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St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Hobart
St. Stephen's was officially organized as a mission on December 16, 1914, by the Rt. Rev. John Hazen White with the assistance of the Rev. Walter B. Williamson of Valparaiso. The congregation first met in members' homes and then in a small white frame building on East 4th Street that previously had been located in Gary and used by Christ Church. White described it in 1916 as "a very pretty chapel without debt for this mission."
Over the years several other area priests served the church, and from 1928 to 1939, St. Stephen's was a mission of Christ Church. Bishop Gray sought a better solution to the clergy shortage in the Calumet area, and after inviting a small group of Benedictine monks to open a priory in Valparaiso, he had them lead the services at St. Stephen's from 1939 to 1945. Among the earliest members of the congregation were Richard and Mary King (grandparents of current member Bob Mattix), William Devonshire, the Rev. L. W. Applegate (missionary priest), and wife Rebecca Applegate, Mrs. F.Y. Keator, Louise and Elbert Ripley, Mrs. Thomas Parker, B.B. and E. T Bale, Alfred Epps, F. Isabel, Doris, N.B., Isabel and G.B. White, Mrs. Earl Ramsey, Mr. and Mrs. William Glynn, and Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Ruchti (grandparents of current member Fritz Ruchti).
In 1948, two years after the monks had moved to Three Rivers, Michigan, the church building was moved to 3rd and Washington Street on land donated by a parishioner. A parish hall and rectory were built, and the church called its first full time priest, the Rev. Wilbur Dexter, in 1949. Subsequent resident clergy included the Hayward Crewe, W. Sumner Ferguson, Charles H. Sutton, John R. Smith, Karl E. Marsh, James W. Curtis and Leonard J. Brinkmoeller.
Needing more space, the congregation purchased land on 14th and State Street, and from 1960 to 1962, the rectory was moved to the east side of the street and the parish hall to the west side. The congregation built a new church to adjoin them with the hall bricked over to match.
A diocesan mission since 1939, St. Stephen's became again a parochial mission of Christ Church, Gary, in 1968. Following a period of rapid growth and stability, the mission received parish status at the diocesan convention on November 9, 1985. A new organ was dedicated on December 3, 1989, and a building fund was started.
In December 1993, Leonard Brinkmoeller was called to a parish in Michigan. For the next three years the parish was served by supply clergy, mainly the Rev. Ross Mack of Valparaiso and M. Richard Miller, a deacon (and since 2002, a priest) assigned to St. Andrews, Valparaiso. In January 1997, the Rev. John Blakslee was elected priest-in-charge on a part-time basis.
In 2000, several former members of the parish presented a stained glass window in memory of their mother, Stelle Hill Fetsch. Stelle was active in the parish until becoming disabled by illness, and her children no longer lived in the Hobart area. David Hill presented a design for the window and a working plan for its installation, and the vestry approved it as addition to the building. The window was presented formally by the Hill family and dedicated by the congregation on Sunday, May 14, 2000, the first Mother's Day of the new millennium.
In the summer of 2001, the parking lot was paved, a sidewalk from the parking lot to the church was added, and outdoor pole lights were installed. On All Saints Sunday, November 3, 2002, the following items were dedicated by the congregation: a new sanctuary light, a Paschal Candle holder, and altar and Eucharist linens all in memory of Michael Sandala. Also dedicated were American and Episcopal Church flags in memory of deceased members. In 2005 a garage for storage was constructed at the south edge of the parking lot. Renovations to the nave, parish hall, and rectory, including new windows, were completed during the first decade of the new millennium. The congregation used a gift from Alice M. Rogers to construct a hallway, bathroom, and meeting room at the west end of the narthex. It was dedicated by Bishop Ed Little on December 14, 2008, two days before the parish's 94th anniversary.
On November 2014, Father Blakslee retired his position as priest at St. Stephen's effective at the end of the year. Father Michael Dwyer from CEMP (Calumet Episcopal Ministry Partnership) offered assistance with supply priests until the congregation could decide the next step for the parish. On December 14, 2014, St. Stephen's observed its 100th anniversary with a Eucharist celebrated by Bishop Ed Little. On October 2016, the Vestry voted to become members of CEMP, sharing a priest among five altars.
Note that the parish register of Christ Church Gary dating after 1980 is located at located at St. Stephen's.
Walter Blake Williamson, 1914-1915
Clinton Bradshaw Cromwell, 1916-1920
George Taylor Griffith, 1920-1925
Arthur Worger-Slade, 1925-1927
Dom Paul Severance, 1939-1945
Harold McLemore, 1945-1946
Samuel Hanna Norman Elliott, 1946-1949
Wilbur B. Dexter, 1949-1952
Hayward Crewe, 1952-1953
Sumner Ferguson, 1953-1957
Charles Havling Sutton, 1957-1960
John Smith, 1960-1964
Karl E. Marsh, 1964-1967
James Wallace Curtis, 1968-1983
Leonard Joseph Brinkmoeller, 1984-1993
Ross Mack, 1993-1994
Monroe Richard Miller, 1994-1996
John Blakslee, 1997-2014
Michael Dwyer, 2014-2018 (CEMP)
Kristine Graunke, 2015-2020 (CEMP)
Michelle I. Walker, 2017-2020 (CEMP)
Pamela Thiede, 2020- (CEMP)
Cynthia Moore, 2020-2021 (CEMP)
Adapted from St. Stephen's website: http://www.calumetepiscopal.org/st-stephen/about.php
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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