Westminster Presbyterian Church
During World War I, Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Minneapolis transformed itself from a house of worship to a center of wartime support. While the Church’s male parishioners went overseas for military service, the female parishioners became engaged in what was known as “war work,” where medical supplies were prepared and clothes knitted to be sent overseas. Shortly after the war’s conclusion, a monument tablet was erected in the Church’s hallway dedicated on November 6, 1921, to the men and women who went overseas.
Made of bronze and in the shape of a tablet, the monument at Westminster lists nearly 200 names. Each name is listed in alphabetical order and divided up by the individual’s branch of service. The branches listed include the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, the Army Air Corps, the Women’s Auxiliary Commission, the Red Cross, the Student Army Training Corps (SATC), and the YMCA and YWCA.
The seven parishioners who lost their lives overseas are distinguished from those who came back alive with a star placed next to their name. In addition to the names listed, the tablet includes the inscription, “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power and the glory, with the victory. A memorial to those who from the homes of this Church, with loyalty and sacrifice, served their country in the World War, 1914-1918. Righteousness exalteth a Nation.”
As one reads the inscription, one cannot help but notice the degree to which patriotism, military service, and religion are connected. Although the monument may be located in a Church, to infuse religion with military service implies that one is answering a call to go and kill a fellow Christian overseas who may be answering the exact same call. This is especially the case with the quote "Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power and the glory, with the victory," from 1 Chronicles 29:11-12, as it is not only commonly used in military monuments and memorials, but in the context of keeping a soldier humble and true to his faith as he enters a war, with the final outcome in God's hands alone.
Aesthetically, one cannot help but admire the sheer beauty and detailing displayed on this monument, while at the same time, grasping the sheer magnitude of the unprecedented experience which was World War I for the Church and its parishioners. As if the sheer number of people who went overseas in service of the Lord and their country were not great enough, the massive outpour of volunteer work on the homefront was of equal significance, despite its omission from the monument itself.