St. James was formally organized in December of 1953 as a mission congregation of the Augustana Lutheran Church (Swedish origin) to serve the southern part of Rock Island. Members of the congregation met for Sunday services at Eugene Field School until a building was erected in 1956. An educational addition was built in 1962 with further expansion to its present size in 1971. An elevator was installed in 2003. The sanctuary was refurbished in 2010.
St. James became a member of the Lutheran Church in America in 1962 when the Augustana Lutheran Church merged with the American Evangelical Lutheran Church, Suomi Synod, and the United Lutheran Church. In 1987 it became a member congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America when the Lutheran Church in America merged with the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and the American Lutheran Church.
Members of the congregation have held leadership positions in the Northern Illinois Synod of the ELCA.
St. James has a tradition of strong congregational and choir singing. In 2003 a new Allen Renaissance electronic organ was installed. Electronic pianos serve us well in the balcony, sanctuary, choir room, and fellowship hall.
Sanctuary remodeling in 2010 included changes in the altar area, painting, new carpeting, new pews, and new pew chairs for added flexibility.
The Holy Spirit has guided St. James members to serve the community. Our building has provided space for beginning programs including Head Start and InTouch. In recent years, the congregation has sent groups or supplies to help rebuild storm damaged homes in New Orleans, North Dakota and New York.
Throughout the history of St. James members have studied the Bible, given support and comfort to each other, and celebrated the milestones in people’s lives. Year after year members of St. James remember Christ’s presence among us and press on to carry on its mission.
St. James celebrated its 65th anniversary in 2018.
The congregation has had five pastors, Verner E. Strand (1954-1963), Allen E. Nelson (1963-1982), Alfred K. Beck (1983-2007), Janet Lepp (2007-2015), and Donald L. Knowles (2017- ).
Building on an inspiring past, we strive to continue God’s work, using our hands.