History

St. James Episcopal Church, Cathlamet, Washington.

St. James, Cathlamet, is the result of faithful pioneers who began Episcopal worship in the 1850s. The Birnies, retirees from the Hudson’s Bay Company in the 1840s, moved to Cathlamet, which they named “Birnie’s Retreat.” They conducted worship here as lay people, aided by a very occasional priest or bishop to perform weddings and confirmations. Lay-led services continued throughout the 19th century, with Grace Church, Astoria, Oregon, taking the role of providing occasional clergy visits. By the 1930s, a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Cathlamet proved to be the impetus for regular services provided by the Episcopal church in Longview, Washington, as a road had finally been constructed to join Cowlitz and Wahkiakum Counties. The Longview/Cathlamet partnership eventually established St. James in 1958 as a mission church of St. Stephens, Longview. The church at Cathlamet was dedicated in 1961. St. James became a Diocesan mission in the early 1970s.

In 1985 St. James began a community ministry by establishing a preschool and then a day care facility. As this ministry expanded, a number of construction projects ensued to provide space for vital programs. This extended construction period culminated in the completion of the St. James Family Center in 1997. Meanwhile, the desire to provide the fullness of the sacramental life at St. James resulted in the congregation calling Irene Martin to be their priest (ordained under Canon 9 in 1992), and then the calling of a ministry team consisting of Gerry Brennan, Marion “Mickey” Carver, The Rev. Rachael Wolford (Deacon, 1998) and The Rev. JoAnn Prestegard (Priest), in 1999. The congregation is a Total Common Ministry congregation, looking forward to calling a new team.