Lady Bird leaves a gift to St. Barnabas Episcopal

For more than 50 years St. Barnabas Episcopal Church was a second home for Lady Bird Johnson.

“We had a debt on the Parish Hall that was built eight or nine years ago that the Parish has been dealing with and paying off,” Elwood said.

That was until the former first lady stepped in. In their Sunday services three weeks before her passing, the church announced they had received a $300,000 gift.

The letter, signed by Johnson, reads: “I feel the time has come for me to repay a part of the debt for the irreplaceable gifts of comfort, strength and abiding faith I have received.”

Read the News 8 report here.

From the church’s history:

President and Mrs. Lyndon Johnson were among the attendees at the cornerstone ceremony on November 11, 1964. In addition to the cornerstone, a stone from the St. Barnabas Monastery in Cyprus was placed on the South wall of the new sanctuary. Bearing the inscription “From the St. Barnabas Church in Cyprus” the 16 x 18 limestone rock was presented to the local church by Mrs. Johnson. It was given to her for the local church by Archbishop Makarios when President and Mrs. Johnson visited the Greek island of Cyprus in 1962. It is from the site where St. Barnabas, according to tradition, met a martyr’s death by stoning in the year 61.

Some footnotes on her Episcopalian faith via USA Today:

Moyers referred to the rain when he joked that he and other Baptists such as Carter and Clinton had failed to convert Johnson from her Episcopal faith and that she had once told him, “If you Baptists have any rain left over, any water left over, put it on the flowers. They need it more than I do.”

Although Lady Bird Johnson … insisted that the service hew closely to the denomination’s Book of Common Prayer, she chose to close it with her alma mater’s fight song, The Eyes of Texas. The University of Texas song was played by uniformed members of the Longhorn marching band as hundreds raised their pinkie and index fingers in one last “Hook ’em Horns” farewell.

President Johnson was not an Episcopalian. He had an interesting faith journey that is detailed here.

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