St. James Episcopal Church has been in the heart of Baton Rouge since the early days of the city. Originally located on what was known as Church Street, St. James currently stands at the corner of Fourth and Convention Streets. Our original church was constructed in the 1840s and survived tornadoes, yellow fever, the Battle of Baton Rouge, occupation in post-Civil War years, and Reconstruction. The current church building was financed with a capital campaign seeded by the Easter Offering of 1890. By the spring of 1895, St. James had begun construction of the new building — the church we know and love today.
The first services in the new St. James Episcopal Church were conducted on June 21, 1896. The building was celebrated as a magnificent new church and adornment to the city of Baton Rouge. St. James Episcopal Church is today a vibrant member of downtown Baton Rouge and an important member of the league of churches located here.
The parish’s footprint has changed and grown over the years, increasing with a Day School as well as additional ministry facilities and spaces. St. James has an active community of spiritual leadership, lay leadership, and volunteers working cooperatively to provide spiritual, educational, social, and service ministries to the Baton Rouge area.
We are a parish community of over 1500 members. Our Day School community comprises about 300 students. Our outreach through mission and ministry reaches another 1000 persons throughout the area, providing lunches to many. Our founding and continuing connection to St. James Place extends the reach of our community to another 300 individuals.
1819 – A small group of Episcopalians with no rector formed the beginnings of St. James.
1820 – 1830 – The Episcopal Congregation of Baton Rouge existed without a charter, but with a priest.
1843-1844 – Mrs. Zachary Taylor gathered a group of Episcopalians to receive a charter of incorporation from the Louisiana legislature.
1844 – Founded, first Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge with 20 communicants.
1845 – The Episcopal community meets to organize “The Church of St. James”, acquires a sanctuary, and organizes a Sunday School.
1887 – Baptismal Font offered in memory of the Union General Thomas Williams, Major in the Fifth U.S. Artillery and Brigadier General of the U.S. Volunteers, from his son.
1894 – Gothic Revival church built, corner of Fourth and Convention.
1896 – First services were conducted in the new building.
1906 – Thirty-three carved lancet panels surrounding the altar are completed by the Rev. Joseph L. Tucker, rector of St. James.
1908 – First mention of “The Messenger”.
1910 – Tiffany windows installed and dedicated.
1948 – St. James Episcopal Day School started.
1951 – The school was given official status as a ministry of St. James Church.
1965 – Episcopal High School established for middle and high school students as an extension of the Day School.
1983 – St. James Place established as a total life-care retirement community.
1984 – Food ministry is established.
1986 – The St. James Needlepoint Guild delivers completed needlepoint kneelers for the altar rail to the church. The project took three years.
2009 – St. James Episcopal Day School recognized as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.
2001 – Dedication of the Ministry Center.
2003 – St. James Gumbo reaches its 51st year. “We Care Bags” homeless food ministry started as I CARE. Dedication of Bishops Hall.
2007 – Remaining lancets are filled with new carvings to compliment those of Rev. Tucker, under the supervision of the Very Rev. J. Mark Holland.
2013 – St. James Treble Choir formed.
2020 – Historic Church Renovation completed. (pictured right)