Yinger, Paul Wesley, 1914-92

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Biographical Description

Paul Wesley Yinger (1914-92) was born in Union City, Michigan, sixth of the eight children of George D. Yinger and Emma Bancroft Yinger. Both Paul's parents graduated from Albion College, and were ordained Methodist ministers. Preaching, music, and drama were always part of the talent and training of the Yinger family. George Yinger trained his four older children in music and oration. These children formed the Yinger Quartette. As the original quartette grew older, George formed the four younger children, including Paul, as the Yinger Quartette. Paul, from earliest childhood, was talented, interested, and trained in these areas, which he continued to pursue throughout his life. Strong ties among the Yinger family were always an important part of Paul's life. He decided to become a minister as were his mother, father, and three of his older brothers before him.

Paul received his A.B. degree from DePauw University in Indiana, 1936, and B.D. from Union Theological Seminary in 1939. DePauw conferred an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1958. Paul married Harriett Knapp, January 1938. While at Union, he became acquainted with Harry Emerson Fosdick, and with Reinhold Niebuhr. In 1939, he was ordained in the Congregational Church serving as pastor in the Cleveland Park Church, Washington D.C. 1939-1943. Also during this time, Paul studied acting and voice both at the Old Wharf Theatre in Provincetown, MA, and with Margaret Prendergast McLean. Paul's and Harriett's daughter Marilyn was born in June 1942.

During World War II, Paul volunteered as a Chaplain in the Army, attending Chaplain's School in 1943. He served as a chaplain, 1943-46. Assignments included the 880 th Airborne Engineers Battalion in New Guinea, 1944, the staff of General Douglas MacArthur after his return to the Philippines in 1945, then in occupied Japan until January 1946. While serving in New Guinea, Paul began a life-long friendship with the actor Lew Ayres. During Paul's service as a chaplain, he thought a great deal about what kind of a ministry he wanted to pursue after the war was over. He was very interested in integrating drama into a ministry.

When Paul, having attained the rank of Major, returned from the Army after the war, the Yingers settled in California. He served on the staff of the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles coordinating parish activities including radio broadcasts, drama events, and lecture series. Their son, Jay was born June, 1947. Paul studied further with Margaret McLean, developing a life-long friendship with her. He also began his "speaking engagements." Throughout his life, Paul continued to be a popular and well-known speaker at clubs, organizations, schools, etc. He developed several programs based on his life experiences, or interesting people he knew, and on great works of literature including Lloyd Douglas' The Robe, works of Mark Twain, Hugo's Les Miserables, poetry, and Christmas stories. Paul adapted The Robe, with the permission of Mr. Douglas, and presented it more than a hundred times, either as a dramatic reading with a full cast, or as his own solo reading.

Paul served five major pastorates: Cleveland Park Congregational Church, Washington D.C. (1939-43), First Congregational Church, Riverside, CA (1947-52), Union Congregational Church, Upper Montclair, NJ (1952-60), Piedmont Community Church, Piedmont, CA (1960-71), and First Congregational Church, Old Greenwich, CT (1973-76). His habit of retaining all correspondence, both incoming letters and their attached carbon copy replies, provides a rich and valuable resource to understand the work and life of a parish minister. The correspondence provides a look at the details of church management, the pastoral needs of the people in the congregation, and, in the Yinger family correspondence, Paul's assessment of his own feelings and performance. To complete the understanding of a parish minister's life, Paul kept complete records on marriages he performed, pastor's columns he wrote for parish newsletters, worship bulletins, and notebooks on sermons, prayers, and worship and devotional material.

Paul and Harriett traveled extensively for preaching, study, or vacation, often in combination. Travels included Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, and the Mediterranean areas. He kept journals and notebooks on his travels, and often wrote newspaper articles about his experiences.

During his years as a pastor, Paul also served as trustee on several boards including, the Pacific School of Religion (1962-85), the Aquinas Fund, the Japan International Christian University Foundation, and the Graduate Theological Union. On his resignation from the Piedmont Community Church in 1971, Paul became the Vice President of the GTU. He served as a development officer, working with the Ecumenical Associates, 1971-73. In 1973, Paul returned to parish ministry, accepting the call from First Congregational Church, Greenwich, CT. His start was delayed due to emergency by-pass surgery while on vacation in Hawaii.

Paul retired from Greenwich and parish ministry in 1976. He continued his speaking engagements, dramatic presentations, and guest preaching, as well as serving several churches as interim minister, and cruise lines as chaplain. Paul and Harriett settled in Emeryville, CA. Their children had married, and Paul delighted in his three granddaughters. They had just relocated to Sun City West, AZ when Paul died in 1992.

From the guide to the Paul W. Yinger Papers, 1928-1992, (The Graduate Theological Union)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Paul W. Yinger Papers, 1928-1992 Graduate Theological Union
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Anderson, Stuart LeRoy, 1912- person
associatedWith Ayres, Lew, 1908- person
associatedWith Bechtel, Stephen Davison, 1925- person
associatedWith Bennett, Ivan Loveridge, 1892- person
associatedWith Copenhaver, Marian Yinger person
associatedWith Douglas, Lloyd C. (Lloyd Cassel), 1877-1951 person
associatedWith First Congregational Church (Old Greenwich, Conn.) corporateBody
associatedWith First Congregational Church (Riverside, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Fosdick, Harry Emerson, 1878-1969 person
associatedWith Graduate Theological Union -History corporateBody
associatedWith Griffith, Leonard, 1920- person
associatedWith Hogue, Harland E. (Harland Edwin), 1908- person
associatedWith Hurst, Alfred Wesley person
associatedWith Laubach, Frank charles, 1884-1970 person
associatedWith McLean, Margaret (Prendergast), 1878- person
associatedWith Niebuhr, Reinhold, 1892-1971 person
associatedWith Oxnam, G. Bromley (Garfield Bromley) 1891-1963 person
associatedWith Pacific School of Religion (Berkeley, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Perkins, John Alanson person
associatedWith Piedmont Community Church (Piedmont, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Pike, James A. (James Albert), 1913-1969 person
associatedWith Union Congregational Church (Upper Montclair, NJ) corporateBody
associatedWith United Church of Christ -Clergy corporateBody
associatedWith Walton, Eleanor E. Yinger person
associatedWith Yinger, Clement B. person
associatedWith Yinger, Emma Bancroft person
associatedWith Yinger, G. Dempster person
associatedWith Yinger, Homer V. person
associatedWith Yinger, J. Milton (John Milton), 1916- person
Place Name Admin Code Country


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