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 1940 Hymn #211 Played by Clyde McLennan

The History of St. James Anglican Church


Bishop Frank H. BenningTHEN...

St. James Anglican Episcopal Church was established in 1967 by Bishop Frank H. Benning. With a tiny congregation, services were held at Bishop (then Rev. Father) Benning's home. A short time later as the congregation grew in numbers the Sunday services were held in the conference hall of the Atlanta Federal Savings & Loan Bank at the corner of Peachtree and Piedmont Roads in Buckhead.

St. James November 1974 in Sandy SpringsFrom its founding in 1967 through 1974 the congregation of St. James grew and members were successful in raising money to purchase the property at 5975 Mitchell Road in (what was then) a rural area in the distant northern suburbs of Atlanta known as Sandy Springs. It is at the Mitchell Road location (as seen to the left in 1974) that St. James continues faithfully today, over 50 years later.

From her founding in 1967 through 1979, St. James was a member of Anglican Orthodox Church. However as the Episcopal Church moved farther away from the orthodox Anglican faith, Bishop Benning as well as many other Anglican Bishops began to consider disconnecting from the Episcopal Church.

When the mainstream Episcopal Church cancelled all of use of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer (replacing it with the modernized and reworded 1979 version) the tough decision was finalized. It was at this time Bishop Benning discontinued all associations with the mainstream Episcopal Church. As countless other churches left as well, St. James became a veritable "lighthouse" to the now "churchless" clergy and congregations across the United States (and worldwide).

Forward into the 1980's St. James became one of the most well known traditional Anglican Episcopal Churches in the South East United States. As leadership for traditional Episcopalians was scarce, in the late 1980's Bishop Benning founded the Anglican Episcopal Diocese South as a means to help provide oversight and guidance to the various traditional (Anglican) Episcopal parishes, missions and clergy across the world who had also withdrawn from the now "modern" Episcopal Church. During this time Bishop Benning served as the endorsing Bishop for The United States Department of Defense for all enlisting Anglican Episcopal clergy and chaplains. Bishop Benning also traveled across the world to various missions as far away as India and South America. Every year Bishop Benning and the congregation hosted various Anglican clergy from across the world at St. James for ordinations, confirmations and weddings.

In the mid 1990's St. James made another large move into youth ministries and expanded it's public service into the education of children when it opened St. James Anglican Church Montessori Pre-School, the first ever Montessori Pre-School to combine both the Montessori Method with the Anglican Episcopal faith. With plans to grow further both Bishop Benning and St. James eagerly looked towards the millennium with high hopes. With plans to expand St. James location by building a larger church on site Bishop Benning (a former architect) began the planning stages of construction.

However in May of 2000 St. James, her congregation and pre-school suffered a crippling loss as Bishop Benning died suddenly from complications brought on by a heart attack. In less than one week Bishop Benning was admitted to the hospital and passed away. His death came so swiftly that many clergy across the world were left struggling to understand what had happened. Bishop Benning's funeral, held at St. James was followed by his being laid to rest next to his wife Elizabeth Benning who served as St. James organist for years. It is there in Arlington Cemetery only a short walk from the front door of St. James where Bishop Benning's remains rest in peace.

NOW...

With the passing of Bishop Benning, all plans for the expansion of St. James ended. Even though the Montessori pre-school closed and membership dwindled, St. James maintained her presence in Sandy Springs in this ever increasing modern era. In 2012, during the celebration of our 45th anniversary, Bishop Benning's grandson William began realigning St. James to the traditional Anglican Episcopal faith upheld and maintained by his Grandfather so many years ago.

This marked the restoring of all services to follow the 1928 Book of Common Prayer with direct guidance from Bishop Larry Johnson of the Anglican Church of Virginia and the Anglican Church in the United States of America (ACUSA). Because all other traditional Anglican Episcopal Churches are either younger or use variants of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer instead of the original; St. James remains the oldest continuing traditional Anglican Episcopal Church in the state of Georgia.

At St. James we cater to those who seek a traditional Episcopal worship service based in the timeless beauty and solemn dignity of the Anglican Faith found only in the true and original 1928 Book of Common Prayer.

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