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St. Timothy's Episcopal Church, Griffith
St. Timothy's was founded as a mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church of Hammond in 1965 under the leadership of the Rev. Eugene O. Douglass. The idea for a new mission had germinated as early as the mid-1950s, shortly after Douglass was called as rector of St. Paul's and the parish experienced significant growth. In 1960, St. Paul's vestry discussed plans for a new mission church to be built south of the Little Calumet River. After two years of careful planning, the group agreed to purchase a lot with four and a half acres on the east side of Cline Avenue for $22,500. Douglass and the vestry launched a Land Purchase Campaign in order to raise the money for the purchase, and a mortgage was secured. Bishop Mallett blessed the land in a ceremony in April 1962.
As plans for the construction of a new church got underway, interested parishioners met for services in the cafeteria of Highland High School and used a portable altar that could be disassembled each week and stored. The vestry of St. Paul's hired the architectural firm of Bertram Weber & Co. of Chicago to design the church. The result was a striking, contemporary octagonal design of brick that was praised for its artistry. Ground-breaking for the new church took place on 17 April 1966, and as the capital campaign moved forward, a year passed before the cornerstone was laid by Bishop Klein on 16 July 1967. The building was finished at a cost of $100,000. The new mission was initially called "St. Timothy's, Griffith-Highland," with the two towns hyphenated, but later it came to be associated only with Griffith. After many years of being supported as a parochial mission, St. Timothy's became an independent parish in 1982. By the late 1980s it had about 110 families in attendance.
St. Timothy's has been served over the years by many faithful priests, including Michael Grant, Theron Hughes, John Blakslee, Jonathan Sams, Robert Deschaies, and Steven Schuneman. When administrative costs mounted in the twenty-first century, the parish joined St. Paul's, Munster (formerly Hammond), St. Barnabas in Gary, St. Christopher's in Crown Point, St. Stephen's in Hobart, and St. Augustine's in Gary in forming the Calumet Episcopal Ministry Partnership (CEMP). Created in 2012 under the leadership of Bishop Edward Little, CEMP pooled the resources of these parishes for services by a single pastoral leader as a way of reducing administrative costs.
C. Richard Phelps, 1964
Michael Grant, 1966-1967
James S. Sigmann, 1967-1968
Theron Hughes, 1968-1974
John Blakslee, 1975-1977
Jonathan Carter Sams, 1977-1991
Robert Deschaies, 1992-1996
Steven Schuneman, 2000-2010
Michael Dwyer, 2012-2015 (CEMP)
Michelle I. Walker, 2014-2020 (CEMP)
Kristine Graunke, 2015-2020 (CEMP)
Pamela Thiede, 2020- (CEMP)
Cynthia Moore, 2020-2021 (CEMP)
Adapted from St. Timothy's website: http://www.calumetepiscopal.org/st-timothy/about.php
St Timothy's Episcopal Church, St. Timothy's Episcopal Church, 1964-1989. Griffith: St. Timothy's Episcopal Church, 1989.
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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.
On a national level, the Episcopal Church began an initiative under Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to become a "Beloved Community" to promote racial reconciliation. Part of that process involved studying and apologizing for sins committed against minority groups throughout its history. During his sabbatical in 2022, Bishop Sparks walked the Potawatomi Trail of Death, traveling on foot from Plymouth, Indiana, to Kansas. He left an account of his pilgrimage. It symbolized the work of the Diocese of Northern Indiana to account for acts of racism in its past.
Episcopal News Service:
Consecration of Bishop Douglas Sparks, 25 June 2016, Trinity English Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne