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A Letter from Canon Smalley | Diocesan Covenant

Dear Parish Family:

Enclosed in this mailing is a Covenant between the Right Reverend Glenda Curry (Bishop of Alabama) and the Advent. After reflection, prayer, and honest discussion, our Vestry has approved this Covenant.

The Covenant is the result of years of work and the prayerful perseverance of representatives from the Advent and the Diocese. I am grateful to our representatives who have helped make a way forward through their faithfulness and tireless work. They join a long line of those who have done so previously. I am grateful for the leadership of Bishop Curry and the representatives of the Diocese who have prayerfully, graciously worked with us to make a way forward together. I am grateful that our ultimate security and way forward is in Jesus, our Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for us, securing us as people of joy and hope. It is my prayer that this security will be evident in our life together.

In the Covenant, you will read an affirmation of the Advent’s ministry of preaching and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our staff is strengthened to continue to serve in the care of our community at every point from the cradle to the grave. We are able to develop and support those who are being called to ministry. We are given assurance of the ability to call clergy who share our biblical convictions, including our next Dean. In all aspects of our ministry going forward, we remain firmly rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In any relationship there are points of difference. This is borne out in the biblical witness even amongst Jesus’ closest followers. This does not make light of their significance, nor does it gloss over their substance. Jesus prays for the unity of his followers (John 17:20ff) and we pray and work toward that end. This work, as in the biblical witness, is rarely neat.

The Covenant is designed to allow respect, space, and security to make a way forward. To borrow from the words of Paul to the Ephesians, we have sought ways to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:20). I am firmly committed to this, and I pray that you will prayerfully consider the same.

As part of the Covenant, we will return to Rite I as found in our Book of Common Prayer and remove the explicit option of “Advent Only” from our pledge cards. For decades Rite I was the framework for our worship and will provide a solid foundation going forward. The substance and focus of our worship remains. Though we are removing “Advent Only” from our pledge cards, as always, each of us is free to give as we are led by God.

There is undoubtedly more to say, and we need and value your engagement. Please reach out to me, members of the clergy and staff, your wardens, or members of the Vestry.  Soon, members of the Vestry will be available to visit groups of Adventers – either your small group, or other small groups gathered for this purpose. Details on these opportunities will be shared shortly.

Grateful for your partnership in the gospel, I am
Yours in Christ,

The Rev. Canon R. Craig Smalley
Interim Dean and Rector

To read the Covenant, click here.

For more details about an information session with our vestry members, click here.

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