Our Clergy


The Very Reverend Andrew C. Pearson, Jr.

Andrew was born in Washington DC and grew up in Virginia, working in youth ministries during his school years.  After college he worked for a Christian ministry in Washington DC before heading off to seminary.

He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Virginia and a 2007 graduate of the University of Oxford (Wycliffe Hall) . Andrew served as Associate Rector at the Parish Church of St. Helena, Beaufort, South Carolina, from 2007 until his call to the Advent in the fall of 2011.

From 2011 through 2013 he served as Advent’s Canon for Parish Life and Evangelism, and he subsequently accepted the call to serve as Dean upon the retirement of Frank Limehouse in January 2014.

Andrew is an avid golfer, outdoorsman, and reader.   He is married to Lauren Saddler Pearson and they have three daughters, Lily, Mary Cabell, and Ware.


RCS600-2014The Rev. Canon R. Craig Smalley
Canon for Pastoral Care & Counseling
and Advent Episcopal School Chaplain

Craig is a native of Orlando, Florida. He graduated from The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, with a B.A. in 1990. He completed his M.Div. degree at Virginia Theological Seminary in 1995 and was ordained in the Diocese of South Carolina.

Craig served as Curate at the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul and Chaplain to St. Alban’s Chapel, The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, from 1995 to 1997. He was Associate Rector, Church of the Holy Cross, Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, from 1997 to 2000. He served at Trinity Church, The Woodlands, Texas, from 2000 to 2001, prior to being called as rector of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Vestavia Hills, Alabama, where he served through February 2006. He was called to The Advent as Canon for Christian Education and began his ministry here in March, 2006. In August 2010 he became Canon Missioner and Advent Episcopal School Chaplain. In August 2012, upon the retirement of Canon Joe Warren, he became Director of Pastoral Care and Counseling.

Craig has been married to the former Paula Helen Swartz since 1992. They have three children, Jack, Maizie and Sally.


DRL600-2014The Rev. Canon Deborah R. Leighton
Canon Missioner and Director of Women’s Ministries

Deborah was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and her family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, during her high school years. She graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois with a B.A. in French. College opened her eyes to two simultaneous lifelong passions – studying the Word of God and creating theater.  While writing a final paper for a class on the Gospel of John, she first sensed the Lord calling her into ordained ministry.  After graduating from Wheaton, she moved to New York City where she spent three years pursuing an acting career.  As she began looking into seminaries, she was drawn to her father’s alma mater, Trinity School for Ministry.

After receiving her M. Div. from Trinity, and while waiting to be ordained, Deborah spent a year writing and directing three short films and working on her first feature length screenplay. In May 2009, she was invited to work with a small group of Anglicans in western Massachusetts to plant a church.

Deborah was ordained to the diaconate in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) in June 2009, and to the priesthood in November that year. Bishop Kee Sloan welcomed her into the Diocese of Alabama in September 2012, and she began her ministry at the Advent in October 2012.

In her spare time, Deborah enjoys biking, traveling, and spending time with her nine nieces and nephews.


The Rev. Canon Matthew C. Schneider
Canon for Parish Life and Evangelism

Matt is originally from Redwood City, California, and after a brief career as a college writing instructor in San Francisco, he answered a call to ministry, first working in campus ministry at Georgetown University before divinity school and ordination. He received his M.Div. from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale and most recently served as an Associate Priest at All Saints Episcopal Church in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

In addition to church work, Matt is a regular contributor to Mockingbird Ministries and is an amateur humorist. He recently won The New Yorker magazine’s cartoon caption contest. He also once rode a bike across the United States and has walked across Spain.

Matt became the Advent’s new Canon for Parish Life and Evangelism in August, 2014. He also pastors the five o’clock service.

Matt is married to Hawley, a photographer who is originally from Washington, DC. Matt and Hawley first met while studying in Nice, France, and they now have two young daughters, Eden and Zoë.


SJM600The Rev. Stephen J. McCarthy
Curacy Fellow

Originally from Lincoln, Massachusetts, Stephen attended the Groton School and Vassar College before pursuing his M.Div. at Yale Divinity School. He spent his seminary middler year studying theology at the University of Tübingen in Germany.

Stephen is the first participant in our Curacy Fellowship Program, which functions as a residency; and as Curate, Stephen’s main job will be to learn everything he can about preaching, teaching, pastoral care, outreach, and church leadership.

Stephen drives a bright red Mini Cooper with white racing stripes, which he says has transformed his personality, although whether for good or ill he has yet to determine. He began his fellowship at the Advent September 2, 2014; and he was ordained to the transitional diaconate June 6, 2015.


adam-600The Rev. Adam A. Young
Curacy Fellow

Adam Young joined the staff as an additional curate in early July, 2015.

Adam comes to us by way of the Presbyterian Church in America where he most recently served as an associate pastor at Red Mountain Church, here in Birmingham. Prior to his time there, he served a church in Orlando, and worked with Desire Street Ministries in New Orleans. Adam is a graduate of the University of Georgia and Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando.

Adam and his wife Beth and their three children will be with us for a year before he transitions into ministry in the Episcopal Church.


The Rev. Katherine P. Jacob

Kathi is a native of Birmingham and was reared in the Baptist church, the granddaughter of a Baptist minister. She is a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College, and was confirmed as an Episcopalian in 1972 in San Mateo, California. She holds a Masters in Theological Studies from Beeson Divinity School at Samford University.

Kathi returned to Birmingham in 1979 after the death of her husband, and she has been a member of The Advent since 1982. She has been a realtor, an English teacher, and a director of a non-profit volunteer center. She has served the church as lay reader, altar guild member; chapter member; and diocesan ECW treasurer. Kathi was ordained to the permanent Diaconate in November 2002. She served on the Cathedral staff as Outreach Missions Coordinator from 2002 to 2007.

Kathi enjoys painting, spending time with her grandchildren, and foreign travel. She has three grown daughters and six grandchildren.


sam-mugisha-600The Rev. Samuel M. Mugisha
Clergy Associate

The Rev. Samuel Mugisha was born in Uganda. After training for ministry, he felt God calling him to Rwanda to serve in the remnants of a broken and grieving country. He has witnessed firsthand the effect of sin on the human person, but also God’s redeeming grace in Jesus Christ.

Sam holds the office of sub-dean of St. Etienne’s Cathedral in Kigali, Rwanda. He is married to Jackie and they have three beautiful daughters (a prerequisite for being a dean), Iris (9), Ines (5), and Ingrid (5 months).

The Mugishas arrived in Birmingham February 28. Sam is working on a doctorate at Beeson Divinity School, and helps us out Sunday mornings and other times. The plan is for him to return to Rwanda in late February 2016.