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St. Thomas-Santo Tomas Episcopal Church, Plymouth
In October 1856, the Rev. Almon Gregory, rector of St. Paul's, La Porte, arrived in Plymouth and began conducting "house services" as an Episcopal missionary. He led the first service on 19 December 1856, when fourteen people gathered in the Presbyterian Church for a sermon. He promised to return once a fortnight, holding later services at the home of Joseph Westervelt. This first congregation was still not formally organized and had no lay leadership. Bishop George Upfold visited the town in 1858, 1860, and 1861, confirming several persons and encouraging Gregory's efforts. On 23 March 1861, the congregation finally organized officially as St. Thomas Episcopal Church with the election of Gilson L. Cleveland and A. O. Packard as wardens, and Charles Palmer, Thomas McDonald, and John G. Osborne as vestrymen. Other early leaders included Mrs. Sarah Westervelt and John C. Cushman.
During these formative years the congregation gained the support of Henry C. Carter of New York City, who donated a lot on Center Street for the building of a chapel in May 1860. The vestry raised funds to build the small frame church at a cost of $10,000. The first Eucharist was celebrated on 27 June 1860 in the Presbyterian Church; the second was held in November 1860 and the third, the first in the new chapel, was celebrated by Gregory on 3 April 1861. The Rev. Louis Tschiffely arrived in October 1861 and became the parish's first resident priest. Through his efforts, he secured from Henry Carter a donation of the church's first communion set. By 1865, 73 families attended.
The parish struggled to find permanence in the years following the Civil War. Both Episcopal clergy and adequate funding were in short supply. Between 1865 and 1870, the Rev. William Lusk, a Presbyterian minister, supplied the parish and performed baptisms and marriages, but he was not able to celebrate the Eucharist. After his departure the parish called several priests who stayed only for a few years. In 1877 the Rev. John Jacob Faude arrived in Plymouth, and under his able leadership the parish built a rectory at a cost of $3,500 in 1881. For several years Faude conducted services at both Michigan City and Plymouth before resigning the Plymouth charge and moving to Michigan City to become its rector, remaining there until 1890 and returning to Plymouth for a brief stint between 1889 and 1890.
Services continued in the chapel until 1905, when the congregation outgrew it. During the tenure of the Rev. Walter S. Howard (formerly dean of the cathedral at Michigan City), the parish built a new edifice of Indiana limestone designed by local architect Jacob Ness and located on the southern part of the lot at the corner of Adams and Center streets. Bishop White consecrated it on St. Thomas Day, 21 December 1909. A few years later the old church was moved and remodeled into a parish hall. Among the priests who served during these years was the Rev. Benjamin F. P. Ivins, who later became Bishop of Milwaukee.
After World War II, the congregation suffered financially, and the building fell into poor repair. The Rev. William Cordick, who had become rector in 1916, retired in 1940 after a 24-year rectorate. After several pastors served short tenures, Bishop Reginald Mallett ordered the Rev. William Sheridan, then at St. Paul's Gas City, to become rector in 1947. It marked the beginning of a 25-year pastorate, during which the parish grew and gained distinction. The building was extensively restored under his leadership. Sheridan also became chaplain of nearby Culver Military Academy. He remained rector until he was elected bishop in 1972, the first bishop chosen among the priests of the diocese. After his retirement, he returned to Plymouth and became a member of the congregation. In the 1990s under the leadership of the Rev. John Schramm, St. Thomas developed a strong ministry with the local Hispanic community and began offering Spanish-language services. Schramm also led several mission trips to Honduras in the 1990s to build churches and do community work. Later, under the rectorship of the Rev. Thomas Haynes, the parish became known under the dual name of St. Thomas-Santo Tomas to better reflect the diversity of the congregation.
Almon Gregory, 1856-1861
Louis Phillippe Tschiffely, 1861-1865
Richard Leo Ganter, 1865
William Lusk, 1865-1870 (Presbyterian supply)
John Portmess, 1870-1871
Samuel Johnson Yundt, 1872-1873
James N. Hume, 1874-1875
Andrew Mackie, 1876-1877
John Jacob Faude, 1877-1886
Thomas Byron Kemp, 1886-1889
John Jacob Faude, 1889-1890
William Wirt Raymond, 1891-1902
Walter Simon Howard, 1902-1910
Benjamin Franklin Price Ivins, 1910-1913
Samuel Winfield Day, 1913-1916
William John Cordick, 1916-1936
Charles Delano Maddox, 1936-1939
Edward Lemuel Roland - 1939-1941
George G. Shilling, 1941-1943
J. Bradford Pengelly (supply), 1944-1945
James Savoy, 1946-1947
William Cockburn Russell Sheridan, 1947-1972
James Gossett Greer, 1972-1976
Gregory Brian Sims, 1976-1981
John Schramm, 1982-2013
Thomas Erskine Haynes, 2013-2019
Bernadette Hartsough, 2020-
Marshall County Historical Society, History of Marshall County, Indiana (Plymouth: Marshall County Historical Society, 1986), p. 27.
First Book, 1857-1871: Baptisms, Marriages, Burials, Confirmations, Visitations, History, Sponsors
Book 2, 1872-1890, History, Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages, Burials
Book 3, 1892-1910, Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages, Burials
Book 4, 1909-1956, Communicants, Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages, Burials
Book 5 [marked as Book 1], 1956-1977, Communicants, Baptisms, Marriages, Burials, Confirmations, Index
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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
2011 Diocesan Convention, October, Cathedral of St. James, South Bend