About St. James Episcopal Church
In 1885, a small group of sixteen people met to organize The Protestant Episcopal Society of Leesburg. Soon thereafter, the mission was formed, and by 1886 there were 157 members. On September 1, 1889, the first service was held in the new Florida Gothic style church. Over the course of the years, the original parish house (now our chapel), the parish hall with a veranda, the classroom/administrative building and St. Nicholas House were added. A garden of flowering shrubs and plants in the courtyard provides an attractive and peaceful centerpiece for the property.
St. James Episcopal Church is located in Leesburg, Florida, which is geographically the “Heart of Florida”, equidistant from the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Gulf of Mexico on the west. Hundreds of lakes and surrounding green, rolling hills are in contrast to the nearby metropolitan Orlando area with its theme parks and commerce. St. James is one of 81 parishes in the Diocese of Central Florida. The Diocesan headquarters and Cathedral are in Orlando, approximately forty-five miles away.
Our Chrismon Tree, shining brightly and beautifully by the Madonna and Child to the left of the altar during the Christmas season, has been a tradition for 40 years at St. James. It was a gift from the Episcopal Church Women, who were inspired by Jody Stokes to decorate a lovely tree with Christian symbols, all handmade, to enhance our sanctuary during the holidays. “Chrismon” is a combination of two words, Christ and monogram, used to describe a symbol for the life of Jesus. The first Chrismon tree was conceived by Frances Spencer in 1957. The Chrismons you see today are the original ornaments, a testament to the love and care manifested by 13 ladies who worked to faithfully to prepare them many years ago.
St. James’ Epiphany Star was created by Ronald Young in 2010 out of stained glass. Epiphany is a Christian Festival observed on January 5 (Twelfth Day), commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles in the persons of the Magi. Its construction consumed over 10 hours. The glass that was used is clear Raindrop Iridized which gives a very sparkling effect. In 2012 the star was damaged. The repair required a complete dismantling and reconstruction of the Star. Although it is displayed during the Epiphany season, it is sometimes used during Advent as well. Hopefully the star will shine and emit many reflections for many years in our beloved St. James.
A Snapshot of Our People and Our Programs
A large number of our parish family has attended St. James for over 20 years, and newcomers to the area continue to join the parish. Our Sunday attendance is an annual average of approximately 200. Rite I is used at our early Sunday service at 8:00 a.m. and Rite II at the later service at 10:15 a.m. All Sunday services are Celebrations of the Holy Eucharist, and our mid-week service each Thursday at 10:00 a.m. is a healing and anointing service. We also have special services during the year, particularly surrounding Christmas, and during Lent leading up to Easter. Included in our offerings during Lent have been dramatic presentations of “Women Who Knew Jesus”, and “The Last Supper” (on Maundy Thursday), celebrations of the Stations of the Cross and a Passover Seder.
We have recently completed our first Alpha course, which was a tremendous success, and had a significant impact on those who attended, both members and non-members. We anticipate that the Alpha courses will become regular, periodic presentations at St. James.
Fr. Thomas Trees was installed as the Rector at St. James in February, 2014.
Under the leadership of the Rector and the Senior Warden, the 12 vestry members are responsible for the property and for determining the policies and goals of the parish. They are also charged with communicating the goals, concerns and functions of the Church to the parishioners.
We are truly blessed with a support staff of retired assisting Clergy who supplement and complement our service schedules. In addition, they add invaluable service assisting the Rector in a variety of activities throughout the year.
Lay Eucharistic Ministers are licensed by the Bishop to administer the consecrated elements of the Eucharist. Lay Eucharistic Visitors are licensed to go from a Sunday Eucharist or other principal celebration of the Eucharist to share the sacrament with members of the congregation who were unable to be present at the celebration because of illness or infirmity. Lay Eucharistic Ministers may be licensed for either or both ministries. We are also fortunate to have trained lectors who read lessons at the services.
For detailed information about our programs and activities, select the Ministries and Grow and Learn buttons on the home page.