European explorers first came to what is now Bainbridge Island in the late 18th Century. Early settlers began arriving in the mid-19th Century. During its early history, Bainbridge Island was a bustling commercial center with some of the largest timber mills in the world and a variety of small communities dotting the coastline. A “Mosquito Fleet” of ferries plied the many and varied ports of call. Eventually the sawmills and shipyards grew silent and the business of Bainbridge Island gave way to farming and commerce. Over time, Bainbridge grew in popularity as a summer destination for affluent Seattle families. By the 1930s, the permanent island population of around 2,500 was routinely swelled by another 10,000 or so during the summer months. It was during this time that an ever growing population of Episcopalians began gathering to worship, initially at members’ residences and later at other churches.
In 1943, regular monthly services were instituted at Eagle Harbor Congregational Church under the leadership of Dr. Herbert H. Gowen. The next year, an unorganized mission was formed as St. Barnabas Church. In 1945, two acres atop a lovely hill on Wyatt Avenue were donated to the mission and a former military house was relocated there to facilitate worship services. A further four acres of adjoining property was subsequently donated. In 1946, the cornerstone was laid for St. Barnabas and the building was completed later that year. The first services were held there the Sunday before Thanksgiving 1946. Also in 1946, Vincent Gowen was appointed the first Vicar of St. Barnabas and would come to serve the new parish for 15 years.
On June 11, 1948, St. Barnabas Church was consecrated on Bainbridge Island by the Rt. Reverend Stephen Bayne, Bishop of Olympia. In the post-war years, St. Barnabas continued to grow and prosper as a seasonal church home for many Seattle-resident Episcopalians who “summered” on the island. In 1960, an addition was added to the church to accommodate a parish hall, offices and classrooms. In 1964, St. Barnabas became a parish, expanding its membership and resources with the growth of the surrounding community. In 1969, St. Barnabas Day School was opened to the community offering a preschool for children aged three-to-five. One of its first students now serves as president of the Day School board. St. Barnabas is a thriving, four-season faith community serving the many people who claim Bainbridge Island and the greater Kitsap Peninsula as their home.
St. Barnabas has affectionately been described as too small for a church and too big for a chapel. The building is a delightful example of an early Norman English brick church with a square bell tower, cedar shingle roof, slate floor, oak pews and high ceiling with pointed brick arches. The nave seats approximately 130 in a traditional orientation facing east. There is a large, tripartite stained glass window above the altar and new organ, depicting the Passion of Christ, the Resurrection, and the Majesty, as well as traditional Eucharist iconography. St. Mark (for the Cathedral) and St. Barnabas are depicted in two windows on the wall south of the altar. A small, red boat is suspended from the ceiling in the nave, reminding us that we are shipmates on the “vessel of the faithful.” The congregation consists of folks from a wide variety of religious traditions – Episcopal/Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran and others. The common thread is an interest in music, liturgy, preaching and fellowship.
CELEBRATING OUR RELIGIOUS LIFE
Our mission statement calls upon us to reach out through worship, prayer and action to bring the reconciling peace of Christ to one another and the world. Worship is the core of our parish community. Parishioners gather on Sunday morning, Saturday evening, and other times in the week to worship God through readings, music, Eucharist, homilies, and blessings.
Sunday services take place at 8am and 10am. The earlier service follows Rite I Eucharist and is a quieter service accompanied by several hymns and musical offerings. The second service at 10am follows Rite II Eucharist and offers parishioners a fuller worship experience that includes the choir, organ and processions. In coordination with the Sunday School schedule, there is an Intergenerational Service or “Kids First Sunday,” three to four times during the school year. Children join their parents for an entire Rite II service with a shortened liturgy of the Word, inclusive homilies, youth lectors and Eucharistic ministers, and easier hymns, making the service more accessible to the youngest members.
St. Barnabas offers a weekly healing service with Eucharist on Thursday mornings and a contemplative prayer service on Tuesday mornings. On the first Sunday evening of the month from autumn through spring, St. Barnabas holds an ecumenical Office of Compline service sung by the Compline Choir made up of members of many area churches. We also hold an Office of Evensong service sung by our Schola Nova choir on the second Sunday of the month all throughout the year. Of course, the seasons of Advent and Lent, and the celebrations of Christmas, Holy Week and Easter are times of special observance at St. Barnabas. St. Barnabas welcomes all baptized Christians to the Lord’s Table.
LIVING OUR FAITH
Parishioners actively participate in the life of our church as Eucharistic ministers, lectors, acolytes, Altar Guild members, choir members, Sunday school teachers, nursery school minders, ushers, greeters, musicians, bread bakers, fellowship hour hosts, and committee and commission members. The efforts of all these volunteers are essential to the life of our parish.