With the advent of World War II, St. Paul's again contributed to the nation's war effort. By 1943 forty percent of the men eligible for election to the vestry were away from Charlottesville, either working in an essential war industry or serving in the armed services. Mr. Constantine had been drafted and Mr. Laird, following the tradition set by Beverley Tucker, had volunteered to serve as chaplain to the UVa Hospital Evacuation Unit. During his absence, Mr. Davenport became the acting rector, and in view of his added parish responsibilities was required to give up his job as University football coach. After he left in 1944 to become rector of St. Stephen's Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, St. Paul's was served by a series of visiting ministers until Mr. Laird's return in December, 1945. In the years immediately after the war St. Paul's contributed $3,150 to the national church's fund to restore war damaged churches.
When World War II came to a welcome end, the parish again focused on its perennial challenges. Parking was becoming an increasing problem on Sunday morning; there was the usual desperate search for Sunday School teachers; the debt on the church and parish house still stretched the finances; and, once again without an assistant, the rector faced incredible demands on his time and energy. He still served as priest-in-charge of The Church of Our Savior and the Virginia Mason Memorial Chapel, although many of the services were conducted by laymen. He was chaplain to the now nearly 1000 Episcopal students at the University, and had increasing calls for pastoral ministry from the rapidly growing medical center and hospital.
The effectiveness of Mr. Laird's ministry at St. Paul's was perhaps best expressed in the vestry resolution accepting with regret his resignation in March, 1947, to become rector of St. Peter's Church in St. Louis, Missouri:
". . . he brought this parish from weakness and dependence to its present ability and competence so that it is a worthy exemplar of the church. ... after Dr. Laird became Rector, the congregation changed from feebleness to youthful vigor. The debts became its own to be discharged by its own efforts. The operation of church and church school, societies and guilds were of personal interest to the members. . . . The ability and competence which in these years has shown forth so startlingly, are due in great part to the leadership of the Rector. . . . He leaves a parish which is strong and self-confident, united in purpose and even more united in its deep affection for him."
After an extensive search, the Reverend Theodore H. Evans, Rector of St. Paul's Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, was called as the new rector, and began his ministry here in September, 1947. The following year, with funds from the diocese, St. Paul's asked the Reverend Barton Lloyd to come as assistant minister and chaplain to Episcopal students.
St. Paul's was still an unconsecrated church because of the remaining $23,500 indebtedness. One of the first challenges that the parish and new rector accepted was a plan to raise $37,500 to payoff that debt and to improve the interior appearance of the church. Parishioners, students, alumni, and other friends of St. Paul's contributed to a successful fund-raising campaign, and on January 15, 1950 the service of Consecration was held, with Bishop Goodwin of Virginia officiating.
The following summer the Sunday services were held at University Chapel, and the project to complete and improve the interior of the church was carried out. Under the direction of the architect, Mr. Milton Grigg, the church walls were painted a light green, the walnut reredos was placed behind the altar, and two recessed niches were added to the chancel walls. Three years later the walnut sounding board was placed over the pulpit. An important change to the exterior of the building was the addition of an eleven foot copper cross and a railing on the tower, both given in memory of John Newcomb, former President of the University and member of St. Paul's Church.
Last Updated on Monday, 25 June 2012 13:23