A History of Saint Barnabas Church

 Before the days of jumbo jets and the sprawling JFK airport, Howard Beach was a quiet farming community and a seaside resort for harried New Yorkers.  But commerce alone does not build a solid community.  The spiritual needs of residents, as well as their material needs, must be addressed.  With this in mind, under the missionary leadership of the Rev. Dr. Carl Zinssmeister and Mrs. Barbara Moore, a congregation of Christians was gathered at the Howard Beach Fire House, April 28, 1922.

The following Sunday, at the Howard Beach Casino, this nameless band of believers held its first service. A few days later, the congregation took Saint Barnabas as its name. Leaving nothing to chance, the name “Saint Barnabas” was selected, not by a roll of the dice, but by a vote of 29 to 4 over the alternate name "Saint Lydia By the Sea."

The congregation's first pastor, the Rev. J. Earl Endres, guided the people for 38 years.  Under his leadership, through the Depression and war years, Saint Barnabas was a significant focal point in Howard Beach, providing stability and assistance to the often struggling families of the area.

The congregation's pastors have included the Rev. Robert L. Koehler, the Rev. Roy D. Meyer, and the Rev. Robert C. Hawk in the 1960's and 70's; and in the 1980's, the Rev. Dr. Charles R. Streich, the Rev. Grace C. Olson, and the Rev. Harriet J. Wieber.

Led today by the Rev. William Eric Baum, pastor since 1992, Saint Barnabas continues its commitment to community outreach and involvement. With a long history of offering the Howard Beach community social services and access to civic and community groups, including active Boy Scout and Girl Scout Troops, Saint Barnabas carries on a faithful tradition of Christian worship combined with active community service.

Traditional in some respects, progressive in others, Saint Barnabas Church has found the right mix to offer those in the Howard Beach community an open, congenial and relaxed atmosphere in which to worship.

A vibrant congregation flourishes at Saint Barnabas Church in Howard Beach, 95 years after its founding. Saint Barnabas remains a community fixture in Howard Beach -- a lively church, dedicated to enriching the lives of Howard Beach residents. Saint Barnabas is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, whose members number four million, nationwide.

Compiled by Therese Francin and the Saint Barnabas Anniversary Committee