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Douglas Everett Sparks, Eighth Bishop
Bishop Douglas Everett Sparks, the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Northern Indiana, is the current incumbent. Born on 8 January 1956, he studied Philosophy at St. Mary's Seminary College, graduating with a Bachelor's degree in 1980. Subsequently, he received a Master's degree from De Andreis Institute of Theology in 1984. Ordained a priest in the Roman Catholic Church in 1984, he served parishes in Missouri, Colorado, and Illinois. In 1989 he was received as a priest into the Episcopal Church, serving as rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Whitewater, Wisconsin, from 1990 to 1995. He also married Dana Wirth and had three children: Christina, Graham, and Gavin.
Sparks later served at St. Matthias Church in Waukesha, Wisconsin, then went to New Zealand to become Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in Wellington. On returning to the United States, he became rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Rochester, Minnesota. From here he was elected bishop on 6 February 2016. He was consecrated at Trinity English Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, on 25 June 2016 by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.
Bishop Sparks has adopted a five-point plan of mission that will guide his episcopate:
1. Tell the Good News of the Kingdom.
2. Teach, Baptize, and Nurture new believers.
3. Tend to human need with loving service.
4. Transform unjust structures of society.
5. Treasure God's Creation and renew the Earth.
Bishop Sparks has reversed previous diocesan policy and approved same-sex marriages being performed in the diocese with the consent of individual parishes. He was personally present for the wedding of South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg to Chasten Glezman on 16 June 2018 in a ceremony at the Cathedral of St. James in South Bend. He has also formed a strong pastoral partnership with Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows of the Diocese of Indianapolis, marching for social justice issues, against gun violence, and in favor of greater acceptance of all marginalized groups in the Church. He is an "activist bishop" and comfortable in that role, but he is always careful to ground that advocacy in his faith.
Episcopal News Service:
Consecration of Bishop Douglas Sparks, 25 June 2016, Trinity English Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne
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St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church, Culver
The history of St. Elizabeth's began in 1987 when Virginia Fisher discovered that the Rev. Lloyd Holifeld, a counselor at the Pathfinder House in Culver, was conducting Episcopal services in Peru, Indiana. Bishop Francis Gray was trying to establish an Episcopal Church in each county seat in the Diocese of Northern Indiana. With the closing of the church in Peru, and St. Thomas in Plymouth representing Marshall County, Rochester was chosen as the site of a new mission in 1987. It was called St. Mary's with Holifeld as the vicar, but it did not prove to be successful. The majority of the attending families drove to Rochester from Culver for a mid-day service. Fisher and others from Culver appealed to Bishop Gray to transfer the mission to Culver. After prayerful consideration, the bishop consented to the move so long as the mission could be financially self-sufficient.
Since Culver had a Roman Catholic church named St. Mary’s, it was decided to call the new Culver Episcopal church St. Elizabeth’s. On November 7, 1990, at 9 AM, St. Elizabeth’s held its first service in the east end of the Bick’s Flicks building at 820 Academy Road. In January 1991, St. Elizabeth became an official mission of the Diocese of Northern Indiana. It received financial help from other congregations in the diocese: St. Christopher, Carmel; St. Philip and St. James, Fort Wayne; St. Alban’s, Fort Wayne; St. Andrew's, Kokomo, St. Anne’s, Warsaw, and St. Augustine, Gary. All made contributions of the altar, vestments, chalices, torches, thurible, boat, bells, and a processional cross to help establish the new mission.
The worship space was small, but the mission had a local home and its congregation was happy. After several years St. Elizabeth's had the opportunity to move to the west end of the building that would provide a great deal more space – 4 rooms plus and entrance hall. Father Holifeld continued to take care of the little church family until his sudden death in August 2000. The congregation continued to meet, conducting a Morning Prayer service with an occasional supply priest. In October 2001, retired Bishop William C. R. Sheridan, began making monthly visits to conduct services at St. Elizabeth’s. In May 2002, he was named priest-in-charge with twice monthly communion services.This arrangement continued until his death in September 2005. Again, the church held Morning Prayer services with the occasional supply priest until June 2006, when Deacon Margaret Shaw took charge. During the summer of 2006, the building that had been home to St. Elizabeth’s for sixteen years was sold. With generous help, St. Elizabeth’s purchased a home at 515 State Street, not far from its previous address. The last service at 820 Academy Road was held October 29, 2006. The first service at 515 State St. was held November 5, 2006.
In January 2007, Shaw was ordained to the ministry and became priest-in-charge. Her first service at St. Elizabeth’s as a priest occurred on January 14, 2007. In May 2009, she and her husband, Terry, moved to Essex, New York, to take charge of St. John’s Parish, where she would begin as a full-time priest. On Sunday, May 31, 2009, St. Elizabeth’s welcomed the Rev. Tom Haynes as pastoral leader and minister for the congregation. He was followed by the Rev. Thomas Kincaid and the Rev. Clark Miller. St. Elizabeth continues to be self-supporting, has outreach programs, supports mission work, and conducts Wednesday Bible study. The Brotherhood of St. Andrew of the Episcopal Church is also an active group of men.
Lloyd Holifield, 1987-2000
William C. R. Sheridan, 2001-2005
Margaret Shaw, 2006-2009
Thomas Erskine Haynes, 2009-2013
S. Thomas Kincaid, 2013-2015
Clark S. Miller, 2013-
Adapted from St. Elizabeth's website: http://steculver.org/history.html