History Lives On In This Timeless Church
Many cultures thrived in the Kansas City North region before civilization arrived. The town of Barry, on the east end of Barry Road, has plenty of rich history. During my childhood we rode bikes to the old Barry store for a cold bottle of soda while taking casual glances at the old well where stage coaches once stopped for water. The original location of the well is now under the east bound lane of Barry Road and in fact, very little of this historic town exists except for the Barry Church.
Anyone viewing the modern version of the current beautiful Barry Church highlighted by a huge stained glass mural that features a beautiful red cross would never guess this church originated from a log cabin with wooden seats on land donated in 1840 by John Wilson II.
The population in Clay County was just over 5,000 in 1840 as people started moving in. Eventually the little log cabin church grew to 106 members, a fair number considering that most were farmers or loggers. Notably, 17 of the founding members were African-American slaves that had a door at the back they could walk through to back-row seats.
The log cabin church lasted until 1860 when a framed building was built. The building had a stone foundation and lasted until 1949. By 1950 a new church was built and adorned by a bell in 1954. The bell weighed several hundred pounds and eventually had to be taken out of the church for safety. The prized bell is now on display in front of the existing church.
Populations throughout the area demanded a bigger church and the existing Barry Church was built in 1986. The education center was built first and the chapel a few months later. Other surrounding properties were purchased and added to the Wilson Families original land donation.
“Changes in this area would shock the Wilson family,” says church historian Dian McClymond of Kansas City. “The town of Barry ceased to exist in 1959 and became part of Kansas City. The Barry Church is the last remnant of the town, community and people that lived here. Many are buried in the Barry Cemetery that was once an Indian burial ground and they extended it. There are many people buried there that played big roles in the town of Barry.”
The Barry Church has employed many pastors including Robert George who just finished his 30th year of service at Barry Church. Hard to imagine that the first pastor served about 175 years ago, 20-some years before the Civil War. In fact, a Barry Church founding member was killed at Wilson’s Creek by Springfield during the War Between the States.