Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Old School: Harlan Coykendall

And in the dream I knew that he was goin' on ahead. And he was fixin' to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold, and I knew that whenever I got there, he would be there..."

- No Country for Old Men

Coykendall gained the rectorship in October 1951, and parish life continued apace. Hospitality of the Downtown Foundation continued, averaging 140 youngsters a week. The church also opened its doors to the elderly, who regularly played cards and fellowshipped. 1955 the Council of Churches came to study the inspirational work the church was doing. The Optimist's Club continued its work, and the Volunteer Services Bureau provided oversight of the youth program.
Intra-diocesan work continued as well, with the establishment of a young unmarried club and a work crew, as well as the growth of the Mr. and Mrs. Club and the Women's Guild.

In 1956, the church celebrated its 100th anniversary, and the event was an astounding success.

Despite this, the times proved difficult for Gethsemane. The Downtown Foundation shifted its focus to the elderly, as more and more of the youth came to be classified as 'delinquents.' Worse, despite busing and door-to-door canvassing by the Brotherhood, church attendance declined generally, due to the intellectual climate of the times, the movement of young people into the suburbs, and the rise of women in the workforce detracting from church service. Women's ministries overall struggled to fill the ranks.

Nevertheless, the church continued its work, gathering clothes for Cuban refugees and remodeling the parish house. Such projects continued until June of 1968, when the ill health of both Coykendall and his wife forced him to resign the rectorship.

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