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Welcome

Welcome to St. Alban’s Church! Every Sunday, and most days in between, people gather in this place to worship, to learn, to grow, to share the joys and struggles of our lives, and to seek God’s grace in the midst of our lives. We do not come because we have it all figured out, but because we are seeking light on the way. We come as we are and welcome one another.

On this website, you can find information about our worship, our classes for people of all ages, membership at St. Alban's, and about how we seek to make a difference in this world. We warmly encourage you to join us for a Sunday service or for some of the many other events that happen here. You belong at St. Alban’s.

Contact us with any questions. Call (202) 363-8286 or email the church office.

Service Times

SUNDAY SERVICES (after Labor Day through May)
8:00 a.m.       Holy Eucharist: Rite I (spoken)

9:00  a.m.      Holy Eucharist: Rite II

                        Children's Chapel

                        Teen Fellowship Service (Little Sanctuary)

11:15 a.m.      Misa in Español (Little Sanctuary)

11:15 a.m.      Holy Eucharist: Rite II (Rite I during Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter)

WEEKDAY SERVICES
Monday, Wednesday, & Thursday, 9:00 a.m.  Daily Morning Prayer

Tuesday, 7:30 a.m.                                    Holy Eucharist: Rite II

Directions

St. Alban’s Episcopal Church is located next to the Washington National Cathedral at the corner of Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues in the northwest section of the District of Columbia.

From either direction on the north loop of the Capital Beltway/I-495 follow signs for Route 355/Wisconsin Ave south toward DC. St. Alban’s is located on the left just before the intersection of Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues NW. Make a left onto Lych Gate Rd before you reach Massachusetts Ave. As you enter the drive, the church will be on your left and Satterlee Hall and the Rectory on the right. Stay on Lych Gate until it becomes Pilgrim Rd.

From any Virginia main in-bound thoroughfare (George Washington Memorial Parkway, I-395, Route 50, I-66), follow signs to Rosslyn and take the Key Bridge from Rosslyn north across the Potomac River into Georgetown. Go right on M St, left on Wisconsin Ave. St. Alban’s is located on the right just after the intersection of Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues NW. Make a right onto Lych Gate Rd after passing Massachusetts. As you enter the drive, the church will be on your left and Satterlee Hall and the Rectory on the right. Stay on Lych Gate until it becomes Pilgrim Rd.

Parking is available on Pilgrim Road Monday-Friday after 3:30 pm and all day Saturday and Sunday. Parking is also available in the Cathedral’s underground garage for a fee Monday- Saturday and for free on Sunday.  You may also park on neighborhood streets according to DC parking signs.

What to Expect

Visiting a church for the first time can be a bit daunting. So we have tried to put together the answers to some of the questions you’re likely to have and to ensure that you find a warm welcome here. Click on the questions to learn more.)

How do you worship?

What time are services on Sunday morning?

How long do services last?

Where can I park?

Do you offer programs for children?

What should I wear?

Do you have provisions for the differently-abled?

For Your Kids

Children’s Ministry

At St. Alban’s Parish the formation of our children is a high priority.  While we know that a significant amount of a child’s faith comes from the home, we aim to provide excellent children’s formation throughout the year to complement the formation that is ongoing in a child’s life.  Our goal is to help children easily point to the love of God in their lives.

Worship: Children’s Chapel meets at the start of the 9:00 a.m. service in Nourse Hall. Children join the congregation in "big church" at the Peace, in time for Eucharist.

Education: All church school classes resume the Sunday after Labor Day with our annual Open House. Instruction starts the following Sunday. 

Nursery care: Child care is available from 10:15 to 11:05 a.m. for children under 3 who aren't quite ready for our 2s and 3s class.

Learn more about Children's Ministries


Youth Ministry

Four teen groups participate in formation classes at St. Alban’s on Sunday mornings.  We use the nationally recognized Episcopal curriculum “Journey to Adulthood," or J2A.  J2A has two guiding principles: 1) Manhood and womanhood are gifts of God; and 2) Adulthood must be earned. This is a strong program with over 50 youth participating, many of whom engage in a wide variety of ministries at St. Alban’s. Two or three adults mentor each of the groups for two years, sharing their own faith journeys and forming strong bonds of fellowship with the participants. 

Worship:  St. Alban’s Teen Service Fellowship starts at 9:00 a.m. and is a separate service just for our teens held in the Little Sanctuary at St. Albans School. This interactive service offers teens time to talk about life, the Gospel, and to celebrate Eucharist together.  The teens return to "big church," before heading to their classes at the conclusion of the 9:00 a.m. worship service.  Friends are always welcome.

Learn more about Youth Ministries

The Episcopal Church

As Episcopalians, we follow Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe God is active in our everyday lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.  

The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and with each other in Christ. The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the gospel, and promotes justice, peace and love. The Church carries out its mission through the ministry of all of its members.

We uphold the Bible and worship with the Book of Common Prayer. We believe the Holy Scriptures are the revealed Word of God. In worship we unite ourselves with one another to acknowledge the holiness of God, to hear God's Word, to offer prayer and praise, and to celebrate the Sacraments. The Celebration of Holy Eucharist is the central act of worship in accordance with Jesus' command to His disciples. Holy Communion may be received by all baptized Christians, not only members of the Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion with 70 million members in 165 countries.  The word "Episcopal" refers to government by bishops. The historic episcopate continues the work of the first apostles in the Church, guarding the faith, unity and discipline of the Church. Both men and women, including those who are married, are eligible for ordination as deacons, priests and bishops. 

We strive to love our neighbors as ourselves and respect the dignity of every person. We welcome all to find a spiritual home in the Episcopal Church.

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Not by Sight

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04.23.17

Not by Sight

Not by Sight

Series: Easter

Speaker: The Rev'd Emily Griffin

Well, that didn’t take long. One week out from Easter, and already we’re back to doubt. The questions that were temporarily drowned out by the trumpets and timpani, by the beauty of the lilies, have risen to the surface once more. It’s as if our questions aren’t meant to be drowned out forever, that our doubts might actually be part of a living, breathing, embodied faith.

In our first reading from Acts, we’re just fifty days out from Easter – less than two months from the empty tomb, and already the case for resurrection has to be made again. Here we have Peter using every tool he can find to argue for the possibility of a risen Christ. You see, the crowd he’s addressing on the street on Pentecost didn’t get all those strange Jesus sightings spoken of by the inner core in those early days – the oddly formal greetings at the tomb, the breaking of the bread at Emmaus, the breaking of Jesus into locked rooms to show his friends his wounds. It begs the question - where do we go for faith in new life after death when we don’t have all those sightings to rely on?

Peter, for his part, starts out by reminding his fellow Israelites of what they actually had seen – the deeds of power, the signs and wonders, the healings and miracles they saw Jesus perform when he was still walking and talking among them. They might not be able to see them now, but they can still remember, can’t they? But then he catches himself mid-stream making a less than airtight case and switches tactics.  I mean, how convincing could all those signs have been if the people ended up calling for Jesus’ death anyway? Seeing alone doesn’t seem to be enough to engender a lasting faith.

So where does Peter turn next? He – or rather Luke, the author of Acts and Peter’s inadvertent speechwriter, feels around in his rhetorical toolbox and pulls out Scripture this time. In this case, it’s a portion of Psalm 16 – the psalm we just read together/heard sung in its entirety. You may have noticed some differences between what we just read/heard and what Peter ends up quoting. It’s not just creative license that accounts for the difference. I’m going to head into the tall grass for a bit, but sometimes translation differences do matter. Our psalm is essentially a translation from the Hebrew, something Luke didn’t have access to when he wrote Acts. For Luke, the only Scripture he knew was a Greek translation called the Septuagint. And already, some of the subtleties of the more earthy Hebrew had been lost in translation to the more polite, abstracted Greek.

But even without translation difficulties, Psalm 16 posed a real problem for its earliest interpreters. For centuries, people had to wonder what in God’s name the psalmist was talking about: “For you will not abandon me to the grave, nor let your holy one see the Pit.” Back in those days, avoiding the Pit – or Sheol – wasn’t an option. It was the realm of the dead, where everyone went when they died. It wasn’t a punishment; back then, there was no sense of an eternal reward for good behavior or for theological correctness. You didn’t get upgraded for being right or downgraded for being wrong. All the divine rewards and punishments were realized in this life, or so all the religious experts of his time told him. So what exactly did the psalmist know that others didn’t, and more to the point, how could he have known it?

Fortunately for our psalmist, he had more than just his eyes to rely on. He knew things in his body, even if they weren’t fully accessible yet to his rational mind. He says, for example, that “my heart teaches me night after night” – or to read the Hebrew literally, “my kidneys teach me.” Kidneys? You heard me right. You see, the ancient Hebrews located their unseen faculties, things like their conscience and intelligence and will, in various body parts. They had to live somewhere, right? The kidneys, for instance, were the seat of one’s conscience. We don’t know how they made these associations, but some of them at least make sense. Those late night, early morning trips to the bathroom – who knows? They might be keeping you up for a reason. Maybe they are occasions for conscience to call. It’s possible.

Likewise, compassion was found not in the heart, where we might locate it these days, but in the bowels. Yes, that’s right – the bowels. So when the King James Version talks about people’s bowels being moved, they’re not being graphic or naughty, unfortunately; they’re translating literally. And as for the heart, it wasn’t the seat of our emotions or affections back then; it wasn’t the realm of sentimentality or of Valentine’s Day. No, the heart was where arguments were weighed and decisions were made. Our intellect, our reasoning, our wills – these could be found not in the brain (where we might put them now), but in the heart. And it’s this part of himself – including his rational mind - that the psalmist says is made “glad” by the presence of God.

Part of the reason it’s so difficult translating from Hebrew to Greek, or to English for that matter, is because of how the ancient Hebrews understood human life. They didn’t divide us into a mortal body and an immortal soul, as the Greeks did and as we still tend to do – judging by your average funeral consolation. To be alive for the Hebrews was to be one thing – body, mind and spirit combined, indivisible. That’s part of what made death so final for them, Sheol or the Pit so incomprehensible. How could we relate to God outside of our bodies, they wondered? Why would God bother being somewhere where true relationship with us was impossible?

The psalmist here is stretching beyond what he can see; he’s trusting in what his whole being is telling him – that there is absolutely no point where God abandons us for good. We’ll still die, of course; but we are always in God’s presence, whether we feel it or not, whether we acknowledge it or not. Or as another psalm puts it, “if I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there…I come to the end – I am still with you.”  It’s that realization – that knowledge in his bones, beyond any need for proof - that brings the psalmist not just feelings of happiness, but lasting joy.

I wonder if that’s what Thomas finds by the end of today’s Gospel reading. For him too, it’s just a week or so from Easter. He’s remembered primarily for his doubt, but I’m not sure he gets a fair shake in the press. He wasn’t the only one struggling with a risen Christ, not by a long shot. He was just more direct about what he needed.

For whatever reason, he wasn’t with the rest of the disciples Easter night when they first saw what they saw. We’re not told why. Maybe he wanted to be alone. Or maybe he just wasn’t as paralyzed by fear as his colleagues. Maybe he didn’t need to stay behind locked doors shaking in his boots; the government, the religious leaders had already done their worst. Jesus was dead. If they rounded him up too, so what? He wasn’t afraid to die for the sake of following Jesus. Back when Jesus was contemplating a return to Judea after Lazarus’ death, it was Thomas who convinced the others to go too. He said, “let us also go, that we may die with him.” It wasn’t death he feared or doubted; it was resurrection.

Jesus in the Gospels has a way of meeting people in precisely the way they need. Mary knew him by his voice, others by the breaking of bread. Thomas, for his part, needed more than eyewitness testimony. He needed more even than what his own eyes could see. He needed to know with his hands, with his body that death hadn’t separated him from the love of God. So Jesus comes to him and invites him to touch the wounds that are still there. It’s interesting that we’re never told if Thomas actually reaches out and does so. The invitation alone is enough to make him say “My Lord and my God.” Knowing that he’s in Christ’s presence opens him up again to all his different ways of knowing – his body, his mind, through contemplation; he can hear Jesus’ words now not as reproach but as experientially true, knowing now that seeing alone is overrated. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

So where does that leave us? If the people around Jesus questioned what they’d seen less than two months after that first Easter, if doubt was present after just a week, what about us who are over 2000 years removed? The good news today is that seeing isn’t our only way of knowing God. It never has been. The ancient Israelites followed an unseen God all their days and still found ways to know the joy of God’s presence. And as for us Jesus followers, well, he’s still here with us too as the Almighty always has been – in our conscience, in our emotions, in our intellects and will – or as the ancient Hebrews might have put it – in our kidneys, our bowels, our hearts. That’s a pretty startling realization for a recovering evangelical like me – that the body isn’t the enemy of the spiritual life but could actually be a trusted friend. Our bodies aren’t failsafe witnesses, of course; I’m not sure there’s any part of us that isn’t open to some self-deception. That’s why we need communities of faith over time like this one to help us test our knowledge and stretch our reason, to give us rituals and practices like Communion that help us embody our faith even when we do have questions, to help us know we’re not alone in our doubts – that we’re not alone, period. To the God who opens us up again to all our ways of knowing and promises to find us there – Amen.