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We hope to see you at one of the two Town Hall meetings, the first one scheduled for Sunday, May 17 for worship at 5:00 p.m., dinner at 6:00 p.m., followed by the program beginning at 6:45 p.m. The second session, for those who prefer a mid-week date, is on Wednesday, May 20 beginning with dinner at 6:00 p.m. We encourage you to review the agenda, some background materials, and a copy of the draft strategic plan in advance of the meetings.

Your Vestry and its Strategic Planning Committee have been at work for over a year. It is true (as one wise person once said) that if you do not know where we are going, we can't get there. Rather than simply letting events guide our future, we chose to look at our environment – our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – with an objective of developing a plan that would strengthen our current church family and grow our membership in an attempt to bring more people to the joy of knowing Christ as their savior.

We interviewed experts in church matters, in the economic environment within our market area and experts relative to the future of real estate development in downtown Baton Rouge. We developed a survey in order to receive input from our entire parish. Approximately 350 completed the survey – an amazing response indicating a desire to be heard, to offer suggestions and to opine on Parish programs.

We established eight task forces totally composed of parishioners. These task forces were:

  • Finance
  • Real Estate
  • Day School
  • Property Maintenance
  • Christian Education
  • Youth Programs
  • Millennials (ages 19 to 34)
  • Community Outreach

At a workshop on April 17 and 18 attended by the Vestry, task force chairs, Strategic Planning Committee members, the clergy, and our consultant, Reb Scarborough from Houston, we developed a mission statement, a set of core values and vision statements.

While much work remains to be accomplished in order to have a finalized strategic plan, the Vestry and Strategic Planning Committee is hosting the Town Hall meetings mentioned above. This will provide an opportunity for all of us to review and discuss the survey results, task force reports, the draft vision statements and the draft strategic plan.

In closing, the survey verifies that there is a deep and long lasting love of St. James on the part of our congregation. We cherish our church community and the personal relationships developed over the years. We are grateful for our beautiful church, our outstanding school and our rich history.

Yet, there are challenges we must deal with. Examples include:

  1. Building a strong Christian education program, one that is robust, of substance and continuous. This refers to both adult and youth programs where evidence indicates a weakness over the years.
  2. Church membership, Sunday Church attendance and pledge income have been stagnant for several years. While it is true that nationally church attendance and membership have been trending down, we do not want to mirror national trends.
  3. The survey responses also indicate that there is a lack of a sense of unity at St. James, perhaps reflective of past social activism and/or perceived political involvement on the part of St. James. We – your Sr. Warden and Rector – jointly commit to lead St. James in creating a sense of unity as we go forward. This is essential to our future and we know there is much we can do to worship and improve our community.
  4. We embrace the obligation and desire to reach out to the underprivileged, but have not defined how this can best be accomplished.
  5. Our beautiful and historic Church building is in need of maintenance. How do we fund the costs?
  6. We need to improve how we welcome visitors and how we integrate new members into our community.
  7. We need a master plan for the utilization and development of our real estate holdings.

We look forward to your guidance and thank you in advance for your attendance at one of the Town Hall meetings.


Lee Griffin Mark Holland+
Lee Griffin
Senior Warden
The Very Rev. J. Mark Holland



St. James Episcopal Church | PO Box 126 | Baton Rouge LA 70821

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