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A Return to Ministerial Turmoil (1933-35)

posted Mar 14, 2012, 7:47 AM by Todd Randolph
After 31 years of Rev. George Shinn followed by22 years of Rev. Laurens MacLure,the parish had grown used to stability. Yet after only 3 1/2 years at Grace, the energetic Rev. Richard Preston accepted an unexpected call to lead the re-building of fire-ravaged All Saints, Worcester...departing in the fall of 1933. Caught by surprise, theparish sought candidates.By Maythe Vestry chose Rev.Tage Teisen, the rector of St. Paul's Church in Troy, NY. Technically Rev. Teisen began as rector #8 on July 1, 1934, however the Vestry agreed toR ev. Teisen's request that he receive an annual paid summer vacation of twelve weeks...effective with the present summer.Thus Rev. Teisen's first week at Grace began on September 16, and Grace had had almost a full year of supply ministers. ("Tage" rhymes with "page"; "Teisen" is pronounced "Tyson").

Born in Denmark, Rev. Teisen grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia, graduated from the University of the City of New York and the Philadelphia Divinity School. Rev. MacLure,Grace's retired rector and a long-time friend of Teisen, described the new rector as "...a man of wide culture and scholarly tastes...too well balanced to be carried away by either foolish or sensational fads, or to go to extremes of churchmanship." Yet these were different times. Rev. Teisen proved to be a "high church"advocate who consistently dressed in a black cape and biretta,the stiff square cap with three or four ridges across the crown often worn by Roman Catholic clergy.

Rev. Teisen faithfully conducted the services from mid-September, 1934through June, 1935. After his return in mid-September, the rector missed only a few services until February, 1936 when he became ill, discussed a request for a year's leave of absence, then resigned...after about eighteen months of service at Grace Church. In his letter of resignation, Rector Teisen indicated that Grace Church needed a person with stronger health and energy. It is not likely that we will learn the nature of Rev. Teisen's illness, although we know that he was alive in 1960, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by Rollins College in Florida.

One notable event of Rev. Teisen's short tenure was the installation of the Brown Memorial Reredos, dedicated in December, 1935. In the center of the high altar is the beloved Good Shepherd stained glass window.During Rev. Teisen's initial months, he supported the Brown family's proposed donation of a new high altar and ornate black walnut carved reredos which since 1935 has covered most of the Good Shepherd window. Whether his support for the controversial project played a role in his illness we cannot know, yet Grace Church returned to the instability of supply clergy each week. Nonetheless, one of these substitutes, "Mr. July" for three years in a row, was to emerge as Rector #9. Find out who in the next History Minute!

While Rev. Teisen was at Grace Church, church telephone was "Newton 3221", later "BIGelow 3221", now (617)244-3221;  President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrestled with the Great Depression...and unemployment of 33%; Hitler became Fuehrer of Germany; John Dillinger shot by the FBI; Bonnie and Clyde robbed banks; "Anything Goes" and "I Only Have Eyes for You"; the Hammond pipeless organ; Donald Duck; debut of Ella Fitzgerald; Puerto Rico asked to become a state.
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