by Rose Nightingale
In 1918, Granville Gaylord Bennett, our seventh Rector, was a save, erudite preacher and a fine executive. He had served parishes in Montana. In the midst of post-war reconstruction he increased church membership. The work of the male choir gained citywide recognition. One of Bennett’s first actions was to discontinue pew rentals where parishioners paid from $1.00 to $22.50 per month for reserved seating. He argued that Saint Paul’s was a free church. He instituted the Every Member Canvas with voluntary pledges followed by personal calls. For a long time before this, the Vestry members made up the deficit at year end.
As membership grew and the average member was less affluent, the practice was discontinued and a balanced budget was insisted on. Another accomplishment was realignment of the Vestry. Membership was increased to nine, electing three a year so there would always be seasoned people in office. Missionary work continued under Bennett. Miss Jessie B. Hill was hired as a community social worker with charge of a group in South Minneapolis called Grace Church. She directed the Sunday School which, at times, rivaled Saint Paul’s in size.
After two years, Grace Church called the Reverend G.E.M. Young to be its Rector and became an independent parish. Once again, word came that Saint Paul’s Rector was to become a Bishop. Bennett was elected Bishop coadjutor of Duluth. At that time, Duluth and northern Minnesota were a diocese separate from the rest of the state. Later, the two were joined to make the present Episcopal Church in Minnesota.
The service of consecration was held at Saint Paul’s. Dignitaries from all over the country attended and the parish issued tickets to the ceremony. The Rt. Reverend Daniel Sylvester Tuttle, Presiding Bishop, was the consecrator, presenters were Frank A. McElwain, Bishop of Duluth, and the “new” Bishop Remington, who assisted in the rites to install his successor. Bennett was the third consecutive Rector of Saint Paul’s to be elected bishop and consecrated in the church in a period of less than ten years.
When Bishop McElwain retired, Bennett became Bishop of Duluth for a short period. He was then elected Bishop of Rhode Island and served there until his retirement. He was the senior Bishop of the church for many years until his death in Rhode Island.