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St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, South Bend
St. Michael and All Angels was founded in South Bend in 1956, when Bishop Reginald Mallett gave his house at the corner of Jefferson and Ironwood to become a new mission for the Cathedral. The church was formed in response to a request to have a mission serve South Bend residents living in the south and east of the city. To protect the Cathedral from losing too many members, Bishop Mallett set the boundaries for the new mission and ordered Cathedral parishioners living east of Miami Street, east of Twyckenham Drive, and west of Ironwood Drive to join the venture, cancelling their membership at the Cathedral. The Rev. Horace L. Varian of St. James, a former major in the 100th Bomb Group during World War II, was called to be its first vicar.
Much work had to be done to make the former residence into a church. Openings between the living and dining rooms and the center hall were made larger. Parishioners partitioned the sun room and draped it in order to turn it into a sacristy. Varian took up residence on the second floor with a living room, kitchenette, bedroom and bath.The remodeling cost $2,500.
Response to the new mission proved strong from the beginning. When Varian conducted the first service on 28 October 1956, fourteen attended at 7:30 and 176 at 9 A.M. Many parishioners donated items for the church, such as candlesticks, vases, a missal stand, a chalice, paten, and a paschal candle. The church house quickly exceeded its capacity, and the Cathedral made plans in 1957 to build a church while at the same time granting St. Michael parish status. Varian was forced out as priest in 1958 for sexual misconduct and defrocked the following year by Bishop Mallett.
On 29 September 1959, under the leadership of the Rev. Dwight Filkins, church leaders broke ground for a modern, rectangular-shaped building at 2117 East Jefferson Boulevard under a design by Charles Palmer of the architectural firm of Andrew Toth. Many parishioners contributed or manufactured items for the new building. A crucifix hung over the altar was carved by the Italian artist Aldo Tambolini, then on the staff of the University of Notre Dame. Several rectors followed Filkins, including Charles Dibble, George V. Johnson, and Hugh C. Edsall. During this time the vestry negotiated plans to build a rectory, and in 1964 it agreed to pay Glenn Nunemaker, a parishioner, $20,800 to construct it. Edsall, who arrived in 1963, was a popular priest but resigned from the parish abruptly in 1969 when he divorced his first wife and married a parishioner.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the parish experienced considerable growth under the leadership of the Rev. Dabney Smith. The parish attracted as members a number of faculty on the staff of the University of Notre Dame. In 1997, a new edifice was built at 53720 Ironwood, south of Cleveland Road. The contemporary-styled church was designed by the South Bend architectural firm of Mathews-Purucker-Anella and featured a high-vaulted ceiling with extensive windows and seating for 325. Perhaps its most striking feature was its baptismal font of grey slate, deep enough for full immersion for infants and a wading pool for adults. The font reflected evolving views about how baptisms should be performed at this time and the sacramental value of full immersion. Bishop Gray consecrated the building on 14 September 1997 and baptized his grandson at the service. The new church also featured a 16th-century stained glass window from a country church in France, which was placed near the font. A second phase of construction brought more classroom and kitchen space to what was arguably the most contemporary-designed church edifice in the diocese.
Beginning in 2009, the parish was ably served by the Rev. Matthew Cowden, who was elected Bishop Cadjutor of the Diocese of West Virginia in 2021. The congregation sponsors a free lunch program and partners with the Food Bank of Northern Indiana to provide food to the needy.
Horace Lytton Varian, 1956-1958
Dwight A. Filkins, 1958-1961
George V. Johnson, 1962-1963
Hugh Crichton Edsall, 1963-1969
Paul Edward Leatherbury, 1969-1986
Dabney Smith, 1989-1998
M. Randall Melton, 1999-2008
Matthew D. Cowden, 2009-2021
Mark Van Wassenhove (interim), 2022-
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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