Our History - 1960's
The text on this page is taken directly from a document prepared by R. M. (Rick) Orr on May 17, 1976, and updated by D. E. (David) Weatherwax on February 22, 1978, entitled HISTORY OF ST. BARNABAS CHURCH BEGINNING WITH ITS INCEPTION, ITS CONSTRUCTION AND UP TO JANUARY 29, 1978.
The inserted pictures come from various sources of current and former parishioners, former priests, and church files.
The parishioners of St. Barnabas Chapel in Bridgeport, West Virginia, are attempting to preserve some of the historical information concerning our first 50 years of existence. If you have information or pictures that you would like to see added, please email to .
It is my understanding, through Bishop Campbell, that the idea of a church in Bridgeport, West Virginia, was conceived in the early 1960's when it became apparent that the northern part of Bridgeport around the present church location was enjoying a phenomenal growth. Bishop Campbell endeavored to work through Christ Church, Clarksburg, to get something started on the plans for this new church, and this finally came to fruition in 1966. At that time, Bishop Campbell appointed The Rev. Frank C. Cleveland to be Vicar-in-Charge of an organizing committee to build or investigate the availability of land suitable for building a church. After reporting on the findings, the Bishop visited the area in February, 1967. As a result, negotiations began with Mrs. Virginia Davis Fleming of Dallas, Texas, who was then owner of the present church tract. After considerable survey work and negotiations, and working through Clarksburg Attorney W. Lyle Jones, the Diocese successfully negotiated the purchase of about 5-1/3 acres from Mrs. Fleming. The deed was executed by the Diocese on April 1, 1967, for a purchase price of $20,000. It is my understanding that Bishop Campbell secured this amount from various funds and grants that he had at his disposal.
Shortly after the purchase of the land, Bishop Campbell appointed an organizing committee as follows: Chairman, M. K. Hager; Vice Chairman, R. M. Orr; Treasurer, Ben Garland; Registrar, Jean Curtin; other members, Robert C. Thompson, Thomas Stamp and Kingsley R. Smith. This organizing committee held its first meeting in October, 1967, to discuss plans to initiate construction of a church building on the site purchased by the Diocese. As the result of Treasurer Ben Garland's previous dealings with the Roy D. Murphy Architects of Urbana, Illinois, in the construction of All Saints Church, South Charleston, we invited a member of this firm to present their plan for building a church in Bridgeport. Our initial efforts with the architect included a survey of the area to ascertain what size the church should be and what the age group of the people involved in the church would be. This initial survey was completed and indicated the size of the church that would be desirable for the anticipated size and needs of our congregation. The first vestry of St. Barnabas was appointed on April 2, 1968, and they were as follows: M. K. Hager, Senior Warden; R. M. Orr, Junior Warden; Jean Curtin, Registrar; Gary Bailey, Treasurer; other members were Thomas Stamp, Robert Thompson, Kingsley R. Smith, Marty Suter, and Shirley North.
On April 9, 1968, we signed an agreement with the R. D. Murphy Associates for an architectural survey of construction of the first unit of an Episcopal church in Bridgeport. About this time, Bishop Campbell selected The Rev. Milford E. Holland to serve as our new vicar. "Bud" and his wife, Ann, moved into a rental property at 506 Lawman Avenue, Bridgeport, on June 15, 1968.
Shortly after the signing of the agreement with the architectural firm, R. M. Orr was appointed Chairman of the Capital Fund Drive, and a capital fund drive kick-off meeting was held on March 5, 1968, at the Bridgeport Country Club, with the Rev. William Swing as our guest speaker. After the capital fund drive, our financial resources for building the church appeared to be as follows:
1. Capital Fund Drive................................................................................... $17,000
2. Grant to St. Barnabas from Christ Church, Clarksburg................................ $10,600
3. Outright grant from the Benedum Foundation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania...... $ 9,800
4. Advance fund loan from the Diocese of West Virginia................................. $ 10,000
5. Loan to the Diocese of West Virginia through the National Church............... $ 25,000
6. Arrangements with the Lowndes Bank of Clarksburg, West Virginia,
to borrow up to............................................................................ $ 45,000
We felt that, along with operating pledges that we had in hand for 1968, we had sufficient moneys to go ahead with the building as outlined by the architectural firm.
The groundbreaking ceremonies were held on June 18, 1968. Present were: Bishop Campbell, Dean John Glover of the Monongahela convocation, The Rev. Frank C. Cleveland, The Rev. M. E. Holland, new vicar of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, and numerous other area Episcopalians from Bridgeport and Clarksburg.
Photos of Groundbreaking
R. M. (Dick) Orr was appointed chairman of the building committee. Construction began on the church in June, 1968.
The church proper is generally composed of pre-designed and prefabricated sections which facilitated its erection and enabled us to have the church dedication and consecration on December 18, 1968. At this dedication, which also included the laying of the cornerstone, certain items were placed in a sealed aluminum box behind the cornerstone marked "1968" on the front and north entrance of the church. This sealed box contains a prayer book and hymnal donated by R. M. Orr, a Bible donated by Marty Suter in memory of her father, a list of Bridgeport Episcopalians, and a newspaper showing pictures of the church under construction.
Laying of the Cornerstone and Dedication Service
Although the church was not completed and all the equipment had not arrived, we were able to have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services in 1968 in our new facility. After receiving all of our chairs, kneelers and other furnishings, we held our first regular service on January 19, 1969. At our first regular service, Ruth Thompson was chosen by popular demand to serve as principal organist, a post she has filled diligently and faithfully ever since.
St. Barnabas' first congregational meeting took place on January 14, 1969, with 34 members of the church present. At this congregational meeting all members of the original vestry appointed on April 2, 1968, were elected to serve in the same capacities, with the exception of Shirley North, who resigned for personal reasons. Evelyn Campbell was elected to the vestry in her place.
The first baptism was held in St. Barnabas Church on February 2, 1969. This new baptized member was David Craig Holland, son of our vicar, The Rev . Milford E. Holland. Shortly after our first congregational meeting, the treasurer, Gary Bailey, resigned. A. R. Campbell was appointed treasurer in February, 1969. Also, shortly after beginning our regular services, discussions were held over a three-month period with a group of Clarksburg Presbyterians concerning a possible joint church effort. Early in the spring of 1969, the Presbyterian group decided that it would be inadvisable for them to form a church in Bridgeport at that time.
Bishop Campbell's first annual visitation occurred on April 28, 1969, at which time he confirmed fifteen persons.
During the spring of 1969 the ECW made provisions to have the church grounds landscaped, and the funds for this effort were provided through the diligent work of the ECW members.
The rental property in which Father Holland had been living was sold, so arrangements were made for him to move into a new house rented on Faris Avenue in July, 1969. Since it was difficult to find suitable, long-term rental property for our Vicar, we began looking for a satisfactory and affordable Vicarage for the church. Negotiations to purchase the residence at 410 Johnson Avenue for a vicarage began in November of 1969, and the house was purchased from Lockheed-Georgia Company by the trustees of St. Barnabas (Kingsley R. Smith, Donald H. Curtin, and John North) in December, 1969, for $19,500, utilizing a $10,000 advance fund loan from the Diocese. This was some $2,500 under the asking price, since Lockheed-Georgia had been trying to sell the property for about eight to ten months. Father Holland and his family moved into the new Vicarage early in January, 1970.
Four hand-carved walnut processional torches were presented to St. Barnabas by George Patrick of Charleston, West Virginia, in June, 1969. These torches were mounted on the wall behind the altar.
During the school year of 1969-70, a Montesouri School met at St. Barnabas on a rental basis.