BEFORE the departure of the beloved Thurber he had the satisfaction of presenting the following letter to a called meeting of the church on Monday, August 8, 1904:
"Dear Brethren : We take great pleasure in commending to you, as worthy to be the successors of Dr. and Mrs. Thurber in the pastorate of the American Church, the Rev, and Mrs. Chauncey W. Goodrich recently of Cleveland Ohio. Mr. Goodrich is a graduate of Yale University and Union Theological Seminary, and is probably less than forty years of age, having been twelve years in the ministry; three years as assistant of the Rev. Dr. Parkhurst of this city, six years as Pastor at Orange Mountain, N. J. and three years as pastor of the Bolton Avenue Presbyterian Church of Cleveland. It appears that in these several charges he has been faithful and successful.
We believe that Mr. and Mrs. Goodrich will be able, with your strong and affectionate cooperation, to take up the noble work which Dr. and Mrs. Thurber are about to lay down and carry it forward through an extended and fruitful pastorate.
Therefore we nominate the Rev. Chauncey W. Goodrich, and invite you to extend to him a unanimous call to be your pastor. Such a call we have reason to think would be accepted.
Praying ever for the prosperity of the American Church, we remain
The Directors of the American and Foreign Christian Union."
In view of the strong testimonials from America in addition to the recommendation of the Union the Church felt justified in waiving its privilege of deferring the issuance of a formal call until after it had had the opportunity of hearing and knowing the appointee, and thereupon took the unusual action of calling a pastor before he had arrived upon the field.
The Goodrich family after a three months period of rest arrived in Paris in January 1905. During the first year, according to the annual report, progress was made in several directions. A fund was started for the purchase of a new organ, the hour for holding the Sunday School was changed from the afternoon to the morning, with a resulting increase in attendance and interest.
At this time the French government passed a law which profoundly affected the status of all religious establishments in France. Heretofore the State had exempted all churches and other ecclesiastical institutions such as hospitals, asylums, convents, monasteries and schools from tax levies, and paid out vast sums in subsidies for their support. With the separation of Church and State many properties owned by religious bodies became the property of the State. Some of these were placed in the category of "Monuments Historiques", such as the great cathedrals, permission being given for the continuance of services under church support.
All duly organized religious bodies were considered Cult Associations ("Associations Culturelles") and were required to conform to the new requirements concerning management and control.
Thus on its temporal side the American Church became an "Association Culturelle", paying taxes to a foreign government although its property was owned by a New York corporation. Dr. Goodrich could have evaded this procedure---indeed he was advised to do so---but he and his colleagues refused to have recourse to a scheme of doubtful ethics.
In connection with the Fiftieth Anniversary, which occurred October 26, and 28, 1907, an effort was made to arouse interest in the purchase of a Church House, a plan which had been much on the heart and mind of Dr. Thurber. Word had come from New York that there were good prospects of raising a fund in the States to acquire property contiguous to the church at a cost of $110.000. But owing to the financial depression which shortly thereafter spread throughout the homeland the cherished dream of enlargement of the cramped quarters could not be realized, and the effort was reluctantly abandoned.
In the spring of 1910 Mr. Edward Jeanmonod was appointed sexton. This narrative would be incomplete without the mention of this loyal worker who for twenty years has given a type of service to the church entirely out of proportion to the ordinary requirements of such a position. Besides being "doorkeeper in the house of the Lord", Jeanmonod has been usher, custodian of collections, florist and decorator, buyer of supplies, anticipating with rare and wise thought the temporal needs of the congregation.
In the spring of 1910, it was with a severe shock that the members were made aware that their pastor, through failing health was contemplating leaving the work in the fall. Strong efforts were made to persuade Dr. Goodrich to reconsider his decision but since his own personal welfare was at stake the congregation reluctantly acquiesced in the request and joined with him in asking the American and Foreign Christian Union to recommend a successor.
Correspondence between New York and Paris during the summer resulted in a call to the Rev. Caspar W. Hiatt, D. D., a Congregational minister, whose successful pastorate in Cleveland, Ohio, promised well for the work required in the rue de Berri.
Dr. Hiatt had become noted as an eloquent preacher, and on his assumption of his duties in September 1910 it appeared that his reputation as a brilliant orator was well founded. Added to this was a cordial and charming manner and a conspicuous gift for sympathetic pastoral service.
Marble tablets bearing the names of the pastors, with the dates of their several pastorates, were placed on either side of the chancel. A church office was rented on the ground floor of 19 rue de Berri, which was utilized until 1929. Attractive cards were prepared and placed in hotels giving hours of service. At this time the apartment house at 19 rue de Berri was found to be purchasable for 500.000 francs and the Committee considered the possibility of selling the church property and of building on the new site. A system of weekly offerings through pledges was inaugurated at the beginning of 1914 and an effort made to increase the small endowment of $52.000 held in New York. An appeal at Christmas for special gifts to cover a deficit in current expenses brought in 7854 francs.
The following extract from the minutes of a joint meeting of the Church and Prudential Committee held on January 12, 1914 is of interest:
"Mr. Frank R. Welles as chairman of the subcommittee appointed to study the project of a new building to contain church and church house reported that the committee had found the plan not feasible on the present site, that the property adjoining the present site was held at a price out of proportion to its value to the church and that the most feasible plan would probably be eventually to buy cheaper property elsewhere."
During Dr. Hiatt's pastorate there were some earnest workers among the young people. The pastor organized a "Juvenile Circle" that met Sunday afternoons in his apartment ; a young women's Bible Class met at the home of Mr. Welles ; a Cradle Roll was formed with ten babies.
During the first pastorate of Dr. Goodrich and the term of Dr. Hiatt the church became noted for its excellent music, largely on account of the impetus given by Mr. Oscar Seagle, the eminent artist who later became world famous through his association with the De Reszkes. A group of music-lovers in the church, among whom were Mr. John J. Hoff, Mr. Walker Buckner, Mr. John R. Christie and Mr. Louis V. Twyeffort secured the best talent available, sparing no cost in the effort, and the church acquired the reputation of having the best quartette choir in the city. From the summer of 1910 to October 1912 Mr. Archibald Sessions was organist and choir director. The quartette consisted of the following artists all of whom have since made names for themselves in America: Miss May Peterson, soprano; Miss Greta Rost, contralto; Mr. Colin O'More, tenor; Mr. Thomas Why, bass.
The congregation was particularly pleased when Mr. Seagle sang as guest baritone, and often sent to the choir-loft requests for favorite numbers. One selection from the Oratorio of "Elijah" was in great demand, especially after an extended sermon. On such occasions irreverent smiles broke over the faces of the congregation when Mr. Seagle launched forth in the prophet's lament
One of this famous group had the unusual gift of absolute pitch. In order to demonstrate this faculty before her associates she would, during the service, note a cough, the squeaking of a chair, or other semi-musical noise, and whisper the key to the organist, who would forthwith sound it on a pianissimo stop, much to the amusement of the other singers. Especial delight was had when a well known lady of title sneezed. It was found to be always on the same key---B flat.
Mention of the election of "Deacons" is found in the minutes of the annual meeting of the Church and Congregation held on June 15th, 1915, Messrs. Walker Buckner and F. Percy Noël being chosen to serve three years.
In the succeeding chapter reference will be made to the part played by the church in the World War. There is surprisingly little reference to the distress and chaos of that period in the existing records, but the meagre details set down tell between the lines the story of haste, strain and disintegration. One man's loss however is spread upon the minutes, that of Captain Frank H. Mason, American Consul General, who for ten years had been the first President of the "Association Culturelle" and chairman of the Prudential Committee. The resolution passed at a meeting held on October 3, 1916 speaks of his "sweetness, kindness, gentle courtesy and unfailing thoughtfulness which made him tenderly loved and sincerely mourned."
The church had been singularly fortunate in the choice of its ministers. Without exception its pastors had been acceptable to the membership as a whole. No faction had ever developed, no church quarrel had marred a single pastorate. But the passions engendered by a cruel and destructive war break over every bulwark and flood even the courts of the Lord.
Dr. Hiatt appears to have been a man whose sense of justice and fair dealing prompted him to espouse the cause of the "under dog." He believed there were always two sides to any question. He wanted to believe the best of an unpopular cause. Perhaps he had the defects of such a virtue. At any rate he began to be suspected of being more than a neutral. He was accused of pro-German tendencies. Paris was a poor place in which to excuse "the rape of Belgium" and call attention to ammunition on board the ill-fated "Lusitania." Worshippers walked out of Church that Sunday morning after the sinking of the great Cunarder and never returned.
But Dr. Hiatt left some devoted friends who appreciated the sterling character of the man, and the record of his resignation is followed by a resolution declaring that his fine qualities of mind and spirit had made the church "a haven of rest and a source of comfort and strength even during the darkest days of the war."
Dr. Hiatt left Paris in December 1916 with his family to assume the pastorate of the First Congregational Church of Peoria, Illinois.
During the interim between the departure of Dr. Hiatt and the second pastorate of Dr. Goodrich (Dec. 1916 to May 1917) the Rev. Ernest Warburton Shurtleff,(14) who had been working among the American Students of the Latin Quarter for ten years, supplied the pulpit. His "unselfish devotion to the interests of the church" are recorded in the minutes of the church meetings.
DR. and Mrs. Goodrich sailed for Spain en route for France a day or two after war had been declared by the United States, leaving New York beflagged and excited. On their arrival in Paris they found the city and all France deeply moved by the decision of our country to make common cause with the Allies. Dr. Goodrich was at once called upon to represent America in a series of public gatherings organized to celebrate the event. The first was a large reception of Americans, English and French at the Lyceum Club where he found himself on the same platform with General Joffre and Minister Viviani and made the opening address of the occasion. A little later a gathering of French Protestants on a Sunday afternoon, filled the historic Oratoire to the upper galleries. Here he spoke for America, a translation of his address, which was in English, being printed on the program so that it would be followed by all present without need of an interpreter. While the enthusiasm for America's entrance into the war was still at its height, he spoke at a lunch of the Navy League, at an international gathering in St. John's Lutheran Church, at a meeting of relief agencies in the Protestant Church of Saint Esprit and at other similar gatherings.
As pastor of the Union American Church, Dr. Goodrich found his services demanded as member, not only of the permanent religious committees with which he would ordinarily be associated, but also of many war-time organizations such as the" Comité Protestant d'Entre-Aide pour les Régions Envahies" or the "Foyer du Soldat---Union Franco-Americaine," agencies which were to receive substantial contributions from the United States for the furtherance of their work. By the end of the war he was serving on fifteen committees.
In the church itself everyone seemed to be enlisted and working to the limits of strength in some form of relief activity.
The Fellowship Bible Class of the Sunday School, led by the Pastor, with Mr. William H. Dorey as the devoted Secretary, met the needs of Army and Navy men Sunday after Sunday, where offerings were taken for the destitute victims of the war. Dr. and Mrs. Goodrich welcomed Army and Navy war workers to their apartment Sunday afternoons.
The church developed its organization to serve the throng of uniformed men and women in the service, becoming a clearing house of information, placing all its facilities at the disposal of the members of the American Expeditionary Force. To see the church filled with bronzed men and women in khaki, and to hear the stirring reports from the field by representatives of the Red Cross, the Young Men's and Young Women's Christian Association workers, was an experience never to be forgotten by pastor and people.
Dr. Goodrich, in his sermon preached at the Seventieth Anniversary, October 9, 1927, speaks of the thrill and pathos of the Sunday morning services:
"As the massed congregation of American soldiers joined their voices every Sunday in: 'Our Fathers' God to Thee, Author of Liberty', passers-by in the street stopped and listened wonderingly. And then after service, one and another of our boys, so far from home, permitted to write only from 'some where in France', would step up to the pastor, slip a paper into his hand and say: 'That's my name and my mother's address. Please write her that I was in Church and that you saw me'.---Among letters, the memory of which I specially cherish, are those from praying mothers at home and boys going up to the front in France thanking God for this American Church.
"Shortly after America entered the war in the spring of 1917 there was held in this church (so far as I know) the first Memorial Day Service in its history. This was arranged at the earnest suggestion of the Military Attaché of the Embassy who felt, in view of the growing and poignant significance which was sure to attach to this day with the progress of the war, that it should at once be established as a recognized institution in the Colony. This expectation was fulfilled and the next year so many desired to attend on this occasion that the seating capacity of this church was quite inadequate and the service was held in the Church of the Holy Trinity."
Long before America entered the War a notable contribution to the cause of the Allies and to humanity was made by the American Colony of Paris through the organization of the American Ambulance Hospital. Among the staff of this splendid emergency organisation were a number of men and women associated with the American Church. Mr. L. V. Twyeffort, one of the organisers, was Vice-Chairman of the Executive Committee. Dr. Ernest H. Lines gave his services to the Fieldwork, where Mr. Robert B. Hostater also served. At the headquarters of the Ambulance Mr. Frank M. Armington and Mr. Otkar Dobes performed the duties of orderlies, while Mrs. Ernest Lines and Miss Mary Lines were nurses, Miss Charlotte de la Balze was librarian, and Mr. J. F. Snow was on the office staff.
The A. E. F. Young Men's Christian Association drew from the Church Mr. Frederick A. Jackson, Mr. John R. Christie, Mr. Harold F. Sheets, and Mr. L. V.Twyeffort, all of whom served in the Finance Department of the Executive Committee. Mr. Louis H. Twyeffort was Secretary of the "Y" at St. Aignan.
On the Council of the Union des Colonies Etrangères en faveur des Mutilés de la Guerre (Re-education and placing of disabled French soldiers) were Dr. Ernest H. Lines and Professor James Mark Baldwin.
Special mention should be made of the contribution of Professor Baldwin to other branches of war work. This eminent philosopher was returning to France to continue his work of relief, accompanied by Mrs. Baldwin and his daughter, Elizabeth. Crossing the English Channel on the ill-fated "Sussex", the Baldwins miraculously escaped death when this vessel was torpedoed by a German submarine. Miss Baldwin was grievously injured and her life despaired of. Professor Baldwin threw himself into the work as a volunteer of the French Military Information Service on the Western Front. He also wrote for the Paris Temps and the Journal, the London Chronicle and the New York Herald. He was chairman of the Paris Chapter of the Navy League, and of the Comité du Foyer Yougoslave.
Mrs. Baldwin was the receiving and distributing agent for all the supplies sent by the Princeton Chapter of the Red Cross, visitor to the" grands mutilés" at the Hôtel-Dieu, and was active in relief organizations. Miss Elizabeth Baldwin worked in the Laboratory of the Val-de-Grâce Hospital and made Braille texts for the Phare de France. The Baldwin home was a rendez-vous for American volunteers, aviators and ambulance drivers.
Mr. and Mrs. John Jacob Hoff, whose many years of active service in the American Church will always be gratefully remembered, gave themselves unreservedly to the work of war relief. Mrs. Hoff has been a generous and inspiring leader in the Young Women's Christian Association, her latest benefaction in Paris being the erection of the important Foyer International des Etudiantes on the Boulevard Saint-Michel.
The American Clearing House was created by Ambassador Myron T. Herrick for the purpose of coordinating American Relief work prior to the entrance of America into the War. One of the notable cooperating organizations was that of the "A. G. A." (American Girl's Aid). Mr. and Mrs. T. H. P Hollingsworth founded this work, and with their daughters became responsible for the forwarding of all supplies for Americans until the Red Cross took over the task. Miss Gladys Hollingsworth in New York City superintended the packing and repacking of thousands of packages, the French Government requiring this procedure as a precaution against the secreting of enemy bombs. Seven million dollars worth of supplies were thus handled and forwarded through the efforts of this family.
Another family devoted to the work of the Church was active in war relief service, that of Mr. Francis R. Welles, a valued and generous member of the Prudential Committee. At the outbreak of the war Mr. and Mrs. Welles turned over their chateau at Bourré, Loir et Cher, to the French Government as a convalescent hospital for the wounded. It was used until the Army regulations forbade utilizing private dwellings for this purpose. On the entrance of America into the war the chateau was offered to the American Expeditionary Force as Headquarters for that area. Mr. and Mrs. Welles spent two winters there devoting themselves to the needs of the officers quartered upon them and to the American soldiers billeted in the village.
A son, Major Paul Welles, was an officer in the Signal Corps, acting as liaison officer between the French civil and the American military authorities.
Miss Carlotta Welles (now Mrs. James E. Briggs) worked in the anti-typhoid vaccine laboratories of the Val-de-Grâce Military Hospital during the winter of 1914-15. Afterwards she became a member of the Shurtleff Memorial Relief, which organization supplied great quantities of clothing, food, and furniture to the refugees from the devastated districts.
At By-Thomery on the edge of the Forest of Fontainebleau, Mrs. Klumpke and her daughters opened their home, formerly the château of Rosa Bonheur, for convalescent soldiers. The quiet and the pure air of the region, together with the devoted care which the patients received, made for speedy recovery.
Mrs. S. C. Seymour was another worker identified with the rue de Berri Church. At the close of the war she had charge of the sending of five thousand French war brides, with five hundred babies, to America, where they joined their American husbands.
The history of the American Church would be incomplete without mention of the Williamson family, from county Antrim, Ireland. Joseph Williamson and his wife Margaret MacAlister brought up their children in Paris, all of whom attended the Sunday school and became members of the Church during the pastorate of Dr. Thurber. This devoted Christian family entered into every form of religious activity. Samuel, James, Mary and Andrew, the children, were always in their places at the public services. Samuel, whose remarkable career has been published in book form by the Comité National des Unions Chrétiennes des Jeunes Gens de France,---was a national Secretary of the French Young Men's Christian Association, and in 1910 founded the Boy Scout movement in France. During the World War he was an outstanding Secretary of the Société des Foyers du Soldat. His sister Mary was pianist for years in the rue de Berri Sunday School. Mrs. Williamson, the mother, is the sole surviving member of this family and is the oldest member of the American Church.
The Ladies' Benevolent Association, despite the reduction of its membership in consequence of the war, met weekly at the homes of members and in the autumn of 1917 undertook to maintain a tableful of workers meeting daily in the Red Cross center for the making of surgical dressings. This work was done in the spacious building on rue Pierre-Charron erected by the Gould family for bazars and similar gatherings after the tragic charity bazar fire. A memorandum which came to hand while this was being written contained a record of the work accomplished by these ladies in their various gatherings in two months only. It is as follows,---28.000 surgical dressings, 348 hospital garments, 10.000 Christmas comfort bags. While work like this was being done for war relief, the poor connected with the McAll Mission, for whom these ladies had sewed for years, were not forgotten.
As the women's organization gathered numbers the meetings were transferred from homes to rooms in the Y. W. C. A. headquarters in Hotel Petrograd. The presidents of the Benevolent Association were Mrs. Gassette and, succeeding her, Mrs. Lines.
Not a few of these ladies were busy also in positions connected with hospitals, relief organizations, work for the blind etc., in which a great volume of service was rendered by such volunteers.
Of the work organized and conducted by Dr. and Mrs. Ernest W. Shurtleff among the refugees no account is here attempted(15). That effort so important, so fruitful, so fine in its spirit, somehow stands apart and demands a treatment all its own. It is mentioned here only that a complete picture of the war service rendered by those in some connection with the Church may at least be outlined.
In recalling the work of the Church in these months of stress mention should be made of the unfailing cooperation of Ambassador and Mrs. Sharp. Not only were Mr. Sharp and his family always in their places in church, but the Ambassador was ready with an earnest and fitting address at any occasion in the life of the church when such a word would be particularly helpful. Mrs. Sharp bore her part, as official duties permitted, in the women's activities in the church and generously offered the salons of her spacious home when needed for their meetings or conferences.
There is a reminder for us, in these more moderate days, of the stress of war-time in the answer made by Ambassador Sharp to an inquiry by his pastor as to how he managed to get through the mass of work coming to his desk. His answer was: "I go early to my office and, except for the lunch period, work till nearly seven in the evening. Then comes dinner after which I take four or five cups of black coffee and return to the Chancellery to work till two in the morning."
That was typical of the experience of many, hard-driven by the necessities of those critical days and happy in their intense effort. They illustrated General Armstrong's saying: "Doing what can't be done is the joy of living." But when all was over, they found that their hair had grown gray more swiftly than the years warranted and that their reserves of strength could no longer be relied upon.
Two sentences in a letter of Dr. Goodrich convey an impression of the strain felt by all in the Colony.
Writing early in January 1918 he says : "All of us have the feeling of settling now to the grayest part of the winter and the grimmest period of the war. Everyone is hanging on and working at his or her best; but the Americans who have been long here are a tired and worn crowd."
One feature of living in these months to which few paid attention, but the nervous effects of which few escaped, was the repeated bombardments from airplanes or shells from the "Big Bertha." In a letter of the period this is added quite casually as a postcript... "Rip-snorting air raids for two nights. Anti-aircraft barrage tremendous. " When, as once happened in Paris, a community is subjected to such raids, or threats of raids, four nights in a week, they go about their work by day heavy-eyed.
The raids also were an occasion of practical inconvenience. Dr. Goodrich recalls one evening when he attended a conference of English-speaking and French pastors in the heart of the city. Midway in the conference a powerful air raid swept over the city and was still in progress when the meeting broke up. As the metro, busses and taxies had all ceased running he had to walk two miles to his hotel, feeling his way through streets so dark that more than once he collided with pedestrians moving cautiously in the opposite direction. As the fragments of high explosive shells used in the barrage fell in the street now and then with a pleasant "tinkle" it was hard to realize that they reached the earth at such velocity that they would have wounded gravely any person that they struck.
Nor was the church to remain without poignant reminders of the deadly character of such raids. Especially tragic in memory is Good Friday 1918. Because of the great sacredness in which that day is held throughout Europe, it was believed in Paris that it would be observed by "a truce of God." That hope was however not to be realized. The daylight hours were punctuated by repeated explosions of shells from the "Big Bertha." It happened that at a hotel across the street from that of Dr. Goodrich and his family, Mr. Landon of New York and his wife and two daughters had their suite. As the windows were almost on the same level, it was natural to wave at times a friendly greeting across the intervening street. On that Good Friday nothing was seen of the Landon family until about five in the afternoon when Mr. Landon appeared, pale and shaken, to announce that his wife and daughters had been killed at one stroke by the explosion of a long-distance shell. They had been listening to the music in the Church of St. Gervais where a shell, piercing a vault, showered fragments of stone on the worshipping congregation killing nearly fifty people. The funeral in the church a few days later remains vivid in memory for all who were present. The three caskets, the great floral wreaths sent by the French government, the French officers representing the City of Paris and the Government of France, the company of friends from the American Colony and the file of blue-coated "poilus" presenting arms as the caskets were carried from the church door, marked this as a service apart among the funerals held in this sanctuary. A day or two later there was discovered among the ruins of St. Gervais the body of another American woman attendant at the Church, the Secretary of the Lyceum Club, and at about the same time two other women in American relief organizations (one in the Y. M. C. A., the other in the Red Cross) were killed by bombs during night raids on Paris. All were buried from the church, making a total of six such victims in a month, and at all these services the French military authorities, desiring to show all honor to their associates in the great conflict, were represented by officers and soldiers.
On May 29, 1918 a shell from one of the long range guns passed too near the Church for comfort. It fell in the garden of the Marquis de Casa Piera which extended almost to the rear of the church and, striking soft ground, did little damage. Fragments of this projectile which traversed a distance of seventy five miles and passed at one point beyond our atmosphere are treasured by the few who secured them.(16)
But far graver than anything suffered by dwellers in Paris were the wounds and death in the front lines, of which we were soon made vividly aware. On a Sunday in June 1918 the pastor noticed that a pew always occupied by several ladies was empty. Inquiring the reason, he learned that on their way to church these American women when passing near the rue Piccini had noticed an excited crowd. Pressing through this to discover the occasion they found the street barred, and lying in the reserved space between the ropes, American soldiers on stretchers. These were among the first wounded sent back from the battles of Belleau Wood. For lack of ambulances many of these had been loaded into auto-trucks and rushed to Paris, where they arrived in such unexpected numbers that hospital accommodations were not at once ready. These women from the American Church at once turned to ministering to the wounded men waiting for care in the street, and helped to make ready the neighboring hospital for their reception. For a week they continued as volunteer nurses.
Late in this spring of tension and anxiety, on the second Sunday of May 1918, came Mothers' Day. From the founder of this observance a request had been sent to the wife of the Ambassador, Mrs. Sharp, that the day be made as significant as possible to American boys in France. At a conference over this matter at the Embassy Mrs. Goodrich was appointed chairman of a committee of women to cooperate in plans to this end. The ladies were to provide entertainment and act as hostesses at the Sunday afternoon gatherings at all the soldiers' centers throughout Paris. In order to secure cooperation by the French Catholic clergy, at whose services American soldiers might be in attendance on Mothers' Day, Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss, wife of the Counsellor of the Embassy, and Dr. Goodrich were asked to wait upon Cardinal Archbishop Amette to learn from him what could be done. His Eminence received this delegation with great courtesy and, though the idea of Mothers' Day was new to him, seemed at once to grasp its significance. He gave assurance that he would do his utmost to arrange that, wherever American soldiers were likely to attend French Catholic services in any numbers, special Mothers' Day services should be appointed. So Mothers' Day came to Roman Catholic France. When the day arrived, the Church at the morning service was crowded with soldiers wearing carnations furnished at the door by one of the church members. The whole service was appropriate to the day and all present carried away a souvenir leaflet, prepared by the Y. M. C. A. This bore on the front page a reproduction in colors of a picture of an American mother and soldier son painted for this purpose, and contained poems such as Kipling's "O Mother o' Mine" and Henry van Dyke's, "A Prayer for Mother's Birthday" and "A Letter from any Mother to any Soldier Son," written by Margaret Deland, and greatly appreciated by our men.
Throughout the afternoon the centers for service men were thronged and the men seemed to enjoy equally the programs offered and the good things to eat. To French newspaper reporters the whole observance was new and puzzling. While the celebration was in full swing at the large center, No 31 Avenue Montaigne, one of these searchers for news appeared perplexed and excited, evidently hoping to find light. Standing at the foot of the great staircase he saw displayed in large letters on the first landing a sentence likely to be helpful to him. Stopping an American young lady passing with a tray of refreshments he implored her to translate it. With scrupulous accuracy she put into French these words "I wish I was the boy my mother thinks I am." Evidently this did not "register" in the French mind and the reporter, more wild-eyed than ever, turned and fled.
One result of Mothers' Day in France felt throughout the United States was the flood of letters which poured into American homes. In every center where service men gathered that day this inquiry in some form was made : "When did you write your mother last ?" That question struck deep.
The interest of soldiers of the rank and file in the church was perhaps more than was expected. It was a bit of home to them and, though there was much to occupy them during their brief leaves in Paris, they found their way there in good numbers. For months it was necessary to have chairs in both aisles. So much did uniforms dominate in the aspect of the congregation that ours was called" the Khaki Church."
There was little of pastoral service to be rendered these boys, there one Sunday and off toward the front the next, but a brief word after service often revealed what was in their hearts. "Goodbye Sir, and thank you. I shall be in the trenches next Sunday." "It's been just like home, Sir. It's made me stronger." "I'm going to a dangerous post. Here's my mother's address. Please write her that you saw me." "Please write my mother that I was here and took the communion. This is her address." Such were the messages which came to the pastor on many Sundays.
The smallest attendance at Church during the World War was on the first Sunday in September 1914, while the first Battle of the Marne was raging and Paris was in imminent peril of being taken by the enemy. There were only twelve persons in church that day. The highest attendance was during the Peace Conference when President Wilson and other American Commissioners attended the service conducted by Dr. Goodrich. The Paris Daily Mail of December 16, 1918, reported as follows:
"With democratic simplicity President and Mrs. Wilson attended church in Paris yesterday morning, sitting amid the regular congregation instead of in the special seats near the altar.
The sermon was on Isaiah Eleventh Chapter, 9th verse : 'They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.' It was an eloquent plea for President Wilson's ideal of the League of Nations. It contained these pertinent phrases : 'Our fight is no longer against flesh and blood but against Despotisms and Empires, against the forces which control and govern the dark things of the world. We are out to combat in plainer terms selfish national ambitions, entrenched prejudices and false ideas of the relation of nation to nation."
Among the distinguished preachers occupying the pulpit during the war time were the Rev. Dr. Henry van Dyke, John R. Mott, Secretary of the World's Student Christian Federation, and Dr. Herbert Adams Gibbons, the author and lecturer.
In November 1918 the first American Boy Scout Troop in Europe was organized among the boys of the Sunday School and received official recognition by the American national organization.
Following the Armistice, Paris was filled with large numbers of American young men who, for various reasons, did not return to the homeland. Dr. Goodrich, perceiving the need of providing a wholesome rendezvous for these lonely ones, organized in December 1920, the "Get-together Club" which met at the American Women's Club rooms at 27 Boulevard Malesherbes. It helped hundreds of young men to pass the time profitably and, having served its purpose for five years, passed out of existence.
In this same year the Ladies' Benevolent Association mourned the loss by death of its efficient and, inspiring president, Mrs. Gassette.(17)
With the termination of hostilities, the smouldering hopes of a better physical equipment for the Church were fanned into brilliant flame. Wide publicity had been accorded by reason of a manifold service to war workers who now returned to their homes. Thirty bodies of American soldiers and representatives of other branches of war service had rested in the mortuary chapel. Should not the American public make recognition of the contribution thus made and lend support to the appeal for more up-to-date facilities?
The people of the United States had been accustomed to giving on a large scale. Their purses were wide open. Would not this be the time to burst the disintegrating shell of an outworn edifice ? Thus reasoned those who had undergirded a noble work for so long a time with pitifully meagre resources.
Arrangements were made to set before the Christian people of America the imperative need of a new Church and Church House, and a student building in the Latin Quarter. The plan was to raise $2.000.000 for this purpose. The Church was to be located if possible on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées and the student building was to be a monument to Dr. Shurtleff.
The Rev. Stanley Ross Fisher, who had been invited by Dr. Charles Wood to take charge of the student work (Atelier Reunions), which had been suspended during the war, was made co-pastor of the church and thereupon undertook the mission, sailing in August 1919, followed by the earnest wishes and fervent prayers of the congregation. For over a year Mr. Fisher labored to achieve the goal but was forced to abandon the undertaking by reason of a combination of handicaps. First, the mistaken assumption that the American public would continue to give to European relief after the war, America being war-weary and tired of "drives"; second, the collapse of the Inter-Church World Movement whose cooperation had been pledged ; third, the heart-rending appeals from the famine areas of Europe and the Near East ; fourth; the sudden business depression of 1920 ; and lastly, the fact that the Paris plans had been conceived on too elaborate and ambitious a scale.
This sincere effort, however disappointing, bore some fruit, several churches taking endowed pews and a widened interest being aroused in the enterprise.
In January 1922 the fund for the new building had reached the sum of $20.000. Earnest efforts were renewed to acquire the vacant lot opposite the church, but it could not be financed and attention was again directed to the house at 23 rue de Berri. Mrs. Ernest W. Shurtleff, who had returned to America after the death of her husband, was appointed to follow up the results of Mr. Fisher's campaign and succeeded in holding the Congregational Church Extension Society to a substantial pledge.
Mention should here be made of the active interest in the development of the work by Bishop Edgar Blake, resident Methodist bishop in Paris. Through the Methodist Board of Foreign Missions and his own personal efforts the church received $4.000 a year for five years from 1921 to 1926 for the support of an assistant pastor who should be charged especially with the work among students. Bishop Blake suggested the Rev. Paul Burt, son of Bishop Burt, to this office. Mr Burt assumed his duties August 4, 1922, continuing until 1925.
In the fall of 1922 Dr. Goodrich resolved that the time was apparently approaching when he must sever the close ties that had bound him to a most inspiring but fatiguing task. He had carried the congregation on his heart through storm and stress. "The exigencies of the work," he wrote, "both during and since the war have been constant and heavy and I feel jaded. I am sure that I ought not beyond this year try to hold the pace required by a Paris pastorate."
Dr. Goodrich terminated his long and successful relations with a church which had always loyally supported his policies, on May 31, 1923. He left the work in excellent condition both financially and spiritually. His going was universally regretted. He had been an active member of fifteen organizations ---American, Franco-American and French---who felt keenly the loss of a warm friend, tireless worker and wise counsellor.
Returning to America Dr. Goodrich accepted the position of Secretary on the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America for its relief work. But impaired health urged his retirement to his home in Brunswick, Maine. He is still active in the Congregational Church and a beloved figure on the campus of Bowdoin College.
During the absence of his successor in the States for several months Dr. Goodrich returned to Paris in 1927, welcomed to his old pulpit by an appreciative congregation. His sincere and sympathetic nature, fine scholarship and spiritual appeal, will be remembered for many years to come.
How mysterious the weaving of the web of human destiny The threads cross and recross with no apparent design, but at length the Master Weaver reveals the pattern. Little did two young men, meeting and forming what seemed to be a brief friendship in the fall of 1890 in Southern California, realize that each was to exert an important influence on the life work of the other, culminating for both in the far-off city of Paris.
That friendship, deepening through the years, brought Ernest Shurtleff to the Latin Quarter seventeen years later and drew his friend, the writer, to the pastorate of the American Church thirty-three years after the first hand-clasp.
It was Mrs. Shurtleff who suggested to the American and Foreign Christian Union the name of the pastor of the Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church of Detroit as a possible successor to Dr. Goodrich. After her husband's death she had returned to America and was assisting the Board in keeping interested the friends who had promised aid in the Church House project. Dr. George Alexander, the revered pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of New York City, and President of the American and Foreign Christian Union, presented the name of Dr. Joseph Wilson Cochran to his associates, and opened negotiations.
Through the Shurtleffs Dr. Cochran had kept in touch with Paris and the Christian activities of the American colony for many years. He had also served as an Army Chaplain in the A. E. F., having been stationed at the American Artillery School at Saumur, with a later assignment as Center Chaplain at Base Hospital number Eight at Savenay, Loire Inférieure. Prior to his charge in Detroit he had been for ten years Secretary of the Board of Education of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. at Philadelphia. In the interest of this work he had visited all the State Universities of the country and many Christian colleges and had become deeply interested in student problems, especially as related to church life.
When the call came to assume the pastorate of the Paris Church, the challenge of the American student life in that city was a strong appeal. Coupled with this was the opportunity presented of surveying the possibilities of an enlarged field of operations by means of a more modern material equipment.
After spending the summer of 1923 in Switzerland Dr. and Mrs. Cochran accompanied by their two young children, Louise and Joseph, began their work on the first Sunday of September of that year.
Despite the warm welcome of a people uniformly loyal to its ministers, Paris was a depressing place, a city of mourning. The ravages of a terrible conflict were to be seen on every hand. Poverty stalked and knocked daily at the door. Fear and sorrow seemed to be imprinted on every countenance. Exhaustion was written over every phase of the city's life. The franc was falling daily in value. American business men were closing their affairs and preparing to leave for the States. An inauspicious time to attempt the fulfilment of long-cherished hopes.
It will be recalled that the ambitious plans for a two million dollar undertaking launched only two years before, had met with a chilling reception in America, and had been consigned to the waste basket. Sorely disappointed, the Church saw little prospect of again arousing interest in a worthy and adequate program. The new pastor soon realised that it would be extremely difficult to lead his people into the former mood of confidence and enthusiasm. It might take years to rebuild the high morale of 1921.
But it was agreed that something must be done. Once more the old idea of acquiring property next door to the Church was broached. Owners to right and left were approached without success. The door which had so often been tried was still locked and bolted from within. When would deliverance come ?
Only a few weeks after Dr. Cochran had taken charge he noticed in the congregation a gentleman he had met in New York on several occasions. He did not know, however, that the American Church was a landmark in this man's memory by reason of the fact that his revered parents had often worshipped there when in Paris. The pastor learned that the New Yorker and his wife were sailing for their home on a certain day. On that morning the thought suddenly flashed into his mind that he must go to the hotel and wish these friends "bon voyage." Several apparently good reasons intervened. One has so many excuses when duty calls! But the inner urge, as of a commanding voice, prevailed.
"The gentleman will be down at once," said the clerk at the desk. Presently the New Yorker emerged from the elevator, his steamer rugs on his arm, his mind evidently preoccupied with the details of departure. A quiet interview was out of the question. The impulse was to offer good wishes and leave forthwith. But the voice within urged, and, summoning all the courage at his command, the pastor in a few hurried words explained the difficulties he was facing, and asked whether the Church did not deserve more commodious and modern quarters.
"Certainly it does. Go ahead with it," was the reply.
"But one must have a start. Will you start the ball rolling ?"
"What do you want me to do?" came like a gun shot.
"Subscribe twenty-five thousand dollars."
"Yes, I think I will. Goodbye," and the traveller was off to the boat-train.
With a high heart the pastor left the hotel, feeling that this splendid gift would be a vast encouragement to immediate action. But little did he realize that he had met the Great-heart who in the coming years would multiply the initial donation ten-fold.
The advice of a local architect was then sought to study the feasibility of remodeling the old building so as to provide quarters for the Sunday School and other organizations, with provision for a pastor's apartment on the top floor. It was a makeshift at best, but a half loaf was better than none. At the annual meeting on Feb. 10, 1924 such a plan was submitted and unanimously approved, the cost being estimated at $150.000.
Dr. Cochran spent the winter interviewing members and friends of the Church and secured subscriptions totalling $20.000. On the first of March 1924 he sailed for America for the purpose of obtaining the approval of the American and Foreign Christian Union and securing further gifts. He was received on every hand with courtesy and consideration but soon found that persons of large means were not inclined to give substantial amounts. The campaign dragged. Something was wrong. On one occasion, when interviewing the secretary of a great philanthropist who had made a disappointingly small response, the thought suddenly occurred that the plan might be at fault---too unimportant to be attractive.
"If we were to build an entirely new Church with a Church House on a prominent site, do you think your chief would be inclined to lend us larger support ?" was asked.
"I think he would," came the answer.
Then and there the golden key to success was placed in the hands of a confused and distraught campaigner. Not only is it necessary to avoid the Scylla of an inflated and extravagant ideal, but also the Charybdis of one that is cheap and unworthy.
Taking the cue from the laconic reply of that secretary the pastor removed his petty drawings from his brief case to his files and started out to secure subscriptions conditioned on raising an amount sufficient to build an edifice that would be truly representative of a united American Protestantism in the great and beautiful European capital.
Three months were busily occupied with calls on prospective givers in the East and Middle West, addresses in churches, a wide correspondence, and conferences with various Church Missionary and Educational agencies. Reference will be made to the part taken by the denominational Boards in a later chapter.
Returning to Paris early in June 1924 the pastor laid the results of his work before the Church. There was now available for the remodelling of the old Church $169.765. But if a larger plan would be adopted there would be available certain subscriptions totalling $65.000 in addition. Thereupon a Committee consisting of Mr. Benjamin H. Conner, Prof. J. Mark Baldwin and Mr. Louis V. Twyeffort was appointed for the purpose of investigating the possibilities of securing additional ground, either contiguous to the old site or in the neighbourhood. In July this Committee reported that no. 19 as well as no. 23 rue de Berri were still unavailable and that a search further afield was necessary. During the summer and fall the Committee was active but nothing resulted. One site after another was rejected. Prices appeared high in the Etoile quarter. Buildings would have to be torn down, entailing great expense.
During Dr. Cochran's visit to America he had raised money from old friends of Dr. Shurtleff for a memorial tablet to the lamented director of the Students' Atelier Reunions. It was completed in the fall and was to be unveiled at one of the student meetings. In arranging the program a call was made on a close friend of Shurtleff's, a well known teacher of the piano, Wager Swayne, living on the rue Sully-Prudhomme.
"By the way, have you found a location for the new Church ?" Mr. Swayne asked.
"Not as yet," replied the pastor.
"Good. I can show you the finest site in Paris. Come with me. It is only a step."
They turned the corner into the Quai d'Orsay and stood before a vacant lot overgrown with weeds on the corner of the rue Jean Nicot.
"Here is where you should build. The price is much lower than anything on the right bank. The 'Magic City' just above, which has retarded the development of this quarter, will soon disappear, fine apartments will go up on every hand, and you will have the choicest location on the city."
Here was Goose Island in the days before the Seine had been confined between stone embankments. On this very spot the bodies of Huguenots, the victims of the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve, which had been thrown into the river, piled up along the shore. What a glorious monument to those martyrs to the faith might be erected on that holy ground!
This lot was about three times the size of the rue de Berri property and would be admirably adapted to our needs. At the December Prudential Committee meeting the Committee reported favorably and decided to call a special meeting of the congregation to secure if possible authorization to acquire an option at the price of two thousand francs a square meter.
On December 14 such a meeting was held.
Professor Baldwin presented an appropriate resolution empowering the Prudential Committee to carry the plan into effect provided the American and Foreign Christian Union gave its approval. A small minority objected to the site on the ground that the Church would become involved in financial difficulties; the rue de Berri site was sufficient for all purposes ; the Quai d'Orsay property was subject to periodic floods, and there was a street fair every year on the esplanade in front of the proposed site which would interfere with orderly worship.(18)
The resolution was adopted by a vote of twenty-nine to four.
No time must be lost, for the option extended for only two months. The property must be purchased for cash--no mortgage, that was understood. On December 30, 1924 Dr. Cochran started on his second trip to the States to realise on subscriptions promised and secure fresh funds to make up the amount required, $163.000. Before the expiration of the option Mr. Walker Buckner, chairman of the finance committee of the American and Foreign Christian Union, cabled that this amount was available. Dr. Cochran returned to Paris, March 13, 1925.
At the annual meeting of the Church, held on March 15, Mr. Benjamin H. Conner was elected chairman of the Prudential Committee. The reports presented referred to the reorganization of a Boy Scout Troop (First Paris Troop) in the spring of 1924, the resignation of the Rev. Paul Burt in November to assume charge of the First Methodist Church of Lockport, New York, and the appointment of the Rev. Robert Davis as director of the student work, for which the Church had assumed the financial responsibility, thus putting it on a sounder basis.
In April 1925 the Prudential Committee was greatly strengthened by the election of Consul-General Robert P. Skinner to its membership. Mr. Skinner became an ardent champion of the New Church Movement and on April 20 proposed the inauguration of a campaign among the Americans of Paris for the raising of $200.000 to supplement the funds already secured, amounting to $358.648, the objective being $500.000.
In the early part of June a well-organized campaign was conducted among the Americans in Paris. One hundred and fifty workers, many of whom were not associated with the Church, participated. Mr. Charles F. Greene, an old and valued pew-holder was chairman of the organization. Newspapers, banks, and hotels cooperated with fine spirit. The American Chamber of Commerce opened its commodious offices as headquarters, free of charge. Daily luncheons brought the workers together for reporting. It was hard work but everyone wrought with a will. It was a fine example of social service. Christians,---Protestants and Catholics---Jews, and those of no faith, vied with each other in the task.
The Church felt the impetus gained for many months to came. No one regretted the effort despite the disappointing return in dollars. About $45.000 were received in cash and subscriptions.
Two facts were clearly disclosed in the course of the effort. The first was that the American colony of Paris is not representative of America in the religious sense. The prevailing type treats religion lightly. It spends money freely but it draws the line at the Kingdom of God. One of its prominent members remarked : "I never go to church except when there is a wedding or a funeral." That is characteristic. The second fact is that of the difference in monetary standards between France and America. Pink and blue money looks quite respectable in an offering and is made to do heavy duty as a substitute for the familiar greenback. The over-size picture posters of the larger denominations appear in the eyes of foreigners to be the equivalent of untold dollars. Verily the "franc mind" is our undoing.
The selection of an architect occupied the Prudential Committee during the summer and fall. Six plans were submitted, two originating in New York, the remainder in Paris. All but two placed the Church on the street corner and the Church House on the inside of the lot.
The drawings of Mr. Carroll Greenough, an American architect living in Paris, seemed best adapted to the need, the Church House being located on the corner, thus giving more light and air to the week-day activities. On October 21, 1925, he was appointed to the position, estimating the cost of the entire operation at seven million francs.
With the lot purchased, architect chosen and plans drawn, the time seemed auspicious for another visit to the States by the pastor. He left in the latter part of November, returning at the end of January 1926. He had a thrilling experience in crossing on the S. S. "President Roosevelt" which spent four days in a storm in mid-ocean in the successful effort of rescuing the crew of the sinking "Antinoe", with the loss to the "Roosevelt" of two sailors and six life boats.
In view of the severe business depression upon the country following the artificial inflation of 1921-23 Dr. Cochran's efforts to reach the total amount needed were not successful, only $25.000 being secured.
The first spade of earth was lifted on the Quai d'Orsay lot February 24, 1926, the Pastor conducting a brief service of prayer and thanksgiving. The Boy Scout Troop attended in force and addresses were made by Major Benjamin H. Conner, Mr. Russell T. Hare, Consul General Skinner, Mr. Carroll Greenough the architect, and representatives of the Foundation Company of France, which had been awarded the contract for the foundations.
A letter from Dr. Goodrich found a response in all our hearts:
"When I read in the New York Times that the first spadeful of earth had been turned I became good Methodist and said 'Hallelujah,' 'Praise the Lord.' At last the thing longed for and prayed for for decades is taking shape and I congratulate you from the bottom of my heart. This demonstration of what is needed and what is going to be across the Seine must appeal to every practical American."
"Ten Million Francs !" echoed a member of the Prudential Committee, when in reply to his question as to a total cost of the new building enterprise, he was given this estimate. It was a staggering sum for a struggling church to entertain. And yet, a little over a year after this expression of disbelief almost of despair, the Treasurer announced at the annual meeting of March 14, 1926 : "We have actually raised in Paris and America more than ten million francs."(19)
"The flight of the franc," that is, the depression of the French monetary standard, owing to the inability of the Government to stabilize its currency, was proceeding with disconcerting rapidity. True, most of our gifts were in dollars, for which we received at the time twenty-seven francs per dollar. But we had accumulated francs before they had begun to fall, so that our gains were neutralized by our losses. The question was seriously raised whether in view of the exchange conditions favorable to the dollar we should buy francs in anticipation of a recovery in franc purchasing value. It was decided not to do so, as it would be in the nature of speculation, so throughout the period of unstable currency conditions francs were bought only as they were needed.
The death of Dr. Samuel W. Thurber of New York, son of the former pastor, who had been for years Treasurer of the American and Foreign Christian Union, was at this time a severe blow to the Church. Dr. Thurber by his unceasing devotion had been a tower of strength. His friendly counsel and fine business management had been a large factor in the development of the new enterprise.
During the summer months of 1925 and 1926 appeals were made from the pulpit for offerings to the Building Fund, the open collections being devoted to this purpose. Very substantial results came from this method, as the Church was filled each Sunday with tourist throngs. Meanwhile the contractors who had begun their work March 1, 1926, were driving piles in the made soil of the Quai d'Orsay lot, over two hundred being necessary. As the site was that of the old Jean Nicot tobacco warehouses, it was found that great masses of rock lay below the surface on the building line. These ancient foundations were utilized for the Church House walls, thus saving the driving of about forty piles. In view of the proximity to the ever-restless Seine, special engineering methods were employed by the contractors against the possibility of flooding the basement in time of high water. Up to the present time these foundations are the finest piece of architectural and engineering skill along the Quai d'Orsay and have stood the severe test of the flood of 1930 without the slightest damage. The contract for the foundations was completed October 1, 1926. They comprised a building in itself, including all rough work up to the first floor, with provisions for gymnasium, heating plant, storage rooms, coal bunkers, concierge living rooms, bowling alleys and so forth.
In the fall of that year the Rev. Clayton E. Williams became the assistant pastor, following terms of service with Presbyterian Churches in Sewickly, Penn. and Poughkeepsie, N. Y.
The accepted architectural plans called for an edifice of the Gothic type, including a tower placed between the Church and Church House. But whether Gothic style of an earlier or later period should be employed was a question that developed divergent opinions during the construction of the sub-structure. Mr. Greenough favored the twelfth century period and drew his plans accordingly. But late in 1926 sentiment for a less severe type developed and the architect was requested to revise his drawings to conform to the warmer and more ornate period of the fifteenth century. This change naturally occasioned considerable delay, a number of drawings of the façade and tower being submitted. Thus for six months---October 1926 to June 1927---the actual work on the building was suspended and rumors of a serious interruption due to financial difficulties were freely circulated.
But architects were busy with modified plans and construction companies were consulted for estimates which were difficult to make on account of constantly fluctuating costs of labor and materials.
Meanwhile the Committee was studying the problem of the selection of a construction company. It was strongly recommended that an American firm be retained and lengthy negotiations were entered into with a large New York corporation, but the cost of bringing a staff overseas seemed excessive and the idea was finally abandoned in May 1927. The Committee thereupon turned to the Foundation Company of France which had carried out the initial work with complete satisfaction. In view of the promise made to the American and Foreign Christian Union that the work would proceed no faster than the receipt of funds for cash payments, the next contract involved only the erection of the concrete shell of Church, Church House and tower. Thus the interrupted task was resumed to the relief of everyone.
But what was the next step? The money in hand was not sufficient to warrant more than this piecemeal method. Ninety thousand dollars had been pledged by Messrs. Arthur Curtiss James and John D. Rockefeller Jr. on condition that the goal of $500.000 should be reached by December 31.
Mention should here be made of the timely and generous aid given by several Church Boards. As early as 1921 approaches had been made to the Congregational Boards of Church Extension and Erection, the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions (U. S. A.), the Methodist Board of Foreign Missions and the Board of Foreign Missions of the Northern Baptist Convention. The Inter-Church World Movement reacted upon the situation, as the plans of the American Church of Paris were maturing, so that the Methodists and Baptists were unable to meet their tentative pledges. The approaches made to the various missionary agencies during the visits of Dr. Cochran to the States resulted in grants as follows: from the Congregational Boards of Church Erection and Extension $30.000, from the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions (U. S. A.) $20.000, from the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions (U. S. A.) $10.000; from the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions (U. S.) $2500.
The summer and fall of 1927 was a trying period. Architectural and engineering questions confused the situation. The height of the Church auditorium was increased, an entirely new plan for the tower was submitted, steel pillars and trusses were substituted for concrete in the auditorium, and masonry for concrete in the tower. Funds were low and the time limit set for raising the half million dollars was steadily approaching.
The Seventieth Anniversary of the founding of the Church, and the ceremony of the laying of the corner stone of the new edifice served to distract our minds from what appeared to be a tense if not a perilous situation.
On Sunday October 9, 1927 a great congregation in the old Church listened to the Historical Sermon preached by the former pastor, Dr. Chauncey W. Goodrich on the occasion of the Seventieth Anniversary. The hymn written for the Fiftieth Anniversary by Dr. Shurtleff beginning
was sung and the enlarged choir rendered Kipling's "Recessional" to music composed for the occasion by the musical director Laurel E. Yeamans. In the evening the Student Atelier Reunion gathered in the Salle de Géographie. The Anniversary address was given by Dr. Charles Wood, pastor of the Church of the Covenant, Washington D. C., the founder of the student work, and a musical program was presented by the Ukrainian National Choir.
A beautiful day greeted the large concourse gathered at the new site on the following day at 12 o'clock to witness the ceremony of the laying of the corner stone. Mr. Russell I. Hare presided. Hearts filled with gratitude to the Giver of all good gifts as we sang
"Grant that all we who here today
Rejoicing this foundation lay,
May be in very deed Thine own,
Built on the precious Corner-Stone."
Addresses were made by Prof. J. Mark Baldwin, Chairman of the Committee of arrangements ; the Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse, Chargé d'Affaires of the American Embassy; Dr. Adolf Keller, representing the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, and M. Paul Fusier, Conseil d'Etat, representing the Reformed Churches of France. The religious exercises were conducted by the Rev. Frederick W. Beekman D. D., American Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity; the Rev, W. Marshall Selwyn, M. A., Chaplain of the British Embassy Church; the Rev. Wm. A. Allen of the British Wesleyan Methodist Church and the Rev. Clayton E. Williams. Dr. Çochran read the messages of felicitation and laid the corner stone after the documents and souvenirs had been placed therein by Mr. Louis V. Twyeffort. Among these were valuable collections of American and French coins, the latter being presented by an official representative of the French Government. Lt. Colonel Philippe, the special representative of the President of the French Republic, was an honored guest. The silver trowel used was the gift of Mrs Hugh Reid Griffin. A bountiful collation was provided by Miss Florence Gillies.
On the evening of the same day (October 10) a reception was held at the Cercle Interalliée. Mr. Benjamin H. Conner presided, the address on "The American Church---Its Past, Present and Future" being delivered by Bishop Edgar F. Blake.
Greetings from the women of the Church were offered by Mrs. Cochran and a portrait of the pastor by Mr. Frank M. Armington was presented through Dr. Goodrich.
Early the next morning Dr. and Mrs. Cochran left for America to spend four months in quest of further funds. Dr. Goodrich supplied the pulpit during this period.
During the Advent season of 1927 several notable events occurred---a Christmas Cantata composed for the Vesper Service of December 18 by our musical director Mr. L. E. Yeamans, a Miracle Play at Vespers on Christmas day, arranged by Mr. Williams and given by members of the Sunday School, and a party for poor French children given by the "Aimer et Servir" Club, a society of American girls which for years provided summer outings for hundreds of French children.
Six weeks to obtain the goal! From the human point of view it seemed an impossible undertaking, but this was not an enterprise conceived in human pride and ambition. Too many prayers and answers to prayer had been experienced to warrant the sense of defeat. Through months of correspondence openings for the presentation of the cause had been made throughout the East and Middle West. From New York the pastor and Mrs. Cochran journeyed to Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Richmond, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Newark and Wilkes-Barre.
At Atlantic City Dr. Cochran appeared before the Annual Meeting of the Council of Church Boards of Education in behalf of the student work where cordial support was pledged. At St. Louis he spoke before the World Alliance for International Friendship. In St. Paul Mrs. Cochran secured the endowment for the student fireplace and a grand piano for the Thurber Memorial Hall, the gift of Mrs. Charles Weyerhaeuser. At Wilkes-Barre Mr. Fred. Weckesser made his splendid gift of the Casavant-Abbey organ. Pledges for large and small amounts poured in from friends old and new.
When Father Time stroked the hour of midnight on the last day of the year 1927 the $500.000 had been raised. A doxology mingled with the ringing out of the old and the ringing in of the new. The new American Church of Paris was fait accompli.
In view of the division of opinion as to the period of Gothic to be followed in the architecture of the Church and Church House the time appeared propitious for consulting that master of the Gothic type in ecclesiastical architecture, Dr. Ralph Adams Cram of Boston. Dr. Cochran therefore laid the plans before him for his criticism. He was deeply interested and after careful study, approved the general design, with the exception of the tower and façade of the sanctuary, agreeing, if our architect and the church officers approved, to associate himself with the undertaking. A cordial working agreement on the part of all concerned was concluded after the return of the pastor whose initiative in the matter was unanimously approved. The wise counsel of Mr. Russell I. Hare, our attorney, and member of the Committee, who was in America during the negotiation with Dr. Cram, was of very great value.
But once more from the lookout came the warning: "Breakers ahead !" To our dismay we found that, owing to the unprecedented rise in the cost of labor and materials the former estimates for the completion of the entire structure were several million francs too low. Drastic economies must be effected and the contract let so that work could be suspended when funds gave out. It was a bitter disappointment, a hurt to our pride, but we must be content to accept the situation however menacing. The Foundation Company was instructed to proceed with the Church House up to the pastor's apartment, and to suspend further work on the tower and Sanctuary except so much as was required to guard against the weather.
Our associated architects Messrs. Greenough and Cram (the latter having arrived in Paris in March) entered into complete accord, new plans for the tower and façade being drawn by Dr. Cram in Mr. Greenough's office. Accepting the financial situation with good grace they loyally assisted the Committee in planning the future work a step at a time.
It may well be imagined that the summer and fall of 1928 was a time of severe mental and moral strain, requiring all the courage and faith that could be summoned. But another factor---was it not God's directing energy ?---now entered into the equation. Along with the sudden and general increase in prices of all commodities in France, real estate began to appreciate in value, especially in the Etoile quarter. The Committee was bombarded with offers for the purchase of the rue de Berri property. The bidding became fast and furious. At each meeting fresh offers were presented. It seemed clear at the close of the year that twice the estimated value of the property could be secured within a short time and this happy event might solve part of the financial problem. The American and Foreign Christian Union was favorable to the plan of putting the ultimate purchase price into the new building. It now seemed evident that the Church and Church House might be completed through such an arrangement, but-the tower remained to be financed. The pastor had in mind another visit to the homeland.