For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.-- Matthew 18:20
Since publication of our last "memory book," some have requested a way to preserve their own memories of the family and life that is St. James Episcopal Church. Those stories are here. You may add your own story on the form, below.
Entered on: January 19, 2017 at 9:12 pm
MY MEMORIES OF ST. JAMES CHURCH
My name is Blanche Eleanor Wilkinson Green. Most people call me "Boots". I was born June 24,1931 and christened at St. James Episcopal Church by the Reverend Malcolm Lockhart.
My mother and father were Eleanor LeCoq Wilkinson of New Roads and William Marion Wilkinson of Woodville, Mississippi. They were married at St James on June 2, 1930. My mother served 17 years as Financial Secretary at St. James and upon her retirement was elected president of the Episcopal Church Women (WOC, then). My father served on the Vestry and was treasurer of the Sunday School for years.
My aunt, Eugenie LeCoq Tucker taught Sunday School for many years. She and my uncle, Vincent W. Tucker were married at St. James on July 2, 1925.
Parson Werlein came to St. James in 1936 - so he is the first clergyman that I remember. My memories of Parson Werlein are many. He would always gather the altar flowers and take them to the hospital that evening. I remember once being awakened at 11:30 p.m. and there he stood proudly presenting a bouquet that sobbed for water and wrapped in a newspaper. He was a good man! We, as teenagers, had so much fun at the parties at the rectory behind the church on Convention Street, whichcontinued even after we were married. Back then, we all went into the church but the services were different, then. We had Holy Communion once a month. Otherwise, we had morning prayer. I guess today you would call us "low" church. But we sang hymns that were a part of America's heritage and everyone knew them because we repeated them often -"Just as I am", "Onward Christian Soldiers", " Holy, Holy, Holy," etc.
Our Junior and Senior Wardens served for years. I remember them so well - Mr. Vernon Porter, Preston Barnes, Hereford Percy, O. M. Thompson to name a few. Harold Leonard was treasurer for almost the entire time my mother worked in the St. James office.
Baton Rouge was a smaller town when we were growing up. Church activities played a large part in our lives. I began teaching Sunday School when I was fifteen. I taught with Bobbie Murray and I played the piano for first and second grades - then moved to fourth.
Back then, we all went into the church and during part of the service the Sunday School teachers and children filed out and went to class - so we never had communion during 9:00 service. As preteens and teenagers we enjoyed the Young Peoples Service League. I had some good friends there - Jane Hughes (Billy's sister), Gail Whitney (Nora Say's sister), Betty Grayson (Curet), Raymie Edmonds, Huntington Odom, Celeste Rordam (Spann) and Louise Horner (Willis). There were so many that were active.
There were many Associate Rectors, among them: Jack Ormand, Don Wimberly, Nelson Longnecker, Martin Nelson, Daryll Cambell, Ralph Webster, Jack Wilhite, and Ralph Webster to name a few. I remember them because for a long time they were in charge of the Sunday School curriculum. That was before John Edgar and then, Martin Broderick, took charge of Sunday School. Some things never change. When we were young and bored with Sunday School we'd sneak out to Walgreen's for a malt. No one ever came after us but in later years, Martin Broderick played bloodhound for the next generation.
I remember one Sunday when the Bishops were lined up in the church with incense burners but no matches. Martin Nelson, our assistant at the time, came running to the Parish Hall to find someone with matches and all he found was me. I was the one "assigned" to stay with the food until the last minute. Martin and I had just had a discussion the week before about incense. I do not like it -in fact it may be my only true allergy - so when he saw I was alone he stopped cried, "Oh, no!" Of course I found matches for him but we laughed about it for a long time!
I guess one of my joys in teaching Sunday School was bringing the fourth graders into church each year for a complete tour and explanation of each window and art work piece, because I knew how young minds can wander during the service and I wanted those wandering eyes to stop on something they could identify with.
Baton Rouge was a smaller town when we were growing up. Church activities played a larger part in our lives. I remember coming to the office frequently from school. I loved Mrs. Annie Miller, the church secretary. During World War II, part of the old Parish Hall was turned into a USO-type facility. There were tables and desks where the boys could write letters home. Parishioners would prepare snacks and visit with them. That was before it was renovated and it was still in the form of the home it had been.
My happiest moment was the day I married Warren. On August 16, 1952, Warren Green and I were married at St. James Church by the Reverend Warrin Fry who had been an assistant to Mr Werlein before moving to Longview, Texas. Mr. Werlein was in Europe. The Reverend Fry was assisted by a young curate at St. James, Robert C. Witcher. It was the first wedding in which he participated and through the years he always remembered when our wedding took place. The Parish Hall and church had been decorated by Mrs Harold (Mary) Leonard and my cousin, Laura McManus Edwards.
It was AUGUST - no breeze, no air conditioning - there were very large fans set up in the Parish Hall for the reception and before the guests arrived my aunt, Eugenie Tucker, backed into one of the fans! She shredded the seat of her gown, but she never missed a beat. She borrowed safety pins and resumed her "duties." She was a speech and math teacher at Baton Rouge Jr. High and was always a joy to me. It was such a special day for us when we renewed our vows at the 11:00 o'clock service on our 50th anniversary and Bishop Witcher officiated. Our children and grandchildren (who lived in Shreveport and Harvey) were present for that occasion.
I have been at St. James for 72 years; taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, served on the first outreach program when Father James Coleman was here, worked Gumbo, helped start St. Dorcas chapter for young mothers and Warren and I chaired the Relocation Committee when the Vestry voted to sponsor a Vietnamese family consisting of a father, mother, and four children, and the mother was pregnant.
St. James has weathered its share of the same problems our city, state and country has, and with the faith and courage of her leaders she survived and flourished.
St. James Church has planted seeds all over this area in the forms of new congregations and new schools and a retirement center.
If I have one wish it is that St. James members will always be as dedicated, compassionate, loving and generous so that future generations will keep God's will in the traditions and tenets of the faith!
Ed. Note: Blanche Eleanor Wilkinson Green joined the nearer presence of God on December 25, 2012. She is sorely missed by her husband, Warren, and their family, and her St. James Church family.