On The Occasion Of Its Eightieth Year As A Parish
1910 - 1990
by: The Reverend Paula Swaebe Kettlewell
|The Reverend Hugh H. McIlhany||1908 — 1910|
|The Reverend Beverley Tucker||1910 — 1920|
|The Reverend Noble C. Powell||1920 — 1931|
|The Reverend William H. Laird||1932 — 1947|
|The Reverend Theodore H. Evans||1947 — 1961|
|The Reverend Harcourt Waller||1961 — 1969|
|The Reverend David Ward||1969 — 1979|
|The Reverend David Poist||1980 — 2006|
|The Reverend Alan Mead, Interim||
2006 — 2008
|The Reverend James Richardson||
In 1990 St. Paul's Memorial Church celebrated its eightieth year as a parish of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia. Its history is the record of a congregation which has gathered at St. Paul's to worship God, and has gone from St. Paul's to be the church in the world. The Christian responsibility to work for the mission of the church has been particularly explicit for St. Paul's, as it was established to be a mission to the University of Virginia. Although at certain times in its eighty year history the congregation's attention has been focused on the church buildings, the history of St. Paul's is primarily the story of its people.
When The Right Reverend Robert Gibson became the Bishop of Virginia in 1897, he cited the creation of an Episcopal church at the University of Virginia as one of his most important goals. In the Bishop's words, "In looking for neglected persons, the condition of the boys at the University of Virginia caught my attention. Without criticizing in the least degree the care extended to the students by the Authorities at the University, I thought that it was perfectly plain that their own church was not doing its duty to the Episcopal boys".
At that time, the Episcopal church closest to the University was Christ Church, located more than a mile away. It was generally agreed that from such a distance the needs of the 280 Episcopal students at the University were not being, and could not be adequately met. To meet those needs, Bishop Gibson envisioned a small-sized permanent congregation which would provide a temporary spiritual home for Episcopal students during their years at the University. Because those students came from all parts of Virginia and the nation, and would leave the University to become leaders in parishes throughout the country, the Bishop felt that the local congregation should receive spiritual and financial support from the diocese and the church at large.
The Rector and the vestry of Christ Church enthusiastically endorsed Bishop Gibson's proposal to establish a church closer to the University, but all agreed that the project should be delayed until the debt on Christ Church was. paid and the church building consecrated. In the interim, thanks to a gift of $1725 from Mr. Joseph Bryan of Richmond, Virginia, Bishop Gibson was able to acquire a site for the proposed new church by buying a vacant lot on the corner of Main and 12th Streets. The second payment of $1180, a gift from Miss Stuart, also of Richmond, enabled the Bishop to complete the purchase of the property. The 1907 Diocesan Council, which met in Warrenton, Virginia, gave its unanimous support to the Bishop's plan of a new parish at the University, and voted $75,000 towards its buildings and grounds. That same year the Diocese of Southern Virginia also gave its unanimous support, as did the alumni of the University who were delegates to the General Convention of the church which met in Richmond.
On January 1, 1908, the project took a very important step forward when the Reverend Hugh H. McIlhany, the secretary of the Y.M.C.A. at the University, agreed to become the priest in charge of the proposed church. Six days later, during the worst snowstorm of that winter, Mr. McIlhany and Bishop Gibson held a meeting for ". . . all Episcopal ladies in the university community who are interested in the creation of an Episcopal church at the university". Despite the blizzard, twelve women attended the meeting, gave their support to the Bishop's plan to raise $100,000 for the buildings and a partial endowment, and suggested that the new church be named St. Paul's.
Two other groups of women were crucially important at this early money-raising stage of St. Paul's life. In the fall of 1908, The Women's Auxiliary Committee, made up of fifteen women who had had sons, brothers and fathers at the University, was established in Richmond, and in February, 1909, The Ladies of the University Community, with Miss Virginia Mason as its first president, was organized in Charlottesville. This group later became known as The St. Paul's Guild. Both groups of women raised money for St. Paul's through their own contributions and by interesting many other people in the idea of an Episcopal church at the University.
Mr. Mcllhany began devoting his considerable energy, enthusiasm and talent toward raising the $100,000 needed to build and partially endow St. Paul's Church. His idea was to make the church a memorial to many of the distinguished alumni, faculty and friends of the University, and his fund-raising campaign, called the Memorial Plan, encouraged people to make generous gifts in the form of memorials. In a pamphlet explaining the Memorial Plan, Mr. McIIhany said, "It (the church) will constitute, as it were, a sort of Westminster Abbey at the university, where memorials of distinguished alumni and friends who were also prominent in church life may be placed from time to time as they pass on to their reward". Mr. McIlhany's efforts to raise funds for the St. Paul's project extended far beyond Charlottesville and Virginia. His correspondence includes letters to all parts of the country, attempting to interest University alumni, active Episcopalians and other potential benefactors, such as Andrew Carnegie, in his project.
From the time of its purchase, the lot at 12th Street had been considered a less than ideal location for a church whose mission was to serve the University and whose buildings and endowment would be paid for by a memorial plan linking it to the past life of the University. Therefore, in July, 1909, thanks to a generous gift from Mr. Charles Steele, a New York alumnus, St. Paul's acquired an option on the property where the church is present-ly located. Belonging to the estate of the late Colonel William E. Peters, this was an L-shaped lot with 142 feet on University A venue, 325 feet on Chancellor Street and 71 feet on Madison Lane. Although it contained twice as much land as was thought necessary, and had two large brick residences already on it, the lot's strategic location on University Avenue justified its $50,000 purchase price. Four Charlottesville men, Bartlett Bolling, Channing Bolton, H.W. Hillary and William Lile agreed to serve as trustees of the property and to act as the local Advisory Committee until a congregation was organized.
On the advice of Mr. McIlhany, the trustees agreed to have the New York architectural firm of Ludlow and Peabody draw up plans for the church. At their June 28, 1910 meeting, the trustees accepted the architect's preliminary plans for a church that would cost $100,000 to build. The trustees recognized how vitally important Mr. McIlhany was to the success of the project and so at that same meeting they instructed him to take out two insurance policies on his life. One policy of $10,000 would be payable directly to the trustees and the second of $5,000 would be payable to his wife with the written agreement that half of that sum would be turned over to the trustees.
When it became apparent that it would take several years to raise enough money to build the permanent church, the trustees began to consider the possibility of putting up a temporary wooden structure to serve in the interim. As a first step in that direction, the brick residence on the Chancellor Street side of the property was torn down, rebuilt on the back of the property, and rented out. The final decision to go ahead with a temporary wooden church was made in mid-August, 1910, when the University suddenly announced that its own Sunday morning chapel services would be discontinued starting in September. Plans were drawn up, carpenters were hired, and in just two weeks the church was built, with the roof and floor being completed on Saturday evening, September 17th. The next day, Sunday, September 18, 1910, the first services of St. Paul's Memorial Church were held. The 8:00 A.M. service of Holy Communion, which was celebrated by Mr. McIlhany and the Reverend Harry Lee, the rector of Christ Church, was attended by fifty people, and at the later 11:00 o'clock service of Morning Prayer, the entire church was filled. It was a glorious, sunny day, which was fortunate since the building still lacked such finer finishing touches as windows and doors. The happiness of this occasion was soon overshadowed by the tragic and unexpected death of Mr. McIlhany at the age of thirty-six. Within days of the opening service he became critically ill from blood poisoning and died on October 9, 1910, at the University Hospital. He was survived by his wife and five young children. During the final days of his illness prayer services for his recovery were held daily in the University Chapel. In a letter to the Diocese, dated November 10, 1910, Bishop Gibson said: "In the passing of Dr. McIlhany to the life eternal, the church of Virginia has lost one of her most devoted servants, one whose whole life was given up to the work of the Master, and the work at the University has suffered a great blow." Making clear his continued commitment to St. Paul's, the Bishop set aside the fourth Sunday in Advent for a special offering in every parish of the diocese to raise $20,000 to ". . . carry on for the next six months the building of St. Paul's Memorial Church just as Dr. McIlhany had planned."
The following month, December, 1910, the Reverend Beverley Tucker was appointed to succeed Mr. McIlhany as the priest in charge of St. Paul's. The son of the Bishop Coadjutor of Southern Virginia, Mr. Tucker was a graduate of the University of Virginia and the Virginia Theological Seminary, and was the first Virginia graduate to have been a Rhodes Scholar. At a meeting of Mr. Tucker and the trustees it was agreed that the two tasks of raising funds for the permanent church building and providing spiritual leadership for the St. Paul's congregation should not be the responsibility of one person. Mr. Tucker thus was freed to direct his energies toward the spiritual life of the young congregation.
In keeping with St. Paul's special mission to the University, Mr. Tucker immediately turned his attention toward establishing closer relationships with the students. On February 27, 1911, he met with about one hundred students for the first gathering of the St. Paul's Club. This was to be a strictly social organization, meeting once a month during the school year. Its purpose was to encourage and promote friendships among a broad spectrum of students who, under normal university conditions, might never get to know one another. There were no dues and no initiation ceremonies, although a voluntary contribution of twenty-five cents per meeting was accepted in order to meet expenses.
A second group, the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, was a much more serious student organization, whose double purpose of prayer and service was carried out in the University, the parish, and the nearby rural missions. The members called on all Episcopal first-year students, welcoming them to the University and to St. Paul's. They also called on all Episcopal students who were not confirmed and urged them to attend Mr. Tucker's confirmation classes.
The Brotherhood supplied men to conduct Sunday School classes and Sunday services at four nearby missions including The Church of Our Saviour on Rio Road, and even sent men farther afield to assist with the work going on in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Within Charlottesville, The Brotherhood played an important part in St. Paul's work in the Fifeville community. Each day two University students went to the Fifeville playground to supervise play and to ". . . hold up before the boys there the higher ideals of life." That activity had to be suspended in 1917 - 1918 as most of the members were involved in afternoon military drills. As its student president, Nobel Powell said in his report, "It seems that playground supervision must wait for the cessation of the war."
Within the congregation there was also much activity. An important step toward being a full parish was taken when the first vestry was elected at a congregational meeting on October 8, 1913, and by 1915 the congregation had grown sufficiently to make an addition to the temporary church building necessary. Transepts were added and the building was extended to include choir stalls. In a rather bold and somewhat controversial move, St. Paul's decided to have a vested choir which made its first appearance on Easter Sunday, 1915, singing the processional hymn "Welcome Happy Morning."
There were several parish organizations in addition to the already mentioned St. Paul's Guild. The Women's Auxiliary, which had a special interest in missionary work, provided the money to buy the Fifeville playground property and equip it, and supported women missionaries in other countries through the United Thank Offering. The Junior Guild cared for the altar, the altar linens, and the flowers; and provided money and clothing to help in the mountain missions. In 1917 they raised enough money to build a chapel at Forest Lodge, one of the closer rural missions. The Junior Auxiliary trained school-age girls in habits of prayer, study and the support of missions. The girls raised money by an annual doll sale and used it to help children in Charlottesville and in Japan.
All the parish organizations continued to grow, including the Sunday School, which by 1918 had eight teachers, sixty-three students, and an average Sunday attendance of forty-six. In the congregation as a whole there were by then 265 parishioners, ninety-five pledging units, and a budget of $4,017.95. The young congregation struggled to improve its financial situation and still was committed to the vision of a permanent building to replace the now aging "temporary" wooden church. To strengthen the parish finances, the tWo houses on the property were sold: the one facing Madison Lane to the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity in 1914 for $15,000, and the one facing Chancellor Street to Miss Annie Jordan and Mrs. John Hartman in 1920 for $26,000. These two sales made the difference between a deficit and a balanced budget and, as a result of this improved financial standing, Colonel Valentine of Richmond was given authority to raise money to revive the building campaign.
Between 1914 and 1918, while the nation was at war, all plans to build a permanent church had been suspended. During those years, St. Paul's contributed toward the war effort in several ways. Mr. Tucker took a one-year leave of absence to serve as chaplain of the University of Virginia Hospital Unit. In Charlottesville, the Junior Guild did Red Cross work and the Brotherhood of St. Andrew organized military drills.
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.
Like the rest of the nation, St. Paul's struggled through the 1930's with the effects of the Depression. Since many people had to reduce the amount of money they gave to the church, other ways of meeting expenses had to be found. To bring in more income, the upstairs rooms in the parish house were rented out to students. In 1932 the Rector agreed to a 10% salary cut, and all other salaries and programs were reduced by 20%. In 1933, still faced with a deficit budget and finding no other ways to economize, the vestry had the church phone disconnected. By the next year, however, the vestry had become more creative. They sponsored a spelling contest between two teams of twenty men and twenty women. The twenty-five cent admission fee charged participants and audience alike raised enough money to pay a large portion of that year's coal bill.
Other happy parish events in the 1930's included the annual Christmas party when Santa Claus, looking remarkably like Bernard Chamberlain, arrived through the back window of the parish hall, carrying a large bag of candy and greeting everyone with hearty ho-ho-ho's. Another was the great improvement in the church's music that began when a young student volunteered to be organist and choir director. When he left Charlottesville after serving at St. Paul's for several years, the parish extended him their deepest thanks because he had ". . . transformed the choir into one which is the pride and joy of this parish. For six years we have at long last been privileged to hear nothing but the best in church music. . . . selected with fine discrimination and rendered with rare taste, artistry and reverence. . ."
During the 1930's St. Paul's continued its historic mission to the University in a variety of ways. The newly formed student vestry called on other students welcoming them to St. Paul's and inviting them to Sunday suppers served by the women of the congregation in the parish hall. The Brotherhood of St. Andrew was still a very active student organization. In addition to conducting services at the rural missions, they were now responsible for a small chapel in Fifeville. When the new St. Paul's church was being built in 1926, the Women's Auxiliary had paid to have the original wooden structure torn down and rebuilt at Fifeville as The Virginia Mason Memorial Chapel. Each Sunday evening, members of the Brotherhood went there to conduct Sunday School classes and lead Evening Prayer.
The church's ministry to the 850 Episcopal students was greatly helped by the appointment of the Reverend Alfred Seccombe to serve as assistant minister and chaplain to the University. The money for his salary was contributed by students, their parents, The Church Society for College Work, the Bishop of Virginia, and St. Paul's. After two years he left to become chaplain to Episcopal students at Yale, and in 1941 the Reverend Stephen Davenport came to St. Paul's as assistant minister and chaplain. Once again, the money to pay an assistant's salary was raised by contributions from students, parents, the national church, the diocese and St. Paul's.
The parish "weekly" newsletter, The Messenger, was published off and on as funds permitted until 1938, when it became The Quarterly News whose first issue described the parish as having a membership of 420, an average Sunday attendance of 257, and a Sunday School that was". . . the largest and most flourishing that the parish has ever had." The article about the women of the church described the Annual Bazaar, a series of three one-act plays, and a garden tour as successful fund-raising activities. The money was used to support missionaries and to help pay the debt on the parish house. The Quarterly News also had a somewhat erratic publication schedule, appearing when money was available.
By 1940 the parish finances were definitely improving, although the treasurer did report some losses caused by transfer of a few members to the new Westminster Presbyterian Church. Because of this stronger financial condition, the parish agreed to a plan proposed by Bishop Henry St. George Tucker to reduce St. Paul's bonded indebtedness of $44,000. By that plan, if St. Paul's could raise $10,000 then the diocese would raise the remaining $34,000 from other sources. However, once again the Diocese was faced with a serious financial crisis and the plan had to be abandoned.
The St. Paul's tradition of presenting excellent choir music during church services continued under the guidance of the new organist and choir director, James Constantine. However, the congregation was content to leave all the singing to the choir. After many complaints that hardly anyone in the congregation sang any of the hymns, the vestry recommended that Mr. Constantine stick to more familiar hymns and schedule a few singing practices for immediately after Sunday morning services.
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.
In May 1951, the Diocesan Council again met at St. Paul's with the evening address given by the former rector, Beverley Tucker, who was then the Bishop of Ohio. Since it was assumed that many parishioners would attend that session to hear Mr. Tucker, a note in the parish bulletin said, "In view of the anticipated parking problem it is requested that those attending dispose of their cars as far from the church as possible."
When Barton Lloyd left in 1950 to join the faculty of the Seminary, Mr. Evans fulfilled the many responsibilities of the clergy single-handedly until July, 1951, when the Reverend Samuel Wylie was appointed chaplain to Episcopal students. Mr. Wylie instituted a regular Sunday service of Evening Prayer which was followed by a supper served by the women of the church, and a chaplain's discussion hour. Many leading scholars and clergymen came to speak at those services on such interesting topics as: "What is Behind Student Turmoil and Apathy?" and "Is Chastity Outmoded?". When Mr. Wylie left in 1953 to become Chaplain at Brown University, Mr. Evans again handled all the duties by himself until July, 1955, when the Reverend David Cammack joined the St. Paul's clergy staff.
In the 1950's a Parish Council was formed to bring new vitality to St. Paul's. Through the Parish Council, lay people who were not on the vestry could have an active role in developing the parish program and formulating parish policies. One goal of the Parish Council was to make St. Paul's a more vital part of the family life of its members. To help achieve that purpose a new Family Service was added at 9:30 on Sunday morning, followed by Christian Education classes for children and adults. The 11:00 service continued in its traditional pattern of Morning Prayer and Sermon, with communion the first Sunday of the month.
The new Family Service was an immediate success and led to other programs for the younger members of the congregation, such as a Junior Choir which sang at that service, a high school youth group and a young adults organization. The Sunday School had grown to an average attendance of 135 students each week and in 1959, Miss Grace Brisbane was hired to be the full-time Director of Christian Education. The need for better Sunday School space had become critical. Classes were meeting in places as varied as the church office, Mr. and Mrs. Evans' dining room, and a converted coal bin in the church basement. When the church was able to purchase the adjacent property of Louise and Betty Page Cocke on University A venue, the parish decided to raise $125,000 to build the education wing on the rear of the Cocke property, and the office wing on the Chancellor Street side of the church.
The first step in this ambitious plan was the creation of a Permanent Building Committee with representatives from every organization and group in the parish. Since the committee was to serve as a clearing house for ". . . all suggestions concerning the uses, needs, facilities and services desired both now and for the next 25 years," it began its work by developing a statement called "The Mission of St. Paul's Memorial Church" which said:
". . . in addition to the usual functions of a parish, we at St. Paul's have a special mission to be a church family for those members of the University community who will join us while they are here. We should also try to draw in those to whom the church is completely new and we must offer to the children of our parish the best we can give them in training and example. . . . Experience has shown that four aspects of parish life should be emphasized and kept in balance: worship; study of the Bible, and other sources of man's knowledge of God; a deepening of human relationship throughout the church community; and a greater usefulness and service in the world. . . . Let us keep our fourfold purpose ever before us and open every avenue that will help to build what has been called, 'His Witnessing Community.'"
Undoubtedly, racial integration was the most difficult issue facing St. Paul's in the late 1950's. Mr. Evans made it clear that his own personal beliefs and his convictions as priest and rector were that the church's responsibility was to work energetically to promote integration. He encouraged and prompted better relations between Trinity Church and St. Paul's, and argued strongly that the closed public schools should be re-opened on an integrated basis as the courts had ordered. When a private foundation wanted to conduct all-white classes in the local churches, Mr. Evans told them that St. Paul's could not be used for such a purpose. After an initial time of confusion, the vestry supported him in that decision. In a letter to the vestry explaining his position, Mr. Evans said, "The church of Christ is not a social club to encourage us in our preconceived prides and prejudices. It is the dispenser of God's truth and light to all who will receive it. It offers to clergy and laity alike a ministry of reconciliation that we may bring others into the family of God. The breakdown of the differences of race, color, and culture was one of the first accomplishments of the followers of Jesus. God did not send his Son into the world to save a select group, but to save all who would received him. We often forget that we are members of a universal church which is extended through time, space and eternity to bind us in God's love with those true Christians who have gone before us, and that we hold a trust for the present and the future, because without us, God's purpose in Christ cannot go forward." Within the parish there were differing reactions. Many agreed wholeheartedly with Mr. Evans and joined with him in working for integration within the church and in the community. Others disagreed with what Mr. Evans was doing. Although they were not necessarily opposed to integration, they felt the church and its clergy had no business being actively involved in controversial social issues. They were especially upset when Mr. Evans wrote a letter to the editor of the Daily Progress calling for integrated public schools and signed it as the Rector of St. Paul's. A third group, probably a minority, thought that integration itself was wrong and contrary to the Christian faith.
By 1961 Mr. Evans began to believe that for the sake of the parish he should resign. Several issues were causing divisions within the parish and he felt that his resignation might bring the congregation back together. Financial problems were beginning to develop because the new building program created a need for more income just when some parishioners began withdrawing financial support to protest the church's involvement in integration. There was also a division of opinion about the amount of control the parish should have over the university ministry. Some thought it should be a part of the St. Paul's program entirely, while others felt it should have a large degree of independence. There was also some concern because the population of the surrounding community was growing rapidly, but the size of the St. Paul's congregation remained stable.
Although the vestry voted Mr. Evans their unanimous support and many parishioners strongly urged him to stay, he decided that his resignation was a necessary first step in resolving the differences within the parish. In April, 1961, he announced his intention to leave, and in July he went to Worcester, Massachusetts to become associate rector of All Saints Church, where his exceptional ability as a pastoral minister was needed. In the months following Mr. Evans' departure two developments helped bring the congregation back together. The first was a decision to adopt Mr. Evans' son, the Reverend Theodore Evans Jr., as the parish's overseas missioner. "Tad" Evans had grown up in St. Paul's while his father was the Rector, and after college and seminary he had gone to Hong Kong as part of the church's missionary work. Through a new program of the national church which connected local parishes with individual missioners, St. Paul's became Tad's home parish, offering him their prayers and support. In return, Tad, through regular correspondence, kept the parish informed about his work. As a part of that new relationship, that year the women of the church studied the church's overseas missionary work.
The other healing factor was the presence of the Reverend Allan Beckwith, a member of the Seminary faculty, as interim minister. (Mr. Cammack remained on as chaplain and resident minister). Each Sunday Mr. Beckwith drove down from Alexandria to conduct services and lead an adult Bible class. His strong sermons, his sensitive pastoral care, and his interesting classes helped the parish through a very difficult period. In fact, it became a very positive time, especially when Mr. Beckwith assured the congregation that he would serve for as long as it took to find a new rector.
That search for the new rector was an extensive and lengthy process that ended in November, 1961, when the Reverend Harcourt Waller agreed to come to St. Paul's. Mr. Waller was on a year's sabbatical leave at St. Augustine's College, Canterbury, England, and would not actually begin work here until July, 1962. However, the calling committee and the vestry were convinced he was the right man and well worth waiting for. In his report to the congregation at the annual meeting in 1962, the senior warden said: "We have succeeded in attracting a big man because ours is an important post with a big opportunity."
If any members of the congregation hoped that under Mr. Waller's leadership St. Paul's would return to a traditional and uneventful parish style, they soon learned otherwise. In a letter to the parish written just before he left England for St. Paul's, Mr. Waller said: "There appears to be a wide gap between what we American Anglicans really are and the job of being the church in this world of ours." He believed that the Christian faith and the church should play an important and decisive role in every area of the church member's life, and he immediately directed his attention toward making that happen at St. Paul's. As his first step, within weeks of his arrival in Charlottesville he began a systematic program of calling on every member of the church.
One of Mr. Waller's first goals was to build an informed core of people who would carry on a vital ministry of lay leadership. In announcing the adult education program of 1962, Mr. Waller said, "The purpose of this 'Renewal of the Church' program will be for the changing and shaping of future plans and policies at St. Paul's through the training of a nucleus of informed, serious-minded Christian laity." A second course which began later that winter was a very intensive study of Christian doctrine to prepare people for a ministry of, ". . . speaking the essentials of The Faith in the jargon of the professional and academic community in which a person works, studies and teaches." During Lent, St. Paul's and Westminster Presbyterian Church offered another adult education opportunity called "The Lenten School of Christian Studies." In 1964 its theme of "Renewal, Reform, Reunion" attracted over two hundred people, and the 1965 course in "Christian Ethics and Contemporary Issues" was equally successful.
A second goal that Mr. Waller had for St. Paul's was to increase the number of people who participated in developing and carrying out the parish program. To do that he reorganized the parish administration into five commissions. The members of the individual commissions were responsible for Liturgy, Missions, Christian Social Relations, Christian Education, and Stewardship. In 1963, after David Cammack left, two new assistant ministers joined the St. Paul's staff. The Reverend Charles Perry had special responsibility for married students and graduate students. He also took a very active part in the adult education program that followed the 9:30 Family Service, where his excellent teaching, extensive knowledge, and infectious enthusiasm lead to a new atmosphere of intellectual excitement.
The second new assistant, the Reverend Richard Baker, was primarily responsible for the church's ministry to undergraduates and single students. He too brought a new excitement to the life of the parish. Under his leadership the Sunday night service began experimenting with folk music and dialogue sermons. The service was followed by supper and a program. One of his innovative programs, called "Sunday Night at the Movies," took advantage of a series of provocative films being shown in local theatres. After seeing the movie together, the students came back to the parish hall to discuss their reactions. Mr. Baker also provided leadership in the formation of a new "faith and work" community known as Koinonia.
The challenge to have a new and lively faith was also directed at the younger members of the congregation. Sixth and seventh graders who wanted to be in the Confirmation class had to ". . . know by heart The Lord's Prayer, The Apostles' Creed and The Ten Commandments, and the answers to all questions in the Prayer Book's Office of Instruction." High school students were encouraged to be active participants in the adult education classes and to form discussion groups of their own. The high school students also had a Sunday night youth group, and for the first time both boys and girls served as acolytes at the Sunday morning services. In the later 1960's St. Paul's sponsored Friday night dances for teenagers. They became very popular, although the lively and noisy presence of the 60's youth culture made many of the older or more conservative parishioners quite uneasy.
The congregation was also challenged to develop a new understanding of Christian stewardship. In 1961 forty percent of the pledges to St. Paul's had been for less than one dollar per week, and more than ten percent were for fifty cents or less. Mr. Waller began a very direct program to change the way people both thought about and used their money. In his weekly column in the Newsletter he said, "When thinking of Stewardship and each year's Every Member Canvass, an uncle of mine used to say to his clergy, 'In order to keep them healthy, the shepherd ought to shear the sheep annually.' I know this is the wrong way to state a theology of Christian Stewardship, but as your local 'shepherd' such a statement symbolizes the way I want to maintain a straight-forward approach to you in this important matter."
As a result of strong leadership from the clergy and the vestry, by 1964, pledges had increased by forty percent. This was accompanied by a new commitment to designate an increasingly larger portion of the St. Paul's budget for outside giving. The goal was to give at least twenty-five percent of all income to programs outside of St. Paul's.
St. Paul's was actively involved in most of the important social issues of the 1960's. For example, in 1965, even though several of the other local Episcopal Churches were not ready to do so, St. Paul's made a public statement of its own policy of non-discrimination:
"As its continuing policy, St. Paul's stands ready to minister to or serve any person who requires Christian ministry, . . . and in its employment practices will act without regard to race or color."
National politics also became a part of the church's agenda, although not without controversy. A sermon by Mr. Waller opposing our country's involvement in the Vietnam War caused a flurry of comments, both for and against. Some vestry members objected when the clergy voiced their own opinions about the 1964 national election at a meeting held in the parish hall. The vestry and clergy agreed that in the future the vestry would be given advance notice when any "political" activities were to take place so that they could attend and then be in a better position to answer any later questions or complaints.
Mr. Waller and many members of the congregation were actively involved with the Charlottesville Fair Housing Committee. This somewhat controversial organization's goal was to make available a list of houses in white neighborhoods that would be offered for sale or rent on an open occupancy basis. A notice in one of the Sunday Bulletins encouraged any members of St. Paul's with property to sell or rent to be on that list.
St. Paul's was an enthusiastic partner in the Trinity Project which was directed by the Reverend Henry Mitchell, the Rector of Trinity Church. The Trinity Project began as a six week summer program of recreation, arts and crafts, health clinics and religious instruction for poor, mostly black, children. It was very successful and was soon expanded to a year-round program which included a nursery school, after school and evening tutoring, and adult literacy classes. St. Paul's gave the program financial support and the use of the parish house facilities when they were needed. More importantly, many St. Paul's members volunteered their time and their skills in all of the programs. The close cooperation between the two parishes was evident in many ways, including an invitation to Henry Mitchell to preach at St. Paul's in April, 1968.
During the 1960's the role of the women in the church changed dramatically. In 1966 St. Paul's elected its first woman delegate to the Diocesan Council, and in 1967 the first two women were elected to serve on the vestry. It was also a change to have girls serving as acolytes. One result of these new opportunities for women in the church and in American life in general, was a decreased interest in the traditional women's Guilds and Auxiliary. In 1967 the women adopted a plan to slowly phase out their traditional organizations, to incorporate their funds into the general church budget, and to have their activities, such as church suppers, become the responsibility of the whole congregation. Although some of the Guilds continued to meet for several more years, there was no longer a separate Women of the Church organization.
All the changes that were taking place in the life and program of St. Paul's quite naturally caused considerable controversy. Some parishioners objected because St. Paul's always seemed to be on the "liberal" side of every issue. Others opposed the whole idea of church involvement in social issues at all. In certain cases people who had been members of St. Paul's for many years suddenly found it a puzzling place where they no longer felt at home. Some of them simply stopped attending church at all, while others transferred to a different parish. At the same time, many people were attracted to St. Paul's precisely because of its vitality, involvement and willingness to live out its professed beliefs. Mr. Waller addressed the issue in his Rector's letter in the Newsletter. "During the past four years life at St. Paul's has changed considerably. Perhaps the changes have been in the opposite direction from the way many of you knew and thought of the life of a parish church. . . . During such a period of transition as ours, there is no exact way of describing the right experiments. An element of faith is necessary as we move in new directions. . . . It is a time of change not one for burying the past. Inadequate forms of church life will bury themselves if we let them."
However, by far the most controversy centered on the changes taking place in the church services. Again Harcourt Waller led the way, challenging the congregation to grow in their understanding and practice of worship, re-affirming those things that made their worship of God more alive, eliminating what had become stale or obsolete. In a Lenten letter to the congregation he asked, "Are we in danger of becoming a congregation with a giant-sized building and a pea-sized spirit?". As soon as the Trial Liturgy was approved it was used, frequently at the 9:30 service and occasionally at the 11:00 service, where the congregation tended to be more conservative and less enthusiastic about change.
But changes in the liturgy did not stir up people nearly as much as did alterations in the interior arrangement of the church. Although the Liturgical Committee tried to keep the congregation informed and prepared for changes, some members felt that they never knew what re-arrangement of furniture to expect when they walked into church on Sunday morning. Basically there were three plans. The first was the traditional arrangement of the church with all the pews facing the unobstructed high altar. The second plan placed a platform and table at the foot of the chancel steps with three rows of pews turned to face it from the sides. The third plan actually blocked the altar off from view with a temporary partition, moved the platform and table to the church's west wall and turned all the pews to face that way. A survey done by the Liturgical Committee showed that the third plan had very little support, the second was favorably received by a majority of the 9:30 congregation, and the traditional lay-out was the preference of the 11:00 service. The survey also revealed that many people felt St. Paul's had finally gone too far. In a letter to the vestry, one life-long member wrote "We - and here I am speaking for myself and those of us who are left who built this church - constructed and furnished this bulding in a manner that had satisfied nearly all of our Episcopal brethren since the Anglican Church had been brought to this country. . . . Of course we have always been aware that the primitive church had a more informal arrangement of the church interior and a more intimate liturgy, but we preferred to be Episcopalians rather than Baptists. What was good for the Visigoths was not necessarily good for us. Incidentally, if informality and intimacy are prime aims of the New Liturgy, why not spare the church and have the new altar in the Parish Hall and have the congregation sit on the floor?"
In 1969, after seven active, innovative years, Harcourt Waller resigned to become rector of Christ Church, Charlotte, North Carolina. The St. Paul's he left was radically different from the congregation he had come to in 1961. Several older, life-long members had stopped attending or had left to join another parish. At the same time, other members had become actively involved in the life of the congregation, many for the first time, and new people had been attracted to St. Paul's, seeing there an opportunity to develop a faith that was a vital part of everything else going on in their lives. St. Paul's had become an active congregation, involved in all the crucial social issues of the time, during a period of rapid and sometimes disruptive change. Its own traditional forms of worship had been altered by that pattern of change. The changes and the new vitality also affected parish finances. During Mr. Waller's first three years at St. Paul's there was a steady increase in parish income as people responded to the stewardship education program. However, for the next several years the pledges to the church declined as angry or unhappy parishioners withdrew their financial support. Even though many other people were making an increasingly larger pledge each year, by 1969 St. Paul's had to adopt a deficit budget.
While lay people had accepted unprecedented opportunities for leadership, the rapid pace and the wide variety of changes were primarily attributable to Harcourt Waller. In a letter accepting his resignation, the vestry said, "In the seven years of his ministry with us, Harcourt Waller has exercised his spiritual and personal leadership by drawing us toward new levels of Christian commitment, by re-examining the basis of liturgical expression and by strengthening our concept of the ministry of Christ's church. . . . challenging us to move forward toward our potential as a force for spiritual regeneration and social change. . . ."
The Reverend David Ward and the Reverend Roderick Sinclair had come to St. Paul's as assistants in 1968 after Charles Perry and Richard Baker left. During the search for a new rector they served together as Associate Rectors and Chaplains until December, 1969 when David Ward was called as Rector and Rod Sinclair became Director of Special Ministries. When Mr. Sinclair left St. Paul's to become Episcopal Chaplain at Auburn University, Mr. Ward called the Rev. John Ruef as his Associate in 1971. He was succeeded by the Rev. L. Roberts Graves, Jr., who served as Associate until 1976.
Although St. Paul's still faced many major challenges, a healing began to take place within the parish. A more gradual approach to change and a new willingness to accept diversity were probably the main reasons for this healing. In his first sermon after becoming Rector, David Ward said, "A few weeks ago suggested that our great need in this church is to be reconciled to each other. We need a healing of our divisions and a constant striving for that kind of openness and trust which will allow us not to overlook or to forget our differences, but to examine them honestly and without distortion. We must look for unity but not for uniformity or unanimity."
The first major issues dealt with in this more gradual and inclusive style were the liturgy and the schedule of Sunday services. By 1970, the 9:30 and 11:00 services represented two very distinct congregations. For three years a rich combination of services gave each congregation the opportunity to experience Morning Prayer and Holy Communion using the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and the Proposed New Liturgy. That enabled parishioners to become familiar with the new liturgy while still affirming the traditional forms of worship. Members of the congregation were invited to learn more about the changes in the liturgy and to express their own reactions to it by attending Sunday morning discussion groups and by taking part in parish opinion surveys. The summer schedule, which combined the two congregations into one 10:00 service, was also a part of the gradual process of introducing the new liturgy.
Although many people in the 11:00 congregation continued to prefer Morning Prayer according to the 1928 prayer book for the main service, in February, 1973, the parish agreed to a ten week trial of one combined 10:00 service of Holy Communion using the 1928 prayer book and the Proposed New Liturgy on alternate Sundays. At the conclusion of the ten week trial period that liturgical schedule became the standard practice of the parish until 1977 when the vestry removed the 1928 prayer books and placed the new 1979 Book of Common Prayer in all the pews.
The ordination of women to the priesthood was another difficult challenge which the parish was able to meet by using the same gradual and inclusive approach. The clergy and the vestry led the way in publicly supporting the ordination of women, but the congregation was again given many opportunities to learn more about both sides of the issue and to express their own opinions through study groups, parish meetings and questionnaires. That process of corporate involvement can be seen in a letter Mr. Ward wrote to the congregation in November, 1974, addressing the question of whether or not one of the eleven women ordained irregularly in Philadelphia should be invited to St. Paul's. "If I were to take any action involving an invitation to one or more of the Philadelphia Eleven it would be done on the basis of our corporate willingness to acknowledge the validity of their priesthood and our clear desire that it should be experienced among us."
While the process of education and decision-making about the ordination of women went on, other important steps were taken. In 1974 the vestry certified Constance Ward to become a candidate for Holy Orders, and in 1975 David Ward participated in the ordination service of four women priests in Washington, D.C. However, he made it clear that he was doing that on his own and not as Rector of St. Paul's. In 1976 at a meeting of Region 15, Mr. Ward presented the arguments in favor of ordaining women. Although by 1977 there were still differences of opinion on the ordination issue, in the spring of that year the parish celebrated the ordination to the priesthood of Constance Ward. There was strong interest in hiring her as a third member of the clergy staff to acknowledge both the parish's enthusiastic support of women priests and the outstanding ministry that she already was carrying out at St. Paul's. However, lack of money made it impossible to offer her any more than a very part-time position.
The parish finances posed a very serious problem. The crisis was caused by a continuing decline in pledges and an increased commitment to outside giving. By 1978 the number of pledging units was only half of what it had been in 1965, even though there was an annual increase in the size of the average pledge. Each year the church was forced to adopt a "bare-bones" deficit budget, and to meet expenses by selling church property that was not being used by the parish. That property included a house on Fendall Avenue that had been the home of the assistant minister, and the former St. David's Mission in Greene County which had been left to St. Paul's in the previous owner's will. Despite the constant shortage of money, the parish continued an active outreach to the local community and to the larger world. A parish committee gathered data about hunger among local school children and was able to get a pilot school breakfast program started. St. Paul's sponsored a Vietnamese refugee family, and through an organization called FEAST, parishioners were urged to address seriously the problem of world hunger.
This was also a time when the importance of the arts in the life of the church was recognized and experienced. The choir became known for its excellence on Sunday mornings and during special services such as Choral Evensong. The 1975 Ash Wednesday service included a performance of David Ward's play "The Containers", and the Wednesday evening Lenten programs included a participatory drama which involved the congregation in a re-trial of Christ. From time to time parish artists designed the cover for the Sunday bulletin.
The ministry to the University also moved in some new directions. Perhaps the most dramatic program was the exchange between St. Paul's and St. Thomas Roman Catholic Church in which Mr. Ward and Fr. Stickle celebrated the eucharist together at both churches. An exciting new program began when the vestry voted to make the Booker house a part of the church's outreach to the University. Since acquiring the property in 1969, the church had rented it out to a fraternity to cover the costs of owning it. In 1978 a group of students who were active at St. Paul's presented a plan to create at the Booker house a Christian Community for students and other young adults. Since the house needed several thousand dollars worth of repairs, and since the Booker House Community was an as yet untested idea, its formation was an act of courage, but one which the vestry agreed was consistent with St. Paul's historic mission to the University.
In the fall of 1979, the Wards accepted a call from Grace Church in Providence, Rhode Island, where David would be Rector and Connie would be Associate Rector. They left a St. Paul's that was indeed healed and reconciled, a congregation whose unity was found in its respect for inclusiveness and its celebration of diversity. The Reverend David Poist, who had joined the St. Paul's staff as Associate Rector in June, 1977, was asked to remain on while the parish went through the long and elaborate search process. According to The Parish Profile, produced as a part of that search process, St. Paul's in 1980 had 512 active communicants of whom 315 were in two-parent families, a Sunday School of 60 students and an average attendance at the Sunday 10:00 A.M. service of 276. About one third of the congregation reported taking part in at least one of the 23 organized activities-from singing in the choir to serving in the 1700 Society which kept the church buildings clean.
The anticipated 1980 income of $141,000 including $114,000 from pledges, allowed only $10,000 for outside giving, the rest being taken up by salaries and operating expenses. There had been deficit budgets for several years, and as a consequence, a "slow but perceptible deterioration of the property".
Describing the spirit of the parish, the Profile states "Perhaps the most notable quality of St. Paul's is our strong sense of fellowship or community, a gift for which we are truly thankful." The "primary and over-arching goal" was commitment to retaining the strengths of its ministry, shared by the clergy and the people, and the congregation wanted its next rector to "lead by constantly encouraging the ministry of others." They also wanted the rector to be a community builder, willing to organize a wide variety of services, respect the diversity within the congregation and recognize and utilize the skills and talents of others.
The vestry voted unanimously to call Mr. Poist as Rector in June, 1980, and the following June the clergy staff was completed by the addition of The Reverend David Lee and The Reverend Paula Kettlewell, each of whom would work part time to fill the Associate's position. The Reverend Samuel Lloyd, who had just joined the faculty at the University, became the Assistant Rector. Rapid growth was one of the most noticeable characteristics of the 1980's at St. Paul's. By 1981 the average Sunday attendance had increased to 350, and more than 1100 attended the four Easter services, a number which grew to 1400 by Easter 1984. In his 1986 annual report to the parish, David Poist said, "This year has seen more weddings, more baptisms and a growing church school. The challenge of how to welcome and integrate many new people into the life of the parish remains a major pastoral concern. We must all be constant in helping new people adjust to the eccentricities and glories of St. Paul's:' By the end of the decade, an average Sunday during the academic year, brought close to 500 people to St. Paul's, mostly for the 10:00 A.M. service, but the 8:00 A.M. and 5:30 P.M., newly instituted in January, 1988, also gained in numbers.
This dramatic increase in attendance was welcomed as a sign of a healthy congregation, but it also created its own problems and challenges. Each Sunday re-created the reality of too many cars and too few parking places. Access to a newly constructed public parking deck and to the Booker House lot brought some relief, but for the 10:00 A.M. congregation Sunday morning often meant traffic jams on Chancellor Street, a frantic search for an empty parking space, and sometimes a long walk.
As the congregation grew, so too did the danger of becoming a company of strangers. Newcomers' dinners, parish teas, neighborhood gatherings as a part of the annual stewardship campaign, and a first Sunday of the month coffee hour when parishioners were urged to "make a name tag and introduce yourself to someone you don't know", all helped to address this problem, as did the opportunity to join in the life of a small group. Throughout the decade people shared their lives and their spiritual growth with one another in small gatherings such as Cross of Nails Foyers, EFM, spiritual development classes, Adult Bible Study, the Theology Reading Group and the Faith for Skeptics study groups. The Wednesday Community Night service, supper and program continued to serve as a vehicle for people to get to know one another, and the parish summer weekend at Shrine Mont quickly became a popular and effective community builder.
Many of the newcomers were families with young children whose presence brought a new vitality to the Sunday service and a new focus to several parish activities. In 1982 the Church School adopted a Lectionary based curriculum, "Living the God News", and a new schedule. The children went to their classes as church began and then joined the adults in church at the offertory. Although not all the adults greeted the arrival of the more than 100 happy, excited children with equal enthusiasm, for the most part their entry during the offertory anthem, usually clutching or wearing some intriguing product of that morning's class, was welcomed as a visible symbol of St. Paul's life together as a family. Following the church service, the children returned to the Education Wing for an activities period.
After three years of ably shepherding the Church School through a major transition, Sallie Brown stepped down as Director in 1985. She was succeeded by Betsy Poist who continued the tradition of outstanding leadership for a Church School which by 1989 had grown to more than 200 students and a dedicated corps of 30 teachers.
The Christmas Pageant took on a completely new life. A notice in a December 1982 Newsletter inviting 3, 4 and 5 year olds who wished to be angels or "space-persons" to come to rehearsals was a sign of that transformation. Whether it was as birds or butterflies or space-people or angels or prophets, each year under Roselean Whalley's skillful and tireless direction, the children offered to the parish a fresh, new and unexpected interpretation of the Christmas story.
The children became an important part of the church's life in many ways. Bringing their pets to be blessed on St. Francis Day, processing down the aisle with the toy they had chosen to donate at Christmas time, closing their eyes in the confident expectation that St. Nicholas would work another miracle, watching with a mixture of pride and hope and anxiety as their Egg Drop entry landed, proudly being recognized at the spring Youth Festival, the children, to a very large degree, personified the spirit of the congregation.
Perhaps no change was more dramatic in the 1980's than the improvement in the church's financial situation. By 1983 the income from pledges had grown to $167,000. Two years later it had risen to $229,508, and by 1989 it had reached $344,385. While the growth in church membership was undoubtedly an important component of this change, an equally significant cause was a more mature understanding of stewardship and a commitment to proportionate giving. In its stewardship statement the vestry and clergy affirmed, ". . . we accept for ourselves and commend to this parish, the spiritual discipline of setting a goal for our giving and stretching ourselves toward it . . . then, God willing, we reach beyond this goal". That same discipline and commitment guided the vestry as it drew up the annual budget each year. In 1980 the $10,000 appropriated for undesignated outside giving was divided among fifteen agencies. Six years later, in 1986, $27,000 was spent in grants to twenty-eight organizations, and by 1989 $36,000 was budgeted and disbursed to thirty-two agencies. In 1989 the parish's budgeted total for outside giving amounted to $105,500, and its goal was 30 percent of its annual income.
In his 1987 annual report to the parish, Mr. Poist said, "How we worship, what we do to help the poor and lost in our community and the world, what witness we make to the University, all of these challenges will tell the story of this community of faith. . .". In striving to respond more and more generously to the rapidly escalating needs for shelter and food, for education and medical care, and for a humane end to life, the parish accepted its responsibility to give generously of time, talents, energy and money in response to Jesus' commandment to love God and our brothers and sisters.
As the parish finances improved, the vestry turned its attention to long overdue basic maintenance projects such as repair- ing roofs and gutters, painting the exterior and several interior tooms, and refinishing the sanctuary floor. At the same time some major improvements to the physical plant occupied a great deal of their time and thought.
The enthusiasm for Booker House as a part of the Church's ministry to the University was tempered by the rapidly increasing deterioration of the building itself. The roof leaks were well beyond the patching stage, at any moment the fixtures in the second floor bathroom could fall through to the room below, and these were but two of the long list of absolutely essential repairs. When it became clear these repairs would cost over $250,000 the vestry, with consent of the congregation, sadly accepted the fact that St. Paul's could not undertake such a major renovation, and that the Booker House Community would have to come to an end. After protracted negotiations a long-term lease was signed with the University, which completely renovated the building and devoted it to administrative offices.
Making the church facilities accessible to the handicapped was another project which occupied much of the vestry's attention. The overall design of the church and parish hall seemed to thwart all their efforts and made each proposed alteration far more costly than had been anticipated. However, the congregation was committed to having facilities as accessible and barrier free as possible and so the vestry refused to be defeated. By the end of the decade new handicapped accessible facilities included parking places in the alley, a ramp into the Chapel and a bathroom behind the Sacristy. Still in the planning stage was a folding lift to connect the Parish Hall with the Sanctuary.
Summer and the advent of hot weather always brought renewed calls for air-conditioning the church, especially since the defective finish on the pews left ugly brown stains (ruefully referred to as the "St. Paul's Stigmata") on the backs of unsuspecting worshippers. A 1989 parish-wide survey revealed a congregation almost evenly divided, with the "pro" voters often citing the health and comfort of elderly members of the congregation, and the "anti" voters emphasizing a concern for environmental issues and social responsibility in the use of church funds. In the absence of a clear mandate, the vestry decided to investigate intermediary solutions such as refinishing the pews, installing fans and insulating the attic above the church.
Other major improvements included a Memorial Garden by the west wall of the church, a new sound system which included individual components for the hearing impaired, and a handsome new floor in the Parish Hall. The aesthetics of the sanctuary were much improved by a magnificent new Holy Table and a larger, more graceful platform for it. The church entered the electronic age with the addition of two computers, a VCR, and an electronic, digital organ for the Chapel, to replace the original one which the senior warden described as, "old, evil sounding, and prohibitively expensive to repair".
Donald Loach, St. Paul's Organist and Choir Director, informed the vestry that the church's Skinner organ was in need of a major restoration. After two widely divergent bids for the project had been received, the vestry hired Mr. John Ogasapian in 1985 to act as consultant, and under the leadership of John and Sandy Snook began a fund drive to raise $75,000. The goal was met and exceeded, and Mr. Ogasapian recommended that Mr. Michie of Hartland, Maine, be awarded the contract. The re-dedication concert played by Yvaine Duisit on February 10, 1989, was a glorious observance of the successful completion of the restoration project.
In 1985 the parish celebrated its seventy-fifth year. Anniversary events included a talk by John Page Williams who had attended the Service of the Dedication of the church in September, 1927, a presentation of François Poulanc's Gloria, by the choir and a wonderful anniversary dinner attended by many past and present parishioners and clergy. In his message to the parish, Bishop Peter Lee said ". . . I greet you with thanksgiving to God for your ministry and with affection for the vitality and strength that you provide to the University, to the community of Charlottesville and to the diocese at large."
Ministry to the University took on a whole new look in the 80's, replacing the earlier model in which students were warmly welcomed but no specific programs for them were offered. In response to strong requests from students, a Canterbury Student Fellowship began to meet weekly, and monthly graduate student suppers were held. During the 1982-83 academic year, St. Paul's even provided free bus service from the dorms to the church on Sunday mornings. Although it was not begun with that intention, the Sunday evening service quickly attracted a predominantly student congregation.
During the middle years of the decade several changes took place within the staff. In 1985 Sam Lloyd accepted a position in Chicago and David Lee resigned as Associate Rector. David Poist and Paula Kettlewell continued as the clergy staff until 1987 when The Reverend Steven Keller Bonsey was hired, marking the first time that St. Paul's was able to support three full time priests without any diocesan help. Since his job description included one-half time for University ministry, Nick and Arlene Page, who had been on the staff part-time as Canterbury advisors, decided this was a good time for them to turn over the reins of Canterbury and retire from the staff. In that same year Elizabeth Courain, for eight years the parish secretary and then administrative assistant, left and that position was then filled by Pam Kelly, aided by the parish secretary, Betsy Kennan. Earlier in the decade, Mike Kavanaugh had been hired as the sexton.
A Mission Statement for 1986-1990 was prepared by the vestry in response to a request from the Bishop that each parish in the diocese do so. The six goals set for the parish included developing a program in mission education, raising awareness at the University of the parish's ministry, increasing the ministry with the area elderly and the Venable neighborhood children, and evaluating staff needs.
By 1989 the parish could feel a strong sense of accomplishment in addressing each of these goals. The addition of a third full-time priest and of a Sunday evening service followed by a supper for students had enhanced the parish's presence within the University community. A very active group of lay people visited regularly with the elderly and the homebound. Another group of volunteers served as tutors at Venable School and with the Trinity Day Care Program. Scholarships had enabled a number of neighborhood children to attend summer camps.
Visits by such distinguished preachers as Charles Perry, Provost of the National Cathedral, and Peter Gomes, Chaplain of Harvard University; a mini-concert by a Gospel Choir; the addition of a handbell choir, a folk choir and a speech choir; children's sermons with their unexpected questions and answers; all these helped to continue the parish tradition of worship that gave glory to God, celebrated life as a gift from God, and took seriously the church's ministry to the world.
Lay ministry continued to be the hallmark of the parish. A casserole ministry prepared food for families in crisis, and a Saturday morning service group gave parishioners opportunities for a direct hands-on ministry of scraping, painting, repairing and building. The Adult Education Committee called upon the congregation's deep well of talent for programs as diverse as World Hunger, the Soviet Union and World Peace, Biblical studies, and Stress within Families. Lay people volunteered as advisors to the Youth Groups, they delivered tapes of the service to shut-ins, they visited the sick at University of Virginia Hospital, and they contributed to the quality of worship as lectors, chalice bearers, acolytes, and members of the Flower Guild and Altar Guild. The African Development Project became an important form of international ministry.
The parish continued to be involved in crucial social issues. Through various church and community organizations members of the parish worked to promote world peace and to alleviate the sufferings of the poor, the hungry, the homeless, and the terminally ill. A survey conducted by the Race Relations Task Force in 1986 showed that the majority wanted substantial meaningful change but were uncertain how that could be achieved.
And finally, the congregation continued to enjoy one another as a family of faith. Dinner dances remained popular, as did the annual parish picnic. Although the 8 o'clock congregation continued to resist the notion of an after church coffee hour, a large proportion of the 10 o'clock congregation gathered in the Parish Hall each week. The Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper took on an increasingly festive Mardi Gras air, including, in 1987, live jazz music. A special showing of the movie "Babette's Feast" raised money for the African Development Project.
The cover of the 1988 Annual Report featured a drawing by parishioner Byrd Eastham. It captured the dynamism of the parish and poked gentle fun at its busyness. As the 1980's drew to a close, St. Paul's had become an active energetic parish. The highly valued diversity of liturgical styles, spiritual needs, life circumstances and visions for the church's mission created an environment of excitement, creativity and enthusiasm. Yet always at the center of its life, as it was at the center of Mr. Eastham's drawing, there was the Holy Table, a constant reminder of the One in whose name and for whose sake St. Paul's was originally established in 1910. As St. Paul's entered its eightieth year it could look back in thanksgiving for the countless gifts of opportunity and blessing bestowed upon it, and it could look forward by rephrasing the words of Mr. Tucker: May the enduring gift that St. Paul's has to render be to set us dreaming dreams and seeing visions which no practical achievement can ever exhaust nor any material world satisfy.
Last Updated on Monday, 25 June 2012 13:23