Rev. Owen Aubrey Barbee

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

1869 - 1957


Left: Picture appeared on the back cover of the October-November-December 1956 issue of the Cumberland Presbyterian Adult Quarterly

Right: Picture appeared in the 1930 Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Moderator One Hundredth Meeting General Assembly, Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Olney, Texas, May 15-20, 1930.

Owen Aubrey and Stella Grace Harrison Barbee about 1949-1950

Rev. O. A. Barbee Retires From Writing Ministry


After wielding a mighty pen for almost a quarter of a century in publications of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church Owen Aubrey Barbee is retiring from writing.

He is writer and editor of the Adult Quarterly and has completed materials up through 1956. He had intended to continue and write two more quarterlies, up to the middle of 1957, but his health is such that he has sent word to the Board of Publication and Christian Education that he must retire now.

At the time of this writing he is in the hospital for treatment, in Owensboro, Ky.

Although his health has been quite fragile for the past few years, Dr. Barbee has maintained an alertness of mind and spirit and has continued his writing for the joy that he gets from it. Much of the time he has not been physically equal to the task, yet his love for the writing ministry has impelled him on. He is 87.

"O. A. Barbee Day" Planned
In planning with him for his retirement recently the Board made plans for "O. A. Barbee Day" to be observed Sunday, August 26 in all Cumberland Presbyterian Sunday Schools. Plans are for the Sunday schools to take note of the contribution of Dr. Barbee to the writing ministry of the denomination.

During his 24 years of journalistic ministry in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church Brother Barbee has been noted for his free, lucid, and pungent writing. He has an unusual gift of stating spiritual and Biblical truths in a language that is popular and convincing.

He became editor of THE CUMBERLAND PRESBYTERIAN in 1932 and served in this position until 1944. From 1939 to 1944, simultaneously with the church paper work, he was writer and editor of the Adult Teacher, which was a forerunner to the Cumberland Worker. From 1944 to the present he has been writer and editor of the Adult Quarterly. He is author of the Student's Lamp.

Member of the CP Church 74 Years
Born at Commerce, Tennessee, February 20, 1869, Brother Barbee was converted and joined the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1882--for almost three quarters of a century he has been a member of the denomination.

Educated in the public schools and at Crump Academy, his first ministerial work was as pastor of City Missions in Nashville, Tenn., and of the People's Tabernacle, Atlanta, Ga., both of which were under the supervision of the United Brethren and Congregational churches.

His pastorates in Cumberland Presbyterian churches have been in Western Kentucky; Greenville, Sturgis, Mt. Pleasant, Pleasant Ridge, and Owensboro. He has been a member of Owensboro Presbytery for 49 years.

Assembly Moderator in 1930
He was moderator of the General Assembly in 1930. He has taken pride in the fact that his father was also once honored with this highest position of the church. (The only other father-son moderator team in the history of the denomination has been Rev. F. A. Brown and Rev. Paul F. Brown.) He first attended the Assembly in 1903 and was present at the historic meeting in 1907 at Dickson, Tenn. Twenty-eight times he has attended this highest court of the church, eleven times as commissioner. Bethel College honored him in 1954 by conferring on him the Doctor of Divinity degree.

His Companion for 65 Years
And who has been close by his side through the last sixty-five years of Brother Barbee's life, and continues so today? It is a gracious lady known in her childhood as Stella Harrison. Brother and Mrs. Barbee have known the joys of rearing four girls and two boys. Three of the children are still living.

Mrs. Barbee's health is only fair. She has worked along with Brother Barbee in recent years as sort of copy reader and helper in his writing.

Rev. Morris Pepper, Executive Secretary of the Board, has issued the following statement to the church:

"Recently the Board had offered Brother Barbee an opportunity to retire with pay, this to become effective with the completion of the first two quarters of 1957. Brother Barbee had accepted this arrangement and had intended to carry through with it. We regret that his health has made it seem imperative that he retire now. We are sure all his friends will want to express in one way or another their appreciation for his contribution to the church. His address is 715 Parrish Avenue, Owensboro, Kentucky.

"In planning with Brother Barbee for his retirement the Board has named Rev. M. F. Allen, Jr. to succeed him in writing and editing the Adult Quarterly. His writing will appear in the first quarterly of 1957."

[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian May 8, 1956, pages 3-4, 13]

Dr. O. A. Barbee began writing the Adult Quarterly in 1944. He retires with this final issue for 1956. He served as editor of "The Cumberland Presbyterian" from 1932 to 1944, has served as Moderator of the General Assembly, and has received the honorary degree of doctor of divinity from Bethel College. As this final issue of the Quarterly goes to press, the Board of Publication and Christian Education pays tribute to him as a Christian journalist.
[Source: Cumberland Presbyterian Adult Quarterly October-November-December 1956, back cover]

Rev. O. A. Barbee, age 86, died June 10 at 4:14 p.m. at Owensboro, Ky. The funeral service was held June 12 at the Owensboro, Ky. church with Rev. Sam Estes, Jr. in charge, assisted by Rev. L. C. Kesler.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, June 18, 1957, page 3]

Mrs. Stella Grace Barbee, the widow of the Rev. O. A. Barbee, died at 10:15 a.m. Sunday [July 4, 1965] at the Green Cross Hospital, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, following a long illness.

She was a native of Indiana.

Mrs. Barbee had been a resident of Ohio since 1957, following the death of her husband, the Rev. O. A. Barbee a former Daviess County [Cumberland] Presbyterian minister. She was a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

Surviving are two daughters, Mrs. Clint Pannell of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio and Mrs. Letha Peck, Akron, Ohio; 18 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be conducted at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the James H. Davis Funeral Home by the Rev. Walter Chesnut, with burial in Rose Hill Cemetery.

Friends may call at the funeral home, 3009 Frederica St.

[Source: Undated clipping from the files of the Historical Foundation probably from an Owensboro, Kentucky newspaper]

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Page Last Updated on June 4, 2002