History of St. Elizabeth’s (needs to be updated)

by Judy Becker

Our history begins in 1987 when Virginia Fisher discovered Rev. Lloyd Holifeld, a counselor at the Pathfinder House in Culver, was conducting Episcopal services in Peru, Indiana.

Bishop Francis Gray was trying to establish an Episcopal Church in each county seat in the Dioceses of Northern Indiana. With the closing of the church in Peru, and St. Thomas in Plymouth representing Marshall County, Rochester, Indiana was chosen to establish a new mission. This was 1987. The mission was called St. Mary's and Rev. Lloyd Holifeld was the vicar.

It did not prove to be successful. The majority of the families attending drove to Rochester from Culver for a mid-day service. Virginia Fisher and others from Culver appealed to Bishop Gray to transfer the mission to Culver. After prayerful consideration, Bishop Gray consented to the move to Culver as long as we could be financially self-sufficient.

Since Culver had a Roman catholic church named St. Mary’s, it was decided to call the new Culver Episcopal church St. Elizabeth’s. On November 7, 1990 at 9 AM, St. Elizabeth’s held its first service in the East end of the Bick’s Flicks building at 820 Academy Road. In January of 1991, St. Elizabeth became an official mission of the Diocese of Northern Indiana.

We received help from our church family in the diocese: St. Christopher, Carmel, St. Phillips and St. James, Ft. Wayne, St. Alban’s, Ft. Wayne, St. Andrews, Kokomo, St. Ann’s, Warsaw, St. Augustine, Gary, all made contributions of the altar, vestments, chalice vestments, torches, thurible, boat, bells and processional cross to help establish our new mission.

The area was very small but we had a local home and we were happy. After several years, we were given the opportunity to move to the West end of the building that would provide a great deal more space – 4 rooms plus and entrance hall. We were delighted!

Rev. Holifeld continued to take care of our little church family until his sudden death in August 2000. St. Elizabeth pulled together and continued to meet conducting Morning Prayer service ourselves with an occasional supply priest.

In October 2001, retired bishop, Rt. Rev. Wm. C. R. Sheridan, began making monthly visits to conduct services at St. Elizabeth’s. In May 2002, he was named priest-in-charge with twice monthly communion services. This continued until his death in September 2005. Again, we held Morning Prayer services with the occasional supply priest until June 2006, when Deacon Margaret Shaw took us under her wing.

During the summer of 2006, the building that had been home to St. Elizabeth’s for 16 years was sold. We began a search for a new location. It was difficult to be uprooted but like many things, change has been a good thing. With generous help, St. Elizabeth’s purchased a home at 515 State Street, not far from our previous address. Our last service at 820 Academy Rd. was October 29, 2006. Our first service at 515 State St. was November 5, 2006.

In January 2007, Deacon Shaw was ordained and became priest-in-charge. Her first service at St. Elizabeth’s as a priest was January 14, 2007. In May 2009, priest-in-charge, Margaret (Margie) Shaw and her husband, Terry, moved to Essex, New York at the St. John’s Parish were she would begin as a full-time priest.

On Sunday, May 31, 2009, St. Elizabeth’s church family welcomed Tom Haynes as their Pastoral Leader and minister for the congregation. Haynes is currently studying to become a priest of the Episcopal Church.

St. Elizabeth continues to be self-supporting, has outreach programs, supports mission work and conducts Wednesday Bible study. The Brotherhood of St. Andrew of the Episcopal Church is also an active group of men. We are truly a church family, moving forward and growing.