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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.

Please fill out this welcome form to connect with us.

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

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)

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

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


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 9:00 to 11:05 a.m. during the program year (September to May) for infants and children under 3 who aren’t quite ready for our 2s & 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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The Third Sunday of Advent

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The Third Sunday of Advent

The Third Sunday of Advent

Series: Advent

Speaker: The Rev. Deborah Meister

Tags: christian, episcopal, john the baptist, sermon

3 AdventC; Dec 13, 2015                                                      The Rev. Deborah Meister
Zeph 3:14-20; Canticle 9
Phil 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18


            When my friend Sheelagh moved from England to the United States, one of the first things she did was go to church. The local parish was housed in a beautiful building; the congregation were welcoming; the music sublime. Sheelagh was feeling right at home until the rector climbed into the pulpit to deliver the sermon. After a long pause, he leaned out over the congregation and said, “You all are spawn of Satan!” While Sheelagh listened in stunned shock, the rector continued with a long rant about how horrible his parishioners were, how badly they treated one another and himself, then abruptly resigned and left the building. There was a long pause. Finally, the young curate gulped audibly, stood up, and said, “Let us now proclaim our faith in the words of the Nicene Creed.” And with that, the service continued as if nothing unusual had happened. When Sheelagh got home and told her husband about it, he tried to console her, saying, “I’m sure there are other parishes.” “Oh, no,” she replied, “I’m going back there. I need to see what happens next.”

            This Sunday has that feel to it, doesn’t it? We began by hearing heartbreaking news of the death of a much-beloved leader in this parish, and then the service continued. That is, of course, our Christian vocation: to redeem our sorrow by turning our human weeping into worship and praise.

            Today’s Gospel reading also has that feel, doesn’t it? John the Baptist appears in the wilderness proclaiming the forgiveness of sins and people flock to him from near and from far, hoping to hear a word of grace. And instead, he cried out, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” It’s easy to get fixated on that outcry;  its stridency, its rage, its uncanny ability to tap into our darkest fears that, yes, what we really deserve is wrath. And yet...if we stick around to see what happens next, it is startling in its simplicity. The crowds, jarred into alertness, ask what they can do to be saved, and John replies: Share. Be kind. Live an honest life.

            This stuff is not rocket science. It’s not even arcane.

            Sometimes I think we’d be more likely to obey if it were. People flock to learn yoga and kabbalah; they journey to the ends of the earth to visit places believed to be sacred (I’ve done some of that myself). They will twist their lives into pretzels trying to follow the commands of a demanding spiritual teacher, pour out money to build churches or make elaborate penance. And yet, none of these is required.

            What John asks of us, as he did of his first hearers, is an essential humility: not to believe that we are better than our brother. If we have two coats, share one; the stranger’s need is as great as our own. If we have food, offer some to people who are hungry; their stomachs work just like ours. In our work, be content with what we are due. Eschew corruption. Do not extort. This is fourth-grade ethics, and yet, what lies underneath is difficult: we can do these things only if we dethrone ourselves from the center of our world, if we allow that another person’s claim to the necessities of life is as significant as our own, because we share one Father in heaven.

            Easy to say, but this ethic, simple as it appears, makes considerable demands on our lives. We have seen two great instances of it this week, and I’d like to spend some time considering them. Yesterday, in Paris, representatives of 195 nations signed into international law an agreement to alter our economies and our way of life in a last-ditch attempt to prevent climate change from becoming catastrophic for us all. When I read that they had actually signed it, I wept for a good long time. I have been waiting for this almost my whole life. When I entered kindergarden or first grade, our science classes were focused on basic concepts. Monarch butterflies migrate from here to Mexico each year, and that means this whole world is one interconnected system. If you smoke, you will damage your lungs. (They put cotton wool into the lungs of a dummy and made it smoke cigarettes to show us how black that cotton became.) The world and this resources are finite, and if we pollute the air or the water, then the air we breathe will be black like that cotton and the water we drink will make us sick. And the air will become warmer, and that will damage that whole interconnected system, and creatures will start to die. We are creatures.

            The science was established enough to be part of a standard elementary-school curriculum more than thirty-five years ago, and yet, we have done almost nothing. We knew how to recycle when I was seven, but I was twenty-one before I was able to live in a town where recycling even existed -- and even then, we had to load it into the car and drive it to a recycling center forty-five minutes out of town. We’ve known about greenhouse gases, but we have failed to make agreement after agreement and have barely invested in alternative technologies. Over and over, we have believed that our desires were more important than our neighbor’s necessities, and we have failed to act.

            If you have been following the coverage of the Paris talks, two factors seem to have made a difference: science and morality. First, we are actually seeing the effects of change, not just hypothesizing that they might happen. Equally important, however, was a moral imperative: the conference was dominated by the voices of people from small countries that are in immediate peril, crying out to be heard as fellow human beings -- and they were. And the conference was laced with voices from developing nations asking for help in caring for their people without making use of the technologies that are destroying our environment -- and they were heard. In the end, achieving a worldwide commitment to change our ways required us to acknowledge not only the claims of science, but the claims of humanity.

            Early in Genesis, Cain stands over the slain body of his brother Abel and asks God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that Cain’s great question goes unanswered. It hovers, open-ended, over all the Old Testament, over exodus and kingdom, apostasy and exile, codes of righteousness and deeds of cruelty, until it is echoed in the lawyer’s question -- “Who is my neighbor? -- and finally receives its response in the death and resurrection of Christ. Yesterday, it was embodied in international law: yes, we are our brother’s keepers, and our sister’s, and our grandchildren’s, for we depend for our very lives on one fragile, complex, achingly beautiful home, and we will thrive or perish together.

            After that, the second instance of humility seems like a small thing, but we have been starved for good news lately, so here it is: a group of twenty-five prominent Orthodox rabbis have issued a joint letter affirming that “Christianity is neither an accident nor an error, but the willed divine outcome and gift to the nations,”  and calling upon Jews and Christians to partner in offering “models of service, unconditional love, and holiness” to the world. Why is this a big deal? First, because it has never happened before. Second, because it is a profound instance of grace canceling the blood-soaked claims of history. For almost two thousand years, Christians have showed their most unredeemed face in our treatment of our Jewish brothers and sisters. It took the horrors of Holocaust for us to begin to reckon with the horror of that behavior and the weight of that debt. What this letter means is that, for a number of significant leaders in Judaism, that time of atonement is over.[1] Our efforts to respect Jewish teachings and customs have been accepted as honest and profound cultural change. Now, we are able to go forward, not as rivals, but as partners. God has changed our shame into praise. (Zeph 3:19)

            Going back to Genesis, when the younger son Jacob stole his older brother’s Esau’s blessing, Esau cried out, “Have you but one blessing, Father? Bless me, me also, Father!” That question, too, has haunted our history, for if there is only one blessing, then we must necessarily be rivals and compete for it. But the answer, of course, is that blessing comes, not from humankind, but from God: blessing is infinite, and it can reach all of us. Finally, we are beginning to understand.

            Share. Be kind. Live an honest life. The words are so simple, and yet, if we lived them, we would inhabit a different world. A world in which the specter of need would not hang over so many; a world in which strangers were welcomed as brothers, not feared as rivals; a world in which the very real danger of destruction would pass out of memory.

            At the end of John the Baptist’s tirade, St. Luke observes, “with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.” (Luke 3:18) The good news, because this cry for repentance ushers in a renewed humanity, a healthy world, relationships restored. In a few words, John breaks the iron chains of history, and holds out the promise of a future that begins anew. “For surely I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans of welfare, not of anguish, to give you a future with hope.” (Jer 29:11)

            And so, beloved,“Rejoice and exult with all your heart...! For the Lord has taken away the judgments against [us]...He will rejoice over [us] with gladness, he will renew [us] in his love.” (Zeph 3:14, 19-20)      


[1] I should emphasize that these leaders speak for themselves; there is no central authority in Judaism.