Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana Archives

St. Francis' Episcopal Church, Chesterton (originally Church of the Incarnation)

Early in 1965, a group of Episcopalians living between Valparaiso and Chesterton formed the Society of the Nativity with the purpose of establishing an Episcopal church in Chesterton. They were motivated by worshiping in a church where services could be conducted in a Low Church style. The group included Methodists and Presbyterians, as well as disaffected Episcopalians.  Despite some reservations, Bishop Klein, who disliked evangelicals, lent his support, celebrating the Eucharist in the Jackson Township Hall but pointing out some errors in the original charter. The Rev. Charles Sunderland was appointed vicar of what was originally to be called the Church of the Nativity, and the church was scheduled to be admitted as an unorganized mission on 1 January 1966, with Bishop Klein establishing Highway 6 as its southern boundary.

Conflict arose between the bishop and some members of the mission, mostly stemming from the differences between the corporate charter of the mission and canon law over worship style. Acting on recommendations from the diocesan Department of Missions, Klein dissolved the Church of the Nativity in December 1965. At the same time he announced the formation of a new congregation, the Church of the Incarnation. The new name had a Roman Catholic sound and undoubtedly resulted from Bishop Klein's dislike of Low Church evangelicals. Father Sunderland still had charge of the mission, which held services in the Edmonds Funeral Home in Chesterton. A Sunday school was formed, and members of the church came forward to serve as organists and lay readers.

The Bishop's Committee began a search for property and eventually settled on a 12-acre parcel on East Porter Street, making the purchase with $25,000 from the Diocesan Foundation.  Architect Earl Jewell drafted plans for a building at 2101 East Porter, and after he made several modifications to the plan and the rectory was constructed, the cornerstone of the church was laid by Bishop Klein in August 1967. The building was completed at a cost of $75,000.  The name of the church was later changed to St. Francis' Episcopal Church in 1985 under its then-rector, the Rev. John E. Meyer.


Charles Albert Sunderland, 1965-1973
Thomas Bailey Aldrich, 1974-1977
John Edward Meyer, 1977-2009
Allyne Levoit Smith, 1983-1985
Andrew Hanyzewski, 2010-2012
S. Thomas Kincaid, 2012-2015
David E. Pearson, 2015-

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