"This is my commandment, that you love one another
as I have loved you."
-- John 15:12
St. James has always strived to be present to the needs around us. Indeed, some of the early church records reveal the rector sharing funds "at the ferry," or "for the doctor." At its 1982 triennial convention in New Orleans, the Episcopal Church adopted the tithe (10 percent) as the minimum standard of financial giving. The St. James vestry proposed that this applies not only to parishioners, but to the amount pledged to the church each year less the diocesan assement, and established an increasing scale of giving intended to reach the tithe, directing:
"Those funds considered to be tithed by the church should be used for the Lord's work outside our own parish, and particularly … for the relief and succor of those who are homeless, ill, starving, alone, without access to the Lord's word, or otherwise in great physical or spiritual need in our country and throughout the world."
Current outreach programs of the St. James parish include:
Boy Scout Troop 5 of the Istrouma Area Council is the oldest Scout troop in the Baton Rouge area still active, having been sponsored by St. James Episcopal Church for over 80 years.
Boy Scout Troop 5 had four Scouts earn the Eagle designation this past year:
- Justin Thornton's Eagle project involved creating duck breeding boxes and he installed them throughout Bluebonnet Swamp to help increase local populations of indigenous ducks in our area.
- Jordan Thornton earned his Eagle award soon after his brother reached that designation. Jordan worked with City officials to repaint and refurbish local fire hydrants in his neighborhood, aided by other Scouts in Troop 5.
- Jesse Clifton, a McKinley High School Senior, coordinated donations and volunteers to fill care packages for Troops in Afghanistan and Iraq with items that are not easily available to soldiers serving overseas, such as cards and games, music, paperback books, candy, and Mardi Gras beads. Personal items such as luxury soap and perfume were also requested. The cost of mailing the care packages was also covered by donations that Jesse was able to secure.
- Michael Taboada, an LSU Freshman, worked with Troop 5 members to label LSU buildings with Braille signs indicating the locations of restrooms throughout the campus. Michael is the first blind Scout in Baton Rouge to achieve the Eagle Rank. He showed the other members of the troop how important it is to apply the labeling the right side up, since the braille dots could easily say something else completely if placed incorrectly!
If you know a boy between the ages of 11 and 17 who would like to join this dynamic troop, please contact Scoutmaster Paul Clifton at 225-939-1317. In addition to monthly campouts and excursions, Troop 5 meets each Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. in a Scout-built cabin behind Jefferson United Methodist Church on Jefferson Highway.
The Greeters Guild is a team of volunteers who provide the "first impression" at the reception center in the Ministries Center on weekdays. Greeters answer the telephone (training on the phone system is provided), and provide access to the office building. They get to know and care about our neighbors who may be coming by to pick up a We Care bag. Volunteer time is in shifts of three hours at the frequency you desire and is needed.
St. James Food Pantry was opened twenty-six years ago. It is a designated distribution site of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank for the St. James neighborhood zip code area. Items received from the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank are supplemented by food and monetary donations so that a well-rounded menu of food items can be distributed. Volunteers meet on the first and third Wednesdays of each month at 8:00 a.m. to bag and distribute food to recipients, who are interviewed to determine their particular situational needs for amount and frequency of distribution.
Particular items are nearly always in need for the Food Pantry so that, with the bulk distribution from the Food Bank, dietary needs can be met. You can download a list here to carry with you while doing your shopping, or in assisting the type of other contribution you'd like to make to the St. James Food Pantry.
Volunteers are always welcome, and often greatly needed! The twice-monthly distribution begins at 8:00 a.m. and is usually complete within two hours. Contact Kelly Williams (phone 225-387-5141) or Allen Paterson for more information.
We Care is a feeding ministry directed to those among and around us who do not have access to adequate housing or kitchen facilities. Lunch bags of ready-to-eat food are distributed from the Ministries Center each weekday morning (until 50, what our budget allows, have been given out), along with a note, picture, or Bible verse prepared by the Day School students. The bags supply a small part of the nutritional needs of many of our homeless and transitional neighbors. The supply list for the typical bag includes a protein item, crackers or nutrition bar, fruit cup, dessert cup and bottled water. Perhaps you'd like to purchase one or more of these items at your next trip to a warehouse store, or contribute an amount to cover some item(s). The We Care shopping list is available here, or you can make an online donation through Online Giving, or buy a bag, or two, or twenty! right here with your check, debit or credit card.
The Angel Tree Project has been supported by parishioners of St. James Episcopal Church for over twenty-five years. Nancy Penn heralds this project which provides gifts to children of indigent prisoners at Christmas through AngelTree.org. The receipt of a few presents, along with Biblical books or coloring projects, helps to remind these children who through no fault of their own may otherwise do without, that God's love will sustain them through difficult times. Look for the Angel Tree call for volunteers in mid- to late November and consider being part of this reminder of Jesus' admonition to, "Love one another."
Kairos is an international, interdenominational ministry often described as a Cursillo for prisoners. Parishioners from St. James have been part of and/or led Kairos teams into Angola and the St. Gabriel Women's Prison for several years. These volunteers have committed themselves to several training sessions and retreat in preparation for the weekend Kairos program inside the prison. Because the basis of Kairos is the free grace offered by God, the Kairos volunteers bring in notes and cookies for the prisoners -- a Kairos team members needs 100 dozen cookies for a weekend at Angola! Parishioners and their friends step up to make and bag the cookies for the Kairos volunteer. We'll publish in our online and print newsletter when someone from St. James is next going on a Kairos weekend, so you can help, too! For more information about becoming a Kairos volunteer, please contact Kelly Williams, Director of Lay Ministries.
The St. James Christmas Dinner is a mid-December event for our homeless neighbors with gifts, entertainment and a traditional Christmas meal. In 2010, parishioners donated materials and/or constructed winter scarves for their gift bags, along with gloves and toiletries. Look for announcements in the fall for planning and active help needed to make this a day that gives as much to those involved as our guests.