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St Barnabas is well-known in Sydney for its church signs, including a celebrated "battle" with the publican of the Broadway Hotel across the road. The church would put up one sign in the morning, and the hotel would have another in the evening with a witty reply to the church's sign. Some of the signs attracted the attention of the Sydney media. Also Arthur Stace, the "Eternity" man, was a member of this church.
Built by slum labourers in the Inner West region of Sydney, the foundation stone for the building was laid in 1858.
A fire ravaged the church building at 3.30am on 10 May, 2006. It took firefighters around 8 hours to completely contain the fire. Destroyed in the fire were a 100-year-old pipe organ, a historic stained-glass window (valued in the media at over a million dollars) and memorials to parishioners who died in World War I.
The investigation concluded that the fire was probably started at the power box. No accelerants were found, indicating arson was not a cause. 
Prominent members of Ministry
The current senior minister is Rev. Ian Powell. The executive pastor is Rev. Mike Paget, and senior ordained staff include Rev. Caroline Evenden and Rev. Diana Morgan. Barneys also employs a Music Director, Steve Crain, and a substantial ministry team.
Previous ministers at the church include:
- Anglican Bishop of South Sydney Robert Forsyth
- Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen
- Christian scholar, historian and bishop Paul Barnett
- Cannon R.B.S. Hammond (started the tradition of the Barney's sign)
- Howard Guinness (related to Arthur Guinness, founder of Guinness Beer)
A member of the congregation, Arthur Stace attracted attention for writing the word Eternity in chalk on the streets of Sydney from the 1940s through to the 1960s in a distinctive copperplate style. "Eternity" was featured on the Sydney Harbour Bridge during New Year's celebrations in 2000.
A documentary about Arthur Stace, called "Eternity" by Lawrence Johnston was released in 1994.
Battle Of The Signs
R.B.S Hammond began the weekly ritual of the famous St Barnabas message board. His witty and often thought provoking messages were what made St Barnabas famous. Some include; "Drink and trouble are like petrol and fire", "Alcohol makes your mind stagger long before your feet do", "Do not nurse a grievance, teach it to walk", and "Divorce is the hash we make from domestic scraps". Continuing on the tradition was Robert Forsyth, who found that he had competition from the nearby pub, Broadway Hotel. The two noticeboards would often display subtle wordplay. Here are some of them:
- St Barnabas: "This church is for sinners" / Broadway Hotel: "This pub is for drinkers"
- St Barnabas: "Money does not make you happy" / Broadway Hotel: "I'd rather be rich and happy than poor and happy"
- St Barnabas: "God made sex for marriage not for money" / Broadway Hotel: "Wish he had made money for marriage"
- St Barnabas: "Free Grace brothers and sisters" (St Barnabas was next to a Grace Brothers store) / Broadway Hotel: "Free David Jones too" (referring to another Australian department store)
- St Barnabas: "The best things in life aren't things" / Broadway Hotel: "Things are not all what they seem to be"
- Church website
- Anglican Diocese of Sydney
- Just a Fiery Glitch - story in The Sydney Morning Herald about the May 10 fire.
- Bishop vows to rebuild gutted church - news of the May 10 fire from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
- Rob Forsyth Bishop Rob Forsyth's page, Rector of St Barnabas 1983-2000.
- Photo gallery from the Sydney Morning Herald - including some church signs
Return to Churches in New South Wales Index