History of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church

Episcopal services were inaugurated in Tullahoma in 1867 by Harvey Judd, then studying for the ministry. A frame Gothic Revival-style building was begun in 1872 and completed in 1874 when the congregation was admitted to the diocese as St. Barnabas Parish. The Rev. Lucien Homes was the minister.
The church’s growth reflected the fortunes of the city and during the last quarter of the 19th century, when Tullahoma was promoted as a growing business center and a health spa for those from the lowlands seeking the benefits of cool nights and spring waters, the church grew as well. It became a center for mission work, particularly under the leadership of Dr. Henry R. Howard (1882-1895). In 1897 a cornerstone was laid for a new, larger building – a Gothic Revival design of Chattanooga architect Rueben H. Hunt. The walls were constructed of Sewanee sandstone and the roof of slate. This structure is still in use today. A rectory was built on the property in 1881 (razed in 1975).

After Howard’s death, St. Barnabas lost its prominence as a missionary congregation; the clergy came and went, regarded their primary purpose as holding services. Membership dropped from 67 listed in 1898 to 21 in 1902, perhaps because Tullahoma’s health resort business was declining with visitors preferring the higher elevations of Monteagle.

The Tennessee Vocational School for Girls was established nearby in 1915 and during the years 1920-1944, St. Barnabas provided worship opportunities for the girls and a number were baptized and confirmed.

A big event for Tullahoma and St. Barnabas was the coming of World War II and the establishment of Camp Forrest nearby, a major army training camp. St. Barnabas responded, with diocesan help, by building a social center for the troops called Episcopal House of Friendship for Men in Service. This 1941 building with renovations and additions served as the parish house after the war. Sunday school rooms were added in 1957. Church attendance rose during the war and declined afterward until Arnold Engineering Development Center was established in 1952 on the former Camp Forrest grounds and membership again rose.. St. Barnabas aided in the establishment of St. Bede’s Episcopal Church in Manchester in 1962.

Phase I of a plan to eventually replace the old Parish House was completed in 2001 when a new building was dedicated on October 7 containing a fellowship hall, kitchen, parlor, vesting space, nursery, teen room, etc. A columbarium was added at this time. A future Phase II plan will provide a choir room, bell choir room, library, and office space.

St. Barnabas has an active Christian Education program for adults and young people and a music program of a vocal choir and a bell choir. The 1897 building contains 19 beautiful stained glass memorial windows and an 18 rank Casavant Frieres organ.

Our mission statement, “Growing a loving community in Christ’s image”, reflects our spirit and commitment to continue to grow and play an important part in the religious life of the Tullahoma community.
Click here to view Stained Glass Windows of St.Barnabas photos.

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