Salem Presbyterian Church
Monday, November 28, 2022
Connecting, Supporting, Exploring Faith Together

Member Jo Barnett

Image goes here.
Photo courtesy of Vickie Saewert.
Jo Barnett began attending Salem Presbyterian Church in the fall of 1962 or the spring of 1963. She and her husband Jerry moved to Salem in 1962 when Jo was pregnant with her first child. Before moving to Salem, Jo had never set foot in a Presbyterian church before. Salem Presbyterian Pastor Floyd Shafer visited Jo and Jerry in their home and Jo gave him a tour of their apartment. Jo says, “That’s how I got started, just because of him coming to the house and sitting down and drinking coffee with me.” Jo had gone to church all her life and it was important to her to find a church for her new baby to be baptized in. Jodie was baptized at Salem Presbyterian Church in March 1963, and in January 1967, Jo and Jerry’s other daughter Jill was baptized. At that time the Salem Presbyterian Church had well over 100 members and there was a children’s choir.

Before moving to Salem, Jo had attended Salem Evangelical Reform Church in her hometown of Huntingburg, Indiana. All through high school she sang in the choir of about 30 to 40 people and she and Jerry were married there. Being able to sing in the choir once she joined Salem Presbyterian was then and still is very important to her. Jo feels this is her Christian way of life.

The Salem Presbyterian Church community has nourished Jo through many tough times. Jo said, “I’ve had a lot of prayers from this church, and they work, I’ll tell you! …. That’s what our church is really noted for. We’re really good about helping people when there is a need.”

She started the Caring Group with another church member so members could be informed about people who had died, were in the hospital, or were ill. The Caring Group used to make a lot of phone calls but now that so many people have email, Jo only makes calls to about 6 people who don’t have email.

Jo remembers that before Pastor Sue Looft left Salem Presbyterian Church in May 1983, she made an announcement in church that Jo would be the person everyone should contact in the interim period between pastors and presented Jo with a T-shirt that read, “Clerk of Session.”
Jo took on a lot of responsibility during that year while the church searched for a new pastor. When Pastor D. Jo Lowell arrived in June 1984  and Dr. DeJean thanked Jo for carrying the church during that interim time, Jo just broke down. She was completely exhausted. She said she hadn’t realized how tired she was. But all that effort was worth it. Jo said, “I’ve had some very good times here. I really have.”

Five years from now, Jo would like to see Salem Presbyterian Church have a full-time minister who has a family. She would like to see children come back in to the church. Jo said, “I just hope there’s new and young people to carry on what we started years and years ago. I would just like for the church to be alive again,” a place where members talk about their faith with each other.

Jo has been very active in the church from the time she decided to join Salem Presbyterian Church. She has served on the Session of the church for a total of 15 years so far. She said, “I love challenges and I love church.” I asked Jo how she has so much energy and she said she gets energized when she comes to church. She doesn’t have time to think about her aches and pains and there are so many things that need to be done. As she’s gotten older, she’s learned more about her faith and it gets stronger every day. Jo talks to God every day and feels strongly that “you’ve got to have faith or you don’t make it in this world.”
- Excerpted from an interview by Trina Brown for the January/February 2011 church newsletter.