On the 75th Anniversary of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, it is particularly fitting that it be the focus of the second article in a series of Bexley Houses of Worship in the Historical Herald.
Bexley Episcopalian families began worshiping in each other’s homes as early as 1918. The gift of two lots on South Drexel Avenue in 1921 by Emma Thomas in honor of her husband, Dr. David H. Thomas, gave impetus to the goal of forming a Bexley Mission Church. That was achieved in 1924 with the appointment of The Reverend Harold Hohly as full-time priest by the Diocesan Bishop of Southern Ohio, the Right Reverend Theodore Irving Reese.
Beginning in 1922, the congregation made do with a small one room building known as the “Bishop’s Chicken Coop”. At this time, Episcopal seminarians from Bexley Hall, located in Gambier Ohio, spent weekends teaching church school and visiting parishioners. The first Euchrist was celebrated on November 24, 1924 with 17 parishioners in attendance.
With the assistance of a Diocesan loan of $10,000, the original church, with its charming simplicity of design by Columbus architect Orlan Miller, was completed in 1926, attracting recognition in the May 1926 issue of Architectural Forum.
Early members included Ed and “Timmy” Scarlett, John and Ruth Henney, Hugh an Jane Bone, Fritz Lichtenberg, Stark and Margaret Altmaeir, Maude Hood, Frank and Flossie Bonnet, Larry Taft, Harry and Phyllis Minister, Thomas and Francis Pierce, and A.H. Sanford. The Reverend Thomas Donaldson led the parish beginning in 1928 for the next ten years. The level of giving had increased enough by 1929 for St. Alban’s to be declared an independent parish.
In 1939, The Reverend Robert Leake took the reins of the church for the next 31 years. St. Alban’s experienced extraordinary growth reaching five or six hundred families. Also, seven people entered or were ordained to the ministry at this time. Those individuals were John Moody, Don Patterson, Ben Owens, Roger Eells, Romaine Kuethe, John Inman and Stephen Bergman.
The sanctuary was enlarged in 1948 with the Education Building added in 1957. The first Director of Christian Education, Mary S. Perkins, served from 1952 to 1955, followed by Elizabeth H. Varney from 1956 to 1975.
In 1970, the Reverend John J. Morrett arrived, having served at St. Andrew’s Cathedrl in Honolulu. Faced with the turmoil in the Episcopal Church in the 70’s, he introduced new courses of study, trial prayer books and hymnals and saw new roles for lay people and for women in the ministry.
It was during this time, also, that a real pipe organ was installed. Beginning in 1982, the current priest, The Reverend Timothy O. Carberry, began his tenure. Since then, the memorial Garden has been established behind the church and parish house as a site of meditation and as a final resting place for the ashes for those who choose cremation.
Significant acts of Christian charity, through various outreach services, have been an ongoing part of St. Alban’s – such as the sponsoring of refugees from Nazi persecution in the late 30’s. The list over the years is much too long to enumerate here. Hundreds of its parishioners have served on Boards of Trustees, Committees and Commissions whose purposes are service to others or the enrichment of the life of the entire central Ohio community.
Adapted from article By Edward L. Hamblin
Bexley Historical Society President, 1997-2002
Originally published in Historical Herald, November 1998
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St. Alban’s Episcopal church – A History;
St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, a Sermon preached by Timothy O. Carberry, the First Sunday in Lent, February 21, 1999;
Interview with the Reverend Carberry by Ed Hamblin, May 5, 1999