205 No. Fourth Street | Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70801 | 225-387-5141 | church @ stjamesbr.org |                

Life is Change

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is hard to believe that it has only been five weeks since first arriving at St. James. The welcome given to my family and me has been incredible. Thank you for your hospitality. I look forward to years of serving together as the hands and feet of Christ through the mission and ministry of St. James.

There is an old saying my dad always said when I was growing up, “No one likes changing except wet babies.” One thing I hope you will experience with me is that I do not make decisions lightly or without reason, but rather prayerfully and with purpose. I realize that not everyone will agree with the reasoning and/or changes every time. However, please know that no change is made for change’s sake. As I am sure you have guessed, there are a few items that I want to share with you. Some were in the works before I arrived, and others come after Monday night’s vestry meeting.

  1. Campus Security - Before my arrival, the process was begun to increase security around the campus, not only for the school, but for all of our parishioners and facilities. This has been an ongoing discussion and debate in the life of St. James and not a new topic. There came a time in the past when the doors of the church were locked and no longer left open 24/7. Then a time came when fencing and gates were added as well as the addition of security from our wonderful deputy sheriffs. With where we are societally and with the continued growth in and around downtown, it became time once more to take new steps. 

    A new security system has been installed that is comparable to other downtown churches with schools. The big question is naturally, how will this affect you? The main thing is that visitors to the Parish Hall building and to spaces used by the school will need to check-in at the school or church office during school hours. With that said, people will not be required to check-in for noon Wednesday Eucharist, a funeral visitation, Gumbo, on weekends, or other church functions, as security and other procedures will be in place during those times. Know that we are also working to share this important information with all parents of the Day School so that we are all on the same page. 

    Please note that leaders of ministries needing access to the buildings should coordinate with Jacques Pourciau, Business Manager, to obtain fob access to the facilities so that the mission and ministry of St. James is not disrupted. Jacques can explain the options for obtaining access.

    The vestry and I are saddened by the necessity of these steps to protect the children in our care, our parishioners, and our property. However, it is the world in which we live and is important for the safety of all of us at St. James. Know that this is a work in progress and we will have some kinks along the way. I am appreciative of your patience as we move forward.
  2. Prayer List - Pastoral Care is a passion of mine, and I love that St. James is a church committed to praying for one another. It is an important part of our life in Christian community. After much discussion with Fr. Ralph and the vestry, we are implementing a new procedure for the prayer list. Moving forward, a name on the general prayer list will be spoken for one month in the Prayers of the People at all three Sunday services. After that, the individual will move to the “Continued Prayers” list which is not read aloud, but printed in the bulletin. Names will stay on this list for an additional month. However, names will be added back to the list when requested. And, of course, those with long-term needs will be kept on the list. The prayers for the deceased will remain on the prayer list for two weeks and be included in the Prayers of the People at all three Sunday services.

    St. James will also be adding to the prayer list those expecting a child. This gives us three additional lists: military, law enforcement, and those expecting a child. One of these lists will be included in the Prayers of the People in a given service each Sunday thus ensuring that the lists for military, law enforcement, and those expecting a child are prayed every Sunday but only one list within a single service. We will rotate the above lists to ensure that all three are prayed aloud in each Sunday service every three-weeks.

    This procedure will keep us in better communication with those on our prayer list while ensuring that all the prayers of the parishioners are lifted up within our Sunday services and maintain the natural flow of the Prayers of the People within the liturgy. If you would like to add a name to the prayer list, please contact Sylvia Rabalais, Administrative Secretary, or any of the clergy. Also note that prayer cards are available in the pew racks in the church.
  3. Sanctus Bell - On my very first Sunday, numerous members of St. James voiced concern over the use of the Sanctus bell and that has continued from a wide variety of members since. Two reasons were primarily given to me. First, the use of the bell is a relatively new addition to the service at St. James and as such is not a long-standing tradition. Second, the ringing of the bell is often inconsistent in use and volume. In addition, it is worth noting that the original purpose of Sanctus bells was rooted in a time when the mass was in Latin (at a time when most people did not speak Latin) and the Eucharist was typically celebrated behind a screen out of the view of the people. The bell’s purpose was to signal to the congregation that something important was happening because the congregation could not see nor understand the words being spoken. Due to the fact that at the heart of Anglican sacramental theology the Eucharist is to be in the language of the people and performed in the public view, Sanctus bells were not part of our Anglican/Episcopal liturgical practices until more recently.

I know there are some who love the bell, but after discussion with the vestry as well as the individual who donated the current bell, we are retiring the Sanctus bell from use during regular services for those reasons listed above. The bell happens to be in the style of a meditation gong and will therefore make a great addition to contemplative prayer when needed.

My hope is that in all that we do, St. James will continue to grow from glory into glory and strength into strength.


The Rev. Chris Duncan



We have a rector!

Rector Call
Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Dear Parishioners,


I have great and exciting news! We have a new rector, Fr. Chris Duncan, who is the current rector of St. Paul’s in Katy, Texas. We, the Vestry and Rector Search Committee, believe he is the perfect person to become the 24th Rector of St. James. This announcement is also being made public at St. Paul’s.


The Rector Search Committee reached a unanimous decision to recommend calling Fr. Duncan after months of extensive searching and prayerful discernment. The committee presented their recommendation with supporting documentation to a special, called Vestry meeting on Thursday, May 17, 2018. Fr. Duncan and his wife, Casey, visited Baton Rouge the following week, during which time Fr. Duncan met with the Vestry on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 to allow us to further assess his qualifications and fit with our parish. Following this interview, the Vestry unanimously voted on our first ballot to call Fr. Duncan to be our rector. We issued our call to Fr. Duncan on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 to become our Rector and he enthusiastically accepted. We have, since, been working hard to finalize the details of our agreement and to set an announcement date with due sensitivity to informing St. Paul’s congregation.


Fr. Duncan is a native of Houston, Texas and was ordained into the priesthood on January 20, 2010 at The Episcopal Church of the Good Shephard in Austin, Texas. He was called to be the rector of St. Paul’s in Katy, Texas, in June of 2012 and has been serving there, since. He and Casey have two children, Carolena, age 6, and, Nils, age 4, who will be attending St. James Episcopal Day School in the 2018-2019 school year.


Fr. Duncan has an exemplary record at St. Paul’s which has seen significant growth under his leadership. I have posted Fr. Duncan’s background information to our website and suggest you download and read it, here.


Fr. Duncan’s first day at St. James will be July 16, 2018. He will preach his first sermon on Sunday, July 22, 2018, the day we observe our patron saint’s feast day — fitting symbolism at the start of his ministry, here. Please plan on attending one of our services on July 22 and give Fr. Duncan a warm and enthusiastic St. James welcome.


God Bless,

Gerry's Signature

Gerry Sulzer
Sr. Warden


May 30, 2018


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


I am filled with great excitement and joy as I look forward to joining you at St. James Episcopal Church and School to serve as your next Rector. I look forward to formally arriving in the office in mid-July and worshiping with you on Sunday, July 22. I am also excited for you to meet my wife, Casey, and our two children: Carolena (6) and Nils (4).


St. James is a wonderful parish full of faith, hope, and love. During my on-going discussions with the search committee and Vestry, I heard of the love you have for Christ, St. James Church, the Day School, and the Baton Rouge community at large. St. James has a distinguished history of faithful ministry that transforms lives, and together we will build upon that legacy as we look forward to the future God has in store. Together we will step out in faith in the name of and for the sake of Christ so that all might know the love of God.


In this season of transition, I ask for your prayers for my family as we prepare to move and say goodbye to dear friends. I also ask your prayers for the good people of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Katy, Texas as they now begin their own search process. Finally, please know that the St. James parish family remains in my prayers daily.


Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Chris Duncan


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



Our Work is Done

Helen Campbell and Trey Roberts announced at the Parish Meeting on Sunday, May 20, that the Search Committee has submitted a candidate name to the vestry for endorsement as the twenty-fourth rector of St. James Episcopal Church on Thursday, May 17. The candidate had yet to meet with the vestry and receive such endorsement, so due to confidentiality, no name was announced.
Helen did take the opportunity to remind the parish of the selection criteria established by the Search Committee, based on parishioner input from surveys, meetings, and workshops:

  • A talented preacher and spiritual leader
  • A minister for the whole church
  • Communicates well
  • Warm, personable, out-going
  • A unifier
  • A skilled administrator

Trey commended the work of the whole committee, noting he’d spoken with Helen just about daily for the past year, and looks forward to sharing the exciting details of the next chapter in St. James parish life, soon.

Ed. note: You can view the entire Parish Meeting, here. The Search Committee report begins at approximately 1:01:45.




April 22, 2018 Status Report

Editor's Note: At the 10:30 service on Sunday, April 22, Helen Campbell and Trey Roberts, Search Committee co-chairs, presented a progress report on the search for a new rector of St. James Episcopal Church. You can listen to Trey's comprehensive report of facts and status, here, and/or read the entirety of their report, below.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support as we move through the process to call our next rector. We want to update you on progress, including a recap of the search process.

April 2017: The Search Committee was created by appointment of co-chairs Trey Roberts and Helen Campbell. The membership was formed with the input of names from the parish, then selection of members by the Senior Warden, Junior Warden, and the committee co-chairs. Members named were: Andy McCall, Bahin Leonard, Bob Israel, Catherine Harrell, Charlie Frey, Jay Noland, John Sykes, Julia Spaht, Martha Vasquez, Susan Rolfs.

Summer 2017:  With the assistance of The Rev. Canon Shannon Manning on behalf of Bishop Thompson, the committee’s organizational work began with many hours of research on our parish, as well as potential candidates in order to best align our parish needs with a future rector. In other words, "Where are we and what do we prioritize as St. James, and how does that match individual priests who are open to a new calling?"

A parish survey was created and more than 300 people participated. The high number of responses assure good, accurate information. You care greatly about St. James and your responses give the committee comprehensive input on all aspects of our church and church family.

With an open invitation to the entire parish, listening forums were held for parishioners to discuss any and all issues considered important for the Search Committee to address in the church profile.

Stakeholder meetings were held with clergy, selected church staff, as well as key ministries, to gain input about the workings of the church.

October-December 2017: The Search Committee prepared, and the Vestry approved, our St. James profile which is available on our website or hard copy in the church office.

The parish family was invited to nominate potential rector candidates for consideration. Clergy also submitted nominations.

An Office of Transitional Ministry profile was prepared for The Episcopal Church (national office) and candidates from around the country put their names into our search.  

Mid-March 2018: Candidate nominations were closed with an initial pool of about 50 candidates. All candidates’ names were sent to our Diocesan office for approval, a requirement before the Search Committee can take any action.

January-March 2018: Candidates were individually researched and then presented to the full Search Committee for discussion and consideration. The list of candidates was narrowed, and continued with Skype interviews. Candidate references were contacted by telephone.

April 2018: The committee members began to travel for confidential face-to-face meetings and to attend services in the candidates' home parishes. Out of respect for the candidate and their current ministries, the committee members do not identify as such at the parish visited. Visits are expected to conclude by mid-May.

The Search Committee will prayerfully discern its recommendation of a new rector to the Vestry. The candidate will be invited to Baton Rouge to meet with the Vestry and visit St. James. If the Vestry concurs with the Committee’s recommendation, the call for a new rector will be made.

This process is designed to be prayerfully undertaken, listening to God throughout each step of consideration. The process also involves envisioning the life of our congregation under the leadership of each candidate. St. James has grown and changed in positive ways over the course of these many months and the Search Committee is encouraged and supported by our parish’s confidence and respect for this unique process. The call of a new rector moves on God’s time and we know God is at work in our midst.

The Search Committee will continue to provide updates in the eMessenger, The Messenger (monthly), service leaflets, and through reports during services, and we invite you to pray daily for St. James and this important discernment:

Loving God of unchangeable light, we thank you for our St. James family. For generations, you have guided us to this holy place, our cornerstone of faith.  Grant us patience, strength and wisdom as we walk together to discern your will.  Bless us and bless our journey.  We ask this in Jesus’ name by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.



Page 3 of 25 pages  < 1 2 3 4 5 >  Last ›


  St. James Episcopal Church

Subscribe to our


The latest news, every Friday morning.

Visit our subscription page.


Copyright ©2019
St. James Episcopal Church
Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA