Mr. Tucker returned to St. Paul's after the war, and then, in 1920, after having served as rector for ten years, he resigned to join the faculty of The Virginia Theological Seminary. Several months later, the Reverend Noble Powell, who had just graduated from the seminary, became the new rector at an annual salary of $2000. Mr. Powell was quite familiar with St. Paul's because as a university student he had been president of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew and superintendent of the Sunday School at the Rio Road mission church.
In a letter from the vestry to the Bishop requesting an assistant clergyman for St. Paul's, it was pointed out that Mr. Powell had responsibility for a permanent congregation of 300 communicants, plus 250 others who considered St. Paul's their church home. In addition, he ministered to over 400 Episcopal students at the University, was chaplain to the 60 students at the Nurse's Training School, and was called on daily to visit out-of-town patients at the University Hospital. Beyond all that, he was also in charge of the work done by students and mission workers at the five mission churches in the nearby areas of Albemarle County. All told, Mr. Powell was pastor to over 1,000 people. In view of the heavy demand upon its one priest, the vestry believed that a second minister was absolutely necessary and promised to raise five hundred dollars for his salary if the diocese would contribute one thousand more. Although the Bishop was sympathetic, St.Paul's did not get its assistant minister for several years.
There were many opportunities and challenges for the lively and growing congregation. The Sunday School, for example, had increased to seventy-five students by 1921, but there was a severe shortage of teachers. In his report to the congregation at the 1921 annual meeting, Mr. Powell warned that unless members of the congregation were willing to serve as teachers, ". . . the Sunday School will be abandoned, even though it is a vital organization of the church."
The need for the larger, permanent church building was an equally pressing problem. Although the "temporary" wooden building had been expanded to seat 375 people, each Sunday betWeen eight and eighty students were turned away because the church was filled to capacity. Organizations such as the St. Paul's Club, the vestry and the Women's Auxiliary had to meet either in Madison Hall at the University or in parishioners' homes. All the Sunday School classes met in the church nave. Perhaps the prospect of seventy-five children in eleven different classes, all meeting in the church nave, had something to do with the shortage of teachers.
The construction of the new church and a parish house seemed more possible in 1921 when the Nationwide Campaign, a fund drive of the national church, listed St. Paul's and the mission to the University as one of its top priorities. If the Nationwide Campaign was successful, the work here would receive $50,000. Since the diocese had promised an additional $50,000, it appeared that sufficient funds were available to begin work on the long-awaited permanent church. However, when the vestry contacted the architects, Ludlow and Peabody, and asked them to reactivate the existing plans, they learned that it would now cost $250,000 to build that same church. The vestry then decided to start all over again with a church that could be built for $100,000.
The Nationwide Campaign fell far short of its goal and could not promise that any money would be available for the work at St. Paul's. Rather than once again put off the construction of a permanent church, the vestry authorized a Richmond Committee consisting of John Stewart Bryan, Murray McGuire, Lewis Williams, Randolph Williams, Rosewell Page and Beverley D. Tucker to carry out a fund-raising campaign using the same memorial plan that Mr. Mcllhany had proposed originally. This committee's work became even more crucial when it became apparent that the diocese could not give St. Paul's much of the money it had promised. For the next five years Mr. Powell and the members of the committee worked tirelessly to raise the money needed. They traveled extensively, speaking at churches and to many other groups and organizations. They wrote letters to anyone who might support the project, and published articles about the work going on at St. Paul's in a number of different newspapers and journals. Their dedicated work paid off, and by 1927, of the expected total cost of $325,000 - including the original purchase of the property - only $25,000 remained to be raised.
Meanwhile, the process of approving the architectural design for the new buildings was running into frustrating delays. The first set of new plans presented by the architects in January, 1922, did not receive the approval of either the vestry or the women of the church. By June, 1922, when acceptable plans seemed no closer, the Building Committee reported that after viewing the latest plans, they wondered if ". . . inexperienced office assistants are doing the work." After sending a vestry deputation to New York to talk with the architects and still getting nowhere, the vestry employed a local architect, Major Eugene Bradbury, as a consultant to work with Ludlow and Peabody. In December, 1922, with acceptable plans still not in sight, the contract with Ludlow and Peabody was terminated and Major Bradbury was given complete responsibility with instructions to design a church costing $100,000 and a parish house costing $40,000, both of them to be ". . . architecturally harmonious with the nearby university buildings. "
The construction work on the parish house began in April of 1924, and eighteen months later the building was finished. On November 18, 1925, a Wednesday evening, the Rector and vestry hosted an open house for all members of St. Paul's and the University community. The guests were given tours of the new parish house kitchen, meeting rooms, student lounge, and apartment and study for the rector.
But all was not going so smoothly with the design and construction of the church. Mr. Bradbury's plans called for a church with a massive stone tower at the front. In November, 1925, the Richmond fund-raising committee voiced their strong objection to these plans. They were convinced that potential donors would refuse to finance its construction, and they insisted on a church front with columns instead. The entire Building Committee then resigned because they felt they could not endorse a church front with columns. Nor could they be of any further help to the architect, they claimed, since, in their opinion, ". . . a portico with columns would make a front entrance from the street impossible". However, the vestry refused to accept their resignation and the Building Committee went back to work. In the next few months they arrived at a successful compromise so that the following spring the vestry was able to send a letter of thanks to Mr. Bradbury because he had ". . . secured a beautiful structure and one in perfect harmony with the university buildings".
On April 13, 1926, (Founder's Day) the cornerstone laying ceremonies were held, with The Right Reverend William Cabell Brown, The Bishop of Virginia, presiding. The participation of the Bishops of Southern and Southwestern Virginia was an indication of the importance of St. Paul's work for the whole church. Among other things, the cornerstone contains copies of The Holy Bible, The Book of Common Prayer, and the proposed new (1928) Book of Common Prayer. It also contains the names of all the members of the parish and the University's student body, a nail from Monticello, a photograph of the first church building and a copy of the April 12, 1926 edition of The Daily Progress which had a front page story on the cornerstone laying exercises. On September 18, 1927, exactly seventeen years after the first service in the original building, the first service was held in the new church. The sermon was preached by Beverley Tucker, the former rector. Using as his text Joel 2:2, "Your old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions," Mr. Tucker said, "May the enduring gift that St. Paul's has to render to the youth of the university be to set them dreaming dreams and seeing visions which no practical achievements can ever exhaust nor any material world satisfy."
While the new church and parish house were being constructed, other important events were also taking place. In 1924 St. Paul's became a separate congregation rather than a mission of the diocese. Usually, to have that status a parish has to be self-supporting, but because the mission to the University was seen as a diocesan program, an exception was made in the case of St. Paul's. The parish was by then contributing nearly $7,000 towards its own budget and that was to be supplemented by another $6,000 from the diocese. The diocesan money would be used to help maintain the parish house and reduce its debt, and to pay the salary of an assistant minister. However, the diocese soon faced a severe financial crisis and was never able to pay its full share. In 1925, St. Paul's received $1900 from the diocese. The next year that was reduced to $1750, and in 1927 the diocese was not able to give any money at all. For the first two years the vestry registered their unhappiness with the situation by refusing to pay St. Paul's assessed quota to the diocese. Then in 1927 the vestry tried a new approach. At the Diocesan Council St. Paul's delegates supported a resolution to increase the assessment on each parish by 23%, reasoning that if every parish had to pay more, the budget would improve and St. Paul's would get its money.
In the spring of 1924 the first assistant minister, the Reverend Arthur B. Kinsolving, came to St. Paul's. He helped with the Sunday School and the country missions, and did a large share of the student work. He served St. Paul's until 1927, when he left to become the chaplain at The United States Military Academy at West Point. With his departure, St. Paul's once again had to recognize the diverse and multiple demands upon its rector. The vestry passed the following resolution:
"This is primarily a mission church whose particular field is the student body at the University of Virginia. It is obviously impossible for one man to do effective work among so large a body and at the same time minister fully to a congregation large enough to demand the full time of one rector. We therefore call upon the congregation for the exercise of those Christian virtues of patience and forbearance whenever they feel neglected by our beloved Rector. Let them remember that from its inception to the present day, St. Paul's congregation is come together not to be ministered to but to minister."
"Parson Powell," as he was affectionately known, had become a respected and much loved member of the community. He had attracted a large number of students to active participation in the church, and maintained friendships with many of them long after they had graduated. The new parish house and church were, to a large extent, the result of his own dedication, hard work and persuasiveness; and much of the parish program depended on him. At the 1927 annual meeting, speaking once again about the severe shortage of Sunday School teachers, Mr. Powell said: "In the last two weeks I have been forced to act as superintendent, secretary, treasurer, cheerleader and teacher of three classes, and without a real response from the congregation the Sunday School must be closed."
He had received offers to become rector of other parishes, but each time he had decided that his place was at St. Paul's and the University. However, in 1931, feeling that his work here was nearly done, he accepted a call to become the Rector of Emmanuel Church in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1937 he became Dean of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and in 1941 was elected the Bishop Coadjutor of Maryland. Throughout his life he maintained a deep affection for St. Paul's.
After Mr. Powell left, the Reverend William G. Christian served as priest-in-charge until September 1932 when the Reverend William H. Laird became the next rector. Mr. Laird was also a graduate of The University of Virginia and The Virginia Theological Seminary, and before coming to St. Paul's had been the assistant at Bruton Parish in Williamsburg.
Last Updated on Monday, 25 June 2012 13:23