Who We Are
A Brief History
St. James was founded in 1844 as the first Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge, and the fourth in Louisiana. We've always been on Fourth Street, although the street was at one time called Church Street. The first church was a white frame building, seen in this photo to the left of the Easter parade lined up in front of the old rectory.
Our Gothic revival church at the corner of Fourth and Convention was built in 1894 and is a landmark in Baton Rouge. Designed in the traditional cruciform style with an eastward altar, the red brick with red-tinged mortar is a classic look; the interior is a stunning array of mahogany beams and buttresses. The altar is surrounded by three Tiffany windows; the life of Christ is portrayed in stained glass windows surrounding the nave and narthex.*
While we've always been in the same place, St. James is a church on the move! It's a place to grow spiritually, a place to make new friends, a place to serve God with your own special talents. For over 150 years, St. James has continued its mission of service to members of the parish and the greater community of our neighborhood, the city and the world.
A Tradition of Service and Excellence
The St. James Episcopal Day School was begun in 1950. Our students from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade comfortably explore new concepts and share their ideas in classrooms that are warm, nurturing, Christian communities for learning. Teachers encourage even the youngest students to "learn by doing." Because each student develops and matures at their own pace, the teachers encourage each child to reach his/her potential with careful consideration being given to individual learning styles. Along with the academic curriculum the students are taught respect, responsibility, and values that are essential in helping the students become global citizens in the 21st century. In 2009, the St. James Episcopal Day School was the only private elementary school in Louisiana recognized as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. Extended daycare is provided until 5:30 p.m.
The Episcopal School of Baton Rouge grew out of St. James Day School. Fifty acres of land was acquired in 1966 in eastern Baton Rouge for what was originally a middle/high school. Today Episcopal School is a premier private coeducational institution.
A Tradition of Outreach
In January 1983, the first residents moved into St. James Place, a full service continuing care retirement community. Two former rectors of St. James, the Rt. Rev. Robert Witcher and the Rt. Rev. James Coleman, nurtured the idea for St. James Place.
St. James Episcopal Church had the vision to expand its ministry beyond downtown. It founded or assisted in starting four Episcopal churches in Baton Rouge: St. Michael's, Trinity, St. Augustine's and St. Luke's. St. James' initiative also resulted in the Episcopal Student Center, St. Alban's Episcopal Chapel, on the campus of LSU at the corner of Dalrymple and Highland Roads.
St. James Center for Spiritual Formation offers training to lay persons in the three sides of faithful life: spirituality, knowledge and action. Persons of various religious traditions are welcome to participate in the enriching programs offered by The Center, providing "food for the journey."
*An excellent source for the researched historical information of St. James Episcopal Church is Edward L. Bond's book published during our sesquicentennial year, "St. James Episcopal Church, Baton Rouge: A history, 1844-1994." Copies are available from St. James Episcopal Church.