The Right Reverend George E. Council, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey, will be the officiant and preacher for a celebratory Mass, 4 p.m., Sunday, April 14, at St. James Church. The Mass celebrates 100 years of worship in the beautiful stone in church at 300 Broadway, Long Branch.
“This is a very special day in the life of our congregation,” commented the Rev. Valerie Redpath, Rector of St. James. “The Long Branch of today is much different from the Long Branch of 100 years ago. St. James’ continues to be a worshiping and serving presence in this ever-changing community. We invite everyone in the community to join us for this wonderful celebration.”
The Centennial Mass will be preceded at 3:30 p.m. by a 30 minute prelude of music for organ, brass quintet and timpani, featuring brass arrangements by Renaissance composer Giovanni Gabrieli, the famous "Solemn Entry Procession" by late Romantic era composer Richard Strauss, and a new work, "Suite Breve", for organ solo, by contemporary American composer Carson Cooman.
St. James' Director of Music and Organist James Douglas will lead the St. James' choir in festive congregational hymns and choral works, including C. Hubert H. Parry's "I was glad", arranged for choir, organ and brass, and Anton Bruckner's a cappella "Locus iste."
The general public is welcome for the celebration, with the prelude beginning at 3:30 p.m., the Mass at 4 p.m., and then the Mass followed by a gala reception in the St. James’ Parish Hall
According to a history of Saint James’ Church by Earle Thompson in 1979, Episcopal services were held in the parlors of the old Allegheny house for several summers, beginning in 1850. A wooden Episcopal church was eventually built on the south side of Broadway between Second Ave. and Memorial Parkway, and consecrated on August 17, 1855. As early as 1895 plans were afoot for a new stone building: the disadvantages of a wooden building in the New Jersey climate already having become evident.
By May 2, 1910, the site for the present church was purchased: plans for the new church were adopted on December 12, 1910; ground for the new Parish Hall was broken and the old church property was sold by October 1, 1911. The last services were held in the old church on Sunday, September 24, 1911.
The first services in the new Parish Hall of St. James’ were held on the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, Friday, September 29, 1911. The cornerstone for the church was laid on July 25, 1912. The first service in the new church building was held on February 23, 1913. It was dedicated on April 15, the same year.
In addition to being an active Episcopal parish, St. James’ is the home of St. Brigid’s Pantry, the St. James’ Thrift Shop, St. Brigid’s Kitchen, The Long Branch Concordance, and Ezekiel’s Wheels. Following Superstorm Sandy, it was a busy distribution center for food and relief supplies. Our Lady of Guadalupe, a congregation in the American National Catholic Church, worships in St. James’ worship space at Noon on Sunday. St. James’ continues to grow as a center of spiritual, community, and cultural activity for Long Branch and neighboring communities.