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St. John of the Cross Episcopal Church, Bristol, Indiana
St. John of the Cross Episcopal Church was founded in 1843 and originally called "St. John's." Its name was changed in the 1960s because there was another St. John's in Elkhart County, and Bishop Klein felt that the two similar names were confusing. St. John's is the only parish in the diocese founded almost entirely through the efforts of a lay woman, Ann Jennette (Burnham) Judson. Such a role for a woman was an unusual occurrence in the 1840s.
Ann Jennette Burnham was born in Auburn, New York, on 29 April 1807, the daughter of Captain John Burnham and wife Barbara (McCarty). Her father had been an officer in the Continental Army who was imprisoned by the British during the war and later became a sea captain. Jennette married Samuel Parsons Judson, a widower, in Batavia on 28 July 1833. Samuel Judson became interested in purchasing land in the West, and in 1834 settled with his wife in Elkhart County, where he laid out the town of Bristol. The couple was active on the Underground Railroad, helping fugitive slaves escape to Michigan. In 1847, a group of slave catchers from Kentucky broke down the front door of their home and seized a fugitive named Thomas Harris. When the Judsons confronted them, they were threatened with guns. The Judsons brought charges, and the men were imprisoned while Harris was freed and made a successful escape. In 1849, Samuel formed the Bristol California Mining and Trading Association and launched an expedition to the gold fields of California, dying en route near Fort Laramie of cholera.
During these years Mrs. Judson was determined to establish an Episcopal Church in Bristol, the first of its kind of any denomination in the town. The congregation was organized on 25 April 1843, and land was purchased under the names of her husband, along with Thomas Wheeler, Henry H. Fowler, and Edward A. Lansing as trustees. Plans were drawn up for a church, and Bishop Jackson Kemper arrived to lay the cornerstone on 29 December 1843. The Rev. Richard S. Adams, missionary at Mishawaka, conducted services every third Sunday beginning in July 1843, but he left in April 1846 and was succeeded by another missionary, the Rev. Benjamin Halsted, formerly of Fort Wayne.
Between 1845 and 1851, members of the congregation constructed the small wood-frame church slowly at what is now 601 East Vistula Street. Construction funds were surprisingly tight, and it took great effort to complete it. Mrs. Judson began reaching out for support and enlisted Bishop Kemper for help. After informing him of the planned organization of the parish in 1843, Kemper replied, "I rejoice at your perseverance and pray that it never flag. The divine Head of the Church, in His own good time, will help those efforts which are put forth to the glory of His Holy name."
Kemper wrote a letter of introduction for the fund raising effort in December 1843, and Albert Royce, a vestryman, managed to raise just $12.25. Undeterred, Mrs. Judson made a personal visit East the following year to meet with friends and solicit additional funds, but the building was still not finished in May 1848, when Kemper managed to conduct a service within its open frame. Mrs. Judson embarked on a second trip, and the bishop wrote her another letter of introduction: "The zeal of this lady for the House of God, and her anxiety to receive for her children and neighbors the sacred privileges of the Sanctuary, deserves the approbation and encouragement of all the well wishers of our beloved Zion." Bishop Samuel McCoskry of Michigan also wrote a letter, saying: "I know of no place in which the Church has greater claims upon Churchmen than at Bristol. There is no place of worship of any kind in it, and the possibility is that if Mrs. Judson is successful in her mission, the larger part of the population will be brought into the Church."
Mrs. Judson wrote later that she visited Buffalo and New York City, as well as other intermediate cities and towns. An unidentified priest, writing in the parish register, noted of Mrs. Judson's efforts: "It was new work to her experience, but, as results will show, not beyond her large and generous capacities. It was a work, too, brought with many disappointments and annoyances and must prove especially so to one of her refined sensibilities; all these things she was willing to endure for His sake, for whose honor and glory she was chiefly anxious to have a temple erected." In 1850, after a third trip east, she brought back $2,222, enough to finish the building and purchase a bell for $180.
Bishop George Upfold consecrated the building on 8 May 1851. The wood-frame building resembled a New England church, with painted wood sides and a simple steeple. St. John's first permanent rector, the Rev. Homer Wheeler, had arrived two years earlier in 1849, and since he had a family, he had insisted that the vestry provide him a parsonage near the church, where a cemetery (or "churchyard") was also located. Land was purchased and eventually a Greek Revival house was erected. Mrs. Judson left town about 1855 and lived for many years in New York. She returned in 1875 to see the church one last time and died a decade later in Chicago in the home of her daughter.
After the vestry bought and sold two different lots for the rectory, they constructed a more permanent building about 1875 during the rectorate of the Rev. Wellington Forgus. A series of rectors, all of relatively short duration, served the parish in the ensuing years until the arrival of the Rev. Henry Streeter and his family in 1907. He had formerly served at Gas City but left because of his growing deafness. He remained at his post as a resident priest for 10 years, and his hearing problems did not hamper his ministry. His family would remain members of the parish. During the 1950s, the Rev. Bruce Mosier served as a part-time priest, moving back and forth between St. James Goshen (where he served as its full-time rector) and Bristol. Mosier was a native of Bristol and had grown up as a member of St. John's.
The Rev. Donald D. Dunn arrived in 1966 and remained five years. An English professor, he taught at Ball State University during the week and conducted services on Sundays. During his successful rectorate, the parish expanded its classroom buildings, the money for which was given as a memorial to the Rev. Henry Streeter. The addition allowed room for a Sunday school that attracted many new families, including some from the Elkhart area. In 1980, during the rectorate of the Rev. John Henry Morgan, a resident priest, the parish was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and received a visit from Bishop Tinsley of Bristol, England.
In 1994, during the rectorate of the Rev. Shelby Scott, the church was renovated and enlarged, changing it in some respects from its original appearance but making it more accommodating for modern liturgy. Scott also led the parish on a mission trip to Honduras, prior to the renovation, where they built a church for a local congregation. In more recent times the parish has been served by two women, the Rev. Carol Fleming and the Rev. Jennifer Coe Fulton.
Richard Samuel Adams, 1843-1846
Benjamin Halsted, 1846-1848
Homer Wheeler, 1849-1853
Albert Bingham, 1855
Almon Gregory, 1858
William Henry Stoy, 1858-1859
Henry M. Thompson, 1859-1862
Joseph Adderly, 1863-1866
Henry M. Thompson, 1867-1871
Wellington Forgus, 1871-1876
Moses Clement Stanley, 1877-1881
Sherwood Rosevelt, 1881-1885
Joseph Gorton Miller, 1885-1888
Franklin White Adams, 1889
Charles Turner, 1889-1892
Sherwood Rosevelt, 1892
Walter Scott, 1894-1900
Addison Alvord Ewing, 1900-1901
Clarence Estelle Brandt, 1901-1907
Henry Stephen Streeter, 1907-1917
Elton Hoyt (deacon), 1919-1920
Edwin Ellsworth Smith, 1920-1921
Walter Jay Lockton, 1921-1933
Lawrence Cecil Ferguson, 1935-1937
Virgil Pierce Stewart, 1937-1939
Harvey Livermore Woolverton, 1939-1941
Dom Leo Kenneth Douglas Patterson, 1941-1945
John Peterson, 1945
Bruce Bickel Mosier, 1945-1948
Charles Ray Boswell, 1950-1951
Bruce Bickel Mosier, 1953-1965
Donald Duane Dunn, 1966-1971
Robert Manning Maxwell, 1971-1973
Hugh Steiner Hostetler (assistant) 1972-1973
Paul Menzies Ross, 1973-1976
William Evans Martin, 1976-1978
Richard Joseph Brown, 1978-1979
John Henry Morgan, 1979-1990
Shelby Hudson Scott, 1990-1996
Timothy Merle Ljunggren, 1997-2004
Richard Wineland, 2005-2010
Carol Fleming, 2011-2014
Jennifer Coe Fulton, 2014-
Ron Kaser, St. John's, Bristol: A Parish History. Bristol, Indiana: Bristol Banner Books, 1989.
Papers and Letters Concerning the Founding of St. John of the Cross Episcopal Church (formerly St. John's Episcopal Church), Bristol, Indiana, 1842-1855, Consisting Chiefly of the Papers of Mrs. Ann Jennette (Burnham) Judson (1807-1885). Fort Wayne: Allen County Public Library, undated.
Parish Register (History Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages, Burials), 1843-1966
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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. Virgil Pierce Stewart
The Rev. (John) Virgil Pierce Stewart was born in Sterling, Kansas, on 17 May 1907, the son of Clinton Pierce and Myrtle (Fowler) Stewart. His educational background in unknown. He had a connection with Elkhart, Indiana, for he had married his first wife, Anna Madge Robertson (an Elkhart native), in St. John's Church on 15 June 1935. Two years later in 1937, he arrived from Kansas as St. John's rector. From 1937 to 1939 he also served as vicar of St. John's Church in Bristol. Anna died of septicemia on 10 May 1939 at age 24. Stewart married his second wife, Martha Virginia Cawley, in St. John's on 23 December 1942 with Bishop Campbell Gray presiding. In 1943, he volunteered as a chaplain for the Naval Reserves, taking at first a leave of absence and then resigning the post. After the war he was transferred to the Diocese of Milwaukee. At some point he appears to have left the Episcopal Church for the Catholic Church. He died in Chicago on 29 November 1967 and was buried in Calvary Cemetery, Evanston, with the funeral celebrated in the Cathedral of the Holy Name.