1871: A small group of planters, investors, and railroad men organize the Elyton Land Company to buy 4,150 acres of raw land and to create an industrial center.

1872: Bishop Richard Hooker Wilmer sends a deacon to establish an Episcopal mission in the new town. Philip Fitts arrives to serve congregations in Elyton and Irondale along with the sixteen Episcopalians he reports in Birmingham. Elyton Land Company deeds to the Episcopal Church one quarter of a choice downtown block for five dollars.

1873: A frame church building seating 200 is constructed facing Sixth Avenue (near the location of the present Rector’s Garden). In the first decade, the Church of the Advent has six different rectors (three of whom served a year or less).

1882: The Rev. Thomas Jefferson Beard begins his fourteen-year ministry.

1887: The foundation is laid for a new church structure.

1893: The church in which we worship today is completed.

1908: The first Lenten Preaching Series begins.

1922: Bishop Coadjutor William McDowell becomes the first bishop consecrated at the Advent.

1950: Advent Episcopal School is established.

1982: Under Rector and Dean Brinkley Morton, the Advent is designated the Cathedral of the Diocese of Alabama. Subsequent Deans are Larry Gipson, Ed Reeves, Paul Zahl, John Harper, and Frank Limehouse.

2014: Andrew Pearson instituted as Dean.


Adveniat Regnum Tuum – “Thy Kingdom Come” – is emblazoned on our coat of arms.  These words, taken from the prayer Christ taught us, remind us that it is God’s hand, not our own, that guides us into the new age of Christ’s reign.

Two books about the Advent’s history, The Strength of Her Towers and How Firm a Foundation, both written by Rebecca Pegues Rogers, can be purchased from the Advent Book Store.

John Harris Harper’s Witnesses to the Light: An Adventure into God’s Workmanship, Past, Present, and Future, published in 2013, gives a detailed description of the fenestration (and other architectural details) of our church along with a great deal of church history. It is available at JohnHarrisHarper.com and at the Advent Book Store.