St. Barnabas Episcopal Church celebrates 60 years in Brackenridge |
Valley News Dispatch

St. Barnabas Episcopal Church celebrates 60 years in Brackenridge

Emily Balser
Emily Balser | Tribune-Review
From left, Francine Yesko, Lorraine Gross and Mia Grolemund walk down the altar at the beginning of Sunday’s service at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church on Sunday, June 30, 2019.
Emily Balser | Tribune-Review
Bishop Dorsey McConnell and the Rev. Frank Yesko bless the St. Barnabas Episcopal Church congregation with holy water on Sunday, June 30, 2019.
Emily Balser | Tribune-Review
Elizabeth McConnell, wife of Bishop Dorsey McConnell, sits with their dog, Charlie, before Sunday’s service at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Brackenridge on Sunday, June 30, 2019.
Emily Balser | Tribune-Review
Bishop Dorsey McConnell and the Rev. Frank Yesko lead a prayer at the St. Barnabas Episcopal Church on Sunday, June 30, 2019.

There was a time, not so long ago, when the congregation of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church had all but disappeared.

When the Rev. Frank Yesko arrived in 2011, he didn’t know if they’d end up closing their doors, but he knew he had to try.

Now, the church has about 100 members.

“It stayed open,” he said, smiling. “We really put our trust in God.”

On Sunday the congregation got to reflect on the history of the church as they celebrated 60 years at its Morgan Street location in Brackenridge. The church moved there in 1959 after outgrowing its first location in Tarentum.

Bishop Dorsey McConnell delivered the sermon for the service.

“60th anniversary — congratulations,” he said. “That’s a beautiful thing.”

McConnell commended the congregation for not “throwing in the towel” on the church over the years even though they may have wanted to at times.

“I think that actually is not just a witness to you, but supremely a witness to God,” he said.

His sermon drew laughs and even a few tears as members reflected on his words.

Yesko thanked McConnell for his never-ending support of the church.

“This gentleman here, Bishop Dorsey, has supported me and St. Barnabas every second of this journey,” he said. “And I think we have no doubts he will continue to support us.”

Many members of the congregation have been coming to the church their whole lives and are second and third generation members.

Buffalo Township resident Mary Beth Grolemund has followed in her mother’s footsteps as the church’s organist.

“My mom played the organ for 32 years,” she said. “This has been my life.”

Her grandmother started coming to the church after she immigrated to the Tarentum area from England. It’s been the family’s church ever since.

“I was baptized (and) married in this church,” Grolemund said. “It’s exciting to see how it’s changed and how it’s grown.”

Fawn resident Karen Davidek-Virag is another lifelong member. She said her parents were the last couple to be married in the old Tarentum location and her family remained active at the new location.

“We have a long history,” she said.

Davidek-Virag grew up singing in the church choir and still does today.

“We have so many good memories,” she said.

Natrona Heights resident Linda Bunchko has been a member of the church for 72 years.

“When I grew up St. Barnabas was my social life, it was my religious life,” she said. “It means everything to me.”

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