St. James Episcopal Church is located in Leesburg Florida, which is geographically in 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 73 parishes in the Diocese of Central Florida. The Diocesan headquarters and Cathedral are in Orlando, approximately forty-five miles away.
We celebrate our past, embrace the present and look forward to an exciting and blessed future. As a loving parish that is not content to remain within the comfort and safety of its historic walls, we seek to journey out into the diverse community and world sharing our blessings, talent and most importantly, the saving message of Jesus Christ
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.
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 35 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.
The ladies, who met at Jody’s home, every other Thursday from January to September back then, followed patterns and directions gathered by Jody. In the group were 13 friends, members of St. James.
“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. She was a member of the Lutheran Church of the Ascension in Danville, VA.
The Chrismons you see today are the original ornaments, a testament to the love and care manifested by those 13 ladies who worked so faithfully to prepare them 35 years ago. Many thanks and kudos to all the crew for a lovely gift that keeps on giving.
St. James’ Epiphany Star was created by Ronald Young in 2010 out of stained glass. Epiphany is a Christian Festival observed on January 6, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles in the persons of the Magi, (Twelfth-Day). It’s construction consumed over 10 hours due to the heavy duty reinforcement needed to assure longevity. The glass that was used is clear Raindrop Iridized which gives a very sparkling effect. In 2012 the star was cracked in two of the panels when a ladder crashed into it. 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
The demographics of our parish family reveal that most of our members are seniors over the age of 50, with the next largest percentages being under the age of 30. A large number of our parish family has attended St. James for over 20 years but newcomers to the area continue to join the parish. Our Sunday attendance varies between summer and winter, with an annual average of 200. All Sunday services are Celebrations of the Holy Eucharist and our mid-week service each Thursday also includes the Sacrament of Holy Unction for those so desiring. Rite I is used at our early Sunday service and Rite II at the later service.
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 14-member 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 Christian Education and Ministries buttons on the home page.