(Taken from the Centennial Directory 1968)
The Diocese of Indiana was formed in 1838 and added to the territory served by Jackson Kemper, first Missionary Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. As early as 1840 visiting clergymen of the church conducted services in South Bend, as a note from the August 7, 1840, copy of the South Bend Free Press shows: "The Rev. Mr. Manna of the Episcopal Church will preach at the Presbyterian Church in this town on Sunday at 3 o'clock p.m."
The Rt. Rev. George Upfold became bishop of the Diocese of Indiana in 1849. He visited St. Joseph County occasionally in the early years of his episcopate, but it was not until 1867 that a determined effort was made to establish an Episcopal Church in South Bend. This effort was led by the Rev. Frank M. Gregg, Rector os St. Paul's Church, LaPorte, Indiana. During the summer of 1867 he held Sunday afternoon services in Shively's Hall. As winter approached, the work was taken over by the Rev. Richard Brass, Rector of St. Paul's Church, Mishawaka. Beginning in November 1867, he conducted services in the Dutch Reformed Church, then located one-half block north of the present Cathedral Church.
On December 15, 1867, the Rev. Richard Brass appointed a committee to act as an informal vestry. Hiram Doolittle was senior warden, and A. S. Reed was junior warden. The name of the church, St. James, was chosen at a meeting held three days later. In the fall of 1867 and again in February 1868, the Rt. Rev. J. C. Talbot, Suffragan Bishop of the Discese of Indiana, visited the small congregation and the first priest, the Rev. George P. Schetky was chosen as the head of the parish. On July 6, 1868, the informal committee petitioned the Bishop for "approval, consent, and permission" for the organization within the limits of South Bend of a Protestant Episcopal Church to be designated as St. James. Permission was given on July 9. 1868, and the first vestry was elected at a meeting held July 28,1868, in the Director's Room of the First National Bank.
From 1868 until January 5, 1871, services were infrequesnt and very little was accomplished. The women's groups met in various homes and the little spark refused to die. The Rev. Frank M. Gregg began coming over again from LaPorte and held services whenever a place could be found. Fr. Gregg decied to erect a church building and on August 30, 1869, a frame building of Gothic style was completed on a lot located on Wayne Street east of Lafayette Boulevard. The cost of the building was $1800.00.
The work prospered and on January 15, 1871, a call was issued to the Rev. William Richmond to become the rector of St. James. At a meeting held April 10, 1871, the parish was reorganized and a new vestry elected. There was some question as to the legality of the previous vestry, and C. M. Heaton was elected Senior Warden and Hiram Doolittle was elected Junior Warden. The first class was confirmed on May 12 of that year, and the number of communicants increased from 16 to 36. The first Sunday School picnic was held on July 6, 1871. In the Spring of 1872 a second class was confirmed and a need for larger quarters was felt. Discussion was made in favor of a lot on the northeast corner of Lafayette and Jefferson. A small brick house on the corner of the property was to be used for a Rectory. The church was moved to this lot and rebuilt at a cost of about $1160.
On February 20, 1873, the church was reopened and a cabinet type pipe organ installed at a cost of $400. In November, 1877, Bishop Talbot made a visitation to the parish, confirming a class of four, and ordained to the priesthood the Rev. Alfred T. Perkins, Rector of the parish.
After several years of rapid turnover of rectors and rather difficult financial problems, Bishop Knickerbacker refused to have the doors closed. He appointed the Rev. Augustine Prentice to take charge of St. James. The congregation seemed happy and after several months the vestry chose Fr. Prentice as their rector at a salary of $1300 per year. During his first year the church recorded a wonderful growth, and the idea of a new church was again approached.
On September 15, 1892, at a meeting of the vestry, it was decided that a new church should be built. Mr. C. B. VanPelt, Junior Warden, was authorized to puchase a lot on the west side of Lafayette Boulevard between Washington and Colfax Streets. Ground was broken for the new church June 1, 1894, and the conerstone was laid on St. James' Day July 25, 1894. The South Bend Daily Times gives the following story: "The St. James Episcopal Church congregation on this St. James Day have every reason to be proud and thankful over a result of long years of effort to give that congreagation a church structure commensurate with the needs of Episcopalians of South Bend and in every way an architectural ornament to our City."
The first service in the new church was held at midnight on Christmas Eve, 1894. The following day a full Christmas Service was held at 10:30 a.m. The dedicatory service was held on January 13, 1895.
One of the outstanding early rectors of St. James who deserves special mention was the Rev. Francis M. Banfil, Rector from 1898-1909. During Fr. Banfil's rectorship a system of numbered and dated pledge envelopes was adopted. The mortgage was greatly reduced. Many of the beautiful objects of art which our Cathedral still displays were given by Fr. Banfil. His presence as rector made St. James an outstanding parish during a very weak period in the life of the American Episcopal Church.
Additions to the parish facilities since the construction of the new church include: the finishing of the undercroft of the church, known as Cathedral Hall, in 1929; the Bishop White Memorial Chapel, later known as the Chapel of Holy Angels, remodeled in 1944 along with the Baptistry, in memory of the Rev. Lawrence D. Ferguson, Rector from 1928-1942; the purchase of Cathedral House in 1955; the purchase of the St. James Building in 1962, a gift from Mrs. Leon B. Slaughter; and the renovation of the interior of the church, a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bert K. Patterson, in 1964. The last four rectors have all made significant contributions to the life of St. James Parish by their long tenure.
The Rev. Lawrence C. Ferguson (1928-42) was rector for a longer period than any other priest.
The Rev. Don H. Copeland who became rector in 1943 is now the director of the World Center for Liturgical Studies in Boca Raton, Florida.
A recent Rector, William Paul Barnds is now the Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas. He was rector of St. James from 1953-1956.
The Very Rev. Robert F. Royster, our present rector and Dean came to St. James from St. Paul's, LaPorte, in 1956.
The Diocese of Northern Indiana was created in 1898, and the Rt. Fev. John Hazen White became its first Bishop, while also serving a Rector of St. James Church from 1912-1920. Bishop White was succeeded by the Rt. Rev. Campbell Gray in 1925; the Rt. Rev. Reginald Mallett in 1944; and our present bishop, the Rt. Rev. Walter Conrad Klein, in 1963.
The Parish Church of St. James was consecrated the Cathedral of St. James for the Diocese of Northern Indiana in 1957 during the episcopate of Bishop Mallett. The then rector, the Very Rev. Robert Royster, continues to serve as the Cathedral's first Dean.
In the year of Our Lord, 1898, in the third year of the pontificate of the Right Reverend John Hazen White, Bishop of Indiana, the thirty-one counties in the northern one-third of the state of Indiana were set aside as the Epicsopal Diocese of Michigan City. Bishop White became its first Bishop. The name of the Diocese was changed in 1919 to the Diocese of Northern Indiana. The Parish Church of St. James, South Bend, was consecrated the Cathedral in 1957. Since that eventful day, it has been the privilege and duty of the faithful members of St. James to serve as the focal point of the worship and work of this Diocese of Northern Indiana. From a rather slow beginning in 1898, the Diocese now has 31 parishes and missions staffed by its Bishop, the Right Reverend Walter Conrad Klein, and 39 parochial clergy. The Diocese counts over thirteen thousand baptized persons as members of this portion of the Body of Christ.
Today please pray for: