St. Alban’s Episcopal Church is a family-sized parish named for the First Christian Martyr in England (see below). St. Alban’s, Davenport, Iowa, originated in the missionary sensibilities of members of Trinity Cathedral located in central Davenport. By the late 1950s, northwest Davenport was growing significantly. A group of parishioners at Trinity Cathedral then decided to expand and build a church in this growing section for a new congregation to begin. A congregation of around 65, mostly members of Trinity, were to be the original members. Their first meeting, to choose the name of the church, was in October of 1959. The site for the building was a gift of the cathedral; and indeed the building itself was largely paid for by donations of cathedral members. The first worship service in the new building was on August 14th, 1960. A program known as The Order of Dedication was saved from the second worship service held on August 21, 1960.
By 1968, the congregation had grown in numbers and become a parish in the Diocese of Iowa. A decision was taken to build a larger facility at the present location. The building was first occupied in 1969, and dedicated in September of that year. A disastrous fire, in October of 1977 destroyed the church, though it left the parish hall. Two reminders of the fire are still visible in the church. One is the needlework phoenix framed in the main hallway. The other is the cross in the northeast corner of the parish hall. It is the original cross which hung over the alter; and it shows the twisting power of the flames which destroyed the church.
The St. Alban’s congregation rallied and rebuilt the present structure. St. Alban’s has been served by six priests; the Reverend Steven E. Hulme; the Reverend Jack Wolters; the Rev. Richard Moore; the Rev. Slaven Manning; the Reverend Kathleen Milligan; and most recently the Reverend Brian McVey. Perhaps more importantly, it has been blessed with a persistently high quality of lay leadership and involvement. There are many gifted folks at St. Alban’s; and many opportunities for all to be involved in our life and work.
The “Amen” Prayer Garden was laid out and built in the summer of 1999, working with members of our Companion Diocese of Swaziland in Southern Africa. It is a place of beauty and reflection; and it is also a place where those who have been cremated may have their ashes scattered or buried. The only cost for this is the cost of a marker brick to show those so interred.
ST ALBAN, MARTYR
Alban was England’s first martyr, dying for his faith in about the year 209 AD. In the 3rd century AD, the Roman city of Verulamium, close to the site of present-day St Albans, was one of the most important and largest sites in the country. Alban was a citizen of Verulamium, and as the historian Bede records, he took in and sheltered a Christian seeking sanctuary from persecution. So impressed was Alban by the prayer and witness of the stranger, that he accepted the Christian faith and disguised the visitor in his own cloak. Alban was brought before the authorities, but despite torture, he would not renounce his new-found faith, saying ‘I worship and adore the true and living God.’ He was condemned to die by beheading on a hill outside the city wall.
In a legendary but fitting embellishment to the story, it is told how roses sprang up under his feet as he walked to his place of execution. Within a few year of Alban’ martyrdom, a shrine had been built to his honor, and the site quickly developed a reputation for miraculous healing. Much was done by King Offa (757-796) to secure a permanent church dedicated to the saint, including the founding of a monastery after the Benedictine order.
Today, the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban stands in a dramatic location overlooking Verulam Park and the Roman remains. It is a popular centre for pilgrimage and tourism, and its education centre is nationally renowned. The See of St Albans itself was established in 1877. At that time, the bishop extended jurisdiction over the counties of Essex and Hertford, a total of over 600 parishes. In 1914, the new diocese of Chelmsford was created, removing Essex from the diocese. A few months later the county archdeaconry of Bedford was severed from the diocese of Ely, and St Albans Diocese substantially took on its present form.
A little history about our West Central Park sign from Ron Curtis… It was given to St. Alban’s at the old location on 13th and Clark St. in the fall of 1963. Ron remembers this because he and Lilyan had just moved here from Cedar Rapids and had been told that the only Episcopal Church was the cathedral. They were driving by 13th and Clark the day they were erecting this sign. When this church was built, the sign was also moved. It has fallen over once before 15 yrs ago and was 2’ taller. Ron had to dig post holes deeper than before so it wouldn’t happen again. The lettering was originally gold leaf and not being able to afford the gold leaf when it needed touch up, it was painted in silver. The sign on Fairmount was erected in the late ‘70’s.