Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana Archives

St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Mishawaka

On April 20, 1837, two Michigan clergymen, the Rev. Charles B. Stout, rector of St. Stephen's Church in Edwardsburg and the Rev. Henry F. M. Whitesides of St. James Church in Constantine, went south into northern Indiana to do missionary work. They held an organizational meeting for an Episcopal church on the outskirts of Mishawaka in St. Joseph County and conducted services for thirteen people in a schoolhouse. St. Paul's Episcopal Church, the oldest formally organized parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana, began on that date.

No specific record exists of those on St. Paul's first vestry, but by 1842 the congregation purchased property at the corner of First and Spring streets and conveyed it to Hiram Doolittle, John H. Orr, J. E. Hollister, Samuel P. Knight, and Norman Eddy, who were listed as "vestry" and "wardens" of St. Paulʼs Church. A year later the church building that came to be known informally as the “Church on the Hill” was completed under the leadership of the Rev. Richard S. Adams and was consecrated in 1845 by Bishop Jackson Kemper. This frame church in Greek Revival style contained the first belfry bell in Mishawaka, which was cast in 1836. According to one source, the bell was later sold for junk when the church was sold in 1906. Church leaders brought the first organ reportedly from Saratoga Springs, New York, sometime before 1850. Later, they installed a Van Dinter pipe organ, manufactured in Mishawaka. This organ, operated by a hand air pump, was eventually moved to the new church, along with some of the stained glass windows. Finally, John T. Niles, the senior warden, embellished these original structures when he donated a rectory, begun in 1872 and completed in 1876.

The early years were not without difficulties. In 1883, members of the congregation called for the closure of the parish, since no vestry election had occurred for five or six years. Despite these challenges Bishop David Buel Knickerbacker sent the Rev. Augustine Prentiss of South Carolina to serve at St. Paulʼs, along with St. Johnʼs in Elkhart. No one even came to meet Prentiss when his train came to town, yet he had a full congregation at his first service on Sunday, March 9th, preaching on the “Duty of the Hour.” Prentiss revitalized the congregation, and by the time of Bishop Knickerbackerʼs visit on Sunday, July 15th, he had prepared sixteen persons for confirmation. In 1885, the bishop moved him to Indianapolis.

In October 1885, Rev. J. Gorton Miller, B.D., assumed charge of St. Paulʼs jointly with the missionary responsibility of St. Johnʼs, Bristol. The working organizations of the parish consisted of the Wardens and Vestry, a Ladies Society, and a Young Ladies Altar Guild. The women's organizations raised funds for current expenses, repairs, and improvements. In addition, Miller organized a Sunday School. At the beginning of Lent 1886, he had established the custom of celebrating the Holy Eucharist at every Sunday morning service, more frequently than was typical in the Episcopal Church at that time. Miller also introduced the use of Eucharistic vestments of plain white linen, wafer bread, the mixed chalice (a little water with the wine), and the custom of the eastward position of the altar.

On January 1, 1899, after the new diocese had been formed, Bishop John Hazen White sent the Rev. Hamilton D. B. MacNeil to take charge of St. Paulʼs. The parish was free of debt and financially independent at that time. During the next year, the vestry ordered extensive improvements to the building, including the installation of electrical lights, enlarging the choir, and setting a new altar, the gift of Mrs. J. A. Roper and Mrs. E. A. Jurnegan. The rectory also received gifts of a new furnace and bathroom. During the period 1898 to 1902, some of the wardens and vestry of St. Paulʼs included H. H. Hosford, H. G. Eggleston, E. T. Reys, E. G. Richards, Jr., C. A. W. Ostrom, S. G. Todd, M.D., Harvey A. Foroots, Harvey A. Martling, G. G. Eggleston, F. J. Sytz, W. M. Dickinson, S. P. Wilson, W. E. Roe, G. S. Pomeroy, and Ralph H. Jernegan.

MacNeil resigned on February 12, 1902, and was succeeded that same year by the Rev. John Addams Linn (nephew of Jane Addams of Chicago Hull House fame). In 1905, the "Church on the Hill" on Spring St. was sold, and the parish made plans to build a new church and rectory on Second Street (now Lincolnway East), near the new Cedar Street Bridge. The old church was removed to South Union Street and eventually remodeled into a residence.

The construction of the new church came about through the untiring efforts of Linn and the progressiveness of the congregation. The complete cost of the structures was $15,000. Schneider & Austin of South Bend served as architects, and the construction contract was awarded to Hess & Hiner of Mishawaka. The rector laid the cornerstone on July 17, 1906. He fixed the goal of having the work sufficiently completed to hold the dedication on St. Paul's Day, a task that at times required up to 20 workers. Linn celebrated the final services in the old church on January 20, 1907, and he conducted the first service in the new church on Easter Sunday of that year. Bishop White dedicated the church. The windows on either side of the new church were brought from the old one and remain splendid examples of 19th century stained glass. The windows over the entrance, commissioned for the new church by Mrs. E.G. Eberhart, depict the conversion of St. Paul on the road to Damascus. The window above the altar, given by Mrs. J.A. Roper, represents the Risen Lord. The present altar is a larger copy of the original first altar and is adorned with the original symbols. Members of the Bishop Knickerbacker Guild erected the rood screen, designed by Oscar Brubaker in memory of Mrs. Nancy E. Sherman Jernegan in 1916. The hand carved figures from Switzerland were added in 1960 by Alfred S. Ostrom and Mrs. M.H. Goodman in memory of their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles A. Ostrom. The statue of St. Charles I of England, king and martyr, carved in Italy, was given in memory of Alfred S. Ostrom in 1964.

In 1908, Linn left the parish, and he was later killed in action in France in 1918 - the first of the so-called "fighting chaplains" to meet death in World War I. His service is commemorated by a plaque in the sanctuary. The Rev. Lewis C. Rogers began his twenty-five year service as rector later in 1908. That same year, Charles Fairbanks, the Vice President of the United States under Theodore Roosevelt, visited Mishawaka and dined in the undercroft at a meal hosted by the Bishop Knickerbacker Guild.

During the next quarter century the parish experienced significant change when Bishop Campbell Gray named St. Paul's as his Pro-Cathedral in 1925, an honor it would hold until 1951. The bishop had somewhat grandiose plans to build a magnificent new cathedral on the corner of Cedar and Lincoln Way, designed in the Gothic Revival style by the renowned architect Ralph Adams Cram. However, the Great Depression of 1930-1936 and subsequent World War II defeated any chance of realizing this dream when insufficient funds could be raised. The parish did acquire the corner lot as a result of these plans, however. J. Alvin Scott donated it with the provision that it revert to his heirs if not built upon in 25 years, though his heirs later released this provision.

The Depression hit the church so hard that when Rogers retired in 1933, the bishop took over as rector and had his salary paid to the Diocese to make up St. Paulʼs arrearage in its diocesan assessment. The parish began its financial recovery with the arrival of the Very Rev. Archie Ira Drake, a dramatic personage, who became rector in 1935. Although his personal problems with alcoholism forced him to resign in 1937, he laid a solid foundation for renewal of the parish. After leaving, Drake went to the Holy Cross monastery in New York where he edited the St. Augustineʼs Prayer Book and became the national chaplain of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The Very Rev. Russell R. Ingersoll, who served from 1938 to 1942, and the Very Rev. Erland L. Groton, who succeeded Ingersoll and served until 1952, continued the work of building up the parish. During their tenure, the organ was moved from the front, inside the rood screen (behind where the pulpit stands today), to its present location at the rear of the church, thereby enlarging the chancel. The Van Dinter organ was replaced by one of the early electric organs, and a later model donated by Miss Neitzel subsequently replaced this one. During this time, a boysʼ choir was organized under the direction of Miss Winifred Wonderlick, a music teacher at Bingham School, and the Ladies Service League was especially active in its ministry.

Many of the members of the church served in the armed services during World War II. Two members were killed, including Charles Butz, serving in the Army, and Elizabeth Richardson, serving in the American Red Cross. A plaque in the church nave commemorates their sacrifice. St. Paulʼs continued as the Pro-Cathedral of the diocese until Bishop Reginald Mallett, Bishop Grayʼs successor, chose to move the bishopʼs residence to South Bend, and in 1950 removed the title Pro-Cathedral from St. Paulʼs. In 1957, he was formally enthroned in the new St. James Cathedral in downtown South Bend, which remains the cathedral today.

In 1952, the Rev. Wilbur B. Dexter became rector of St. Paulʼs. A native of Cleveland and a graduate of Oberlin College and Nashotah House, Dexter brought continued growth to the parish in his early years as rector. A new rectory was purchased on Edgewater Drive, across the river from the church. The old rectory next to the church became the church school and a chapel. The parish hall was refurbished and paneling added; a new nursery was added; a new roof was put on the church and connecting building.

Dexter was one of the first priests in the diocese to adopt the Holy Eucharist Rite Two of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer as the regular service of the parish. He encouraged women to serve as members of the vestry and girls as acolytes, although he opposed women priests, as did most of the clergy of the diocese at that time under Bishop William Sheridan. A serious illness followed by a broken hip kept Fr. Dexter from his duties at the church for more than a year and led to his retirement to Florida in 1984 after 32 years as rector. During the last years of his tenure, St. Paulʼs saw a sharp decline in attendance.

The Rev. Bruce Mosier, a retired priest from Goshen, served as a supply priest following Dexterʼs retirement. With the encouragement of his wife, Dorothy, Mosier turned around the decline of the parish. The rectory, which had become rundown, was sold and those funds used to start the renovation of the church buildings. Mosier gave new hope to the members of St. Paulʼs, and membership increased to the point where Bishop Sheridan was able to have the Rev. Paul Tracy take over leadership the parish in 1986. When Tracy retired in 1995, the vestry wrote the following mission statement: “The people of St. Paul's Church celebrate the Good News of Jesus Christ and serve as witness of God's love through worship, fellowship, and outreach, daily living the promises made in our baptism.”

This statement proved an instrumental point of focus in the search process that led to the call of the Rev. David K. Ottsen to St. Paulʼs as rector in 1996. Previously, Bishop Gray had assigned him to serve the mission of Christ Church in suburban South Bend, which had folded after only a short time. Working with the vestry, Ottsenʼs hard work and leadership brought new vitality to the parish as it sought to live out its mission statement. A successful capital campaign allowed for many improvements to be made to the edifice, including a new roof on the church and the parish house, a new heating and cooling system, a new sound system, new windows in the parish house, refinishing of the floors, restoration of the pews, renovation of the undercroft, and the remodeling of the kitchen. On the outside, new landscaping was done to the front of the buildings and a beautiful memorial garden added to the river frontage in the back.

In addition to making physical improvements, St. Paulʼs leaders brought energy and commitment to minister to the community at large. Programs such as the Food Pantry and Thanksgiving Baskets expanded each year in the 2000s to provide food to the needy, and goals for participation were set and exceeded. In August 2007, St. Paul's became the site of a gun buy-back program in collaboration with area police departments, which resulted in over 250 guns being exchanged for gift certificates to area businesses. Bishop Edward Little observed that St. Paulʼs was unique in its ability to combine its concern for social justice with a zeal for evangelism. Attendance more than doubled during Ottsenʼs tenure. The congregation was composed of a wide variety of people of all ages, from senior citizens to college students as well as a growing number of families with young children due to several recent births. In October 2007, Ottsen announced that he had accepted a call to be the rector at St. Peter's in Brenham, Texas, and he celebrated his farewell Eucharist on 8 Epiphany 2008.

While the church searched for a new rector, Bishop Gray, now retired, served as its interim priest at the church in which he was baptized when his grandfather was bishop of Northern Indiana. On June 11, 2008, the Search Committee formally recommended a candidate, and accordingly, the vestry agreed unanimously to call the Rev. Susan Bunton Haynes, formerly Assistant Rector and later priest-in-charge of the Cathedral of St. James in South Bend, to be the new priest. Mother Susan accepted the call and officially took up the rectorship on September 1, 2008, and was installed by Bishop Little on October 10. After a successful rectorate, she was elected bishop of the Diocese of Southern Virginia in 2019.


Henry F. M. Whitesides, 1837
Charles Brockden Stout, 1839
Foster Thayer, 1842
Richard Samuel Adams, 1842-1846
Benjamin Halsted, 1846-1852
Stephen Douglass, 1852-1853
Martin Frederick Sorenson, 1854-1856
Elias Birdsall, 1856-1858
Colley Alexander Foster, 1860
Joseph Adderly, 1861-1866
Richard Brass, 1866-1871
John Gierlow, 1871-1873
Moses Clement Stanley, 1874-1876
Alfred Thomas Perkins, 1879-1880
Sherwood Rosevelt, 1881-1882
Augustine Prentiss, 1883-1885
Samuel Franklin Myers, 1885-1886
Joseph Gorton Miller, 1886-1888
Frederick Thompson, 1888-1890
Augustine Prentiss, 1890-1892
DeLou Burke, 1892-1898
Hamilton Douglas Bentley MacNeil, 1899-1902
John Addams Linn, 1902-1908
Lewis Curtis Rogers, 1908-1933
James Boyd Coxe, 1933-1935
Archie Ira Drake, 1935-1937
Russell Richard Ingersoll, 1938-1942
Erland Lawrence Groton, 1942-1952
Wilbur B. Dexter, 1952-1984
Bruce Bickel Mosier, 1985
Paul John Tracy, 1986-1995
David K. Ottsen, 1996-2007
Francis Campbell Gray, 2008
Susan Bunton Haynes, 2008-2019
Nathaniel Warne, 2020-

Adapted from St. Paul's website: http://www.stpaulsmishawaka.org/html/history.pdf

St. Paul's Parish Register, 3 volumes, 1837-1933

St. Paul's Parish Register with Vestry Minutes, 1837-1870

St. Paul's Parish Register, 1871-1901

St. Paul's Parish Register, 1903-1933

This page references: