary, who had been sent to Hammond to plant a church by Bishop David Buel Knickerbacker, stayed in town for several weeks, going door to door with his visitations and baptizing several children. The Rev. Robert C. Wall of Lima, Ohio, a native of Ireland, came to Hammond later in the summer and asked the fledgling congregation to raise $600 for renting a house for worship. Wall led services in the Royal League Hall for two years, and Bishop Knickerbacker arrived to confirm several on his visitation. Most of the members worked in local plants or factories, and the early rectors of the church remained supportive of the organized labor movement.
In 1890, the traditional founding date for the congregation in Hammond, the vestry purchased four lots on Rimbach Street for $1,100. Calling their new church St. Paul's, the vestry and its missionary, the Rev. Stephen Prentiss, contracted with Ketchel Brothers, a local contractor, to construct a modest frame building at a cost of $1,500, which Bishop Knickerbacker dedicated on 22 December of that year. During the years that followed the church grew modestly under a succession of different clergy, including the Rev. George Moore of Momence, Illinois, who also served Delphi and Valparaiso from his home parish. In 1899, under the Rev. Thomas G. McGonigle, St. Paul's applied for and received parish status under the new Diocese of Michigan City. According to a local history, the church in the early 1900s had about 250 members, and the property was worth $20,000. The Rev. Charles Albert Smith was an important early rector who led the repairs and renovations of the building and helped eliminate a debt of $2,100. He served concurrently at the Church of the Good Shepherd in East Chicago.
In 1922, the original church building was moved down Hohman Avenue to 6043 Detroit Street to become what its leaders hoped would be the new parish hall. The vestry engaged architect J. E. O. Pridmore to design a new church of stone and brick at a cost of $75,000. The new rector at that time, the Rev. Peter Langendorff, began a pledge drive, but the necessary funds were never raised. The congregation had enough to construct a basement for the proposed building, but the old church, after its move, served as the nave and chancel of the new one after some remodeling.
Over the years the old church fell into disrepair, and in 1938, again under Langendorff's leadership, the parish hired architect William S. Hutton to draft plans for a major renovation. A light brown brick veneer was added over the building's original wood frame and the main entrance was enlarged, all at a cost of $16,000. The following year, the parish added six new stained glass windows dedicated to saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, and James. Once St. Paul's had paid off its debt for these renovations, Bishop Reginald Mallett consecrated the building on 12 March 1950.
The congregation grew in the 1960s under the leadership of the Rev. Eugene Orton Douglass, a talented priest who was much-beloved by the congregation and who remained rector until 1975. By the 1980s, however, changes in Hammond prompted an increasing number of parishioners to move south of town. Space in the old church remained tight, and the vestry made plans for building a new church. Because of this population shift, St. Paul's leaders began a search for new property south of Hammond. Two parishioners, Marianne Kincaid and Cindy St. Leger, approached Helen Bieker of Munster to see if she would sell some of her acreage along Columbia and Park Drive. After initially declining the request, she changed her mind some months later and called to discuss the sale of two acres to St. Paul's. A new brick building was designed to incorporate many of the architectural elements of the Hammond building, while a modern educational and office wing, Bishop Talbot Hall, was included in the design. Parish leaders felt correctly that the move would attract unaffiliated churchgoers in the Munster area.
In May 1988, construction began on the new building at a cost of $750,000. The architectural firm hired for the job promoted a more modern design, which parish leaders rejected in favor of a more traditional design. With its Romanesque style and tumble brick veneer, the church appeared rough during construction, and the Rev. John Blakslee joked that the parish's name should be changed to "St. Ugly Duckling," but he predicted at its completion it would be called "St. Swan." A year later in September 1989 under Blakslee's leadership, the congregation moved into the handsome edifice at 1101 Park Drive, which Bishop Frank Gray dedicated in November that year. The diocese held its annual convention there in 1991. An addition was built and dedicated in 1996, providing three new classrooms and an adult day care center. After Blakslee moved to St. Stephen's, Hobart, St. Paul's joined other parishes in the Calumet area that had a difficult time attracting clergy. Through the efforts of Bishop Little, St. Paul's became a charter member of the Calumet Episcopal Ministry Project (CEMP) in 2010, agreeing to share clergy with other churches in the partnership.
Margaret C. Dust, People of the Place of Fire: St. Paul Episcopal Church, a Century of Progress, Hammond, Indiana (Merrillville, Indiana: Cornelius House, 1988).
Thomas Byron Kemp, 1888
Robert Carter Wall, 1888-1890
Stephen Elliott Prentiss, 1890
Thomas Dowell Phillipps, 1891
Henry Borradaile Collier, 1891-1892
Austen Francis Morgan, 1893
Thomas George McGonigle, 1894
Edward Saunders, 1894-1895
George Moore, 1897-1898
Josiah Otis Ward, 1898
Thomas George McGonigle, 1899-1900
Charles Albert Smith, 1900-1913
William John Hawthorne, 1913-1920
Peter Langendorff, 1921-1945
J. Willard Yoder, 1945-1948
William Karl Rehfeld, 1948-1954
Eugene Orton Douglass, 1954-1975
John Blakslee, 1975-1996
Steven Schuneman, 1997-2000
Bennett Jones, 2000-2010
Michael Dwyer, 2010-2018 (CEMP)
Michelle I. Walker, 2014-2020 (CEMP)
Kristine Graunke, 2015-2020 (CEMP)
Pamela Thiede, 2020- (CEMP)
Cynthia Moore, 2020-2021 (CEMP)
Adapted from St. Paul's website: http://www.calumetepiscopal.org/st-paul/about.php
Margaret C. Dust, People of the Place of Fire: St. Paul Episcopal Church, Hammond, Indiana, 1988 (Dyer, Indiana: Margaret Dust, 1988).
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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
Rev. Charles Albert Smith
The Rev. Charles A. Smith was born in Stratford, Connecticut, on 4 December 1870, the son of Franklin Curtis and Jennie (Stewart) Smith. He graduated from Yale in 1894 and attended Berkeley Divinity School, graduating in 1897, the same year he was ordained a deacon. He married Adelaide Helen Tracy. After serving as an assistant at St. Paul's Church in Poughkeepsie, New York, he came to Indiana as vicar of St. Paul's in Hammond and the Church of the Good Shepherd, East Chicago. He was also given charge of St. Alban's in Indiana Harbor. He did much to advance the work of the Episcopal Church in these communities, paying off debts and putting them on a more stable basis. He resigned from Good Shepherd in 1909, but he continued to hold St. Paul's in Hammond until 1913, when he resigned from the ministry and became an agent for the Northwest Mutual Life Insurance Company. He remained a lay member of St. Paul's until his death on 19 July 1939. He was buried in Ridgelawn Cemetery in Gary.