History of St. James

In 1716, a Mr. James Robinson gave land for a church building in Stanton, Delaware. In 1761, needed repairs were such that the congregation decided to erect a new church building and to place it in Newport. Land was purchased for this purpose on the top of the hill overlooking the Christiana River.

In 1772, a brick building was begun in Newport at “Market and British Streets.” The congregation was scattered about White Clay Creek, Stanton and Newport. The ministry was shared by clergy from Immanuel, New Castle and Old Swedes Church, Wilmington.

In 1776, the partially constructed building was taken over by Delaware Revolutionary Forces to be used for their headquarters and stables. The partially finished building was used again for worship in 1787.

A fire destroyed the building in 1810. Later, in 1855, a building was purchased from the Methodists under the guidance of Bishop Alfred Lee, the first Bishop of the Diocese of Delaware. A few years later trustees were appointed to hold and manage the property on Church Hill.

In June of 1875, the cornerstone for the “White Gothic Church” was laid at a site behind the present church building. From that date through 1930, many clergymen served in the ministry of St. James, some for as little as a year and one for eleven years.

The Reverend Millard Riker, who was also an expert in woodworking, came to St. James. While here the church was redecorated, the altar and tables remodeled and a pulpit, which is still in use, created.

The Reverend Alexander Boyer was ordained in the old church building and began a very active ministry here. In 1947, St. James, Newport was granted parish status. At that time there were 194 in the church school and some 200 communicants on the church roll. A building fund was launched to construct this present building.

The Reverend Charles Schreiner came in 1951 and more progress was made. A steeple was added, the parish house was remodeled, light fixtures and a colonial altar were introduced. A wing was built onto the original building. Various furnishings from the old church were brought over and used.

In 1954, the Reverend Charles Priebe became the Rector here and served the Church in the longest ministry of some 22 years. Many physical properties were improved. The Rt. Reverend J. Brooke Mosely came in 1955 to consecrate the Church in the name of the disciple “James, the son of Zebedee.” The document is on display in the hall cabinet. Although “St. James, Newport and Old St. James, Stanton” are two distinct parishes, good relations have existed between them over 275 years.

After the Reverend Priebe resigned in 1976, we have had two full time rectors: The Reverend Ronald Fitts (1976-1983) and The Reverend George Deatrick (1990-1992). There have been a variety of clergy fill in the gaps for which the congregation and the vestries were most grateful to have these men and women conducting Sunday services and providing counsel when needed.

Those who were interim, part-time or supply clergy have included the following:

The Rev. Lee Brownell, The Rev. Ed Harris, The Rev. Mark Harris, The Rev. David Helms, The Rev. Marvin Hummel, The Venerable Carl Kunz, The Rev. Kate Mead, The Rev. William Merrill, The Rev. David Nickerson, The Revs. John & Kay Scobell, The Rev. Joseph Tatnall, The Rev. Bob Toulson, The Rec. Cacon Oran Warder, The Rev. Rod Welles, The Rev. Cal Wick, The Rev. Phillip Wilson

Our congregation has diminished over the years as a result of children moving away, retirees changing geographical locations and the deaths within our parish. However, it is a pleasure to note that there are some younger members who are taking an interest in our church family. Even though there is the financial realization that we cannot afford full-time clergy at this time. Nevertheless, we are forging new ground. August 1, 1994 saw the beginning of a team ministry with Church of the Nativity, Manor Park, Christ Church, Delaware City and St. Nicholas, Newark. The Rev. Blanch L. Powell was our Team Leader and Primary Pastor for St. James. The Team Ministry came to an end in October 2001. The Rev. Blanche Powell retired. The Rev. Sarah Nelson filled in for the Rev. Powell until the end of the year. On January 1, 2002, The Rev. Sarah Nelson became St. James” part-time priest and is with us today inspiring us to be “all that we can be.”