The namesake of our church, St. Athanasius, was born almost 1700 years ago at Alexandria, Egypt. As a child he came to love the Lord and during one of his playtimes met the Bishop of Alexandria who happened to be impressed by his intelligence and eagerness to learn. After Athanasius had finished school, the Bishop made him his Secretary and later Deacon.
Athanasius was not afraid to speak out about his faith in Jesus Christ and the beliefs that we declare when we say the Apostles Creed.
When he was about 30 years old, a very important event in his life took place. He went with the Bishop of Alexandria to the great Council of the Church held at Nicaea. This gathering had been called together by the Roman Emperor Constantine in order that the leaders of the Church could decide how to oppose the teachings of a man called Arius, and how the truth about Jesus Christ might be more clearly stated in the Creed. At that great Council of Nicaea, the Nicene Creed was accepted as the Creed of the whole Church.
When the Bishop of Alexandria died a few years later, Athanasius was made Bishop. He remained in the Episcopate for 46 years, during which time he was persecuted in every way. Five times he was either sent into exile or had to flee for his life. He hid in caves and sometimes lived with the wild animals. When he was an old man, he was allowed to return to Alexandria and spent the last six years of his life among the people who loved him.
The Creed of St. Athanasius, which is found in the Book of Common Prayer, is named after him. Not because he wrote it, but because it contains the beliefs that he taught.