St. James'

Who We Are

Historic, Socially responsive, "broad church"

St. James' is a small congregation with a big history. Founded by movers and shakers of the early US, its members included the founder of Columbia Medical School and New York Hospital. We have counted among our leaders two governors and one US president along with a host of colorful characters (such as Alexander Hamilton's second at his fateful duel). St. James' is the first parish to play host to the King and Queen of England, as well as the Queen of the Netherlands. Our most famous parishioners were Franklin D. Roosevelt, who served as senior warden, and Eleanor Roosevelt.
History is only one part of our life, however. From the very beginning, St. James' has been socially conscious. The first rector started a school for slaves and free blacks, believing education was their ticket to a better and more equal life. This progressed to building the town's oldest surviving school building which then became the town's first library.
Today, that spirit continues with a nursery school that brings the best socialization skills to the broadest range of children. We build on that with a reading program that works in concert with the public school district to help children fall in love with learning before they lose heart. We also have a new community garden focusing on providing fresh produce for the local food pantry and overnight shelter.
Our worship is classic, broad church Episcopal prayer book liturgy. It is familiar and punctuated by the warmth of its members. Yet, our interest is not merely to be a "feel good" society. We are here to be transformed and believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will do just that for each of us in our own way.

Our Services

Service Times

  • 08:00am - Traditional Rite I, Book of Common Prayer

What to Expect

What are services like?
The services are straightforward Book of Common Prayer. At 8:00 a.m., it is Rite I ("traditional" language), with no music. At 10:00 a.m., it is the more contemporary Rite II, and there is music and choir. The sermon is usually by the priest or one of the deacons, though occasionally a parishioner will preach. The rector alternates between preaching in the pulpit or in the aisle. We have communion at all our services. At the end of the service on the first Sunday of the month, the rector remains at the altar rail to offer laying on of hands and anointing with oil for healing. Sunday School takes place during the first half of the service, and the kids come into church during the passing of the Peace (which can take awhile here!). We don't worry about noisy kids - they're part of the fabric that is the Body of Christ. There are two wheelchair accessible pews - one in the back and one in the middle of the church.

What is the community like?
The congregation is a multigenerational group. There are a few young people at the 8:00 a.m. service, but most younger families choose to attend the 10:00 a.m. Demographically, it reflects the surrounding community with is mostly of European descent. There are several other cultures represented, however, which adds to the texture and joy of our community. While not a big part of our identity, we have gay members who are strong leaders in the parish.

What if I'm not a Christian?
You're welcome here regardless of your faith. This is a Christian church and our worship and teaching reflect faith in Jesus Christ. However, our faith also calls us to welcome all people as Christ himself, and we are more than happy to do just that. For those who come as guests, we will do what we can to make them feel like the honored guests they are. For those who come with questions, it's our joy to be able to share our faith, tell our stories, and answer to the best of our ability what we can - but always with the awareness that most of the answers we can provide will only provoke more questions.


Chuck  Kramer

Chuck Kramer

Fr. Chuck Kramer grew up in Decatur, Illinois, the fifth of six children. He studied German and Journalism at Indiana University, studying in Germany for two years, living with German families all the while. He earned a Masters of Arts for Teaching at Indiana in 1987 before moving to New York City to attend General Theological Seminary. He graduated and was ordained in 1990. He served first at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Peekskill, New York, where he met and married Elizabeth Granados. They have two teenage sons now. After five years in Peekskill, he became rector of St. Mary's Church in Morganton, North Carolina. In 1997, they returned to New York where Fr. Kramer became rector of St. James'. He loves writing stories, writes a weekly column for the local paper, and also enjoys playing music (tuba) and hockey (right wing).


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