St. James Episcopal Church

New London, Connecticut

Parish Profile

                  We are a forward looking, multi-cultural and inclusive faith community, proclaiming and doing Christ's work of love and justice in the greater New London area and the world.

Our Priest-in-Charge

The Rev. Denise Cabana joined St. James as Priest-in-Charge in July 2022 after serving as rector of St. James' Church in Glastonbury for seven years. Her prior positions include rector of St. James' Church in Indian Head, Maryland for nine years and associate rector of Trinity Church in Branford for four years. She received a Master of Divinity degree from the Virginia Theological Seminary, with a seminarian parish assignment at the Church of St. Clement in Alexandria, and with chaplain assignments at the Hospice of Northern Virginia and at the alcohol addiction treatment unit at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Denise has a bachelor's degree in sociology from North Adams State College in Massachusetts and a Master of Education degree from the University of Maine at Orono. Prior to her seminary experience, Denise had leadership positions on the Boards of the Manchester Community Services Council, the Manchester Early Learning Center, the Manchester Interracial Council, the AIDS Ministries Programs of Connecticut and the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. She worked for the Manchester Area Conference of Churches first as the Director of their shelter for people who are homeless and soup kitchen and then as the Executive Director of the agency.

Denise and her husband Doug live in New London with their dog, Gus and two cats, Harley and Vinny.   Denise and Doug enjoy traveling, kayaking, biking, getting Gus out for a hike and visiting local wineries.  They also like exploring quirky museums and off the beaten path sites.

parish-profile-whoweareWho We Are In God's Mission and Our Racial Equity Resolution

We are a community of Christians who seek a deeper faith in God through the Episcopal tradition and who look to the Bible for guidance in our lives. We participate in God's mission, imitating the life of Christ Jesus in all that we do by following His admonition to “love God above all else and love our neighbors as ourselves.” We have hope that the world can be a better place, and we believe that God's love is the answer. We find spiritual growth and meaning in our lives through worship, fellowship within our parish, and community with the larger city of New London.

We encourage all people to join us in experiencing the transforming love of God in Christ Jesus through the Holy Spirit, for God's people are a tapestry of race, color, national origin, ethnic background, socio-economic status, marital status, ability, sexual orientation, gender and age. St. James strives to see Christ Jesus in everyone and we respond to all of creation in loving service.

Resolution on Racial Equity

Whereas, the parish of St. James, New London is grounded in Holy Scripture, Anglican tradition and experience as well as the sacramental and liturgical life of The Book of Common Prayer; we aspire to be a faith community that embodies our baptismal vows. It is the mission of the Church to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.

Whereas as we seek to fulfill our mission, we set forth the following:

We are all created in God’s image and God has called us all “good.” God, through Jesus, gathers us together as diverse and equally beloved children. The Holy Spirit through the gospel compels us, as Christians, to follow the reconciling and inclusive footsteps of Jesus.

The parish of St. James, New London seeks to reaffirm its commitment to the Jesus movement and the call to reject the systemic racism and injustices against people of color, especially our Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC)  brothers and sisters. We declare our commitment to actively engage in the pursuit of justice in all aspects of our congregational life and the business affairs of the church to repair the breach between white people and BIPOC. We will pursue constructive changes that will facilitate the alignment of practices that foster racial justice, inclusiveness and, above all, are reflective of a beloved community. Our leadership and decisions will be transformative and reflective of the God of Life.

Those of us who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) suffer injustice when these truths are not lived out in God’s world. Those of us who are white are entwined in a network of unearned privilege that distances us from the fullness of humanity and from God. We all acknowledge that standing in silence strengthens racism and violence. Given these beliefs, we confess all these sins and strive to be the beloved community to which we are called.

We understand that the call to racial justice applies to us as individuals, as participants in institutions such as the parish of St. James, New London and in larger systems in our world. We take responsibility to use a “racial justice lens” to look at the ways in which racism and white privilege shape our parish life and our interface with our community.

Yet, we know that there is more for us to do to ensure that all elements of our parish life reflect equity and justice. We come to this work as Christians, as Episcopalians, and as disciples of Jesus Christ. We come to this work as a faith community that embodies different views, experiences, perceptions and histories – as white people and as people of color. We are different, yet we are united in our baptism, through our values and beliefs, and in our love and affection for each other through Jesus Christ.

Be it resolved: We will seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves. We will strive for justice, healing and racial reconciliation among all black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) people. We will strive for peace, and respect the dignity of every human being. These are our foundational promises - to God and to each other.

Be it resolved: Following the inclusive and reconciling footsteps of Jesus, the parish of St. James, New London publicly declares that we will actively pursue racial justice in all aspects of our parish life and make changes to better align our practices to being a racially just, beloved community.

parish-profile-ourpeopleBecoming God's People

Parish members worship together and attend to the mission of the Church by service to the greater community.  Regular attendance at services is the usual practice for most members. When familiar faces aren't present we inquire, wondering if they are all right. When families return to the New London community for the summer, they are welcomed as the old friends they are.  

The same strong commitment to service to both congregation and community is demonstrated in the lives of St. James' members.  The recent parish survey revealed that many parishioners participate in three to seven activities in support of mission life.  Whether singing in the choir, serving in the Jumble Shoppe or Lord's Pantry, serving as readers, ushers, greeters or altar guild members, we find our calling and commit ourselves to God's work.

parish-profile-ourhistoryOur History

St. James Church has had a colorful, almost 300-year history in New London, CT.  We are in the planning process for our tercentenary celebration in 2025!  During the past three centuries, the Parish has worshipped in at least three buildings and has developed a significant church presence in the New London community.

After the parish was organized in 1725, the first St. James Church was built across from what is now the Union Railroad Station in 1741. It was soon enlarged, with the addition of a bell tower and many more pews to accommodate its growing congregation. Unfortunately, the Church was a victim of the 1781 burning of New London by British troops led by Benedict Arnold during the American Revolution. After rebuilding, a second Church edifice located near the current Salvation Army building was subsequently outgrown. In 1850 our current building was completed to house the expanded congregation. Many of the parishioners at the time were citizens who enjoyed the benefits of the very successful whaling and ensuing manufacturing industries in 19th and 20th century New London.

For a more detailed history, view Who We Are.

Our Locale - Context for God's Mission

St. James is located in downtown New London, within short walking distance of both the many resources mentioned here and our several community service partners.  As the “smallest big city in America,” New London has many of the aspects and issues of any urban city, with many exciting opportunities for ministry and service collaborations.  The City of New London is a diverse, friendly community with a rich history, extensive arts and music scene, ample housing options for a varied community, fine dining, public parks and numerous recreational facilities and activities.  The Garde Arts Center and the Hygienic Galleries are major venues for national and international art exhibits, plays, movies, and live music. The internationally known Eugene O’Neill Theater is nearby in Waterford. The area is home to four colleges: Connecticut College, Mitchell College, the U. S. Coast Guard Academy and the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus. The US Naval Submarine Base is right across the river from New London.

Downtown New London is a unique transportation center with interconnected national and commuter train, ferry, and interstate highway services that provide easy access in-state and throughout New England and the entire US East Coast. The New London Public Schools, grades K through 12, are the State’s first and only “all magnet” public school system, providing fully integrated public education in math, science, literature, and the arts for children living in the city and anywhere in the State.  New London is a multi-faceted, economically diverse city. Sophisticated business and international manufacturing companies such as General Dynamics/Electric Boat and a variety of other service and commercial retail and wholesale businesses exist in the area and are expecting substantial job growth (800 to 1000 new job openings are anticipated in the next year). The Pfizer Corporation has a significant presence in nearby Groton. Our city sits directly on the Thames River and Long Island Sound, with easy and extensive public access to these waterways.


Our Property

St. James Episcopal Church stands on the corner of Huntington and Federal Streets in New London, CT. The Gothic Revival edifice was designed by architect Richard Upjohn. It was built in 1850 of red New Jersey freestone. Large stained-glass windows, six of which were designed by Louis C. Tiffany, light the Church sanctuary. A well-maintained, 4-manual Skinner pipe organ enhances the worship-inspiring space. On the lower level of the Church building is Hallam Chapel, the final resting place of The Right Reverend Samuel Seabury, who was the first Episcopal Bishop in the United States and an early rector of St. James. Also on that level are The Jumble Shoppe, our second-hand goods mission, as well as a meeting room and kitchen.

Our Parish House, The Seabury Center, is connected to both the main and lower levels of the Church building. It contains a large meeting hall with kitchen on its top floor, offices, Choir Room, Music Library and classrooms on the middle floor. Additional classrooms and our neighborhood food distribution center, The Lord’s Pantry, are on the lower street-level floor.

Next to the Church on Huntington Street is the Rectory, a fully renovated 1840 Greek Revival house which, along with our Church building, is listed on the National Historic Registry. It contains four public rooms on the first floor, with two additional floors housing five bedrooms and two and one-half bathrooms. Three additional Greek revival houses, not owned by St. James, line Huntington Street next to the Rectory and, together with our corner Church, make the striking architectural statement known as Whale Oil Row.

Our Memorial Garden in the courtyard on the southern side of the Church is a recent addition to the St. James campus.  While no memorial stones or indicators of any kind are installed in the garden, memorial plates are mounted on the Memorial Garden Memory Board located in the Narthex.


Faith in Action

We engage in many ministries at St. James - within our property, in the local community and internationally as well. This has been a distinguishing mark of our parish for many years.  In our annual stewardship request for involvement, we list thirteen opportunities for ministry to the world beyond our doors, and for additional information about these view the Ministries page of our website.

EcuadorSanPedroAug15 LordsPantryDec15

Our Staff

For a listing of our dedicated church staff and other lay leadership positions, click here.

New Visitors

St James is an open and affirming congregation of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. St. James welcomes all who come with a warm greeting and a bulletin for the service or a program for the activity. Ushers offer assistance to those who need more orientation to the services. Electronic hearing assistance is available in the areas designated. The church is handicapped accessible. The Eucharist is taken to those who for mobility reasons request communion in the pew. The Eucharist is celebrated at all three Sunday services. The times of services are posted on the parish sign, on the telephone answering message, in the bulletins and on the St. James website. Everyone is verbally invited and welcomed for fellowship and refreshments following each morning service.  Information about "What to Expect" at our services can be seen at our "Worship" page on the website.


Annual Reports

Click here for copies of our recent Annual Reports.


St. James holds two Sunday celebrations of the Eucharist: Rite I at 8:00 a.m. is a spoken, formal style liturgy with no hymns or music. Rite II at 10:00 a.m. is generally a formal sung liturgy with choir, hymns, anthems and organ/instrumental accompaniment. Most music is traditional hymnody and BCP Hymnal settings.  BCP Compline is sung once monthly in Hallam chapel. Daily Morning Prayer and weekly Evening Prayer are spoken as schedule allows. St. James has a tradition of high regard for formal liturgical practice, however there is desire and openness to use contemporary Episcopal liturgies and hymnody. We generally share an active passing of the peace.


Christian Formation

When COVID-19 restrictions permit, we have a Sunday School for children ages 3 to 10, run by a dedicated teacher and assistants. The Sunday School meets at 9:00 a.m., and the children join the 10:00 Sunday Service during the Offertory for Eucharist.

A Centering Prayer Meditation group meets on some Saturdays in the Hallam Chapel from 8:30 to 10 AM.  See the website main page for upcoming meetings.  Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God’s presence within us. The website is a wonderful website to look deeper into this meditation practice.



Parish Life

We have an active prayer circle which welcomes requests for prayers from both parishioners and non-parishioners. Healing prayer is offered to individuals monthly at Sunday Services. We have a dinner group that meets monthly at area restaurants and organizes other activities such as baseball games, picnics and occasional theatre and field trips. We also have a Book Club that meets monthy and and Writers Group that comes together twice a month.  The parish volunteers for spring and fall clean-ups and a summer tag sale. We support a music ministry for the community, known as “Music on Whale Oil Row,” offering several concerts and classic movies each year.  The Anglican Singers, artists in residence at St. James, sing Evensong several times a year.