Who are we?
How do we live?
Where do we want to go?
Who Are We?
St. James’ Church is a welcoming and inclusive Eucharistic community that actively shares the love of Jesus Christ with each other, our city, and the world. We invite all inquirers and seekers to spiritual growth and work to empower them for meaningful service.
Established over 200 years ago as a summer parish on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, St. James’ is a neighborhood church where parishioners come and go to daily meetings, Bible studies, worship services, and quiet prayer, or just stop by to say hello. We passionately engage in mission and have done so since our earliest days. We value the ways our fine music enhances worship and our warm fellowship brings people together. We have seen the transformational power of stewardship to help us discern what God is calling us to give.
New York City brings complexity to our front doors. We live side by side: rich and poor, loud and quiet, crowded and lonely. The city is bustling with a range of ethnicities, faiths, noises, traffic, and an electricity that sometimes overwhelms us – but also exhilarates us. Our call remains to share Christ with all who walk through our doors. The young and the old from all backgrounds participate in our shared life together as disciples of Christ. Whenever we can, we gather more brothers and sisters in Christ to work together to build God’s kingdom. Everyone is welcome to contribute.
St. James’ has not only served our immediate surroundings, but also has extended its reach far beyond. Our church is known nationally and internationally for its commitment to serve those in need and for its courageous voice against injustice, racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of hatred and bigotry. In the ‘70s, our parish boldly helped to establish the Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter, the Nehemiah Housing Project in the South Bronx, and Episcopal Charities. We stood in solidarity with Desmond Tutu and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa in the ‘80s and ‘90s. In 2019, we publicly acknowledged the enslaved persons whose labor created wealth that made possible the founding of our church.
St. James’ also has been supportive of the gay rights movement. LGBTQ+ parishioners have long been active leaders in our congregation. With the endorsement of the Vestry, our Rector has hired several openly gay clergy and staff and welcomed their families. We have celebrated same-sex unions and performed same-sex marriages.
Our clergy, staff, and lay volunteers work side by side as a collaborative team in the pursuit of excellence in Christian ministries. We are proud of who we are and what we have done, but we also are humbled knowing there is so much more to do: to grow ever more in faith; to respond to the world’s needs; and to steward our building and our finances, which support so many of our ministries.
In short, we seek to be transformed by the Gospel so that we, in turn, can join in God’s work to transform the world. We invite you to learn more about us and to help us discern a call that would lead St. James’ forward.
How Do We Live?
We live out our calling to become followers of Christ every day, both as a community focused on the Gospel and as individuals growing in our own faith. Our lives are guided by Jesus’s call to follow him through our weekly celebrations of the Eucharist, daily prayer, Bible study, service and mission work, and financial giving.
At the center of our discipleship is Sunday worship. St. James’ offers four worship services every Sunday from September through May:
8:00 a.m. • Holy Eucharist
Held in our intimate chapel, this spoken Rite I service is frequented by those who want a quiet, simple introduction to the Sabbath.
9:10 a.m. • Family Eucharist
This Rite II service appeals to families of all ages whose children and youth take on important leadership roles in worship.
11:15 a.m. • Choral Eucharist
From soul-stirring music to ancient rites shared with the worldwide Anglican Communion, this Rite I service is rich in visual and verbal praise.
6:00 p.m. • Candlelight Communion
At dusk in our candlelit sanctuary, we close the Sabbath with reflective, calming worship graced by instrumental music and contemplative prayers.
In the summer, our Sunday schedule shifts to worship at 8:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., and 6:00 p.m. On Wednesdays at 8:00 a.m. throughout the year, a spoken Rite I service offers a time of prayer and reflection in the middle of the week.
Our vision of Christian life can be encapsulated in four words: pray, work, give, and grow.
We pray at regular gatherings, including our weekly Eucharist celebrations, and we support individuals in their own prayer journeys.
We work to serve our neighbors and the world by giving of ourselves and living out the kingdom here and now.
We give gifts of time, talent and money to God to be blessed and distributed.
Through praying, working, and giving, we grow as disciples, constantly pursuing a life that follows Jesus’ example.
Where Do We Want to Go?
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
As we seek to deepen our discipleship and to grow spiritually, we should leverage our strengths but also consider what could change to help us move forward. As a community, we have identified a number of challenges and opportunities, and we seek a Rector who looks forward to addressing them with us.
We seek a Rector who knows how to “keep the main event the main event” by staying centered in Jesus Christ. We seek someone who is a Gospel-focused preacher, a skilled teacher, and an authentic, patient listener. We want to grow as a community in Christ and in our faith, and we seek a Rector who wants to grow with us, personally and spiritually, while at St. James’.
St. James’ mission programs and our position in the broader community
Our current mission program is strong, with dedicated volunteers reaching diverse communities throughout New York City; however, we now have fewer volunteers to meet our community’s increasing needs. We want to broaden our offerings both locally and internationally.
We also want to reach beyond our neighborhood to be a stronger voice in the wider church community: for our diocese, for the national church, and for those of other denominations and faiths. As we deepen our commitment to justice, we must dare to state our positions on important issues while avoiding partisanship. For example, our clergy and Vestry issued a statement opposing the 2017 American ban on Muslim immigrants because, on a fundamental human level, the ban was discriminatory. In 2019, St. James’ acknowledged the role of enslaved people in the very foundation of our church, lamented our involvement in the slave trade, and presented parishioner scholarship on our history. We now have a memorial plaque near the Madison Avenue entrance, which reads as follows:
Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” — John 8:32
In solemn remembrance of the enslaved persons whose labor created wealth that made possible the founding of St. James’ Church, Hamilton Square, 1810
Christ, have mercy.
More recently, we have flown the Ukrainian flag and have displayed the rainbow colors of LGBTQ+ Pride in solidarity with our brothers and sisters. In keeping with our baptismal covenant, we want to strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.
We seek a Rector who wants to work with us to transform our community and our world.
Stewardship and spending
Though we have a strong stewardship program and many pledging members, our spending currently outpaces our budget, and we draw a greater amount from our portfolio than is fiscally sustainable. We do not want to cut back on our programs and staff; instead, we want to grow our stewardship to support all that we do.
Our Rector, Vestry, clergy and staff have made a serious commitment to our stewardship program, a labor-intensive and transformative effort that continues throughout the year. In order to build our financial stewardship, the Rector should value even the smallest gifts and be sensitive to each person’s capacity to give.
We seek a Rector who will make a steadfast commitment to growing stewardship for the long-term financial health of our parish.
Managing complexity and future change
Our new Rector should be eager to lead a large and complex parish and have relevant expertise to oversee the finances and administrative dynamics of our multifaceted church. The ideal Rector will be a collaborative leader who exhibits strong relational and managerial skills with integrity, transparency, and grace to initiate change amid complexity. The new Rector must delegate to capable staff and lay leaders, working successfully with and through others.
Post-COVID, we will need to be resized or reinvented, the mix of volunteers and staff recalibrated, and the church made nimble and sustainable to meet challenges and opportunities. All the while, parishioners will need to know what attracted them and keeps them at St. James’ endures, even as new strategies are implemented and ministries take fresh form.
We seek a visionary leader who will dream boldly about the future of St. James’ and creatively strategize with staff and lay leadership.
Our physical space
The beauty of St. James’ Church attracts people to us. The upkeep and maintenance of such a large structure is considerable, however, and we need to be proactive in taking care of our physical space. We are stewards of an expensive building subject to landmark district preservation requirements, one that is showing wear and tear from active use, and updating it may require a capital campaign. In addition, we should reconsider how we use our spaces so that they support our discipleship and mission.
We seek a Rector who will collaborate with the properties committee, clergy, and staff to initiate a study to reimagine the space needs of the parish and how to fund those needs.
Anticipated staff transitions
We are blessed with talented, experienced, and dedicated lay staff, several of whom have worked at St. James’ for more than 20 years. We anticipate that a number of staff members will retire within the next few years, and the next Rector will need to staff those key positions. These anticipated transitions have the potential to increase our anxiety.
We seek a Rector who will hire, inspire, and retain talented staff and commit to their professional development.
Online presence and communication
Our updated website is more easily navigable. Because of the pandemic, we have added online worship, forums, and Bible studies, which we plan to continue. Yet we need to upgrade our current technology, enhance our social media presence, increase clarity on our website, and improve our communication with parishioners and those who are curious about us.
We seek a Rector who is excited about improving our technology and communications.
“We have always done it this way”
As a parish, we are open to change, but we are challenged to discern what is essential to retain and what should be reimagined or reworked to more accurately suit today’s parishioners. As an example, many of our programs, particularly those that raise funds for the grants committee, rely on a group of volunteers who are available to attend and serve in programs during the work day. These programs are labor-intensive, and the dedicated corps of volunteers we have relied on for many years is aging without enough new volunteers stepping in. How might these programs be restructured or rethought to reach a wider group of congregants who are not able to volunteer during the work day? There are a number of programs and events to be examined and some difficult decisions that will need to be made.
We seek a Rector who will respect who we are but is not afraid to work with us to make changes needed to support our discipleship and mission.
Our four worship services are well-executed and offer a variety of options to parishioners. But we would like to increase our sense of community in the church across these four services.
Because of the pandemic, a number of parishioners have left New York City, and others are not attending church in person as frequently as they had. Many of our programs, particularly those involving families and young children, are not currently as robustly attended as they were prior to spring 2020.
More generally, we want to increase our membership and parishioner engagement. We wish to retain our teenagers after confirmation and increase their participation, and we need to continue to support a variety of groups, including young professionals, parents, LGBTQ+ parishioners, and older parishioners. We would like our congregation to be more fully representative of the New York City mosaic.
We seek a Rector who is a community-builder committed to attracting a larger, more diverse congregation.
New York City
New York City is a fast-paced, exciting environment, and the ideal Rector for St. James’ will be open to living in such a place and will appreciate both the opportunities and the challenges inherent in big-city living.
We seek a Rector who has a passion to embrace all that is New York City!
We Pray at St. James'
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
—1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Prayer deepens our discipleship and connects us as a community of believers. As our belief in the power of prayer grows, so does our desire to gather with one another in prayer.
At Sunday services, we are led through worship in joy and praise, offering prayers of confession, intercession, and the hope of renewed strength. Our pews hold people who are new to faith as well as those who have been worshiping at St. James’ their entire lives, and all of them say in unison, “Lord, hear our prayer.”
Extraordinary music is selected for worship services to complement scriptural readings and homilies and to amplify prayers. Whether we are listening to choral or instrumental music or are joining in singing hymns, music can touch our minds and our hearts. St. Augustine said it best: “To sing is to pray twice.”
Sunday prayers do not end with worship services. Pre-COVID, lay healing prayer ministers met parishioners for prayer in the chapel following worship. For now, every Sunday a dozen members of the healing prayer group phone parishioners who have requested prayers for themselves or others. These confidential prayers continue throughout the week, blessing both those who request them and those who pray for them. In the same spirit, our lay Eucharistic ministers bring the sacraments to St. James’ members at home and pray with those parishioners who may not be able to join the congregation in church.
Our parish prayer life continues during the week through study, worship services, and mission work. Parishioners gather online for morning and evening prayers, using the Daily Office as an instrument to build a prayerful community. Moving from the expected to the unexpected, a group of self-styled “prayer warriors” began meeting almost two decades ago as an extension of the Wednesday Bible study group. The 20+ members of this group lift up each name on the weekly bulletin’s prayer list; they also respond to individual prayer requests from parishioners, friends, and family. Our prayer life reflects our ongoing love and care for one another.
Prayer is incorporated into all meetings. Our Vestry dedicates the first portion of their monthly meetings to Bible study and prayer, with an invitation for each member to offer a prayer of thanks and a prayer of help for themselves or someone in need. Prayer opens each committee meeting, each weekly group meeting, and each Bible study. And at the end of each gathering, we pray that our hearts and minds may inwardly digest what we have heard and learned as we pursue our life of discipleship.
We Work at St. James'
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
God invites us to share in his ministry, so there are dozens of volunteer opportunities for all ages at St. James’. Some are short-term commitments, and others are long-term projects. Our clergy encourage us to dive into ministry areas that excite us, sometimes identifying our spiritual gifts for us when we may not see them in ourselves. Service opportunities allow us to serve our immediate community and to provide for those beyond St. James’.
These are just some of the ways our parishioners work to glorify God:
As the representative governing body of the parish, the Vestry works closely with the clergy as stewards of spiritual life, church finances, and property. The Vestry also sets the tone for volunteerism and lay leadership at St. James’.
“Being elected to serve on the St. James’ Vestry is an honor and a sacred trust. From this perspective it is impossible not to be awed and inspired by the commitment of our parish to spread the love of Christ to our city and the world.”
—Stephen de Francesco, Vestry Member
The Altar Guild prepares the sanctuary for worship on Sundays, weekdays, holy days, and special occasions, including weddings and funerals. They provide the bread and wine for Holy Eucharist and adorn the church with flowers. They purchase and care for altar linens, silver vessels, and clergy vestments, as well as altar frontals, kneelers, and cushions in the sanctuary.
“I was drawn to the contemplative quiet of the church early on Sunday mornings and to the meditative ritual of preparing the Lord’s table.”
—Elizabeth Chow, member of Altar Guild
Music is an essential element of the liturgy, unifying and heightening our response to the word of God and our communion at Christ’s table. The array of opportunities to make music at St. James’ challenges the professionals among us while offering the rest of us ways to express our faith through music. By participating in one of our choirs, adults and youth can contribute to our communal life in an active, vibrant way. By fostering a tradition of musical excellence, we become instruments through which God speaks, bringing the Gospel to life.
Daily Office Officiants, Acolytes, Chalice Bearers, Lay Readers, Lay Eucharistic Ministers, and Ministers of Healing Prayer
When we worship, we come to know God’s love and blessings in our daily lives. As a parish, St. James’ is committed to the twin goals of gathering weekly to encounter Christ in the Eucharist and engaging daily with God in prayer and Bible reading. Parishioners officiate for morning and evening prayers offered Monday through Friday online. Adults and children (beginning in third grade) serve in our Sunday services as ushers, acolytes, chalice bearers, and lay readers. Volunteers serve as lay Eucharistic ministers who bring communion to our homebound parishioners.
“St. James’ Church… is a parish deeply rooted in its neighborhood, its city and the world. Individual rectors have played a part, often a critical one, in developing those connections in different eras, but no rector can lead a congregation that doesn’t want to make such connections. St. James’, a parish I know well, is filled with people who want to live what they believe and make the good news of Christ visible in and for the world.”
—Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu
Rockwell Fellowship and Committee
St. James’ was one of two Episcopal churches invited to participate in the Lilly Endowment’s nationwide transition–into–ministry program for the mentoring of new clergy. The position of “Lilly Fellow” was created at St. James’ in 2003 as a clerical residency in which new priests are given active training and mentoring in all aspects of parish life. Originally funded by the Lilly Endowment, the fellowship was renamed the Rockwell Fellowship in 2018 in honor of a former rector, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Hays Rockwell. Since 2003, 11 newly ordained clergy have been mentored by the St. James’ Rector and the lay-led Rockwell Committee. The fellows have gone on to parish ministry, campus ministry, hospital chaplaincy, and one is a bishop. The position is currently on hiatus.
St. James’ mission ministries serve our neighbors in need and provide opportunities for parishioners of all ages and abilities to deepen their life of faith through service. Mission activities include our Community Kitchen, which provides Tuesday lunches and Friday dinners to approximately 100 neighbors experiencing food insecurity; a partnership with the Osborne Association’s Children, Youth and Family Services (CYFS), which supports children with incarcerated parents and their families; the Samaritan’s Closet, which offers clothing to those in need; St. James Fordham Food Pantry; a refugee ministry; a grants program focused on small community-based agencies in New York City; and a variety of partnerships with other churches and organizations both locally and internationally.
Parish Life Committee
The Parish Life Committee works to create fellowship opportunities across all age groups and to connect parishioners, including those who attend different Sunday services. Volunteering with Parish Life is a great way to meet people, make new friends, and grow in our collective faith. Parish Life organizes fundraising activities such as the Christmas Village Sale and the Second Time Around Sale, with all proceeds funding our grants committee.
Sunday School Teachers
Volunteer parishioners teach Sunday School classes for children of all ages between the 9:10 and 11:15 services. The Seasons of the Spirit curriculum, based on the lectionary, arts, and worship, is used in first through seventh grades. Our eighth graders are invited to take part in our confirmation program, led by staff and laity. With great intentionality, these leaders invest in the lives of our confirmands through a year-long program that extends beyond class time to include prayer practices, engagement in worship, and service through mission. Our high schoolers also are faithfully led in youth group by lay volunteers and staff.
“In 15 years of teaching 1st grade I think I learn more from the children than they do from me. Their enthusiasm and energy inspired me in teaching them about God’s love for all.”
—Casey Hutzler, Sunday School Teacher
Ushers welcome and assist all those attending Sunday morning worship services at St. James’. Youth serve at the 9:10 service and adults at the 11:15 service. In addition to welcoming every person who enters our doors, ushers take up the collection, invite individuals to communion, and together with the Vestry count the offering after the service.
We Give at St. James'
But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.
—1 Chronicles 29:14
Parishioners are called to give their time, talent, and money to the church. While there is economic diversity in the congregation and members may experience reversals of fortune, St. James’ continues to show an enormous capacity for generous giving. We are encouraged to give out of a sense of abundance, rather than of scarcity, and to manifest joy and thanksgiving in giving, rather than a sense of dutiful obligation.
Beginning in 2015, we shifted the focus of our stewardship efforts from paying the bills to discerning God’s will. Using Herb Miller’s New Consecration Sunday program, the parish has redefined what stewardship means, and that new understanding has found a place in our spiritual lives. We continually ask ourselves, what percentage of our income is God calling us to give? We are no longer setting aside just one day for stewardship; we are thinking about how stewardship fits into our lives throughout the year. This shift in our messaging is changing what financial giving means for our parishioners, deepening their sense of belonging in our community and making stewardship conversations a valuable part of how we reflect on God’s faithfulness to us.
Did You Know?
St. James’ launched a video series in mid-2021 for children and adults alike to help explain certain aspects of a worship service and special events in our liturgical year. One of our most popular “Did You Know?” videos centers on the offering plate and the presentation of our gifts.
The position of Vestry Officer for Stewardship was created with the commitment and support of the Rector and the Vestry. When the position was first created, the Vestry officer met weekly with the Rector, the Vicar, and key staff members. In 2018, the Wardens also committed their time to the weekly meetings and to the program. The Vestry Officer attends part of the monthly Vestry meetings. Consequently, the stewardship program is fully supported by all of our senior leadership. This profound commitment has resulted in significant growth at all levels of giving since 2016.
Consecration Sunday in mid-November provides a focal point to gather pledges for the upcoming calendar year. In the weeks leading up to it, parishioners share stewardship stories online, during church services, and in the weekly bulletin, testifying to how giving is integral to spiritual growth. These different modes of communication reach parishioners who regularly attend as well as those who may not be in-person each week.
Throughout the process, the Rector, clergy, and Vestry reinforce that message and encourage prayerful consideration. On Consecration Sunday, a guest preacher speaks to the scripture’s clear call to offer all that we have to God, and asks, “What percentage of my income is God calling me to give?”
In the weeks following Consecration Sunday, parishioners who have not yet committed are approached individually through mailings, emails, and calls by Vestry, clergy, and some staff. The Rector writes personalized thank-you notes to all who make a commitment, no matter the age or level of giving, and an alphabetical list of parishioners who have made a commitment is published in the weekly bulletin with a big “thank you” – which we hope encourages others to give. In addition to annual stewardship, St. James’ has been the beneficiary of generous gifts and bequests, which have truly transformed our financial capacity.
From time to time, St. James’ has mounted capital campaigns to fund building projects and to replenish the investment portfolio, and these campaigns have led to multi-year pledges over and above annual stewardship. Additional appeals for the Clergy Discretionary Fund and Altar Guild occur twice during the year.
We Grow at St. James'
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
As a community, we desire to deepen our understanding of Jesus Christ and to expand his role in our daily lives. To that end, we offer programs and ministries for all our parishioners – from our youngest to our oldest – to serve and to grow, individually and collectively. While all of us must pursue our individual faith journeys, it’s even more productive and more enjoyable when we work together.
Reinvigorated in 2017, our newcomer program now hosts five Sunday brunches for prospective new members during the course of the year. At these gatherings, the Rector, Vicar, and parishioners speak about our call to discipleship and the ways this parish has supported, nurtured, and helped our parishioners grow in faith and community. Our process also connects newcomers with current parishioners, staff, Vestry, and one another. Twice each year during worship services, we welcome into the parish new members who have signed a covenant to work, pray, and give for the work of God at St. James’.
Children and Family Ministry
Many young families are drawn to St. James’ because of the range of high-quality programming for children. We hope that our children and youth come to know two things: St. James’ is their church, and their presence and participation are essential to the life of the church.
We are a teaching parish that builds up the saints at all stages of life, and we share the love of God with the whole family in a variety of contexts:
- Family Eucharist at the 9:10 service with children and youth in leadership roles
- A monthly Children’s Eucharist at 9:10 with a special children’s sermon and opportunities for Sunday school class participation
- Thursdays for Families at St. James’, with worship and education followed by family dinner
- Children’s and youth choirs
- Monthly Helping Hands Sundays, with age-appropriate service opportunities
- Age-appropriate play groups
- Monthly Family Fridays and Friday Friends • Family Fridays are intergenerational fellowship events geared towards elementary school-aged families. Friday Friends provides fellowship and creates connection for middle school-aged youth, with high schoolers helping lead the events.
- Monthly parenting forums to support parents and caregivers in raising children in a life of faith
- An annual Christmas pageant (written in part by our children and youth) in which our children and youth present the familiar story in sometimes unfamiliar ways
Children and youth deepen their understanding of our common worship by leading the 9:10 service. As they progress, they have the opportunity to serve:
- Children 4+ are encouraged to sing in the choirs.
- Children in 3rd grade and above are invited to serve as acolytes.
- Children in 4th grade may lead the Decalogue during Advent and Lent.
- Youth in 5th grade and above are invited to read the lesson.
- Youth in 6th grade and above may lead the Prayers of the People.
- Youth in 8th grade and above may serve as ushers.
As our youth continue to grow, they are encouraged to pursue new opportunities.
The confirmation program prepares eighth graders to affirm that the promises made on their behalf at baptism will now be their own. By exploring scripture, Christian tradition and belief, worship, the sacraments, and mission, confirmands learn to deepen their spiritual faith in the context of a community that loves them, welcomes their curiosity, and provides avenues for meaningful service. Confirmation is not seen as a culminating event, but rather as a new beginning in a committed life of faith.
Confirmands participate fully in the life of the church. They worship regularly and serve in the 9:10 service. They take charge of the Friday night dinner program once a month, cooking dinner, serving guests, and washing dishes. They also lead all 8th through 12th graders in a service activity that they have chosen and planned.
Our older youth can engage in still more church activities. They continue to serve in the 9:10 service, during which 11th and 12th graders may serve as chalice bearers. They may participate in the Christmas pageant and the Good Friday children’s service, and they are encouraged to attend and volunteer at other parish-wide events throughout the year. High-schoolers throw an annual party for middle-schoolers; they also prepare an annual breakfast for their younger peers and join in the meal. There is a weekly Sunday morning youth group class. Youth take a mission trip each year, as well as various overnight trips. Friends are welcomed at all of these events.
Each year, one youth group member is invited to serve as Youth Representative on the Vestry, and another is selected to preach on Recognition Sunday.
“We acolytes have very important roles during each service.”
—Victor Garcia-Bory, Youth Acolyte
St. Jamesians ‘are parishioners in their 20s and 30s who meet for formation, service projects, and social events. This group connects young adults to one another and to the entire parish, and it provides spiritual guidance during a critical time in their professional, personal, and spiritual lives. Newcomers and friends who might also be looking for a church home are always welcome. An Associate for Youth and Young Adults works with the group on programming. The St. Jamesians’ are an essential part of the Episcopal Diocese of New York’s young adult network, which brings together Episcopalians in their 20s and 30s from parishes across the diocese for retreats, Bible studies, workshops, and social events.
St. James’ offers a variety of adult formation programs to inspire and equip parishioners as they seek to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ. We provide experiences and tools to engage with the Bible, prayer, and Christian teaching and spiritual practices. Parishioners have written and compiled devotional booklets during Advent and Lent, which are shared with the entire congregation.
Sunday forums, held between the 9:10 and 11:15 services, bring parishioners together for Christian formation and fellowship. Small groups meet during the week, and larger groups meet on weekends. St. James’ also offers pilgrimages and seasonal retreats for parishioners to spend time together and to grow more deeply in their faith.
To assess the state of spiritual growth at St. James’, the parish engaged in a program of self-reflection called RenewalWorks, centered around two parish-wide surveys, the first in 2015 and the second in 2018. The surveys were tools to capture a snapshot of the parish’s spiritual health and to help us deepen our relationship with God. They tabulated data on our spiritual beliefs and attitudes, our organized church activities, our personal spiritual practices, and our spiritual activities with others.
Frankly, the 2015 survey results were disheartening. We discovered that many parishioners, stalled in the early stages of spiritual growth, were fairly committed to their faith but still had a lot of questions. In the wake of this revelation, both the clergy and the Vestry went through a difficult period of soul-searching to discern a way forward. Survey results were analyzed, shared with the parish, and broadly discussed.
In response, we reimagined our adult formation program and focused more purposefully on Jesus. This led to the introduction of small group studies of the Bible, Education for Ministry, prayer retreats, and the Daily Office offered Monday through Friday. In addition, we placed Bibles in the pews to refer to scripture during worship.
Our second survey in 2018 noted significant personal spiritual growth. A remarkable number of parishioners had progressed in their faith, saying that they relied on God’s presence and power in their daily lives. It seemed that the very process of self-examination had catalyzed measurable spiritual growth. Ultimately, the RenewalWorks process re-energized the parish and deepened our collective faith by refocusing us on Jesus as the center of Christian life.
As opportunities for weekly reflection and learning, the Sunday forums constitute an essential part of our adult formation program. Our facilitators, both clergy and guest speakers, delve into topics important to our faith. Forums are often organized in six week-long thematic series that may dovetail with the seasons of the church or respond to salient issues in the wider world. The theme of healing in scripture, for example, was particularly useful as we began to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic in late 2021. A few years ago, we changed the forum’s set-up from rows of chairs to round tables seating eight because we wanted to encourage interaction and conversation and to become better acquainted with one another. Initially, some parishioners were hesitant to speak up, but gradually they found their way. Now, many look forward to these opportunities for fellowship and meaningful conversation.
In fall 2022, St. James’ is offering the Episcopal Church’s Sacred Ground curriculum for the third time. Small groups meet in person and online to walk through chapters of America’s history of race and racism, which weave in family stories and discussions about economic class and political and regional identities. Those who have completed the course (approximately 45 parishioners to date) say it is emotional and revelatory, and many have spoken publicly to encourage others to take part.
The Catechumenate is a 10-week immersive experience in Christian faith and practice, co-led by clergy and laity. It is offered for those who want to deepen their understanding of Christianity and to grow spiritually. Each year, 12 to 20 people participate: some who have never been a part of a church or are returning after a long absence, some from other faith traditions who find themselves drawn to Christ, some from other Christian denominations who want to explore the Episcopal tradition, and some life-long Episcopalians who want to explore their faith afresh. Participants learn about the sacraments and worship practices in the Episcopal Church, as well as different modes of prayer, which are introduced at each session and practiced throughout the week. The Catechumenate also serves as preparation for adults considering baptism or confirmation.
Education for Ministry (EfM)
EfM is a four-year certification program in theological education based on weekly small group study and practice. The program, created by the Sewanee School of Theology, has been offered at St. James’ since 2015. Highlights include two in-person retreats and the writing and sharing of spiritual biographies. Thirty-three participants have completed at least one year of study, and nine participants have completed the full program. The current cohort, led by two lay facilitators, meet primarily on Zoom. Each spring, the group holds a graduation ceremony in the chapel at St. James’, followed by a reception.
“I look forward every week to Wednesday Bible Study to center my week. Combining insightful group discussion of the Bible, intergenerational caring fellowship, and communal prayer deepen my Christian faith.”
—Anne Anthony, Bible Study participant
St. James’ clergy lead pilgrimages to the Holy Land every 18 months to two years. The fifth trip will take place in January 2023. Parishioners who have participated have returned with a deeper understanding of Jesus’ ministry and a desire to delve more deeply into the Gospel. For many, the pilgrimage has been a life-changing experience.
Past offerings have also included several pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela and one Civil Rights pilgrimage to the American South.
St. James’ has offered Advent and Lenten retreats, some held at St. James’ and others as weekends away. Clergy, staff, and outside leaders have facilitated these well–attended events, which provide time and space to slow down and experience the liturgical calendar in a meaningful way. In the fall of 2018 and of 2019, St. James’ hosted a parish weekend away, facilitated by a guest speaker. Many attendees relished these occasions to spend extended time with fellow parishioners.
During the course of the year, clergy and laity lead a variety of book studies focused on faith and its connection to social justice, spiritual growth, and Christian community. Some book studies address the needs of specific groups, such as parents, parishioners in their 20s and 30s, or LGBTQ+ parishioners. Book studies usually meet once per week for four to six weeks, a schedule designed to accommodate participants’ work and home commitments.
St. James’ has several ongoing small groups that meet weekly, including a men’s group, a moms’ Bible study group, a gay men’s book group, and a Bible study check-in.
St. James’ at a Glance
St. James’ Church is a community that actively shares the love of Jesus Christ with each other, our city, and the world.
We are called to grow in faith, whatever our stage in life and wherever we are in our personal journeys. We seek to know, love, and care for one another and to witness Christ through ministries of service, justice, and hope.
St. James’ is located at 865 Madison Avenue, on the corner of East 71st Street, one block from Central Park on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Our sanctuary and parish house were constructed in 1884-1845, dramatically reconfigured in 1924 by Ralph Adams Cram, and completely renovated in the early 2000s.
- A majority of parishioners live on the Upper East Side, and many walk to church or take public transportation. Other parishioners live in the five boroughs, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
- 1,559 total active baptized members in 2021 (1,600 in 2019, pre-pandemic)
- 304 average in-person Sunday attendance as of 6/30/22 (476 in 2019, pre-pandemic)
- Four in-person Sunday services, two of them also available online
- One weekday Eucharist
- Ten weekly online services of the Daily Office (Morning and Evening Prayer)
CLERGY AND LAY STAFF
- Three full-time priests
- One part-time priest
- One Rockwell Fellow (mentoring program for newly ordained priests, currently on hiatus)
- 25 lay staff (full and part-time)
COMMITTEES, GUILDS, AND GROUPS
- Adult Formation
- Altar Guild
- Children & Families
- Membership & Evangelism
- Parish Life
- Rockwell Program
- St. Jamesians’ (20s/30s group)
- Usher Corps
- Vestry Nominations
- Youth Committee
- Youth Group
Two adult choirs:
- Canterbury Choir (volunteer choristers with four professional section leaders)
- Compostela Choir (professional choristers and auditioned volunteers)
Four children’s choirs:
- Cherub Choir (ages 4-5)
- Primary Choir (ages 6-8)
- Junior Choir (ages 8-10)
- Youth Choir (ages 11-18)
- 60 adults engaged in weekly religious education in 2021 (172 in 2019)
- 50 children engaged in weekly Sunday school in 2021 (255 in 2019)
- 25 Youth in Confirmation class in 2021 (22 in 2019)
- One clergy-led weekly Bible study
- Sacred Ground
- Education for Ministry
- Book studies
- Small groups: men’s group, mothers’ Bible study group, gay men’s book study, Bible study group check-in
- Five weekly playgroups for children under six
- Thursdays at St. James’: weekly family education, worship and family dinner with the Eucharist celebrated monthly
- Family Fridays and Friday Friends: monthly family program with a service project, pizza, and family activity
- Clergy and lay volunteers visit, listen to, and pray with parishioners who are experiencing difficulties
- Lay Eucharistic Ministry
- Healing Prayer Ministry
MISSION AND OUTREACH
- Community Kitchen: a twice-weekly meal program at St. James’, serving hot meals to 100+ guests
- Samaritan’s Closet: a free clothing resource
- The Osborne Association’s Children, Youth and Family Services: partnership supporting children with incarcerated parents
- Helping Hands: children and youth service projects
- Grants Committee: $60,000 awarded in 2022 to 11 local community organizations
- A New Refugee/Migration Ministry
- Clergy Discretionary Fund: for people in need, both parishioners and our neighbors
- Partnerships with local Episcopal churches:
- St. James’ Fordham’s Food Pantry
- St. Ann’s in the South Bronx’s community garden and summer youth programs
421 signed pledge cards
$2,664,481 total pledged
$2,724,000 total pledged and non-pledged gifts
2022 (as of 9/8/22)
369 signed pledge cards
$2,570,000 total pledges
- St. James’ has a 2022 budget of $5,912,000.
- 46% of the budget is funded by stewardship and 14% by other revenue. The remainder comes from the portfolio.
- The value of the portfolio as of 9/30/22 was $17,911,667.
The church does not presently have any debt. However, in January 2023, we are scheduled to close on a new rectory purchase which will require short-term borrowing to be repaid from sale proceeds of the current rectory.
To apply for the position of Rector at St. James’ Church, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your cover letter, resume, and OTM profile. Additionally, please respond to the following questions.
- What draws you to St. James’?
- What originally moved you to accept God’s call to ordained ministry?
- How is your experience relevant to what St. James’ is seeking in our next Rector, who will be leading a large and complicated organization?
Please cc The Rev. Canon Nora Smith, Canon for Transition Ministry at the Diocese of New York: email@example.com. Application packages will be accepted until November 18, 2022.
We seek a diverse group of candidates that reflect the full breadth of our Episcopal community.