by Rose Nightingale

In 1969, Saint Paul’s joined with four other congregations in Kenwood to found the Neighborhood Involvement Program (NIP) under the direction of Social Worker, Judy Justad. It was designed to focus their joint ministry to help meet a diverse array of human needs in the Wedge area between Hennepin and Lyndale Avenues from Franklin to Lake Street.

Original sponsors were: Saint Paul’s, Lake of the Isles Lutheran, Trinity Community (Baptist) and Grace Presbyterian Churches and Temple Israel Synagogue. The Cathedral Church of Saint Mark later joined. The community served was high in poverty and population of elderly and youth.NIP served with faithful outreach: Board and Care home visiting, meals for shut-ins, junior high tutoring, a “buddy” program and other support work with pre-teens, children’s drop-in center, mothers’ club, psychological counseling, volunteer medical care, food shelf, clothes closet, leisure time parties and other aid for senior citizens. It held the first Twin Cities Rape and Sexual Assault counseling and support center.Saint Paulites were a part of the huge volunteer corps to provide the most creative cost-efficient social services in the city.

Scholarships contributed by Saint Paulites helped youngsters from disadvantaged families in the NIP community to attend our Camp Lawton. NIP was an update of the outreach tradition established at Saint Paul’s. NIP has disbanded due to changes in the medical field. However, Saint Paul’s still hosts the leisure time parties for nursing home and handicapped attendants twice a year — in March and October. The items used as prizes for guests who play Bingo are given by the congregation. Volunteers do all the work to host these parties.

Another group that is no longer active is the Girl’s Friendly Society (GFS). Viola McConnell, active for many years in the Minneapolis Council of Churches, founded the Girl’s Friendly Society in Minnesota. It was revived in 1942 under the direction of Bishop Stephen E. Keeler. There were few teenage girls at Saint Paul’s in 1944. A junior branch was started. The group met after school, with members coming from Kenwood, Northrup, Douglas, Whittier, and Calhoun schools. Over its seventeen-year life members came from eleven different denominations, including Jewish and Roman Catholic girls. Much of the GFS program was like the Girl Scouts or Campfire Girls, except there was a worship service. Their national motto was: “Bear ye one another’s burdens.” The girls contributed many service gifts: making all palm crosses for Palm Sunday services, holding money-making tables for their annual mission gift, waiting on tables at dinners, taking charge of special dinners. They helped buy the first Jeep for Saint Vincent’s School for the handicapped in Haiti, bought furniture for All Saints’ School in the Virgin Islands, and sent four Liberian girls through college in Liberia.

These two groups are missed because of the many good works they provided.

Neighborhood Involvement Program building