Members gather for worship at St. Barnabas Episcopal  Church. (Courtesy photo) 

St. Barnabas Episcopal Church will celebrate its 100th anniversary on Sunday, June 11, at 10 a.m., in the edifice located at 1062 North Fair Oaks Avenue in Pasadena.

The celebration consists of the worship service followed by the centennial program and luncheon. Guests include the Right Rev. John Harvey Taylor, presiding bishop of the Los Angeles Diocese; U.S. Congresswoman Judy Chu, Assemblymember Chris Holden, Assembly candidate Phlunte’ Riddle, and Pasadena Councilmember Justin Jones.

“St. Barnabas, Pasadena was founded in the early 1900s because of the Jim Crow era,” said the Rev. V.R. Marianne Zahn, Priest-In-Charge.

“Black Americans fled the South and its racial segregation as part of the Great Migration, settling in the Los Angeles area with hopes of finding favorable economic opportunities and social acceptance.

Related Links:

“Not all religious institutions, however, were welcoming. All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena would not allow Black parishioners to attend services at that time,” she said.

Committed to their faith, a small group of believers held a meeting at the Pasadena home of Georgia Weatherton on South Fair Oaks Avenue on June 16, 1909, to organize a Black Episcopal mission. They called it the Saint Barnabas Guild.

The members supported the fledgling ministry through food sales. By 1911, their weekly services were in the Grand Army Hall on Colorado Street.

In 1923, St. Barnabas Episcopal Church was officially founded by eight Black women, including Ellensteen Bevans, Rosebud Mims and Georgia Weatherton, who hosted the first church services in her home for about thirty worshippers.

The St. Barnabas congregation continued to grow, and the Los Angeles Episcopalian Archdioceses admitted the church in 1932.

“Families from All Saints donated land and provided funding for St. Barnabas to build its ‘separate’ sanctuary at 1062 North Fair Oaks Avenue, in 1933,” Zahn said.

Over the decades, St. Barnabas has become a pillar in the Pasadena community, not just for Black residents but for all community members. Its current congregation is racially diverse and focused on serving. Its notable efforts have included:

  • Sponsoring the Northwest Pasadena Little League
  • Providing meals for Union Station residents on the third Friday of every month (ongoing)
  • Granting scholarships each year to Pasadena Unified School District graduates
  • Maintaining a community food pantry (ongoing)
  • Hosting three Alcoholics Anonymous groups in its Parish Hall on weeknights (ongoing)
  • Hosting a Spanish-speaking Catholic congregation on Sunday afternoons (ongoing)
  • Hosting a Spanish-speaking Pentecostal congregation on Friday and Sunday evenings (ongoing)

As the church enters its centennial year with the theme “Saint Barnabas 100 – Still We Rise” (inspired by the late author, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou), its members look forward to a new era of growth and inclusion.

“History has taught us a lot,” said Zahn. “At St. Barnabas, we will always lead with love. All are welcome here and we truly hope to see you at this special celebration.”

St. Barnabas Episcopal Church also streams services on Facebook Live (no login necessary).