Featured Parish: St. Mary's Church + Goshen, IN
In 1993 a group of Episcopalians lead by Reverend Father Antony Bell were chrismated in Toledo and soon formed St. Mary’s of the Dormition in Goshen, Indiana. For years the young group of Orthodox converts met in various places, including homes, the upper room of a local funeral home, and store-front rental facilities. The parish grew with their beloved priest Father Antony. Eventually they were able to purchase property in Topeka, Indiana, where they stayed for several years. Many of the faithful drove many miles to attend services out in the country area surrounding the small town of Topeka. The beloved people remained faithful and believed.
Unfortunately, their beloved leader and priest became ill with an aggressive form of cancer. After a long but gracious battle with cancer, the beloved Father Antony reposed in June of 2006. His wife Kh. Melanie moved on to Pennsylvania and settled there with family. Soon after, Father George Smith and his wife Kh. Anna (Charlotte) faithfully pastored the church until His Grace Bishop MARK would appoint another priest.
In February of 2007, Father Matthew Wade was ordained to be the new priest of St. Mary’s. He and his wife, Kh. Kelly, and family moved to Goshen with the direction from His Grace Bishop MARK to possibly move the parish back into the Goshen area. In the fall of 2007 the parish decided to return t its roots in Goshen. After a year the building finally sold, and soon after six acres of land were purchased just outside of Goshen proper, three miles from Goshen College, home of the Mennonite Conference.
Lacking funds in an economically hard-hit area and wondering how the parish might build, rent a facility for a short time, plus support its priest, and offer came from Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church to come and worship with them until the building project became a reality. St. Mary’s accepted the gracious offer and entered the liturgical life of their brothers and sisters in Christ. During these months St. Mary’s was exposed to a broader and deeper understanding of the Orthodox heritage and struggle of the Ukrainian people. St. Mary’s was the recipient of a wonderful and generous gift of space, time, and love. It was even suggested that the two small parishes might join and merge together, but it was not meant to be. After many conversations at the local level, both Bishops, His Grace Bishop DANIEL and our own Bishop MARK blessed us with the directive to move on with our building plans.
Now that St. Mary’s has returned to its roots, it once again takes up the task of “making” disciples here in the Goshen area. The former Archpriest Antony and his wife Kh. Melanie knew well that to be in Goshen is to be like a missionary. For in this area, heavily influenced to an Anabaptist movement – the Mennonites and Amish – meant that there were truly few Orthodox people to draw from. St. Mary’s is one of five Orthodox parishes in the general area. However, it is the only parish that offers its services entirely in English. St. Mary’s, with all its struggles, believes that its mission to the greater Northern Indiana-Southern Michigan area is to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to all who might receive. Over the past several years St. Mary’s has brought in many new converts to the Faith. Last year alone the parish saw ten people baptized or chrismated. This year St. Mary’s has two catechumens who are new to Orthodoxy. The good and faithful people of St. Mary’s believe more are coming!
Soon St. Mary’s will have a new facility just outside of Goshen proper. As it looks East it sees the beauty of extended farmland. Just to the West and South, it is only a few miles from new development and newer schools. Please pray for this community as it continues to grow and struggle together, and as it receives grace and beauty from the Blessed Holy Trinity.
You can visit the parish's website at www.stmarys.orthodox.org.