Barnes to focus on healing stories


Mary Lee Talbot
Staff writer

The Rev. M. Craig Barnes, president emeritus of Princeton Theological Seminary, will serve as chaplain for Week Four.

“I want to contribute to the theme of the fourth week, ‘The State of Believing,’ ” Barnes said. “We are in need of healing and I want to be pastoral, to explore what different ways we have to integrate into our lives ways to be healed because the life of faith is soul-centered.” He will preach at the 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning worship service in the Amphitheater. 

The title of his sermon is “Healing the Healers.” He will also preach at the 9:15 a.m. morning worship services Monday through Friday in the Amp. His sermon titles include: “Healing Our Despair,” “Healing Doesn’t Hurry,” “Healing Faith in Ourselves,” “Healing Our Sins” and “After Healing?”

“I think many people are saying today ‘I believe, help my unbelief.’ We are coping with a mediocre faith and when we have tried something, tried a call, and failed at it, we are disappointed with God,” he said. 

Asked about the challenges seminarians face now, Barnes said when he went to seminary 40 years ago, “There was a well-defined, stable promising path (for ministry). We were not worried about outliving our congregation or it falling apart. The institution is more malleable today; that may be a blessing when it is figured out and sorted out.”

He continued, “Churches are not sending students like they did 40 years ago. Students have found their way to seminary on their own. Denominations are seen as a resource but not an identity. Students have little patience, understanding or empathy with denominations. They self-construct ministry on their own.”

Barnes retired in January 2023. “Retirement is a very different season of life. I feel like I have been sent out to be a missionary, but no one told me what the mission is. It is really a joy and an adventure,” he said. He spends his time speaking, writing and as an interim pastor.
With his wife, Dawne Hess Barnes, who is an interior designer, they have renovated a 100-year old house.

Raised on Long Island, New York, Barnes graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary. He received a doctorate in philosophy in the History of Christianity from the University of Chicago.

He served as the pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Madison, Wisconsin, until 1992 when he became the pastor of The National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. 

In 2002, he began his work as a chaired professor of pastoral leadership at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary while also serving as the pastor of the Shadyside Presbyterian Church, where he is now pastor emeritus. In 2012, he was elected president of Princeton Theological Seminary and became the president emeritus upon his retirement. 

He has nine published books, including When God Interrupts, Pastor as Minor Poet, and Diary of a Pastor’s Soul. He has also served as a contributor and editor-at-large to The Christian Century magazine for many years.


The author Mary Lee Talbot

Mary Lee Talbot writes the recap of the morning worship service. A life-long Chautauquan, she is a Presbyterian minister, author of Chautauqua’s Heart: 100 Years of Beauty and a history of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. She edited The Streets Where We Live and Shalom Chautauqua. She lives in Chautauqua year-round with her Stabyhoun, Sammi.