The building of the first church was delayed for several reasons, but the cornerstone was finally laid on All Saints Day 1851. This building was consecrated on June 13, 1854 by Bishop Polk.
The church was very active in missionary work during the time of its first rector, The Reverend Amos McCoy. Mt. Olivet Chapel, Pineville, a missionary church of St. James, was consecrated on June 29, 1859 and is still in use as the Bishop's Chapel as well as the offices of the Diocese of Western Louisiana.
The first St. James Church was destroyed by fire during the retreat of the Union Army on May 13, 1864. The second church building was first used in October, 1871 but was destroyed by a tornado in May 1872. The cornerstone for the third church was laid on May 25, 1874 in a new location. The altar, chancel furniture, and pews from the second church were saved and used in this third church. On January 27, 1926, the cornerstone was laid for the fourth and present church.
The bell from the third church (1888) was moved to the present church as well as the white memorial tablet which was the cornerstone of the third church. The altar and baptismal font were placed in the main altar and have now been removed and used as a side altar (Mary Altar).
The Bishop's cathedra and sanctuary light in use today came from the third church. St. James' stained glass was executed by the Jacoby Art Glass Company of St. Louis, Missouri, and placed in position when the church was built in 1926. Some of the windows depict Christ's life in chronological order, while others reflect scenes and history of the Anglican church in America. The stained glass in the chapel originates from Christ Church which was a mission church of St. James from 1906 until the two congregations were united in 1926.
In April 1980, the formation of the new Diocese of Western Louisiana was completed, and the first Bishop was elected at St. James Episcopal Church. St. James has now become the traditional site for the election of bishops in this diocese.
St. James has had 13 rectors in its more than 150 year history. The parish records from the very beginning to the present have survived the disasters that have destroyed church buildings, and they continue to be housed at St. James. These are perhaps the oldest records in Rapides Parish.