Who We Are

Welcome to St. James' in Skaneateles, NY!

Whether you are a longtime member, are interested in attending worship, or simply enjoy relaxing next to the water in the shade of our tower, we hope you experience the abundant hospitality and love of God here at the “friendly church by the lake!”   

Folks have gathered on this sacred ground for worship for more than two centuries! The only Episcopal parish in the village of Skaneateles, St. James’ brings the beautiful traditions of Anglicanism to the Finger Lakes region while gracefully weaving them together with contemporary stylings to create a unique experience of communal worship and formation. This is a place where all are welcome, where questions are invited, and where God is glorified in sacramental living that touches the soul.

We are a people of prayer and action, eager to serve our neighbors near and far.  Everyone can find a place for involvement and service as we live into our baptismal vows to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves.” We encourage you to explore our website and contact a staff member if you are interested in learning more about who we are, and if you would like to see where God is calling you to lend your time and talents to the nurturing of God’s Kingdom in this place.

Whoever you are, and wherever you are on your spiritual journey, we invite you to join us!

-Fr. Joe

The Rev. Joe T. Mitchell, Interim Rector

Our Mission is Igniting passion for Jesus Christ to change lives.

St. James’ Episcopal Church is located on East Genesee Street in downtown Skaneateles. The church building is blessed to be right on the water capturing the amazing views of Skaneateles Lake.  2016 was the bicentennial year of the congregation, though the present building is “younger” and has recently undergone significant construction including a new roof and renovations to the nave and chapel.  St. James’ offers four unique services each week, providing a diverse range of worship options from quiet contemplative to formal to high-energy praise services. Eucharist or Communion is celebrated at all Sunday worship services. Wednesday is Evening Prayer found in the Book of Common Prayer.  Each Sunday service is intentionally family-friendly as all ages are welcome at any service.  Be sure to check out the kid corner in the rear of the church full of toys, activity baskets, and space to spread out during worship. The Nave is also handicap accessible however should you need additional assistance, please feel free to ask a greeter or call ahead to the Parish Office.  

Our Mission is Igniting passion for Jesus Christ to change lives.

Beliefs & Values

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1. We believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He became man, was crucified and died. On the third day He was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven.

2. We accept the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as being fundamental to our understanding of our Triune God and one another.

3. We accept that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the inspired word of God and we seek to engage them in our daily lives.

4. We believe that the Church must continually explore methods of conveying the Gospel in a culturally relevant and sensitive manner, while adhering to the eternal truth of the Gospel.

1. We embrace a willingness to try old things in new ways in order to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

2. We appreciate that faith is a journey, that people are in different places in that journey, and that we must understand, respect, and love each other in the midst of these differences.

3. We welcome differences of opinion and varied perspectives on issues and expect that such differences will be addressed with respect, love, honesty, directness, and acceptance of each person.

4. We believe we are called to be peacemakers, practicing love and forgiveness in every relationship and activity.

5. We are committed to personal integrity as we strive for excellence in all that we do.

6. We are passionate about the wellbeing, education, safety, and nurture of children and youth. We welcome the participation of children, youth and families of all types, in all areas of our common life.

7. We seek to engage people in small groups of ministry, learning, caring, growing, fellowship, and service.

8. We believe that every ministry, activity, and action taken by the Church and its members must answer the question, “Does this help us to ignite passion for Jesus Christ to change lives, and to welcome all to seek, to share, to serve, and to celebrate God’s love and forgiveness?

Our Building's History

Anglicans worshipped here in 1794, in the earliest days of the Skaneateles community. Beginning in 1805, a two-room building on the site of our present church served as a place for Sunday worship, as well as the Village post office, a store, and a day school.

St. James’ Episcopal Church was first organized in 1816. Our first dedicated church building went up in 1827, built of wood, white with green shutters; its square tower held a clock and a bell. The building was enlarged in 1847, but taken down in 1873 to make way for our present stone building, dedicated in 1874.

In 1899, the sanctuary was enlarged and the present chapel and Sunday school rooms added. In 1959, the parish hall was built. The side altar was placed at the right front of the nave in 1961, and was dedicated as a Peace Altar during the Persian Gulf War. To date, 17 rectors have led the parish.

A History of the Organ at St. James'


The current Skinner organ is the fourth organ to “raise a joyful noise to the Lord” from St. James’ Episcopal. The first was bought for $200 in 1828, built by Ellsworth Phelps, with a mahogany case and “gilt front show pipes.” A writer in 1831 noted that the organ had a “small but sweet tone.” Others recalled the first organ’s most memorable feature, an angel in a blue gown, floating amongst rose colored clouds and holding a trumpet, painted on the case by one Parley Cleaveland, perhaps a painter at one of the local carriage works.
All we know of the second organ is that it arrived in 1854, when the first organ was donated to a church in Owasco, and that it did not make the trip to our new and current church building. The present church was completed in 1874. The architect was Horatio Nelson White who also designed the Gridley Building (1867) in downtown Syracuse, and the Hall of Languages (1873) at Syracuse University. The first instrument in this sanctuary was an organ built by Hilborne and Frank Roosevelt (first cousins of Theodore) and donated by members of the Roosevelt family to honor the memory of Lydia Roosevelt and Henry Latrobe Roosevelt. Lydia had served as the church’s organist for 30 years. 

In 1927, the Roosevelt organ was sold to Emmanuel Church in East Syracuse where it is still is existence, and the present Ernest M. Skinner organ (Opus 644) was installed, with the console in the southwest corner of the sanctuary. In 1959, the organ console was moved to its present location. The facade work was given by the McMaster family as a memorial to Andrew McMaster, a longtime member and former warden of the parish.

Visit St. James' Episcopal Church

We would love to meet you this Sunday!