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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.

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

Please note: In-person services are temporarily suspended.

We invite you to join us for on-line worship on Sundays beginning at 8:00 a.m., in English and Spanish on our YouTube page

 

 

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 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 Treasures of the Church

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08.28.16

The Treasures of the Church

    The Treasures of the Church

    Series: Pentecost

    Speaker: The Rev. Deborah Meister

                Two years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Morocco. Near the end of my time there, I found myself traveling through countryside that bore a striking resemblance to the California wine country: the same tawny hills, dotted with olive groves; the same parched grasses; the same clear skies. The most obvious difference was that every few miles, a slash of bright blue would cut across the landscape; unlike Californians, the Moroccans had build reservoirs all over their valleys, seeking to ensure that every drop of water that fell from heaven would be available to sustain the community. In California, there were pipelines rather than reservoirs: the assumption was that water was not grace, but a commodity, and they could always buy it from poorer communities further up the pipeline.

                The prophet Jeremiah calls God’s people to task, alleging that they have changed their gods: “they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jer 2:13) The contrast is clear: God pours out upon us living water, which means running water, water that comes in an endless supply and is always clean and clear. But we try to hoard God’s goodness, storing it up in cisterns, and compound our error by failing to see that cisterns always leak, because the good things of God are meant to be given freely.

                In the days after the Hebrews first escaped from Egypt, God sent manna from heaven so that they would not be hungry. Moses instructed the people, “Gather only what you need for one day,” but some people gathered more. (Ex 16:4) It was a natural impulse; they were tired and frightened; they were in a barren desert without food; empty sand stretched out around them as far as the horizon; they feared being hungry for a long time. But when they woke the next morning, the stored manna had rotted and bred worms. When we pray, “give us this day our daily bread,” that is the echo we should hear; God gives us what we need each day, and we can only wait for it in trust.

                What, then, are the riches of God? If we are not meant to store up piles of food, water, or gold, is there anything that endures? There is, and I want to get there by taking you back to the third century, to the precarious early days of the church.  In the year 257, the Roman Emperor Valerian began a new wave of persecution against Christians, and one year later he arrested the Pope and his seven deacons. The Roman officer executed the pope and six of the deacons, sparing only the life of a man named Laurence, whom he ordered to turn over to him the church’s treasures. (After all, what good is a persecution without the opportunity for loot?)  Laurence went out into the town and rounded up the sick, the lame, the blind, the poor, the lepers — all those whom he had assisted with funds —, and assembled them on the steps of the church. When the Roman prefect arrived, expecting to be given cups and plates and bags of gold and silver, Laurence pointed to the people on the steps, saying, “These are the treasures of the church.”

                These are the treasures of the church — these people whom no one else wanted. The people who were broken, the people who were believed to have been cursed, the people who could not find work and had to beg: these are the people whom the church treasures, because they are the people God treasures. Jesus says as much in today’s Gospel: “when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you.” (Luke 14:13-14)

                This is a challenging teaching. The easiest way to deal with it is to retreat into a gauzy sentimentality, one which imagines that those in need are automatically good, kind, and generous, and so God loves them and we must be like them. Well, I have been distributing the resources of the church to people in need for more than fourteen years, and I have to tell you: the poor are not necessarily the sweet. In dealing with the poor, I have met some extraordinarily lovely people, men and women whose courage and resilience put me to shame, but I have also been lied to, manipulated, and scammed. I have been forced to confront the truth that when we allow people to live in desperate circumstances, all too often they will do whatever they have to in order to survive. So we can’t just take the easy route and say that Jesus loves the poor and the broken because they deserve it more than we do. None of us deserves the love that God pours upon us with such abandon, every single day of our lives.

                No, what Jesus is saying is far more subversive than that. Let’s look at that teaching again: “You will be blessed, because they cannot repay you.” In that one sentence, Jesus cuts us free from the economy of compulsion and lifts us into an economy of grace. In our daily lives, in our work, our shopping, we operate on a basis of even exchange. I want a bar of soap and you have one, so I pay you two dollars and you give it to me. I want to advance in my work, so I stay late to help you get your project in before the deadline, knowing that the next deadline is mine, and I will need you to be there for me. Too often, this barter mentality carries on even into our relationships; I cannot count the number of people who have come to me, numb, when they’ve left an important position and suddenly their friends would not return their phone calls.

                 It’s as if all our lives were one of those potlatches that take place in certain native cultures. For me, the nearest association I have with “potlatch” is a seasoning mix that I put on salmon, but an anthropologist will tell you that a potlatch is a feast at which the host gives gifts to his guests in order to gain influence. The problem is that, once one leader has given a potlatch, he challenges the other leaders to reciprocate, and to gain status they have to offer more food and give more gifts than the last host. The whole tribe ends up trapped in an escalating spiral that was meant to be a system of generosity, but which has become an inexorable process of bankrupting oneself in order to gain prestige. These mercenary relationships are the stuff of our every day, but they are cracked cisterns; if we put our trust in them, they will leave us empty.

                Jesus sets us free from all that, saying, “you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you.” By removing the issue of reciprocity from our acts of generosity, Jesus frees us to give simply because we want to. Giving gifts becomes, not an act of self-advancement, but an act of love, giving to the other because we wish her well, not because we wish ourselves well. When our volunteers go to the Tubman School, or cook for Grate Patrol or Christ House, or when our Stephen Ministers sit up late with a person in distress, they are not doing these things to advance their careers or burnish their images. They are giving to help people, to show people that God loves them. It is that simple. And yet, Jesus implies that this, too, is of ultimate benefit. In showing the tenderness of God to those who know too little of tenderness, we are emulating the love that Christ gives to each of us, to those whose weaknesses are self-evident and to those of us whose weaknesses are better concealed. If we spend enough time with that tenderness, we may even learn to trust that it is there for us as well.

                Last week, the New York Times ran an Op Ed piece calling for the formation of a Disabled Pride movement, much like Gay Pride or Black is Beautiful.[1] I have to admit, I had a hard time imagining what Disabled Pride would look like, partly because the disabled people I know tend to focus on their ability, not their disability. But tucked away inside that article was a surprising statistic: one American in five will be disabled for part of his or her life.

                My stepmother tasted that experience a few years ago. A hard-charging businesswoman, she was running down a flight of stairs with her laptop when a sudden fall broke enough bones in her foot that she was in a wheelchair for months. She, who had not previously paid attention to whether stores had ramps or whether restaurant bathrooms were located down a flight of stairs, suddenly found that these were matters of pressing importance as she tried to navigate the demands of every day.  She and my father even had to rent an apartment that was all on one level; their own home would no longer work for her. They were literally displaced from their life.  Suddenly, she saw anew how her prized independence really relied upon the care that other people — people she might never meet — had taken to prepare for her.

                The truth, of course, is that we are all, at times, the poor, the lame, the blind. That’s why this teaching is good news. If we had to depend primarily on our own strength, if our salvation or even our happiness depended upon getting the highest seat at the table, we would be living in a world without mercy. But this is God’s world, and God is mercy. We live in a world whose ruler wants to lift us up, who shakes us out of our self-reliance only so that he can come to each one of us and raise us up, saying: “Friend, move up higher.”

                That simple phrase is the touchstone of the Christian life. If we are living faithfully, we are raising one another up, one word, one gesture, one act at time.  When we comfort a weeping child or hold the hand of a person who is frightened to die, when we march against racism or work to improve legislation that benefits those who are out of work, we are living into our Christian vocation.

                But Jesus is after something more radical still. First, he weans us from our cracked cisterns; then, he lifts us into an economy of grace. Lastly, he makes our very weakness the means of our salvation. Just as Jesus set aside his power, his glory, and the beauty of heaven in order to come among us, take on human flesh with all its appalling vulnerability, and perish on a cross, so God turns our most appalling setbacks into instruments of grace.

                When I was in college, I had a friend named Elizabeth, who was in her eighties. Elizabeth suffered from a serious medical condition; years before I met her, the doctors had told her she would never walk again. That night, she went home in her wheelchair and dreamed that God spoke to her and said, “You may not walk again, but you will dance.”

                Several years later, a group of my friends and I planned a dinner for a couple hundred people. After dessert, music came on, and people were talking and laughing, when a sudden hush fell upon the room. I looked out from the kitchen, and saw to my astonishment that a man had approached Elizabeth in her wheelchair, picked her up and gently stood her on her feet. The two of them were standing face-to-face in the middle of the dance floor, and they were waltzing.

                That’s what the love of God is like. It takes us as we are, with all our weaknesses, and it leads us into a future we could not even imagine. It may not be the future we would have chosen; I suspect that if anyone had asked Elizabeth, she might have preferred to be able to walk. But God uses our very failings to lift us from ourselves. God uses our very brokenness to be the means of our healing. God seeks us out and raises us up and frees us from the shackles of our limited imagination, takes us by the hand and says, “Friend, come up higher.”

    Proper 17C; 28 August, 2016
    Rev. Deborah Meister
    Jer 2:4-13; Ps 81:1, 10-16
    Heb 13:1-8, 15-16; Luke 14:1, 7-14 

    [1] Rosemarie Garland-Thompson, “Becoming Disabled,” August 19, 2016.