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.