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1954: Humble Beginnings

(Compiled by Jean Eaton, 1977)

In the spring of 1954, Jean Eaton received a call from Mrs. Stuart Booker, whom she didn't know, telling her that the Bookers and Herbert Crandell—a lay reader from St. Andrew's Ann Arbor who lived in the Chelsea area—were trying to round up all Episcopalians in and around Chelsea to start a mission church here. Jean was not very enthusiastic as she and her husband were affiliated with the First Congregational church, and had attended there for 22 years. However, they were also confirmed Episcopalians, and they decided to attend some of the preliminary meetings at the Bookers’ house on Crooked Lake. Later, they were caught up in the enthusiasm being generated and became entirely involved. On June 3, there was an organizational meeting at the Bookers’, and a temporary Mission Committee was elected.

worshipping in Bookers' living room

The first services were held in the Bookers’ living room.

On June 6, 1954, the first service was held at the Booker house. It was Evening Prayer, read by Herbert Crandell with Deaconess Robinson speaking to us. There were 12 in attendance. The group met every Sunday night for about 12 weeks at the Booker home, adding a few people as they went along, until it was decided that they would ask the Bishop to meet with them and discuss the possibility of becoming a mission church.

Bishop Emrich and Dr. Henry Lewis of St. Andrew’s Ann Arbor were invited to a family potluck dinner at the home of Edwin and Jean Eaton on Wednesday, July 14. There were 28 present for the dinner and meeting. Bishop Emrich told the group to formally request permission to start a mission church, and suggested various names. Most of the names were of saints unfamiliar to us, but he refused to allow the more popular saints’ names or All Saints, which was suggested. Finally, voting by ballot, we chose the name St. Barnabas, who was St. Paul’s companion on some of his missionary journeys. Bishop Emrich told us to rent a meeting place and start regular morning services. With his encouragement, eight families accepted the responsibility of forming a new church. The Mission Committee was headed by M. J. Anderson as Chairman, Stuart Booker, Treasurer, and Jean Eaton, Secretary.