St. James Gives Gifts for Its Birthday

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St. James Anglican Church invites the community to attend a series of events in its courtyard to mark its 70 years in Newport Beach.

St. James Anglican Church is celebrating a big birthday this year, and the community is invited to the party. Actually, it’s several parties over many months; three have already been wonderfully successful and there are still two more.

“It is our 70th year in Newport Beach, and it’s exciting to give back to the community that we love so much,” Rev. Cathie Young explained. “We’re so blessed to be residents of Newport and it’s our desire to be a blessing in return. Unlike birthdays where people give presents to the birthday celebrant, we have wonderful outreach events which we are giving as gifts to the community.”

Rev. Cathie, associate rector at St. James, explained the motivation for the events.

“God put us in Newport Beach for a reason,” she said. “We want to meet the people. We had a great jazz festival in July with over 250 people and at least 80 came from the community. It happened because a group of our folks thought we should open the gates and share our beautiful courtyards with our neighbors. So we did, and it was awesome! We found ourselves wondering why we hadn’t thought of it before.”

Guests enjoyed the Henry Franklin Quartet for free and could purchase signature dishes from local restaurants for a nominal fee. This Sunday, from 5 to 7 p.m., the community is invited to hear Arnie’s Swing Machine, a ’40s-era big band, that will play jazz favorites while guests enjoy food and fellowship in the courtyard.

Babies and children have always been welcomed and well loved at St. James, and this year that love has spread even further. St. James just held its first military baby shower, hosted by parishioner Vicki Barnes and St. James women. Vicki said the idea came about while delivering Christmas presents to Camp Pendleton, when she struck up a conversation with a woman at the chaplain’s office.

“She said something about baby showers, and God gave me a vision of eight decorated tables. Next thing I knew I was in charge of a military baby shower!” Vicki said. “They’re first-time moms from Camp Pendleton and Los Alamitos National Guard, young mothers needing help and encouragement, besides our thanks for serving our country. I fell in love with them before even meeting them.”

“The woman at the chaplain’s office said to contact Operations Showers of Appreciation and Celebrate the Military Child,” Vicki explained. “They gave a list of essential items and suggested giving every mother the same things. The response from the community was fabulous! Bella Terra Mall in Huntington Beach underwrote all the clothes and blankets and Whole Foods donated wonderful gift bags. How great that a mall stepped in and helped a church!

“It turned out to be seven moms and eight babies, since one is having twins. I asked eight women to be table hostesses. They talked to the mothers ahead of time, invited friends to come and decorated the tables,” Vicki continued. “We gave the moms the three P’s: prayer, the presence of Jesus’ love through us, and presents.”

Beth Borbon, Children’s Ministry director at St. James, explained the community approach to their recent Vacation Bible School.

“Many of us share the desire to break outside the church walls, to really share the love of Jesus and serve the community,” Beth said. “It was our first VBS off campus, and it was so much fun! We held it at Bonita Creek Park. The city of Newport Beach was instrumental in helping us find the right park and making it happen. I encouraged our people to invite others and we hung door hangers around the neighborhoods inviting people to come.”

“We had 36 kids, and 23 weren’t from St. James,” Beth continued. “I loved watching their eyes open to how much God loves them and that God can do anything. They all wanted to be heroes for God and each day they helped with a different service project serving the community. The kids loved it! It was really a beautiful example of teamwork in the family of God and it made us excited to do more.”

The final community outreach event will be the 9/11 Memorial Concert with music by the 40-piece Orange County Collegiate Orchestra. The theme of the free concert is “Sorrow, Resilience and Hope” and Rev. Cathie said that besides honoring those who lost their lives 10 years ago on 9/11, the evening is designed to point to the hope of God.

“Hope is at the heart of our Christian faith,” Rev. Cathie said. “We have hope because we are confident that God can bring something good out of our sorrows and tragedies.” For more information visit

Cindy can be reached at [email protected].

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