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St. Paul's Episcopal Church, La Porte
St. Paul’s is the third oldest Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Northern Indiana, incorporated on St. James Day, July 25, 1839, shortly after St. Paul’s in Mishawaka, 1837, and Trinity in Michigan City, 1838. However, the history of Episcopalians in La Porte can be traced back at least as far as 1835, when visiting clergy conducted services in town. In August 1837, the Missionary Bishop of Indiana, the Rt. Rev. Jackson Kemper, made his first visit to La Porte and recorded in his diary the baptism of “Dr. Rose’s sick child at home on August 15, 1837, prior to the evening service in the Court House.” The first recorded baptism was that of two-year-old Thomas Lafayette Johnson on November 24, 1838. The Rev. Daniel V. M. Johnson of Michigan City also conducted services before the parish was organized.
St. Paul's first rector was the Rev. Solon Manney, who served the parish for ten years, during which time he began a parochial school where “common and high English, Latin, and Greek were taught.” He also served as head of La Porte University, from which the Mayo brothers graduated before moving to Rochester, Minnesota, and founding the Mayo Clinic. After leaving La Porte, Manney founded what is now Seabury Western Seminary.
Early in the 1840s the southeast corner of Indiana and Maple Avenue was purchased for a church site. However, the property was later exchanged for the present location and “fifty dollars, half in cash and the balance in hewed timbers suitable for the church frame.” The first church building was constructed in 1846 and consecrated by Bishop Kemper on March 2, 1848. Before this time, a member of the congregation said her father “had hauled the benches to and from the places of worship.”
The present Indiana limestone building, an example of English Gothic architecture designed by Fort Wayne architects John F. Wing and Marshall S, Mahurin, was built in 1897 and consecrated in 1898. A local newspaper editor called it “the most imposing church building in La Porte if not in northern Indiana.” The church contained an 1872 organ built by Steer & Turner, which was restored in 1979. More recently, in 2009, an anonymous gift of $60,000 by a parishioner made it possible to renovate the exterior of the building.
In 1954 a $1,000 gift started a fund for a new Parish House, which was completed in 1957. In 1959 a new heating system was installed. The present building was built for $92,000 with only $20,000 remaining to be paid five years later.The two priests who served St. Paul’s the longest are the Rev. George Childs from 1927-49 and the Rev. B. Linford Eyrick from 1956-92.
In 1963 the church sanctuary and nave were remodeled, including new altar, new pews, and new floor. On Tuesday, January 15, 1963, the new altar was consecrated and blessed by Bishop Mallett. The top of the altar is a piece of golden marble mined in the Holy Land; the fifteen foot crucifix is made of white oak and carved limba wood; the tabernacle is bronze and oak, flanked by eight bronze candlesticks. The original sanctuary light has since been replaced. New faceted glass windows were dedicated on May 3, 1963, three of which were given in memory of the Rev. George J. Childs, former rector. The windows depict the four evangelists, St. Paul, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the sacraments, and the corporal works of mercy.From St. Paul's website: http://stpaulslaporte.org/history/
The ministry of the Rev. B. Linford Eyrick spanned from 1956 to 1992 and was the most consequential. He came to La Porte after serving as rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Hoosick Falls, New York. He had attended the Hoosac School and Hobart College, and received his seminary training at General Theological Seminary with his degree in 1948. Once in La Porte, he baptized much of the Baby Boom generation of the parish, served several diocesan offices, and was a respected leader in the community. When he arrived, his wife Winnie suggested that the parish open a pre-school, which ran successfully for the next 66 years before eventually closing in 2019. Eyrick died in 1995, three years after his retirement.
In later years the church was served by the Rev. Richard Alford, who left the Episcopal Church for the Eastern Orthodox Church, as well as the Rev. Glenn Kanestrom, the Rev. Jamie Jones, the Rev. Anthony Clavier, the Rev. Thomas Kincaid, the Rev. Paul Nesta, and most recently, the Rev. Cn. Michelle Walker, who divides her time as priest-in-charge with being a diocesan missioner for Bishop Douglas Sparks.
Daniel Van Mater Johnson, 1838-1839
Solon Wines Manney, 1839-1849
Hiram M. Roberts, 1851
Franklin Reeve Haff, 1852
Walter Emlen Franklin, 1854-1856
Almon Gregory, 1856-1861
Addis Emmett Bishop, 1862-1864
James Hervey Lee, 1864-1867
Frank Mark Gregg, 1867-1869
George John Magill, 1869-1875
Walter Scott, 1872-1873
Charles Thompson Coerr, 1875
James Taylor Chambers, 1875-1877
Andrew Mackie, 1877-1878
James Langhorne Boxer, 1879-1881
Rush Spencer Eastman, 1883-1886
Walter Scott, 1886-1894
Asa Appleton Abbott, 1894-1895
Thomas Bennington Barlow, 1895-1899
Edward Lemuel Roland Jr., 1899-1902
Addison Alvord Ewing, 1902-1904
Joseph Cooper Hall, 1904-1905
Arthur Edgar Gorter, 1906-1908
Lawrence Southworth Kent, 1908-1910
Daniel Le Baron Goodwin, 1911-1917
Francis John Edmund Barwell-Walker, 1918-1927
George Jay Childs, 1927-1948
Eric F. Pearson, 1949-1951
Robert Frank Royster, 1952-1956
Benjamin Linford Eyrick, 1956-1992
Richard Alford, 1992-1995
Glenn W. Kanestrom, 1997-2002
James Place "Jamie" Jones, 2002-2008
Anthony F. M. Clavier, 2008-2011
S. Thomas Kincaid, 2012-2015
Paul A. Nesta, 2015-2018
John Houghton, 2019-2020 (interim)
Michelle I. Walker, 2020-
Parish Register 1838-1865
Parish Register, 1838-1910
Parish Register, 1911-1939
Parish Register C, Baptisms Confirmations, and Burials, 1940-1979
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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. The land at the mouth of Trail Creek was purchased in 1830 by real estate speculator Isaac C. Elston as the site of his city. In 1832 only one cabin stood, but by 1833 there were enough settlers 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.” But there was no church. With few people living in the area between Niles, Michigan, South Bend, Indiana, and Michigan City, there was a scarcity of ordained clergy of any denomination to serve those faithful to their Christian religion. 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 May 1834, when the Rev. Palmer Dyer preached what is considered the first sermon. 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 October 1834, 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 memoirs: “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 arriving in 1835 included Dr. H. T. Maxon and Schuler 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 newly-named parish was visited by the the Rt. Rev. Jackson Kemper, Missionary Bishop of the Northwest. The Rev. Daniel V. M. Johnson was sent by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of New York to become the 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 members felt 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 also served the city as 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 of the growing city. Augustus Barber was an early postmaster and city treasurer. Urial C. Follet also served for many years as treasurer.
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 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, who during 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. The new wood frame church was built in the prevailing architectural style of the time, “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, 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 John H. Barker from personal tragedy. His three children by his first wife all died in infancy. The construction of the first Barker Hall was his memorial to his children. The building served the congregation as both community center and school with classrooms and auditorium.
During the 30 years between 1858 and 1888, the Trinity Church congregation experienced a six-fold growth. Under the continuing leadership of Urial C. Follet as Senior Warden and the influence of industrialist John H. Barker and banker W.W. Vail as vestrymen, the old wooden church was deemed to be 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. 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. In 1901 John H. 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. Both changes in liturgical style and lay leadership brought conflict to the 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 status had been revoked. The diocese was renamed Northern Indiana, though initially there was no designated cathedral.
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. There was also the addition of new buildings and renovations 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 given by parishioners. Ministries included choir and organ, Altar Guild, Acolytes, Youth Group, and Women of Trinity.
By the 1920s the congregation had outgrown the spaces 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. 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, was the addition of a chapel expanding 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 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 B. Engle, 1841-1843
Fortune C. Brown, 1847-1851
Henry Safford, 1852-1855
Caleb Alexander Bruce, 1855-1859
William H. Stoy, 1859-1860
Edward P. Wright, 1860-1861
Robert L. Ganter, 1863-1865
Thomas L. Bellam, 1865-1866
John Frank Winkley, 1868
Abraham Reeves, 1869-1870
Richard Brass, 1870-1873
Samuel J. French, 1875-1879
Charles James Wood, 1879-1881
John Jacob Faude, 1882-1890
Herman Baldwin Dean, 1890-1891
Niles W. Heermans, 1891-1898
John Hazen White, 1898-1905
Frank Ernest Aitkins, 1905-1910
Walter S. Trowbridge, 1910-1917
James A. Miller, 1918-1922
Jesse K. Brennan, 1922-1927
Earl Ray Hart, 1927-1938
William A. Driver, 1938-1943
John Russell Flagg, 1943-1950
David J. Reid, 1950-1963
Robert J. Center, 1964-1988
Stephen Gerth, 1988-1999
Eugene Kohlbecker, 2002-2007
Anthony F. M. Clavier, 2010-2012
Tanya Scheff, 2014-2017
Joseph Tamborini Czolgosz, 2018-
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
Rev. Solon Wines Manney
The Rev. Solon Wines Manney was born at Hyde Park, Dutchess County, New York, in 1813, the son of John and Elizabeth (Collins) Manney. His father was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church and his mother was a Quaker. He married Sarah Trumbell Phelps. Attracted tot he Episcopal Church, he studied under the Bishop of Maryland and graduated with honors from General Theological Seminary in 1837. He was ordained by Bishop Onderdonk and served two years as rector of the Church of the Nativity in New York City. Moving west at the behest of Bishop Jackson Kemper, he became the first rector of St. Paul's, La Porte in 1839 and served there through 1849. He also served concurrently as rector of Trinity Michigan City in 1841 and again from 1843 to 1847. He also became president of La Porte University. In 1850, Manney moved to Milwaukee and became rector of St. James Church. The following year he received a letter nominating him to be the chaplain of Fort Ripley in Minnesota, serving there and as a missionary on the frontier and to various Indian tribes until 1859. His diary of his time at Fort Ripley remains an important first person account of its early history. He died in Faribault, Minnesota, on 19 January 1869 and is buried in Maple Lawn Cemetery.