The Diocese of Fond du Lac has announced the sale of the former St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Tomahawk. The property has been purchased by the non-denominational The Rock Church of Tomahawk. Their first service was held November 14, three days after the closing, with 40 people in attendance.
"It saddens me when we have an Episcopal community come to an end," Bishop Matthew Gunter noted. "But I am pleased that the space will continue to be filled with worshippers doing the work of the the Gospel."
After the dissolution of the congregation in 2019, the diocese took responsibility of the building. The decision was made to sell it in summer 2021. Sold through a land contract (the property is deeded to the buyer with the diocese acting as the "bank" holding a mortgage), revenue will be placed into a fund until the land contract is fulfilled. A portion of the proceeds is to be returned to the Roddis Loan Fund having been written off when the church closed. The Executive Council will then determine the use of the remaining proceeds. Typically they determine to tithe for outreach with the balance placed in diocesan endowments.
May 15, 201
St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Tomahawk has roots as an Episcopal presence from as early as 1887. In 1892, it became an Organized Mission of the Diocese of Fond du Lac. In 1896 a wood frame church edifice designed by William Halsey Wood was erected in and served as its house of worship since then.
It is my sad duty to inform you that the diocesan Executive Council has recommended dissolving the Organized Mission of St. Barnabas, and I have concurred. This decision was made after long discussions with members of the church following a year of efforts to reinvigorate the small band of worshipers. In the words of one member at that meeting, we learned those efforts were too little, too late.
As with many congregations serving in smaller communities, the congregation experienced high points and low points that often-followed community dynamics. Tomahawk is a small but stable community. Over the past decade, the congregation has continued as a place of worship, but have reached a point where membership, attendance and financial resources are not adequate to support continuing as a congregation.
A Celebration of Ministry service has been scheduled for Saturday, July 13 at 5:00 p.m. at St. Barnabas, 201 W Merrill Ave, Tomahawk. The service is open to the public, and any persons with a connection with St. Barnabas are especially invited to attend. The service will include deconsecrating and the secularization of the church building.
The use and/or disposition of the building and its contents belong to the Trustees of the Diocese. Any questions should be directed to the Diocesan Office at (920) 830-8866.
Under the Mercy,
The Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter
St. Barnabas, Tomahawk celebrated their 125 years at the 10:30 a.m. worship service on Sunday, June 11. A picnic was held on the lawn. Services were held as early as 1890 with the congregation organized in 1892. Tomahawk's principal founder, William H. Bradley, helped to build the church building in 1892. Their anniversary generated some press in both the local paper and TV station. Read the article here or see the TV coverage here.