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

175th Anniversary Resolution

On March 25, 1844, the "Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Louisiana, in General Assembly convened,"

approved the charter for the corporate body by the "name, style and title of 'The Rector, Churchwardens and Vestrymen of the Church of St. James, in the Parish of East Baton Rouge, in Communion with the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America."

On Tuesday, June 4, 2019, St. James Episcopal Church was honored with Senate recogntion of the 175th anniversary of our original state charter:

The Rev. Chris Duncan was invited to give the invocation at the start of the legislative day. His prayer was: 

Almighty God, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace. As you are the Giver of all good things: we thank you for the majesty and beauty of this land and the great resources you have given us. We pray that we might use them properly. We thank you for the men and women who have made this place strong through their labor, service, and sacrifice. We pray for the strength to do our part in our generation to ensure all people of our state know true freedom. We thank you for the faith we have inherited in all its rich variety. We pray for eyes to see all people as created in the image of God.

O Lord, we now ask your blessing upon all the peoples of our state that we may know your peace and be a blessing to others. We ask your blessing on our lawmakers and legislators that they will have the courage, wisdom, and foresight to faithfully serve in their offices to promote the well-being of all people. Gracious God, we pray all of this in your holy Name: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.


Text of the 2019 Resolution:

WHEREAS, in 1819 two years after the incorporation of Baton Rouge a group of local inhabitants felt the need to establish an Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge and began meeting in the area; and

WHEREAS, on March 16, 1820 they became incorporated and met from place to place including on what is currently these State Capitol grounds thanks to the resilient efforts of a number including Margaret “Peggy” Smith Taylor who sought the permission of her soldier husband, the Garrison Commander Col. Zachary Taylor who granted space at what is now known to us as the Pentagon Barracks to for a chapel; and

WHEREAS, on March 25, 1844 by Act 97 of the Louisiana Legislature,  St. James Episcopal Church was granted a charter to operate as a body and to worship under the laws of the state and in communion with the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United Sates of America and subject to the Ecclesiastical government and decisions of the Bishops and Convention of the Diocese of Louisiana; and 

WHEREAS, they did purchase the property at the corner of Convention Street and Church now 4th Street in Baton Rouge where they constructed a church consecrated by Bishop Leonidas Polk and have continued worship there for 175 years; and

WHEREAS, the men and women who are aiding in the molding of the church’s reputation today can look to the trials and triumphs of the church’s past in order to chart its future; and

WHEREAS, a church that has sustained itself through fires and yellow fever epidemics, the Civil War and Reconstruction, national economic depression, segregation, and the evolution of the surrounding world is a welcoming congregation; and

WHEREAS, being established itself to be more than a community of the faithful, but a community of faith; and

NOW, THEREFORE, The Senate of Louisiana, does recognize St. James Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge on the occasion of 175 years of worship. 


Images of the original act (No. 97), approved March 25, 1844 (click each image for a larger view):

1844 Resolution pg 1
Let the celebrations begin!





Staff Announcements

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

Back in February, our Vestry created four principal goals with measurable milestones to help give direction for next steps at St. James. These were four key areas that we felt needed attention over the next year or two. Click here for a reminder of the 2019 Goals.

With those goals in mind, I am excited to share two new additions to the St. James staff, starting this summer:

Shannon Gallier, Music Director (begins July 8)
Haley Schroeck, Family Ministry Coordinator (begins June 1)

Our music and family ministries are both vital to the life of St. James as they are key components to our Sunday mornings together, as well as during the week. I believe each of these new additions to the staff will help us make even further strides in mission and ministry. To help you get to know them a little better, each has a short biography, below. During the course of this summer, please help me welcome them both to the St. James family.

Easter Blessings,

Fr. Chris, Rector


Shannon Gallier, Music Director

Shannon Gallier, a native of southeast Texas, comes to us having served as Organist-Choirmaster at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, Georgia since 2014. At St. Bartholomew’s, Shannon has overseen a vibrant music program comprised of over seventy voices spread over four choirs. Before 2014, Shannon served as Organist-Choirmaster at The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Jacksonville, Florida, where he revitalized that church’s historic music program. He is an active member of the Royal School of Church Music in America, which seeks to foster the training of young singers in the Anglican choral tradition.

Shannon has served as Director, Co-Director, and Housemaster at several RSCM Summer Training Courses, and is a Mentor for RSCM America. He holds degrees in music performance and literature from Centenary College of Louisiana, and from The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Shannon has performed as an organ recitalist throughout the United States. In his free time, Shannon likes to sail, read sci-fi and history, study French, brag about the excellent cooking of his husband, Austin, and dote on his tuxedo cat, Fanny.

In describing his calling as a church musician, Shannon said he seeks to, "…help build God’s Kingdom through quality sacred music and to foster a love of the liturgy, music, and worship which lead us closer to our Creator. I look forward to meeting you all and delving deeper into the mysteries of our faith through the incredible musical tradition we have inherited.”



Haley Schroeck, Family Ministry Coordinator

Haley Schroeck is a Baton Rouge native, having attended The Dunham School, and then, LSU. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in theatre, with a concentration in theatre studies, in 2014; and, has been an active member of the southeast Louisiana theatre scene since 2011.

Haley began her work with young actors in 2014 through Theatre Baton Rouge and Playmakers of Baton Rouge, and has actively worked with them since. In 2016, she joined Missoula Children's Theatre, a national educational children's theatre, touring with them for seven months throughout the Pacific Northwest. After tour, Haley returned to Baton Rouge, becoming the Assistant Education Director of Theatre Baton Rouge, and the drama teacher at St. George Catholic School.

In discussing her excitement about joining the St. James family, Haley said, "Since the first moment I stepped into St. James, it has felt like a well of love and potential. I'm so honored to join this community and to have my passion for children and youth mix with your passion for the St. James church family. Together, I truly believe we will grow to be bigger and brighter than we already are. I look forward to becoming a part of this community, learning your hopes for these programs, and beginning our work toward making them a reality." 




Interim Head of School Announcement

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

The Board and I are happy to announce the Rev. Dr. Michael Kuhn has been named Interim Head of School for the 2019-2020 Academic Year. After initial candidates were considered, the Board invited Fr. Michael to further explore this possibility. After meeting one-on-one with Fr. Michael, the support from the Board was overwhelmingly unanimous and he has accepted the position.

Fr. Michael will officially join the St. James Episcopal Day School family on June 1, 2019. In order to help prepare for the transition, he will join us this Friday, May 10, at our regularly scheduled school Eucharist at 8:15 a.m. Immediately following the service, parents are invited to the parlor for coffee and an opportunity to meet Fr. Michael. Following this introductory meeting, Fr. Michael has requested a tour of the school with an opportunity to begin meeting the students, faculty, and staff.

Fr. Michael comes to us with more than three-decades of experience in Episcopal school education. Shortly after being ordained, he served as a Canon and school chaplain at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. After a short tenure as a rector in Boston, Fr. Michael received the call to serve at Trinity Episcopal School in New Orleans. After seven years of serving as chaplain, he was selected by Trinity’s search committee to serve as the next Head of School, a post Michael held for thirteen years. During a very successful tenure as Head of School at Trinity in New Orleans, Fr. Michael opened an early childhood program similar to the one at St. James, provided strong leadership during the community’s recovery following Hurricane Katrina, oversaw a multi-million dollar capital campaign to expand Trinity’s Preschool, increased salaries and benefits of faculty to ensure Trinity remained competitive, and lead the school through a ten-year accreditation process resulting in high praises from the accreditation team. Since finishing his tenure at Trinity, Fr. Michael returned to the classroom to serve as Assistant Head of School and Chaplain to the Lower and Middle Schools of St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Metairie, Louisiana.

Fr. Michael has lived in many places, being raised in Nashville, a graduate of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and a graduate of The General Theological Seminary in New York City. Father Michael has been ordained 37 years; about 32 of those years have been in Episcopal schools

We are excited to welcome Fr. Michael to St. James as he seeks to use his wealth of knowledge and experience to guide us through this next year.

Easter Blessings,

Fr. Chris, Rector



Head of School Announcement

Maundy Thursday, April 18, 2019


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

I am sorry to have to share with you that Lauren Ray, Head of School, gave her resignation effective immediately on Wednesday and it was accepted.

Although this news is difficult to share and receive, the Board and I take seriously our role to further build our incredible legacy of academic excellence while maintaining the kind and loving spirit for which the school is known. Ultimately, St. James School is about the people: students, parents, faculty, staff, and the entire church community.

During this time of transition, the immediate attention is to who is in-charge and what comes next. First off, as the Rector, know that I am and have always been the person charged with leading the school. The Rector is in effect a CEO-type figure over both church and school. Second, Fr. Ralph will join me in concluding the school year as acting Co-Head of School. Finally, Donna Lamonte, current Director of Curriculum, will assume additional responsibilities as Assistant Head of School.  The Board, Fr. Ralph, Mrs. Lamonte, and I are confident that we will finish the school year maintaining the high standards of our school.

The Board met last night to begin developing and implementing our transition plan. At this time, the Board has identified two possible interim candidates for the 2019-2020 school year so that an extensive search for the permanent Head of School can be performed. We are committed to keeping the entire St. James family, both the school and church communities, informed every step of the way.

It is an honor and privilege to care for and educate our amazing students. Therefore, in this season of transition, we invite you to join with us in prayer for guidance and discernment. Thank you for your commitment to the students and families of St. James Episcopal Day School.

If you have any questions or concerns, the Board and I invite you to call us directly.


The Rev. Chris Duncan, Rector
St. James Episcopal Church & School
205 N. 4th Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70801
o) 225-387-5141
c) 225-270-3448


The 2018-2019 Board of Trustees:

Jill Couvillon, President (225-721-3051)
Andy McCall, Vice President (225-933-2004)
Nicole Brien, Secretary (504-495-8056)
Will Eglin, Treasurer (225-278-3006)
The Rev. Ralph Howe Jr., Chaplain (225-247-9994)
Denise Allen, Church Sr. Warden (225-936-2302)
Shannon Blakeman, Board Member (337-296-2902)
Barbara Irwin Garon, Board Member (225-802-1370)
Bahin Leonard, Board Member (225-413-2045)
Erik Piazza, Board Member (225-803-1916)
Preston Q=Petersen, Board Member (225-806-7902)
Mike Rabalais, Board Member (225-362-4759)
Nancy Roberts, Board Member (225-931-5085)
Camile Silva, Board Member (225-892-4963)
Leslie Spencer, Board Member (225-270-3776)
David Trimble, Board Member (512-619-2587)



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