History of St. James

1870 – Early settlers in the little frontier village of Fergus Falls, George F. Cowing, Jacob Austin and George Head, played an active part in the organization of Saint James’ Parish.

1872 - The first Episcopal Church Service in Fergus Falls was held in June. The Rev. George Stewart came on horseback from Sauk Center. Jacob Austin proposed erecting a church building. While on his way to White Earth, the Bishop Whipple stopped here on August 5th. He held the second service. Bishop Whipple was Minnesota’s first Episcopal Bishop. Committees were appointed to secure a site and subscriptions for a church building.

1881 - A site for the church building was secured in the Oak Grove at the head of Court Street on the south shore of Lake Alice. Mr. George Head donated the land for the church. Previous church services were held in homes and in the Presbyterian and Congregational Churches.

1882 - The Episcopal Church building was erected during the summer and fall at a cost of $2500.00. The first service was on Christmas Day by the 1st Rector of the church, The Rev. F.B. Nash. The Weekly Journal states “The decorations in the new church were most tasteful and beautiful; the special service very impressive, with an eloquent sermon by The Rev. Mr. Nash.”

1883 - The church was enlarged.

1884 - St. James’ Episcopal Parish was legally incorporated.

1886 - The Rev. Samuel Mills resided in a house on Broadway belonging to the Lowry Brothers. This was the rector’s home.

1887 - The young people of the Parish organized under the “Guild of St. Faith”. The rector’s house on Broadway burned and the Parish records were destroyed with names of people and accounts of early events hopelessly gone.

1892 - A pipe organ costing $1,200.00 was dedicated in May.

1895 - The congregation included 40 families.

1919 - On a sweltering hot Sunday, June 22nd, a tornado wrought destruction and death in Fergus Falls. St. James’ was completely destroyed, the frame of the building being reduced to kindling. It is believed that the church bell was blown into Lake Alice. The Altar Cross was retrieved from the debris and is still a focal point of the church.

1921 - Plans were made for a new church building.

1922 - The cornerstone of the present church was laid on April 9th. The building was Consecrated (free of debt) on December 31st. This was forty years and one week after the first service in the first frame building on this site.

1927 – A new pipe organ was dedicated on Christmas Day.

Throughout the following years St. James’ was very active. Including The Girl’s Friendly Society, Church Vestry, Altar Guild, ECW (Episcopal Church Women) Church Choir

1998 - The Roger Dell Educational Wing was completed. Much of the work was done by church members. A new bell tower was erected, donated by an anonymous donor. On Christmas Eve 1998, the bell was ringing for the first time since 1919.

The Episcopal Church (TEC) traces its origins back to the Church of England, which was created by King Henry VIII of England in the midst of violent religious disagreements of the 16thcentury. This was the time of the Reformation, and after several disagreements with the pope, King Henry VIII cut ties with the Roman Catholic Church and declared himself the head of the newly independent Church of England – also known as the Anglican Church. The Church of England spread through colonization. However, after the American Revolution, the Anglican congregations in the newly independent United States wanted their church to be free of the King of England as well as their country. Thus, they reorganized themselves and created a new church. The word “Episcopal” was chosen to emphasize the historic ministry of bishops, priests and deacons. Today, TEC is a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which is the third largest body of Christians in the world, after the Roman Catholic and Eastern orthodox communions.

St. James exists to be the heart and hands of Christ in community.
Welcome - Adult Sunday School at 9:00 AM - Worship at 10:30 AM