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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
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Edward Stuart Little II, Seventh Bishop
Edward Stuart Little, the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Northern Indiana, held office at a time of intense changes in the national church. An outstanding preacher, he brought an evangelical zeal for the Gospel that ushered in a new leadership style for the diocese. As Linda Buskirk has written, Bishop Little personified "the lighthouse on the diocesan seal" and "delivered powerful messages that illuminate priorities for Christ centered living and ministry."
Little was born in New York City on 29 January 1947, the son of a nominally Episcopalian father and Jewish mother. He grew up agnostic and attended school in Manhattan and Norwalk, Connecticut. He received his Bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California in 1968. He credits a college class on the Bible as literature as bringing about his conversion to Christianity and his joining the Episcopal Church. The same year of his graduation he married Sylvia Gardner at Palm Desert, California. They had two children: Gregory and Sharon.
After deciding to enter the Episcopal priesthood, Little received a Master of Divinity degree from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in 1971 and was ordained a deacon and priest that same year in the Diocese of Chicago. He served as a curate in two parishes: St. Matthew's Evanston and St. Michael's, Anaheim, California, before becoming vicar of St. Joseph's Episcopal Church in Buena Park, California. When that church achieved parish status, he became its first rector. Little became rector of All Saints Church in Bakersfield, California, in 1986, and from here he was elected bishop on the first ballot on 5 November 1999.
Little was consecrated bishop at a ceremony in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame on 30 April 2000, with Bishops Gray and Sheridan, his two predecessors, among the consecrators. His sixteen-year episcopate that followed might best be understood as defined by three distinct eras: The Mission and Evangelism era lasting from 2000 to 2003; the Reconciliation Era from 2003 to 2007, and the Congregational Development Era from 2007 to 2016.
The initial focus of Little's tenure was mission and evangelism. At the time of his seating as bishop, he articulated four core values for the diocese that he hoped would guide it during his episcopate:
1. A passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ
2. A heart for the lost.
3. A willingness to do whatever it takes.
4. A commitment to one another.
Taking a strongly evangelical and Jesus-centered view of ministry, one of his early actions was to hold a Rally for Mission and Evangelism at Goshen College in 2001 with Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana as the keynote speaker. About 700 attended, and Little intended it as an inspirational kick-off for getting church-goers to invite others to church and help the diocese grow. Bishop Sheridan, the diocese's last tradition Anglo-Catholic bishop, also took part, even though the approaches of the two men to ministry differed significantly.
The second era, Reconciliation, began in 2003, when Gene Robinson, an openly gay priest living in a same-sex relationship, was elected and consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire with the General Convention's consent. The election had occurred against the backdrop at the national level of a church rent by internal divisions over issues of sexuality and same-sex marriage. Robinson's election caused a firestorm within some congregations of the diocese and at the national level, it prompted many conservative Anglicans to leave the Episcopal Church and form the Anglican Church in North America. The election of Katharine Jefferts-Schori as Presiding Bishop in 2006 prompted three dioceses, Quincy, Fort Worth, and San Joaquin, to leave the Episcopal Church. While Little opposed same-sex marriage and forbid them from occurring in the diocese, he remained within the Episcopal fold. As a compromise, he would eventually allow same-sex couples to marry outside the diocese and permit priests in the diocese to perform those rites. He reached out to liberals, even befriending Bishop Robinson, and agreed to provide pastoral care to some congregations who had opposed Robinson's election. Within the diocese, a number of parishes experienced losses as members left the church, but other parishes strongly affirmed gay rights and differed with the bishop's stand on same-sex marriages.
The third era of Little's episcopate, the Congregational Development era, began in 2007. Attendance trends in parishes throughout the diocese followed those of the national church as membership in many parishes decreased and in some, dwindled. Little sought to infuse them with new life through dynamic preaching and encouraging people to tell their own faith stories. He had inherited his first Canon to the Ordinary, David Seger, from his predecessor and acknowledged to Seger his appreciation for the continuity and knowledge he brought with his ministry. After Seger's retirement in 2007, Little called the Rev. SuzeAnne Silla as the new canon, blessing her extensive experience in congregational development with the Diocesan Congregational Development Institute (DCDI). The purpose of DCDI was to give clergy and laity across the diocese more confidence and skill in problem solving, visioning for the future, and conflict management. About 20 congregations took part, and it had the side-benefit of bringing leaders from different parishes together and fostering inter-parish relationships.
In 2013, Little articulated five imperatives for the diocese in using DCDI: Focus on Jesus; Think Biblically; Proclaim Good News; Feed people who are hungry; and Mentor young people. As the vision played out, some parishes began offering bilingual services while others sought new ways of meeting the needs of their communities.
One of the challenges faced by Little's episcopate was the dwindling membership of certain parishes and their inability to support a priest. Many priests were necessarily bi-vocational to support themselves, but the problem of clergy shortage became particularly acute in the Calumet area of the diocese, where some parishes were floundering and in danger of closing. A major success story was the Calumet Episcopal Ministry Partnership (CEMP), which first formed in 2010. Three congregations, St. Barnabas-in-the-Dunes, St. Paul's Munster, and St. Timothy's Griffith, came together in dialogue, and what emerged was a vision of one church in three locations, all sharing the same full-time priest. The program proved successful, and not only was a full-time priest, the Rev. Michael Dwyer, ordained in 2012 for the post, but three other part-time priests also signed on. In June 2015, St. Christopher's Crown Point joined the partnership, followed by two others, St. Stephen's Hobart and St. Augustine Gary, under Little's successor, Bishop Douglas Sparks.
Bishop Little announced his retirement effective 30 June 2016 and served as a consecrator of his successor. He and his wife Sylvia continued to live in Indiana and take up residence in Mishawaka. As his greatest overall goal, Little has said: "When I became bishop, I committed myself to helping the diocese become increasingly Christocentric; to helping every man, woman, and child in the diocese to speak openly of their relationship with Jesus; and to helping parishes to see the world beyond their doors as their mission field." The core values were the guiding principles of his tenure.
Source: Email message of Bishop Edward Little, August 2019.
Holy Eucharist and Ordination of Edward Stuart Little II ...18 March 2000
Pastoral Letter on Same Sex Marriage, 2012