When you first visit St James Santiago Church, you might think it a quiet, even serene place. Nestled in a wooded setting, high on a hill in Lincoln City, it feels far from the maddening crowd. But looks can be deceptive! St James is a busy place, filled with people doing wonderful things.
Established in 1938, it is the spiritual home to a small but dedicated group of people, led by the Rev Chris Hertlein – Madre Chris. As with most churches in tourist venues, our Congregation swells during the summer and on holiday weekends. We are always happy to reconnect with returning beach-goers, many coming back year after year.
We have a small but dedicated Latino membership, and a bi-monthly Spanish language Misa offers the whole Congregation a rich spiritual and cultural experience. As the difficulties facing our Latino brothers and sisters have increased in recent times, we have made efforts to seek out practical ways to help. We have invited representatives of legal advocacy groups to speak to us about ways to respond to legal issues related to immigration and help us understand the unique and troubling problems that our Latino community faces. Led by our Deacon, Kristina Burbank, we continue to seek ways to help and decided to set aside funds to be used for legal emergencies, should they arise.
Since 2001 St James has been serving hot meals to the Lincoln City community three times a week. In an area of low incomes, with a significant homeless population, the Community Meal Program is an important outreach in a location with few of the helping agencies that are found in cities. Our guests at these meals average 40 in number and are provided with a nutritious meal and an opportunity for companionship. The meal program is an integral part of who we are. Most meals are cooked by St James members, the remainder are provided by members of other Lincoln City churches and businesses.
St James Santiago school provides an outstanding K through 6 education. It was started in 2013 by two church members and has grown by leaps and bounds since then, outgrowing its original setting within the church buildings and recently completing a purpose-built building. During the school year the church and grounds buzz with activity, and evidence of youthful creativity are in evidence on many walls! The relationship between church and school is very special. At a time of smaller – and aging – congregations, our School provides a wonderful outreach to young families, and gives St James a presence in the lives of people who might not otherwise have a connection with a community of faith.
In addition to the School and Meal Program, St James also provides a venue for 12 step groups – it really is a busy place! We also have several four-footed residents, families of deer who enjoy “dining” in our Memorial Garden. They often visit during Sunday services, peering through the large windows, frequently during sermons, giving Madre Chris some stiff competition for the Congregation’s attention!
We are a special place, with special people, each serving the Lord in their own way. We may be small in number but are mighty in deeds. Come visit us next time you’re at the beach – there are no strangers here, just friends waiting to meet!