St. James History

Founded in 1895

  • St. James began as a $5000 stone church on the corner of Maple and Chester
  • We launched the Birmingham Community House in 1923
  • The years between 1949 and 1955 marked building additions, renovations and damage  repair following a 1953 fire
  • Lord Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury, visited St. James as guest preacher in 1962

Our Bells Ring Out Daily

  • Thirty-five bronze bells cast by the Dutch firm Petit & Fritzen, founded in 1660, were installed during 1965
  • The bells are located in the bell tower (campanile) surmounted by a large cross
  • St. James carillon bells share the message of Christ’s love to all who live, work and pass through downtown Birmingham

Ed Proctor, St. James parishioner, wrote this lovely poem to share the special meaning of the carillon for him and for his wife, Carrie

      I love to hear the church bells ring
      In the middle of the day
      The world around me comes alive
      My cares all fade away

      The delightful chiming of the bells
      What happy thoughts they bring
      When they play a favorite hymn
      They make me want to sing

      The wondrous music of the bells
      Remind me of His grace
      When I hear the bells, I know
      I’m in a special place

St. James Symbol is a Scallop Shell

  • The scallop shell reminds us of the work and ministry of the Apostle, St. James the Greater, son of Zebedee and brother of the Apostle John
  • The Way of St. James to the Shrine of Santiago de Compostela in Spain has been a popular pilgrimage route from the Middle Ages to today
  • St. James is the patron saint of Spain and of pilgrims
  • Pilgrimage traditions include wearing a scallop shell and using a shell as a drinking vessel
  • The large north-facing stained glass window in St. James nave depicts three scallop shells along with a staff and purse, typical equipment of a pilgrim