Throughout its varied history, what is now the congregation of the Episcopal Church of St. Alban frequently ministered for differing amounts of time without local clergy, being served by supply and interim priests. It is the energy, determination, and enthusiasm of lay leadership which has given the congregation the strength to continue in ministry despite some difficult and troubling times.
The first Episcopal service in the area was celebrated on July 3, 1853 in the home of the Monteiths, a founding family of the community. It was 1875 when Bishop Benjamin Wistar Morris and Rev. Babcock from Salem laid the cornerstone of St. Peter’s, which was Albany’s Episcopal church for more than 100 years. However, in the late 1980s, worship and administrative styles changed, leading to polarization among the congregants. Eventually, a split let to the formation of a separate mission congregation in May 1990, which became known as St. Alban’s.
The new millennium opened with paying off the mortgage on the current building and, shortly thereafter, the calling of the Rev. Thomas Sramek, Jr. as vicar. Fr. Tom left to answer a call to the Bay area of California in 2009 and the Rev. Robert Morrison was appointed interim vicar in January 2010. In 2016, with the permission of Bishop Michael Hanley, Fr. Bob was called as vicar. At the same time, Bishop Hanley appointed the Rev. Deacon Peggy Bernhard to serve the congregation.
Today, the congregation responds generously to numerous needs within the community. St. Alban’s supports Albany Options School through the provision of supplies for the students. The Nifty Knitters make prayer shawls and pocket prayer shawls, and have been supplying the local hospital obstetrics department with purple baby bonnets and scarves, not just for warmth but as reminder to cherish each baby.
Penny Possibilities began as part of a diocesan Episcopal Relief & Development project some years ago. St. Alban’s continues to collect pennies, spare change, and folding money, providing support for international health organizations, the education of young women, and, most recently, Sarah’s Place, a regional sexual assault nurse examiner center housed in Samaritan Albany General Hospital. Sarah’s Place provides immediate medical care to those who seek it and offers counseling and support.