St. James Mission has its beginnings sometime prior to 1872 when the Rev. Charles Douglas held services in the home of Charles Sweezey which stood on the northeast corner of Beaver Dam and Fireplace Neck Road. A lady who boarded with Mr. Sweezey wrote to Bishop Littlejohn asking him to establish an Episcopal Church in Brookhaven. It wasn’t until the third appeal that the Bishop asked Mr. Cook to build a church. On July 22, 1872, John L. Ireland and Mary Floyd, his wife, deeded to the Trustees of the Diocese a plot of land on the northeast corner of his farm. The deed provided that the ground was to be used for an Episcopal Church and Rectory. The foundation was laid and in 1874, the chapel was built in Brookhaven at a cost of $1800. St. James was chosen as the patron saint. The first regular priest was the Rev. Ingraham N. W. Irvine. Throughout the years, St. James has had an interesting and varied ministry. In 1918, the local Red Cross used the church as a sewing room and storehouse. The organ and baptismal font, as well as many of the windows, were gifts from residents of Brookhaven hamlet. Mr. Malcolm Frazer, a local artist, painted the window over the altar which made it look much like “stained glass.”
Throughout the years, St. James has been served by many clergy. At the 1998 Annual Meeting, Norman Nelson told the members that his grandfather and granduncle kept St. James alive during World War I by being the only members attending service. One would read the prayers, etc, and the other would respond. “If no one attended church, the church did not exist.” We are part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, members of the Episcopal Church, and a congregation in the Diocese of Long Island. We seek to be a community empowered by our Baptism to serve the community and the world in the name of Jesus. We strive to proclaim the Good News of Christ’s love through our ministry.
In 2018, St. James celebrated 145 years as a congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. As part of the celebration, we raised funds to repair and repaint the church’s trim and steeple. With the assistance of the Brookhaven Fire Department, the repairs were blessed at our service in October.