Editor: Act Locally Waco is sharing a series of blog posts — Faith Doing Good — about local religious groups working in the community. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.
By Bella Vinson
St. Alban’s Episcopal Church started as a church plant in 1946 in Waco. Since the church opened its doors, the members have been able to develop decades-long partnerships with organizations in Waco, sharing a common humanity with others in the community.
Rev. Aaron Zimmerman is the rector of St. Alban’s, serving the church for eight years.
When Zimmerman went to college he got involved in campus ministry. He enjoyed it, he said, but was still unsure if it was something he ultimately wanted to pursue.
“For two years after graduation, I went to Central Asia to teach English with a Christian organization,” Zimmerman said. “Part of it being I wanted to contribute in a meaningful way, but also part of it I wanted to test whether ministry was something I wanted to do.”
Zimmerman said he loved it, which ultimately led him to decide that he wanted to serve others in a path of ministry.
“I wanted to give my life in some way that could help other people as they are asking those questions. Not to say I have all the answers, but I know someone who does,” Zimmerman said. “So my ministry is mostly just to point to him.”
St. Alban’s partners with a number of public and private schools throughout the Waco area. The church has a long history of connections within the education community in Waco, as many of the members are teachers. They have been working with Cedar Ridge Elementary for over 10 years.
“We have done everything from people going to read to students there and tutoring them,” Zimmerman said. “The thing we do the most is providing meals when they have big open houses, meet the teacher nights, things they want to get a lot of the families to. We make dinner here at the church and take it to the school and serve it there.”
St. Alban’s also does work with reVision, sending mentors for incarcerated teenagers in the Mart facility. They also partner with Mission Waco. Members lead monthly devotionals at their homeless shelter, and collect toys for them during Christmas time.
Although it is not an expressed ministry of the church, St. Alban’s partners with Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step groups by providing a space for them to meet in the church’s Community Outreach Center.
“That is a place where lives get transformed and healed,” Zimmerman said. “We have had groups here four to five nights a week, sometimes around 70 to 80 people. Just a really strong community of folks on the path to hopefully find recovery.”
The church’s community outreach continues, even during times of crisis. During the winter storm that hit Waco in February, the church opened as a warming center for those who were affected and in need. They had over 50 volunteers assist that entire week by cooking meals and spending time with the people who came in.
“It was really meaningful to see our members build relationships with those people who were here, some still ongoing, and recognize our shared common humanity,” Zimmerman said.
St. Alban’s main mission is to share time and resources to serve the physical and spiritual needs of individuals and communities. Zimmerman reflected on the values of the church’s mission being displayed by members work in the community.
“One of the most rewarding things for me is when people realize the humanity of those they are helping,” Zimmerman said. “It’s not someone down here, some sort of nameless face, giving handouts. We are both fellow humans, we stand at the same level, although we’ve had different experiences.”
Bella Vinson is a Baylor sophomore from Waco.
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].