St. James was established as a Mission in 1879 by the Rev. D.O. Kelley, a missionary who travelled throughout the San Joaquin valley. A small brick church was consecrated on December 7, 1884 at Fresno and N streets and became the first Anglican congregation in Fresno County. The mission attained parish status on Eastertide 1888, with Fr. Kelley as the first Rector. On September 10, 1894, Bishop Nichols of California established the San Joaquin Convocation. In 1901, the original church building was demolished and a new brick church and rectory were erected. The rectory was later used as church offices and for Sunday School classrooms. In 1910, Fresno became the See City of the new Missionary District of San Joaquin with Louis Childs Sanford as the first Bishop (1911-1942). In 1911 St. James was designated as the Pro-Cathedral, and in 1925 it became the Cathedral Church of the Missionary District within the Diocese of California. In 1951 Sanford Hall was constructed adjacent to the Cathedral. The Cathedral was badly damaged following an earthquake in 1957 and deemed unsafe, and Sanford Hall was used for services.
THE MOVE FROM DOWNTOWN
A decision was made to move north and sell the property at Fresno and N to the City of Fresno. In 1960 a new Sanford Hall and a church school wing were completed at Cedar and Dakota Avenues. The first services were held at this site in January of 1961. At the time the new campus was established, the location was considered to be on the northern fringes of the city, with new housing nearby and the iconic Harpain’s Dairy across the street. In 1961, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church approved the Missionary Diocese of San Joaquin petition to become a separate diocese from the Diocese of California. The Cathedral offices and Diocesan House were subsequently built in accordance with the Master Plan for the property, which also included an area allocated for the eventual construction of a Cathedral. The new Sanford Hall served as the Cathedral and was resplendent with artifacts old and new. The hall was anchored on both ends with stained glass created by renowned local artist Corky Normart. Many of the original stained glass windows from the downtown church were preserved and displayed in anticipation of their installation in a new Cathedral building. The unique and ornate altar was carved by Canon Fredrick D. Graves in 1938. The Good Shepherd Pulpit was carved in England in about 1896 and donated to the Cathedral through the efforts of Dean James Malloch. The original intent was for Sanford Hall to be the Parish Hall, serving as the church building only until a new Cathedral could be built on site. Therefore, it also included a large kitchen and Fireside Room for meetings or to accommodate overflow during services. In the late 1960’s, the St. James congregation gathered together to celebrate the “burning of the mortgage”, signifying the complete ownership of the property and buildings. Many long time members often thought of the 1960’s as the halcyon years for St. James: The church had its greatest population with overflowing services each Sunday; several of the influential families in Fresno were congregants; there were large adult and youth choirs; active youth and young married groups were in place; even the Midnight Mass Christmas service was broadcast on local television. In 1971, the St. James Cathedral School was established and was in operation until 1996 when it closed. The women of St. James took over the maintenance of a small cottage on the property and in 1967 opened the Cathedral Book Store. In 1972 they moved the bookstore and reopened the cottage as St. James Thrift Store, which continues to serve the Cathedral neighbors today. The Chapel of the Holy Innocents, long a dream of Bishop Robert Mize, founder of St. Francis Homes for Boys and the Bishop of Namibia, was completed in May of 1998 under Bishop John David Schofield. The chapel was dedicated to the memory of children who have been the victims of violence both in biblical and modern times. Surrounding the chapel is a peaceful garden pathway of the stations of the cross with sculptures of children imbedded into each station, designed by Dorothy Gager. The gardens are open to all in the community at large as a respite and reflection on our Savior Jesus Christ. After several attempts to build the Cathedral over the decades, it was determined that declining enrollment and the cost of construction were prohibitive to proceeding forward with this plan. In 2000 a decision was made to go in a different direction, and Zoe Eden Hall was constructed. This multipurpose building served to provide neighborhood outreach ministries, large group gatherings, diocesan conventions, and church worship. During the early 2000’s, several outreach ministries were established at St. James. In addition to the Thrift Store, a thriving food pantry assisted the nearby poor and working poor. A neighborhood youth group was well attended and grew to as many as 80 participants. A homeless ministry began as increasing numbers began to arrive at our doorstep. Community groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Drug Anonymous found space at the campus to help those recovering from addiction. New Creation Ministries built a counseling center on campus to help those afflicted by sexual and relational brokenness find healing through Jesus Christ. The St. James campus was also opened to share space with several churches including a Spanish speaking Anglican congregation, Messianic Jewish, Ethiopian Orthodox, and Evangelical congregations. In 1999, Fr. Lawrence Harrison began teaching the Discipleship Training program to those congregants who sought to “Deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow Jesus”. From 1999 to 2008, this in-depth training deeply influenced nearly 100 members of the St. James family, and provided a sure foundation for the walk Christ would lead us into during the years to come. The Diocese of San Joaquin has been served by four Bishops: Louis Childs Sanford (1911-1942); Sumner F.D. Walters (1944-1968); Victor M. Rivera (1968-1988); and John David Schofield (1988-2011). The Cathedral has been served by eight Deans and one Provost: G.R.E. MacDonald (1910-1929); Arthur W. Farlander (1929-1936); James M. Malloch (1936-1955); Harry B. Lee (1955-1970); John D. Spear (1970-1978); George C. Rouf (1979-1992); John L. Congdon (1993-1995); James E. Thompson, Provost 91995-1998); and Carlos L. Raines (1998-2016).
This history account was compiled by Mrs. Phyllis Whitman and Fr. Dale Matson
A NEW CHAPTER
During the 1980’s through 2006, The National Episcopal Church accelerated a slide into apostasy and heresy. For example, the uniqueness of Christ began to be questioned even by the Presiding Bishop with no correction from the House of Bishops. +Catherine Jefferts Schori openly stated that there were many ways to God other than through Jesus Christ, clearly contradicting the Lord Himself who said “I am THE way, THE truth and THE life, no one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14). In 2003, despite promises made to the international leaders (Primates) of the Provinces of the Anglican Church, the Episcopal Church ordained a practicing homosexual to be a bishop. The African Provinces and the vast majority of the “Anglican church of the Global South” declared that the Episcopal Church had “walked away” from the Faith and called upon the Archbishop of Canterbury to take action, which he refused to do. These open repudiations of the clear teaching of Holy Scripture put the Anglican Communion into crisis. The Orthodox Remnant of the Episcopal Church received many messages over the next three years from the Anglican Orthodox churches to transfer our allegiance to a province that had remained Anglican in Faith and practice and to do so immediately. Our diocese (San Joaquin) voted over 90% at our 2006 Convention to do so (and again in 2007 to finalize the votes) to transfer our allegiance to the Province of the Southern Cone (southern South America) where our bishop, John-David Schofield and all the priests and deacons were welcomed and seated. St. James’ Episcopal Cathedral changed its name to St. James’ Anglican Cathedral. Our Bishop, John-David then graciously allowed every church in the Diocese (even the Corporation Sole churches whose deeds he held and whose properties he could have legally seized) to vote to decide if they would stay in the Episcopal Church or go with us into the new province. A small handful of churches voted to remain Episcopal and were allowed by Bishop Schofield to keep their properties. Within two months after the 2006 vote the Episcopal Church (The Executive Council) launched a lawsuit (through Holy Family Episcopal Church, Fresno) against the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin demanding all of our properties (47 Church properties at that time). This lawsuit caused much suffering in the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin not the least because TEC (The Episcopal Church) demanded the freezing of all church accounts, forcing us to raise money for defense of the properties and allowing TEC to overspend us in court (in the final trial there were 5 TEC attorneys representing them, and one paid and one volunteer attorney representing us). In the Fall of 2015 the lawsuit finally went before a judge and the Anglican diocese lost. It was appealed to the Fifth Circuit court of Appeals in the Spring of 2016 where we lost again. The final appeal to the California Supreme Court led to that court refusing to weigh in and so in October of that year the Episcopal Church demanded that we vacate our 4 million dollar property at Cedar and Dakota Avenues in Fresno, and find a new place to meet. In the meantime, in 2008 the Anglican Primates (whose call on the Episcopal Church to repent went unanswered) met in Jerusalem for the Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) and invited all of the ousted Anglicans of North America to form a new province that they could endorse and maintain fellowship with. In 2009 in response to these Anglican Archbishops, Anglican delegates voted to form the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) and at a meeting near Dallas, Texas that summer the ACNA was formed with St. James’ Anglican Church and the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin becoming constituent members. The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin has been led by Rt. Rev. Dr. Eric Vawter Menees (2011-present). St. James church has been served by Rural Dean/Rector Fr. Carlos Raines (1998-present).
This history account was compiled by Fr. Carlos Raines
KINGDOM BUILDING A CHURCH WITHOUT WALLS
In September of 2016, Pastor Jim Cecy of Campus Bible church became aware of the St. James congregation’s need for worship space and offered the use of their Palm/Shields satellite campus sanctuary. Exceedingly grateful for the holy fellowship of this Christian community, St. James held the first service there on October 2, 2016. Though the loss of our historic building and resources has been difficult at times, The Heavenly Father has transformed the congregation into a new creation of deep faithfulness to God and our Savior, love for one another, and perseverance through the Holy Spirit. St. James today is a vibrant and Spirit-filled congregation centered in the Anglican traditions of scripture, liturgy, and Communion. Indeed, Holy Communion is where we meet Christ every week and empowers our ministries and walk. Relationships have become stronger, both with one another and in seeking His Presence. Powerful prayer and healing ministries are embedded into all that we do. Service to our members in need through St. Stephen’s ministry builds us all in love and helping one another. Our trials have become God’s blessings in His Hands, and we have truly become a Book of Acts church today…. A church without walls.
You are the ones who are happy: you who remain within the church by your faith, who hold firmly to the foundations of the Faith which has come down to you from apostolic Tradition. - St. Athanasius
VOICES FROM THE PAST
The images and the accompanying descriptions are those of the people who recorded those moments
Our First Church
This picture, taken December 25th, 1882, looking north from the Court House, gives some idea of the wonderful growth of that part of Fresno during the past few years.
Very few buildings shown in the picture remain on the tract included, the Hawthorne School being the most prominent, and it has been turned to face northward since the picture was made. To the right of the Catholic Church steeple will be seen the residence of Judge David S. Terry, at that time one of Fresno’s prominent characters. This house has been moved but still stands on Stanislaus near O Street. The Champion Flour Mills, occupying the present site of the Sperry Mills, was destroyed by fire. It was operated by water power obtained from the canal to be seen running down Fresno Street [the street running from lower left to upper right]. Not withstanding an existing injunction that canal was filled in during the latter eighties by irate citizens who objected to its passage through the middle of the town. Across Fresno Street from the Catholic Church is seen the residence of J. T. Shanklin. That location is now occupied by the Brix apartment house. St. James Church (seen in the picture) is not the same building that now occupies that site, while the Catholic Church was removed many years ago. Unless small objects noticed at the junction of the roads near the middle of the picture should prove to be that of a woman and two children, and to their right appears to be a white cow, there is no evidence of life in the entire picture. This is remarkable, considering the immense population now living in the same district. The scarcity of trees is also noteworthy. Compliments of CHINN-BERETTA OPTICAL CO. H. E. Wilkinson, Manager 1048 J STREET, FRESNO, CALIF. Other Stores at San Francisco, Sacramento, Stockton, Oakland, Bakersfield and Vallejo written c. 1902
The Reverend Douglas Kelly
The Reverend Douglas O. Kelly
The Reverend Douglas O. Kelly First Rector of St. James’ Church, 1888-1891 Wife and seven sons
“The first organization of the Episcopal church in Fresno county was St. James Mission, Fresno city, which I formed in the fall of 1879. On the first two Sundays, services were held in Tupper’s law office, near where the First National bank now is. Then for a few months an old garret on H street, known as Magnolia Hall, did duty as a place of worship. Afterwards a room in the public school house was fitted up and occupied for some time. In the summer of 1880 steps were taken toward the building of a church, and about $1300 was subscribed for the purpose. Lots were secured on the corner of Fresno and N streets, though considerable hesitancy was expressed as to the expediency of building “so far out of town” – the schoolhouse being then about the only other structure in that region. The first service in the new church was held in the spring of 1881, the Rev. William L. Mott of Modesto preaching the sermon. The building then was in a very incomplete condition, consisting of little more than the bare brick walls, the roof, floor and windows. During the winter of 1880-1 a commodious parsonage was also built adjoining the church, with funds I raised mostly at the East. The church was not finished and cleared of debt until December, 1884, when it was consecrated by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Kip. Since then various improvements and additions have been made both to the church and the parsonage, and now there is talk of enlarging the church to accomodate the increasing congregation. A fine pedal-bass organ was placed in the church last spring, at which Prof. E. M. Drury presides as organist, and, assisted by some of the best vocalists in the city, provides a musical service of a high quality. The Mission was developed into a parish at Easter, 1888, at which I as the missionary became the rector. The vestry consists or W. E. Gilmore, Dr. Hopkins, Philip Stewart, J. G. Rhodes, Wm. More Young, J. M. Collier and Wm. G. Uridge. George H. Andrus is treasurer of the parish, and also superintendent of the Sunday school. When first organized, in 1879, there were but nine communicant members, all ladies. Since that time 74 have been added by confirmation and 160 by admission.” Rev. D. O. Kelly written c. 1891
St. James Church At NW corner of N & Fresno Streets photo c. 1884 note growth in trees from photo above, 2 years earlier
Pulled down and rebuilt 1904 on this site. Sold to city of Fresno 1963. This photo enlargement shows my wife Kate Evans (Kathleen Hodgson Holland). Her mother Mrs. W. R. Evans (Kate), the taller of the three girls & her two little dogs. I came to Fresno Sept. 1919. I met my wife in 1920. We were married here in March 1921. My wife was baptized in this chrch 1889. We were members of St. James until her passing 1964. (signed) Richard G. Holland 115 N. 3rd Street, Fresno Calif.
Sunday Worship Location
Join us for Sunday worship at 1:30pm at Campus Bible Church. We welcome you in person or on livestream.
222 East Fountain Way Fresno, CA 93704
Office location & hours
1300 East Shaw Avenue, Suite 174 Fresno, CA 93710
Monday- Thursday 9:00am - 4:00pm
Sign up to receive the St. James Weekly newsletter in your inbox!