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Sunday, January 4, 2015

The "Searching for a Read: Part III" Story

Foreword:  This is the 3rd installment that deals with the history of my church, St. James Episcopal in downtown Lancaster, PA.  It follows part II from Wednesday, December 17 which you may need to read to understand this part.  

It was an ordinary day.  Finally finished reading a few more chapters in The History of St. James' Church which was written by Franklin & Marshall College history professor H.M.J. Klein, and will give you some background into the history of my church from the beginning of the 1900s to the time when I joined the men and boy's choir of the church.
This is St. James' Parish House which stands today
on the site where the Sunday School Building once
stood.  This building was completed in 1904.
For me, one of the biggest additions to the church came in 1883 when a vested choir of men and boys began in the church.  Then in the early 1900s the Sunday School Building (Orphan's asylum), built in 1821, was demolished and a new Parish House was constructed and opened in 1904.  The third floor was still designated as an orphan's asylum.  The Parish House remains to this day.  In 1908 the Rev. Clifford Gray Twombly, the new rector, began the steps to make the church more democratic by soliciting regular weekly pledges from the congregation, eventually leading to the removal of paying rent for the pews.  
This shows the interior of St. James during World War I.
He also began the election of vestry instead of having them appointees.  In 1910 a new choir room was added to the north side of the church near the apse and Mr. George Rodgers was named organist and choirmaster.  My father became a member of the boys' choir under Mr. Rodgers in the mid-1920s (a story about that can be found by clicking on 'Father' in the entry titles and going to Feb. 10, 2013).  
Mr. George Rodgers, organist and choir director
who was hired in 1910 to direct the renowned
men's and boy's choir from St. James Church.
The painting of the Crucifixion by renown Jacob Eichholtz was presented to the church on November 28, 1915 (this also will be a post to follow).  Then, in 1918, yet another new organ was completed in the church.  During WWI six flags were placed in the chancel (west side) of the church.  They were the American, service, British, French, Italian and Belgian flags (our allies).  The flags were eventually moved to the apse, but in 1922 all were removed except the American and service flags which were moved to the chancel once again.  In 1926 a bronze tablet was placed on the Orange Street exterior wall listing those members in the parish who were prominent in the American Revolution.  
The exterior of the church as it appeared in 1925.
That tablet can still be viewed today on the outside south wall.  Finally in January of 1929 all pews in the church were free of rent.  In 1937 new lighting was added in the ceiling of the church and the lamp posts that were along the pews and in the choir were removed.  The new lights remained in use until just recently when new lighting was once again installed.  Rev. Twombly retired in 1939 and in 1941 two memorial windows were placed on the west side of the church to honor him.  In 1939 Rev. Robert C. Batchelder took over the reigns of St. James Episcopal.  
The interior of the church in 1944 showing the electric
lamps which replaced the lamps that used whale oil.
Two years later the exterior of the church was pointed and the gold painting of the angels in the ceiling was restored.  Then in 1942, Mr. Rodgers retired as organist and choirmaster.  The church camp on Schelley's Island in the Susquehanna river was named for him.  Both my father and myself attended Camp Schelley in the summer months.  On February 1, 1944, Mr. Frank McConnell, assistant organist of St. Thomas Church in New York, began his duties as organist and choirmaster of St. James.  He continued the annual Lenten Organ Recitals that Mr. Rodgers had started in 1911.  Finally in 1952, LDub became a member of St. James Episcopal's renowned men and boy's choir and joined his dad in the choir stalls. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

This is a photo taken around 1900 which shows the rectory that was between the parish house and the church.  This was later replaced.
The new rectory and parish house is shown in 1944.
A 1942 photo showing the choir.  My dad, Paul Woods, is pictured on the right side, but I'm not sure of his location.  
This is a photo taken at St. James Choir Camp on Schelle Island located in the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, PA.  My dad as well as myself attended this camp at one time or another.  
This is a 1929 photo showing the church graveyard where many famous people were buried.  A listing of the names on the tombstones will follow in another story.
This is the plaque that lists the patriots of the Revolutionary War who were from St. James Church.  It is fastened to the south side of the church proper.


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