Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana Archives

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Kokomo

In 1885, Bishop David Buel Knickerbacker of Indiana conducted Kokomo's first Episcopal service in the Congregational church. R. L. Wilcock, an Englishman and Methodist, went to that first service and spoke the necessary responses from the prayerbook so that the bishop would have some someone to "talk back to him."

The mission of St. Andrew's was organized soon afterward, and it led two candidates to prepare for confirmation in 1890. The congregation met variously in lodge rooms, halls, offices, and occasionally in other churches. The boom in natural gas production brought many new residents to north central Indiana, including many from England, who lent their support to the church. The fledgling congregation built a church at Taylor and LaFountain streets in 1893. However, the lay leadership invested church funds unwisely, losing all of its money in the financial panic of 1893 and forcing the vestry to sell the property. The congregation was left deeply discouraged. Bishop John Hazen White commented in his 1896 convention address: "To my great sorrow I found myself driven to the conclusion that the best course to pursue was to surrender the property to those who held a mortgage against it for more than its value, abandon the field entirely and hope that in the near future a more propitious opportunity would offer of beginning a mission there under conditions hopeful and promising. There have been no services there during the year."

During these years the Rev. Francis C. Woodard of Alexandria, Indiana, worked heroically to keep the congregation going while also devoting time to nearby St. Stephen's Mission in Elwood. In 1897, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Beacon opened their home for services, and the Rev. Edward Wilson Averill of Peru came down during the week to conduct services. Later, the congregation met in a hall above Charles Jinkerson's grocery store at the corner of South Main and Markland Avenue. By one account, the services "were characterized by unbounded enthusiasm and zeal and exerted a wide influence, but the work was crippled by the removal of active workers."

The mission was briefly named St. John's and met at Love's Hall on Markland Avenue. The name was returned to St. Andrew's by 1902, when the Rev. Henry Neely led the purchase of a mission property at 111 North Market Street in the center of town. For a time the church met there in an old brick residence in Tudor Revival style known as the Scoven house. On the rear of the lot the congregation built a parish house with a rectory on the second floor. The previous vicar, the Rev. J. Otis Ward, had gone East to raise money for a church, collecting enough to make a down payment. Later, a small chapel was built on the site.

Neely left in 1911, and for several months the parish celebrated Morning Prayer under the leadership of lay reader Cleon E. Bigler. Bishop White reported that year that the mission was heavily in debt, which the diocese assumed with the aid of the trustees. However, some debt remained for the parish to pay as well. The Rev. John F. Plummer arrived in 1912, and four years later, Bishop White reported that Plummer "continues to do most excellent work at Kokomo, where he is steadily extricating the mission from the debt that has rested upon it for many years. Besides meeting all their operating expenses, paying all their missionary obligations, both diocesan and general, and doing considerable charity work, they have cut down the principal of their debt $350." The vicar's efforts were successful enough for the mission to be recognized as a parish in 1922, with Plummer becoming the first formal rector.

In 1923, under Cleon Bigler's leadership (who had gone from being a lay reader to a priest in Illinois), the congregation purchased land on West Superior Street and developed architectural plans for a new building, but the estimated cost of $150,000 proved too much for the congregation to raise. In 1928, under the leadership of the Rev. Harry Kellam and later the Rev George Jewell, the congregation, using a horse-drawn team, moved the old church building on Market Street to a location at 602 West Superior Street, adjoining several structures.

In 1948, after the arrival of the Rev. Peter Dennis, the congregation drafted plans for a new church on the site to adjoin the older structures. These plans were less elaborate than the 1925 plans, and the money was successfully raised. The shell of that new building, a Gothic Revival Church, was completed in 1952 under the leadership of the Rev. Richard Cooper. Eventually, the building was finished and stained glass windows were installed. Further improvements to the chancel followed in 1973 under the Rev. George Davis. By the 1990s, St. Andrew's thrived under the leadership of the Rev. Derek Harbin, having 210 families by 1995.

The Rev. Richard Lightsey arrived in 2000 and under his leadership, St. Andrew's continues to flourish. A major outreach ministry is Sol House, a community gathering place for the arts and a place to "connect with others spiritually and explore diversity."

Francis C. Woodard, 1893-1897
Edward Wilson Averill, 1897
Josiah Otis Ward, 1900-1901
Henry Ritchie Neely, 1901-1910
Henry Lodge, 1911-1912
John Francis Plummer, 1912-1923
Cleon E. Bigler, 1923-1928
Harry M. Kellam, 1928-1929
George Arthur Peters Jewell, 1930-1939
Gerald H. Lewis, 1939-1947
Peter Dennis, 1948-1954
Richard Cooper, 1954-1972
George Davis, 1973-1991
J. Derek Harbin, 1992-1999
Richard B. Lightsey, 2000-


Jackson Morrow, History of Howard County, Indiana (Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen, n.d.), 1: 442-446.

Howard County Genealogical Society, Howard County, Indiana Family History, 1844-1994 (Paducah, Kentucky: Turner Publishing Co., 1995), p. 91.

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