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 The old stone church had become a landmark of the city and a symbol of the Christian work of Central Union, and many members concurred reluctantly and with regret in the decision to move. Yet there was no other way to solve the difficulties that had developed, and the minister who replaced Dr. Scudder, the Reverend Albert Wentworth Palmer, insisted that only in a more spacious location would Central Union continue as a beautiful and serviceable church, accommodating needs of the congregation beyond the immediate future.

Dr. Palmer, still remembered with warmth and love by many members of Central Union today, was thirty-eight years old when he became minister of Central Union. Born in Missouri in 1879, he had traveled with his family from Kansas City to Denver in a covered wagon when he was three. From Denver, the family went on to southern California, where the future minister was raised as a Baptist until his high school years.

While attending the University of California at Berkeley, Palmer studied settlement work and became increasingly aware of social ills. A growing conviction that "the church was the great force which ought to be aroused to social reform and betterment" propelled him into the ministry. "[T]he church had the organization and the machinery," he felt, and "in Jesus and His teachings the church had the charter of the social gospel. "84

After graduation from Yale Divinity School, Dr. Palmer served two congregations in California, notably Plymouth Church in Oakland. The experience and skills he developed there in planning for, expanding, and administering a church in a growing metropolis brought him to the attention of Central Union. He was called by Central Union and installed December 7, 1917, three years before another location would be agreed upon.

Deeply sensitive to the evils of war, which he termed a "non-Christian method of settling disputes," Dr. Palmer, in his first year at Central Union, took several leaves to assist in training YMCA leaders for service overseas and himself to serve with the soldiers in Siberia during the postwar armistice, when American troops were guarding the Trans-Siberian railroad, part of a failing attempt to reverse the Russian revolution.85


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