CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine — St. Alban’s Episcopal Church began with a sermon under a tent at Fort Williams in 1914.
One hundred years, and a few locations later, it celebrated the same way.
Maine’s largest episcopal church held its centennial celebration on June 22, exactly 100 years from the day of the church’s founding.
To capture what the church has embodied from its start in the park to where it is today on Shore Road, a slogan was created for the event: “St. Alban’s, 100 years joyful, thankful, useful and hopeful.”
According to the congregation’s spiritual leader, the Rev. Tim Boggs, these four words were perfect for describing the church and its congregants.
“We’re joyful, we’re thankful, we’re useful, we’re hopeful, and we have been for 100 years,” Boggs said.
Boggs said the church is useful because of the work St. Alban’s has done in the community, especially for those less fortunate.
“We’re called to be useful, get our hands dirty and help the world,” he said.
One way St. Alban’s has been helping others is through a program it works with in Haiti to improve schools. Church members raise money and are able to “adopt” a Haitian teacher so his or her salary can be paid and he or she can afford being a teacher.
As for thankfulness, Boggs said the church is a place that encourages families and children to be grateful.
“There’s been 100 years of worship without interruption and of giving thanks,” Boggs said.
He also described the church as “a remarkably joyful place” that thinks of being hopeful as being engaged.
Boggs said there also have been several changes that have occurred over time, including that St. Alban’s is now “open to more sorts of people.”
“The church is increasingly open to everyone,” said Boggs, who had careers in government and the corporate world before joining the ministry, and moved with his partner to Maine in 2011. “Perhaps in the past it may have been less so.”
Another change that has occurred over the past hundred years is that the church has adapted to the 21st century, Boggs said. It uses technology to reach out to members because families are busier now than they have ever been before. St. Alban’s has an updated website, and uses Facebook and an e-newsletter to reach people.
“One of the challenges of the 21st century is breaking through all the information people get,” Boggs said.
He said the church also has worked hard to become more involved with the world, instead of being confined to Cape Elizabeth and surrounding communities.
“I love that we started under a tent without walls, because we’re inspired to break through walls and be out with the world,” Boggs said.
St. Alban’s unofficially began in the second decade of the 20th century, when senior U.S. Army staff asked the bishop of Maine to make a Sunday service available to the troops and their families.
In 1914, on St. Alban’s day, June 22, a tent was erected in Fort Williams and the bishop officially consecrated it as a chapel to serve the military members and surrounding communities.
Over time a more permanent summer chapel was built, followed by a winter chapel. In 1955, the church that is used today was built at the corner of Oakhurst Road.
It has had a few renovations and additions; Boggs said he likes the history of “moving from a temporary shelter under a tent to an enduring place that has roots in the community.”
To honor the church’s history with the military, Col. Jack Mosher, chief of staff of the Maine Army National Guard, spoke at the 100th anniversary celebration to offer thanks.
Looking to the future and the next 100 years, Boggs said the church will stay true to its four identities. He said St. Alban’s will become more creative and energetic and will work to “continually stay engaged with God’s people everywhere.”
He said he’s looking forward to seeing where the church goes.
“It’s really great to look back at our story that we’ve been a part of, but it’s even better to look forward to the future,” Boggs said.