This church, the first Lutheran congregation in Sumter County, was organized in 1890 as a Home Mission, with six charter members and with Rev. F.W.E. Peschau as its first pastor. The congregation met in area churches, public buildings, or homes for several years. Its first church, built 1894-96, was a frame building at the corner of Washington Street and Hampton Avenue.
The longest-serving pastors of St. James were Revs. J. Emmet Roof, who served 1947-1963, and Alvin H. Haigler, Sr., who served 1972-1992; the present brick sanctuary was built 1977-78 and consecrated during Rev. Haigler's pastorate. Six members of St. James entered the ministry between 1956 and 2002, and three members became missionaries to Africa in 1968 and 2002.