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The Red Church


Saint James' Episcopal Church was first established in 1859. The current building was completed in 1860. St. James' was part of the Episcopal Church until 2007. A schism occurred over various theological issues and a number of the churches in the diocese dissolved their affiliation with The Episcopal Church. They accepted oversight by the Province of the Southern Cone, in South America.

A number of Episcopalians wished to remain with the Church. These faithful, with the assistance of the governing bodies of The Episcopal Church, reorganized the diocese. On March 29, 2008, a Special Convention was held, led by the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori. The Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb became our first provisional bishop.

On that day St. Mary in the Mountains organized in January 2008 by The Rev. Martin Risard, and his wife Alice, was formally recognized. Our first home was in a small room in the Senior Center in Sonora. Fr. Martin retired in 2010 and the Rev. Stan Coppel became priest-in-charge of the congregation.

In July 2011, after several weeks of backbreaking labor to get the building ready, we moved to our next location in Jamestown. Our first service coincided with the first visit of our new provisional bishop, the Rt. Rev. Chester Talton, who consecrated the building for use as our church.

After much time, litigation, and negotiation, St. James', popularly known as “The Red Church” returned to the Episcopal Church. The first service held upon the return of the church was on July 7, 2013.

Once again, St. James' Sonora, is part of Diocese of San Joaquin.


The Steeple

Thanks to a generous donation from Sonora Area Foundation, the Steeple was repaired in 2017.

The Bell

The bell is casted in the late 1800's. It is rung announcing each service. It is also rung to announce the beginning of Mother Lode Round-up Rodeo and Sonora Christmas Parades.

Flentrop Pipe Organ

St. James Episcopal Church has a pipe organ manufactured by Flentrop Orgelbouw in Zaandam, Holland. It is a single manual (keyboard) unit with 4 stops, or voices. The manual covers from C-G'" and the foot pedals from C-D'. The stops are named (in Dutch) Gedekt 8', Fluit 4', Prestant 2' and Mixtuur II. The Gedekt 8' (Gedeckt in German) stop is a type of covered flute stop while the Fluit 4' stop is an "open flute voice. The Prestant 2' is an open diapason stop and the Mixtuur II, a combination of the other three. The organ is tuned each year and the mechanism is inspected and serviced, such as the air compressor to assure reliable and "in-pitch" performance. The unit is approximately 89 inches tall x 59 inches wide and at 24 inches; deep is increased to about 4 foot depth by the foot pedal and organist's bench. It was installed during 1973.

Stained Glass Windows

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