Rev. Richard Brass, rector of Trinity Michigan City and St. Paul's Mishawaka1 media/Rev Richard Brass, Trinity Michigan City_thumb.JPG 2020-06-26T06:38:55-07:00 John David Beatty 85388be94808daa88b6f1a0c89beb70cd0fac252 32716 1 Rev. Richard Brass, rector of Trinity Michigan City and St. Paul's Mishawaka, Trinity Michigan City Collection plain 2020-06-26T06:38:55-07:00 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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Trinity Episcopal Church, Michigan City
Trinity Episcopal Church, Michigan City, is officially the second oldest congregation in the Diocese of Northern Indiana. It was actually the first to be established in 1837, but through a technicality in its first year its official organization was delayed until after St. Paul's Mishawaka had been organized.
In the 1830s, pioneers, adventurers, and entrepreneurs began arriving at the new town named Michigan City, platted at the end of the Michigan Road near Lake Michigan. The new road that began at Madison, Indiana, was fulfilling its purpose of encouraging settlers to move from southern Indiana into the scarcely-populated northern part of the state. In 1830, Isaac C. Elston, a real estate speculator, purchased land at the mouth of Trail Creek as the site of his town, which was called Michigan City. In 1832 only one cabin stood, but by 1833 enough settlers had arrived to hold an election for a justice of the peace and to name a postmaster. The stage coach ran through the town three times each week, bringing new residents. In 1834, Charles Cleaver stayed in the local tavern and wrote that in Michigan City, “the buildings consisted of one small brick tavern, a frame one opposite, a blacksmith shop, and half dozen houses built in, on, above and below the sand. It then contained about fifty inhabitants.” However, no church had yet been built. With few people living in the area between Niles, Michigan, South Bend, Indiana, and Michigan City, there were few resources to support a church. Those few clergy who had moved to the area traveled frequently to serve the needs of the new settlers.
The first Episcopal Church service held at Michigan City occurred in October 1834, when the Rev. Palmer Dyer preached what is considered the first sermon in town. However, Bishop Philander Chase is given more formal credit for getting church services going. Chase, formerly Bishop of Ohio, had settled with his family for a time on a farm near Niles, Michigan. In the same month that Dyer preached, Chase visited the town and recorded in his diary that he “stopped in Michigan City, read the service, visited with a few people, drove through the sand dunes along the lake, and in the evening again read the service.” By this date there were about 700 residents. A few months later in 1835, Chase was elected Bishop of Illinois. On his way to Illinois from Niles, he again stopped in Michigan City and recorded the event in his diary: “Preached the first sermon ever delivered there from an Episcopal minister. This was in a large schoolhouse well filled with attentive auditors.”
With a lack of clergy from its inception, Michigan City's community of Episcopalians depended on the work of its faithful members reading Morning Prayer. The first recorded communicants who arrived in 1835 included Dr. H. T. Maxon and Schuyler Pulford, who later served as wardens and vestrymen of the fledgling church. Arrangements were made with the Rev. Joseph Selkrig, missionary at Niles, Michigan, to travel periodically to serve the spiritual needs of the new community. On December 11, 1835, he held services in the building used by the growing congregation as the first church in Michigan City. This structure was located at the corner of Fourth and Pine streets and housed the congregation until 1858.
In 1836 Michigan City was incorporated as a city, and the pioneer Episcopalians organized themselves under the name of “Church of the Advent.” Records show that there were twelve communicants. Due to a conflict with state law it was necessary for the congregation to organize again, and the name was changed to “Trinity Protestant Episcopal Church.” Shortly afterward in 1837, the Rt. Rev. Jackson Kemper, Missionary Bishop of the Northwest, visited the newly-named parish. With his encouragement, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of New York sent the Rev. Daniel Van Mater Johnson to do missionary work, becoming the town's first settled priest on February 1, 1838. In his first report to the society he wrote: “The large room which the congregation has neatly fitted up is almost full of attentive listeners to the preached gospel.” Regular participation in the sacraments thus began with the first baptism in February 1838, the first marriage in April, and the first confirmation in January 1839. After two years the society concluded that its aid was no longer necessary and that Trinity could be self-supporting.
The history of Michigan City and that of Trinity Episcopal Church are inseparably intertwined. The strength and prominence of the church was due to the faithful service of its wardens and vestry, many of whom were also civic leaders. Zebina Gould, the first Senior Warden in 1837, also served as the city harbor wheat inspector for the growing shipping industry. T. B. W. Stockton, Samuel Mower, Charles Palmer, and H. I. Rees all served as early mayors. Augustus Barber was an early postmaster and city treasurer. Urial C. Follet also served for many years as treasurer.
More than any other lay leader, Follet had the most significant influence on the growth and development of Trinity Church. He served for 25 years as a vestrymen from 1849 to 1862, and again from 1864 to 1872. He served as Senior Warden for 24 years in 1863 and from 1872 to 1896. His generosity made the present endowment fund possible. In spite of the tragic loss of all three of his children, his faith endured. The memorial gift of the white marble baptismal font in honor of his children is used to this day. He led the parish through the Civil War, economic depressions, and panics, as well as through the industrial growth of Michigan City. During his years of leadership, Trinity had 15 rectors, and two churches were built.
By mid-century, the pioneer church on Pine Street was no longer adequate to meet the needs of the congregation or the growing importance of the Episcopal church in the social and political life of the city. The rector at this time was the Rev. Caleb A. Bruce, formerly rector of Trinity Fort Wayne, who in his long career built six new churches from Michigan to Arkansas. Under the patriarchal leadership of Zebina Gould and Urial Follet, the vestry resolved to seek subscriptions for a new church. The congregation acquired the property at the corner of Sixth and Franklin streets, essentially the geographic center of the town. A new wood frame church was built in the prevailing architectural style of the time called “Carpenter Gothic.” It was a demonstrative statement of the church’s prominence in the community.
The fortunes of Trinity Church rose with the growth and development of Michigan City as both a port of commerce and an industrial manufacturing site. The largest and most significant industry was the manufacture of railroad cars by the Barker and Haskell Company. Three generations of the Barker family left their imprint on Trinity as major patrons. The marriage of John Barker Sr. and his wife Cordelia in 1841 was one of the first recorded at Trinity. Both his son, the industrialist John H. Barker, and his granddaughter, Catherine Barker Hickox, donated buildings and many improvements to the property at 6th and Franklin streets.
Success as an industrialist did not insulate the younger John Barker from personal tragedy, when his three children by his first wife all died in infancy. The construction of the first Barker Hall, a building attached to the church, became his memorial to his children. It served the congregation as both community center and school with classrooms and an auditorium.
During the 30 years between 1858 and 1888, the Trinity Church congregation experienced a six-fold growth. Under the continuing leadership of Follet as Senior Warden and the influence of Barker and banker W.W. Vail as vestrymen, the old wooden church was deemed no longer adequate in size or style for the congregation. In 1889 the third Trinity church seating 450 was built of Indiana limestone. Designed by Chicago architect Henry Starbuck in the Romanesque Revival architectural style, it matched the grandeur of any Chicago building of its day.
In 1898 the Diocese of Indiana was divided with the northern portion of the state becoming a separate diocese. The vestry, under the continued leadership and financial backing of Barker, voted to offer Trinity as the cathedral church. Bishop John Hazen White took residence in the rectory as both rector of Trinity parish and the first bishop of the new Diocese of Michigan City. The Very Rev. Walter S. Howard served as the first dean and associate rector. In 1901, Barker, at his expense, replaced the old rectory with a grander eight-bedroom mansion as a residence for the bishop. In 1910 Mrs. Barker donated the Gothic arched cloister that connects the church to the bishop’s residence. However, changes in liturgical style and lay leadership brought conflict to Trinity parish. Bishop White was too High Church for the parish's taste, and the vestry demanded that the dean of the cathedral be Low Church against the bishop's wishes. Relations between the bishop and the vestry festered and eventually ruptured. John Barker died in 1911, and by 1918, Trinity's cathedral status had been revoked. The diocese was renamed Northern Indiana, though it had no designated cathedral at that time.
It is a testament to the spiritual fortitude of the Trinity congregation that in its first 100 years the parish thrived without clergy leadership for 15 years and nine months. Twenty-five rectors served Trinity with each staying an average of one year, nine months. Only five rectors served more than five years.
The 20th century brought stronger clergy leaders who served for much longer terms, resulting in congregational development. New buildings and renovations were added to the Trinity church complex. Lay leadership remained as a core strength of the congregation, with several parishioners serving multiple terms as senior warden. The beauty of the church and its worship services were enhanced through numerous furnishings, gifts, and memorials from parishioners. Ministries included choir and organ, Altar Guild, Acolytes, Youth Group, and Women of Trinity.
By the 1920s the congregation had outgrown the space provided by the first Barker Hall. The Rev. Earl Ray Hart coordinated the gift of a new Barker Hall, financed by the railroad car heiress Catherine Barker Hickox, daughter of John H. Barker. Her gift included a substantial endowment for the maintenance of the hall. The new facility was constructed in 1929 as a memorial to her father and his deceased children. Dedicated “for the use of the people,” the building became a social and cultural center for the entire community. Along with the “Great Hall.” meeting rooms, classrooms, and offices, a chapel expanded the opportunities for worship.
During the rectorship of the Rev. David Reid in 1956, significant alterations were made to the layout of the 67-year-old church in the name of modernization and to fit better with changes in liturgical style. Entrances were rearranged, the choir and organ were moved, and open arches were closed, changing the essential character of the sacred space. At that time, growth of Michigan City’s lakefront communities and a desire to offer alternative liturgical worship lead several Trinity’s lay leaders to found St. Andrews by the Lake Church.
The long rectorship of the Rev. Robert Center from 1964 to 1988 provided stability for the parish during the time when Michigan City was undergoing both economic and urban transformation. The departure of manufacturing industries, combined with the forces of urban renewal and changes in consumer shopping, left the historic center of the city with mostly empty storefronts. Trinity Church and Barker Hall were no longer at the cultural, social, and geographic center of the city, as new city development occurred to the south. Nonetheless, Trinity’s congregation supported extensive repairs and maintenance projects, including a new slate roof for the church. An additional endowment fund was established to support the ongoing maintenance of the church and rectory. Throughout the ten-year rectorship of Father Stephen Gerth, Trinity maintained its identity as a locus of traditional Anglo-Catholic worship.
In the twenty-first century, Trinity has been sustained by the faithful service of its lay leaders and the visiting ministry of the Rev. Canon Hugh Page Jr., Vice President of the University of Notre Dame. Recognizing its important role in servicing the community, Trinity leaders established a Food Pantry program, continued its Thrift Shop ministry, and hosted community events in Barker Hall.
As Michigan City heads into the third decade of the century, it is once again at the center of an urban development: Michigan City’s revitalizing Arts District. The beauty of Episcopal worship remains at the center of parish life. A youth music program provides spiritual growth and education for children. Service to neighbors continues to make Trinity integral to Michigan City community life. Under the guidance of dedicated wardens and vestry, and the ministry of Father Joseph Tamborini Czolgosz, Trinity remains a loving community dedicated to serving the spiritual, social, and cultural needs of Michigan City in the name of Jesus Christ.
Daniel Van Mater Johnson, 1838-1841
Solon Wines Manney, 1841, 1843-1847
George Bartly Engle, 1841-1843
Fortune Charles Brown, 1847-1851
Henry Monroe Safford, 1852-1855
Caleb Alexander Bruce, 1855-1859
William Henry Stoy, 1859-1860
Edward Purdon Wright, 1860-1861
Richard Leo Ganter, 1863-1865
Thomas Lloyd Bellam, 1865-1866
John Frank Winkley, 1868
Abraham Reeves, 1869-1870
Richard Brass, 1870-1873
Samuel Johnson French, 1875-1879
Charles James Wood, 1879-1881
John Jacob Faude, 1882-1890
Herman Baldwin Dean, 1890-1891
Niles Wright Heermans, 1891-1898
John Hazen White, 1898-1905
Walter Simon Howard, (dean and associate rector), 1898-1905
Frank Ernest Aitkins, 1905-1910
Walter Stephen Trowbridge, 1910-1917
James Andrew Miller, 1918-1922
Jesse Ketchum Brennan, 1922-1927
Earl Ray Hart, 1927-1938
William Aaron Driver, 1938-1943
Russell Garfield Flagg, 1943-1950
David Joseph Reid, 1950-1963
Robert June Center, 1964-1988
Stephen Shea Gerth, 1988-1999
Eugene Edmund Kohlbecker, 2001-2007
Anthony F. M. Clavier, 2010-2012
Tanya Scheff, 2014-2017
Joseph Tamborini Czolgosz, 2018-2020
Kathy Townley, 2021-2022
Robert Rhodes, 2022-
Text adapted from from "History of Trinity Church [Michigan City]"
Robert J. Center, Trinity Episcopal Church, Michigan City, Indiana, 1834-1984: A History of the First One Hundred Fifty Years. Michigan City: Trinity Episcopal Church, 1985.
Centennial, Trinity Protestant Episcopal Church, Michigan City, 1834-1934
Parish Registers (Forthcoming)
Book 1, 1838-1872
Book 1 transcription (to correct legibility problems)
Book 2, 1873-1882
Book 3, 1882-1914
Book 4, 1914-1927
Book 5, 1928-1947
Book 6, 1947-1955
Rev. Richard Brass
The Rev. Richard Brass was born in Pentonville, Middlesex, England on 5 July 1834, the son of William and Elizabeth (Watts) Brass. Formerly a Methodist pastor, he was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in Indiana in 1867. He served parishes in Michigan and northern Indiana, including Trinity Michigan City, and St. Paul's. Mishawaka. He married Lovisa J. Jewett on 3 June 1868 in Lagrange County. He died in Alpena, Michigan, on 23 March 1880, when he was serving as rector of Trinity Church, Alpena. He is buried in Riverside Cemetery, Howe, Lagrange County, Indiana.