As its name might imply, The Church of the Nativity had a humble beginning – in a barn. More accurately, it began as a mission with no building, no congregation, no name. Parishioners from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church living in the Mud Creek Valley/Lantern Hills area, met in April, 1957 to discuss forming a new parish and finding the leaders needed to spearhead the effort. The diocese had asked St. Paul’s to sponsor the project. By June, a copper-guttered barn built of Indiana Limestone on 3.3 acres had been purchased from the Glen Caldwell estate on Lantern Road. Father Paul H. Vruwink, St. Paul’s rector, saw the possibilities the barn and attached buildings offered, and because Christ was born in a manger, suggested “The Church of the Nativity” as a name.
Father Vruwink was named acting vicar. Clergy from St. Paul’s were to come once a month to offer communion. The first service in the buildings on Lantern Road was on October 16, 1957, after much work and remodeling was done by church members. Areas that had been dog kennels, a tack room, an implement shed, etc., all were redone and connected. The final connecting part was a guest house where the first parish meeting was held November 19, 1957. The church became a mission in November, 1957. Father Vruwink continued as acting vicar. The Rev. Robert A. MacGill became the first vicar and rector of the church on June 22, 1958. He left in 1962.
Plans for the section of the barn to become the name were approved in early 1960. Work was completed and it was dedicated on October 18, 1960. Ground was broken for the present name on October 31, 1992. It was dedicated September 14, 1993. The beautiful Memorial Garden was dedicated June 19, 1994, in memory of Dr. John Quay, former vestry member who helped tend the grounds for many years.
Rectors of The Church of the Nativity
- Robert A. MacGill (1958-1962)
- Roberts E. Ehrgott (1963-1977)
- David B. Lowry (1978-1980)
- J. William Lashmet (1981-1986)
- Donald A. Jones (1987-2000)
- Bruce W. Boss (2002-2014)
(Information from the booklet, “A History of The Church of the Nativity,” by Elizabeth Coffey. Copies are available from the parish office.)