Our History

First Service
Our first service was on November 18 in 1956, in Forest Hills School. Twenty-six people were present at that service. Our first Sunday School class was the following week, on November 25, 1956. Seven children were present in that class.Church Building
We worshiped at Forest Hills School for about four years. Early in 1957 a site was purchased, where our building is now located. In March a call was extended to Pastor Norman Wente to serve as our first pastor. On October 13, 1957, the congregation was formally organized and a constitution adopted. On October 11, 1959, groundbreaking was held. On October 30, 1960, the building at 5129 Wolf Road in Western Springs was dedicated. This building was completed in the summer of 1960.

Church Partners
Over the years, we have been served by many wonderful pastors. One of the unique parts of our history is a covenant we entered into with Grace Lutheran Church in La Grange, Illinois. From roughly 2000 until 2004, the pastors at Grace served us as well. Our partnership opened many of the large-church opportunities to our members, who prefer the small-church Sunday morning feel. We still partner with Grace in a variety of ways.

Since the very beginning, one of the hallmarks of St. James is how much our community is like a family. We genuinely care about everyone who walks through our doors, “member” or not. We are all God’s children figuring out what God is calling us to do in our church, in our lives, and in our world. As we walk into the future, we invite anyone and everyone to join us as we make history in Jesus’ name.

Virgina’s Story
Virginia Williams, a devoted former member of St. James, remembers that first service of St. James taking place in the kindergarten of Forest Hills School. For an altar, a small child’s table was covered with a white cloth on which a cross, two candles, and a Bible were placed. There was a small but excellent choir standing in front and to the right of the congregation. In 1959, Virginia recalls, moved from the kindergarten room to the gymnasium. Our very first set of paraments was created by our choir director at the time, a woman of Russian heritage who taught some members how to paint Russian Easter eggs. Virginia’s husband, Jack, and she, made several parament sets after that, some of which were designed by Wes Willard. (From our 50th anniversary remembrance)

Vacation Bible School picture, circa 1985


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