by Rose Nightingale

bishop keeler

Bishop Keeler

In 1947, Bishop Keeler initiated another proposal to merge with Saint Marks. It was urged by many in Saint Paul’s, including Dr. Knickerbocker, who was approaching the end of a long and dedicated ministry. The vestry approved the plan in secret. The parishioners hadn’t been told of the vestry’s approval. Two long-term members, Theodore T. Jones and Lawrence S. Clark, Sr., felt everyone should know what was going on, and without consulting the vestry, they prepared and mailed a letter to all members, telling about Saint Mark’s previous offers and outlining possible results of acceptance of this current offer.

Opposition was instantaneous! The vestry called a parish meeting in October 1947 to consider and hoped to gain approval of the merger that had been worked out in the chambers of the Minneapolis Club. Dr. Knickerbocker urged a “yes” vote, and the vestry was almost unanimous in approval.

The “little people” of the church would have none of it. A few spoke against it in words, the majority with their ballots. The proposal required a two-thirds vote of church members present. Tellers appointed were very careful that all qualified voted; no unqualified cast a ballot. When tallied, the vote was 100 for the merger, and 200 opposed. The parish voted to stay at Franklin and Bryant.

Many proponents, including some long-time members, moved to Saint Mark’s; but within a short time most of them returned to Saint Paul’s. One who did not return was John Gregg, junior warden 1944 to 1947. His father had been one of the early members and also Senior Warden in 1917. Gregg became treasurer of the Diocese and served in important diocesan offices, but kept his membership at Saint Mark’s.

David Bronson was elected senior warden in 1948, and served for three years during low membership, changing rectors and rebounds from merger battles. He did a remarkable job of drawing the parish together, and improved both spirit and finances. He continued to serve Saint Paul’s as well as the Diocese of Minnesota (as chancellor) till his death in 1974.

Attendance was increasing with the merger battle behind. The resignation of Dr. Knickerbocker was a disappointment. Music seemed to get better under the professional tutelage of Dr. Paul Oberg, head of the University of Minnesota music department. Organist and choir director beginning in 1944. Mrs. Oberg developed the girls’ choir. Both Obergs were active in camps until their retirement in 1949. Harold Rigg succeeded them as organist and choirmaster.