Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana Archives

St. Barnabas-in-the-Dunes, Gary

St. Barnabas-in-the-Dunes, located at 601 Pottawatomi Trail, was built in 1961 in an area once known as the village of Miller. The story begins with Christ Episcopal Church, founded in Gary in 1908, just two years after the city itself was created. In 1954, Christ Church's leaders realized that due to the development of the Miller subdivision and the Ogden Dunes area, a mission church in the northeastern segment of the city would be highly appropriate. Property for a new mission was donated to Christ Church, and in 1960 a group of interested Episcopalians in Miller took action to organize it.

During Lenten season of 1960 parishioners held meetings every week in the homes of interested members, forming the nucleus of what would become St Barnabas. The development moved rapidly. Parishioners chose a name and through their combined efforts held the first church service on 17 June, St. Barnabas Day, in Dr. Walfred A. Nelson's waiting room. By the middle of July the gathering had expanded enough that it was necessary to move the services to the Nobel School across the street.

Shortly afterward the congregation formed an advisory board, and the women of the mission formalized their organization. They sponsored a Sunday school picnic and worked on making Christmas decorations to sell. The Sunday School increased in membership each Sunday. The first baptism in the church occurred on 18 September 1960, when Diane Audrey Thiene was baptized. By Christmas, the congregation made plans for erecting a permanent building on the church property. The Rev. Arlo Leinback became the first vicar.

In 1961, the congregation paid for the land and made preparations to build a church. Both the men's and women's groups continued to grow and were active in their temporary quarters. The Men of St Barnabas hosted a Deer & Beer dinner, while the women organized many other kinds of activities, such as dance classes and Christmas sales. The popular English Tea started in the late 1970s after the church was well established.

From the beginning Coffee Hour has been an important part of St. Barnabas' history. Simple fare of coffee and sweets were originally served, but later a more nutritious meal became common. Father Charles Hensel, the second longest-serving priest who returned in the 1990s to supply and join the CEMP clergy team, gave interesting history-based sermons. These led to conversations after the service, which became the Coffee Hour. Being a small parish, these social events kept the members connected, provided a time to greet visitors, and offered some warm sustenance to our senior members who lived alone.

In the 1980s, Father Donald Milligan made a strong effort to engage youth. He coached a baseball team for a local high school and organized camping trips to the Boundary Waters in Minnesota. Later that decade, Father William Klatt shared his intellectual knowledge and his experiences as a college chaplain at Purdue.

During Father Robert Lynn's tenure, St. Barnabas's congregation reached out to the community by opening Episcopal Community Services (ECS), a home setting that offered food, clothing, and homework tutoring. It also provided school supplies by filling shoe boxes with elementary school necessities. Today, the congregation collects larger quantities of supplies for a Gary school chosen each year. Numerous supply priests, including Father Dewey Schartzenburg, Pastor Kris Graunke, and Father Maxwell Johnson, provided spiritual guidance, memorable sermons, and pastoral care,

Mother Delores Wiens was named Priest-in-Charge in 2008. Her musical talents enabled the congregation to enjoy hymns that she recorded on the Clavinova, a gift from her close friend. She also introduced the Alpha Series to the neighborhood. Since 2012, members have been part of the Calumet Episcopal Ministry Partnership (CEMP) with the Rev. Michael Dwyer initially as Priest-in-Charge.


Arlo Leinback, 1960-1964
Charles H. Hensel, 1964-1973
Donald Arthur Milligan, 1978-1983
William Klatt, 1983-1994
Robert N. Lynn 1994-2002
Kristine Graunke, 2003-2008
Delores Wiens, 2008-2012
Michael Dwyer, 2012-2018 (CEMP)
Kristine Graunke, 2015-2020 (CEMP)
Michelle Walker, 2014-2020 (CEMP)
Pamela Thiede, 2020- (CEMP)
Cynthia Moore, 2020-2021 (CEMP)
Charles Strietelmeier (CEMP), 2023-

Text adapted from St. Barnabas' website: http://www.calumetepiscopal.org/st-barnabas/about.php

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