Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana Archives

St. Philip's Episcopal Mission, North Liberty (defunct)

St. Philip's Mission was founded in St. Joseph County about 1873 under Bishop Talbot and through the efforts of Dr. Sylvester Laning, a layman who became a licensed lay reader. Previous to that time, the Rev. George Magill of St. Paul's, La Porte went to North Liberty for missionary work but made no mention of a church building. A frame church was erected through Laning's efforts in 1873. A newspaper account from December 1873 noted that it was "a fine specimen of Gothic architecture" that was a credit to Dr. Laning and the carpenters. It had a furnace and a seating capacity for 200 people. Bishop Talbot commended the church in his 1874 convention address, remarking that even though North Liberty had only 600 people, it "presents the spectacle of as beautiful a Gothic church, finely and even elegantly finished, as can be found anywhere in the Diocese." An engraving of the new building appeared in the 1875 St. Joseph County Illustrated Atlas. Newspaper accounts show that the church had a Ladies Aid Society by 1873, and North Liberty High School held classes in the nave during the week.

Dr. Laning, the church's prime mover, sold the church building and property to the diocese in 1877 and later moved to Kingman, Kansas, where a church convention journal commended him for building single-handed "a pretty mission church in Indiana." Surprisingly, St. Philip's was not consecrated until July 1885 by Talbot's successor, Bishop David Knickerbacker, perhaps because it was still in debt. Two years later in his convention address, the bishop called it called "one of the neatest little church buildings in this part of the diocese, and the few earnest members are to be commended for their care of the material temple."

In 1892, the church was struck by lightning and severely damaged. Membership dwindled over time, and in 1894, the Rev. Walter Scott of Bristol was given charge of it, together with New Carlisle. When the Diocese of Michigan City was created, St. Philip's was still listed on the books, but no one ever filed a parish report. The Rev. Clarence Brandt, missionary at New Carlisle, did some pastoral work there. In 1902 the church property was sold and later became the Church of the Brethren in North Liberty. A few records from this mission survive between 1890 and 1894.

Parish Register, 1890-1894


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