MONTCLAIR, NJ  -- Saint James Episcopal Church has been selected for the 2014 Best of Montclair Award in the Places of Worship category by the Montclair Award Program.

The Montclair Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in the Montclair community and the small-business community's contributions to the U.S. economy. Each year, it identifies companies it believes has achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business categories. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small businesses through service to their customers and the community, making the Montclair area a great place to live, work and play.

“My gratitude is for them taking notice of how hard St. James is working to not only be a good congregation for themselves but also to be a good congregation to the community,” said the Rev. C. Melissa Hall, St. James interim rector.

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Located at the intersection of Valley and Bellevue in the heart of Upper Montclair, St. James has partnered with local businesses on events and mission projects to benefit the local and global communities.

Most recently, St. James' interfaith preschool has recently worked with Little Shoebox, local Scout troops and other area organizations to collect 1,100 pairs of gently used shoes for distribution through Soles4Souls, a nonprofit agency that has distributed 22 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries. The congregation and preschool also collected 120 bags of groceries for Montclair’s Human Needs Food Pantry before Thanksgiving.

Working with the Upper Montclair Business Association, St. James hosted a fall festival with pony rides and a petting zoo that drew 500 people to the church lawn in October and hosted a holiday tree lighting on Nov. 29 to support the business community in bringing people to the neighborehood.

Other St. James initiatives in 2014 have included an “Empty Bowls” food collection for the needy, a youth mission trip to Appalachia, a radio drama-style presentation of “The Merry Widows” by the St. James Players church theater company, and the hosting of community events, including the Oratorio Society’s Dec. 2 “Messiah Sing”. On Dec.6 St. James hosted a holiday party for children with parents incarcerated in Essex County jails.

“The congregation’s efforts with the Upper Montclair Business Community, their community outreach with the shoe drive, their work with the Empty Bowls project and the food drive during Thanksgiving for the Human Needs Food Pantry – all of those things they’ve done not looking for recognition,” Hall said. “But the fact that it’s been recognized, I think, is a wonderful thing.

“It’s a great sense of accomplishment, but more so knowing that the congregation has had such an impact on the community and means something important to the community,” she said. “The community knows that it can rely on us, that we’re here not in isolation. We’re here as part of the community.”

Upcoming free holiday events at St. James include:

  • Sunday, Dec. 14, Lessons and Carols service at 10:15 a.m., followed by hot chocolate, refreshments and caroling on the front lawn at 11:30 a.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 21, Adult Christmas Pageant and Holy Communion, 8:15 a.m.; Children’s Christmas Pageant and Holy Communion with choir, 10:15 a.m.; “Hanging of the Greens” church decoration and potluck lunch, 11:30 a.m..
  • Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, Family Holy Communion with choir, 4 p.m.; musical prelude, 10 p.m.; Holy Communion with choir, 10:30 p.m.
  • Christmas Day, Dec. 25, Holy Communion, 10 a.m.
  • Sunday, Jan. 4, Epiphany Holy Communion, 8:15 a.m.; Epiphany Holy Communion with choir and a visit by the Three Kings, 10:15 a.m.

All events at the church are free and open to the public.

Montclair Award Program