The story of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Huntsville, Alabama is a story of a community of people gathered together in the love of God, called to worship in times of joy and crisis.
It began in 1958 when seventy-some people assembled in a concrete block building on Bob Wallace Avenue. In January 1963 we were admitted to the Diocese of Alabama as a parish. In 1964 we built more Christian education classrooms and a parish hall.
By 1985, we had run out of room to grow on Bob Wallace, so we planned a move to our current location. Our first service in the new church was on Easter Sunday of 1987 –before the building was complete– with a makeshift altar set against the rising sun on Green Mountain.
We grew incredibly fast in those first years on Bailey Cove. We added our parish hall in 1989 and planned a new Christian education wing. Then Rev. Bill Hudson, just 46 years old, died suddenly and unexpectedly on Father’s Day 1992. He died the day before the vestry was set to approve the building of the new wing. Bill’s death was a terrible blow, but we carried on in faith and hope. We dedicated Hudson Hall in Bill’s honor in 1993.
In August of that year, the Rev. Kee Sloan became the fifth rector of St. Thomas. Under his guidance we started our long-term love affair with Honduras and Habitat for Humanity, fueled by lobsters. We began Special Session at Camp McDowell in 1998.
In 2002 we built again, adding on still more rooms for Christian education. We also expanded our kitchen to accommodate Lobsterfest and a parish family that likes to eat.
With great pride –and more than a little sadness– we watched as Kee was elected Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Alabama in 2007. Five years later, on January 7, 2012, he became the eleventh bishop of the Diocese of Alabama.
We have come a long way from that little concrete block church on Bob Wallace Avenue. We have a vibrant outreach program that defines us, a beautiful church campus that is debt free, strong lay leadership, a parish that likes to have fun with its fellowship, and bragging rights as the church that launched our bishop. Today we look toward the future with great hope, faith, and trust that God will always show the way.
See Susan Smith’s Complete History of St. Thomas.