For more views of the church and our campus, both interior and exterior, click here.
About St. Bartholomew's
Some snippets of interesting information about St. Bartholomew's, our history, and the treasures to be found both inside and outside the church buildings. For more information regarding our church, parish and parishioners, download our Parish Profile.
St. Bartholomew's (or simply "St. Bart's") is an Episcopal Church in the Diocese of California (DioCal), which covers a large part of the San Francisco Bay Area; check out a map of the diocese. Together with 5 other local Episcopal parishes, we are part of the Southern Alameda Deanery.
Our church is built entirely of wood and has a distinctive circular design. Inside the church, natural light streams onto the altar from a cupola with clear glass windows. A mosaic cross formed by brass pipes of uneven lengths is suspended from the baldacchino or circular canopy. The wooden elongated strips that brighten the gold sheen of the cross, were planed manually by the carpenters who built the original structure.
The altar, situated in the exact center of the church, features a Donald Homan wood carving that symbolizes the breaking of the bread to be shared at Communion. The hands depicted in the sculpture are modeled from the hands of Rev. Carol Cook, who was Rector of St. Bartholomew's from 1996 to 2010.
Episcopalian history in Livermore began with the establishment of Grace Episcopal Church in 1900, which closed in 1916. The church building still exists as part of historic downtown Livermore, and now houses The Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. More information about Grace Episcopal Church can be found here.
St. Bartholomew's was established in 1953. The first church building on Enos Way, which is now our Parish Hall, was built in 1956 and the current sanctuary was dedicated on Sept 10th 1967 by the then Bishop of California, the Rt. Rev. Kilmer Myers. For a full history of our church, from the beginning in 1953 through to the present day, take a browse through our timeline.
Among the many notable luminaries at St. Bartholomew's, Shirley Frese Woods is remembered for her depth of scholarship. She was a teacher of English and Latin and later Humanities and Philosophy. She became one of the first woman deacons in the Episcopal Church. In 1977, she was ordained at St. Bartholomew's, becoming one of the first female Episcopal priests in the Diocese of California. Her legacy of A Scholarly Library of Greek and Hebrew Studies is available for reference in the Rector's office.
In the fall of 2010, we began a history project to learn more about the history of our church and capture significant events in the life of our parish community. Ably led by Abigail Plemmons, who did an immense amount of research in preparation, the project kicked-off at a November 14, 2010 Potluck where members of the church were invited to document their memories. The project has now taken the form of a timeline, which will grow as events occur and are added to the timeline, and as we become aware of significant events in our history that also should be added. Contact Abigail if you know of events that should be added to the timeline.
To view the timeline, click here.
Way of the Cross
The Way of the Cross is a devotional adapted from a custom practiced by pilgrims journeying to Jerusalem. For the worshipper who walks the way of the Cross it offers access through the visible to the invisible mysteries of the faith. One is drawn close to the heart of God and contemplates the unique way in which He has chosen to love us.
St. Bartholomew's is graced by a ten station Way of the Cross in the form of a set of wooden sculptures. Focusing on the use of hands, the ten stations depict the events of Christ's Passion, Death and Resurrection, directly recorded in the Gospels. The wooden carvings are the work of Livermore sculptor, Donald Homan, who also carved the hands breaking the bread on the altar. Homan drew inspiration from the meditations that accompany the prayers at each station. He placed these unique carvings in the Nave in 1987 as his gift to the congregation.
The inside walls of the church are decorated by a series of banners made by members of the congregation. These banners represent the various liturgical seasons. During each season, the appropriate banner is displayed on high behind the altar for everybody to see. At the end of each season, the banner representing that season is removed and hung on the wall of the church, being replaced by the banner representing the new season.
To view the banners, check out our photograph album.
The banner carried by our acolytes is rich in symbolism. It was designed and hand crafted in 1997 by Kip West (assisted by Kay Aring and Cynthia Bird). Kip chose a sturdy red felt fabric as a contrast to the burnished gold brocade trims. She added beads and appliques to form the symbols that connect our church to the serene Livermore Valley.
The spinning atom reminds us of the acclaimed Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Laboratories. The prancing horse brings memories of the spacious ranches that once spread across the valley, historic horse trails, and the annual Livermore Rodeo. The trailing grapes in light green and purple evoke the sights and smells of ripening grapes from the surrounding vineyards, famous for their white and red wines.
The oval frame held by the Cross are symbols of our faith. The oval reminds us of the whole community of God that we strive for, in union and harmony with each other and the Cross reminds us, as it did the early Christians, that we are Christ's own forever.
“ ...Who turned the rock into a pool of water, The flint into a fountain of water”. Psalm 114:8
Inspired by a passage from her Bible reading, Diane Coburn visualized an ever-flowing stream of water to commemorate the life of Brian Barber. She chose tall, reddish-brown rocks from a local quarry, to represent the miracle of water gushing forth from a dry, hard surface.
Brian's fountain was built in 2004 under the shade of giant eucalyptus trees. A sparkling stream of water flows constantly along the grooves of the rock, tracing the imprints of leaf fossils. The soft bubbling sounds which can be heard from the pews on quiet afternoons are a gentle reminder that with God all things are possible.
A visitor to St. Bartholomew's would be captivated by the watercolor paintings that fill the parish office and lounge. These beautiful works of art are the legacy of Dorothy Cunningham. She had a strong association with the St. Bartholomew's community from the time of her adult baptism in 1994 until her death in 2001. A teacher and fervent artist whose career spanned over forty years, she left behind an enormous collection of landscapes. The scenes of old barns, green hills and mellow cattle invite the viewer on a journey through memories of historic Livermore.
It goes without saying that to really appreciate these works requires a live viewing, but we are pleased to provide photographs of them in our photograph album.
A quiet corner of the church garden is reserved for the ashes of parish members and their families. The greenery and the red wooden benches provide respite and refreshment, amidst a busy neighborhood, to those seeking comfort.
The Story of the Chrismons
Congregants who participated in one or more of the Christmas services last year will have noticed the Chrismon Tree, which makes an appearance in the church every Christmas. The Chrismon Tree is a Christmas Tree decorated with embroidered Chrismons made by church members.
A Chrismon, from the Latin phrase "Christi Monogramma", means "Monogram of Christ". These Christian symbols represent the life or ministry of Jesus Christ, or the history of the Christian Church.
The tradition of the Chrismon Tree at St. Bartholomew's was begun 20+ years ago by Candy Simonen, a former Altar Guild Director. Since that time, a group of dedicated crafters have added to the collection of symbols in counted cross stitch. Embroidery kits are supplied complete with a pattern, aida cloth, a needle, and strands of colorful embroidery floss. The finished Chrismons are placed in small embroidery hoops and backed with felt cloth and a ribbon used to fasten them to the Christmas tree.
The symbols represent The Triangle: an emblem of the Holy Trinity; The Circle: An emblem of eternity; The Eight Pointed Star: Emblem of regeneration or baptism; The Chi Rho and Cross: Emblem of the first two Greek letters of the word Christ. Other symbols include a fish, butterfly, shell, a crown, stars, grapes, any number of crosses. The tree itself which was originally a fresh cut fir has been replaced with a manufactured tree with places for many more Chrismons.
Anyone interested in trying their hand at making a Chrismon may contact our Altar Guild Director, Cynthia Bird, through the Parish office.