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Our History

About 1In 1872 the new city of Birmingham grew quickly after the Elyton Land Company established a new industrial center in what was formerly undeveloped land. Bishop Richard Hooker Wilmer sent Philip Fitts to serve area congregations in the new city. With the 16 Episcopalians he found in Birmingham, Fitts began meeting at the corner lot sold to this young congregation for $5.00. By 1893 the church’s worship space, the “Nave,” was completed and welcomed worshippers. The first Lenten Preaching Series began in 1908, the Advent Episcopal School opened in 1950, and the Advent became the Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama in 1982. Various renovations and building projects added spaces and expanded the school through the years, along with our Cranmer House and Advent House satellite locations. In 2014, the Advent’s current Dean and Rector Andrew Pearson was instituted, and began to lead our downtown Birmingham church family.

For those interested, the beautiful book Witnesses to the Light: An Adventure into God’s Workmanship, Past, Present, and Future by John Harris Harper provides a detailed description of the architectural and visible history of our downtown church building. Copies are available in the Advent Bookstore. 

Theology

About 2Our church is a gospel-centered church in the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, as a part of the Anglican Communion. We have a living, daring confidence in God’s grace that is evident in our programs and ministries. Holding to what the biblical Letter of Jude calls “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints,” this gospel-focus finds the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ ever and only at the center. 

The most comprehensive summation of our traditional Anglican doctrine may be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion

We find our theology expressing itself through our four hearts.

We are passionate about proclaiming the transformative reality of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. As a gathered body of sinners, we want all who enter our building to experience the power of gospel-centered transformation made possible by Jesus.

A heart for the gospel

There are billions of people in the world (many of whom live in Birmingham) who have never heard the gospel. In obedience to Christ, and with compassion for others, we (who are consciously aware of our own sinfulness) seek ways to share the message of Christ’s love with those who have never heard it.

A HEART FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT HEARD THE GOSPEL​

Many in our culture have experienced church in ways that have turned them away from the Christian faith. We believe Jesus has a particular love for those burned by past churches and in our ministries we seek opportunities to engage with these and all believers in new ways.

A HEART FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN BURNED BY THE CHURCH

The Advent has been a presence in Birmingham from its very beginning. We continue a rich heritage of bringing the transforming power of grace to those in need around us, and we work to bless the city through the arts, historical preservation, and community involvement. The gospel touches all areas of life and we have a heart for the city where God has called us to serve.

A HEART FOR THE CITY OF BIRMINGHAM

We are passionate about proclaiming the transformative reality of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. As a gathered body of sinners, we want all who enter our building to experience the power of gospel-centered transformation made possible by Jesus.

A heart for the gospel

There are billions of people in the world (many of whom live in Birmingham) who have never heard the gospel. In obedience to Christ, and with compassion for others, we (who are consciously aware of our own sinfulness) seek ways to share the message of Christ’s love with those who have never heard it.

A HEART FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT HEARD THE GOSPEL​

Many in our culture have experienced church in ways that have turned them away from the Christian faith. We believe Jesus has a particular love for those burned by past churches and in our ministries we seek opportunities to engage with these and all believers in new ways.

A HEART FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN BURNED BY THE CHURCH

The Advent has been a presence in Birmingham from its very beginning. We continue a rich heritage of bringing the transforming power of grace to those in need around us, and we work to bless the city through the arts, historical preservation, and community involvement. The gospel touches all areas of life and we have a heart for the city where God has called us to serve.

A HEART FOR THE CITY OF BIRMINGHAM

Liturgy

The word “liturgy” means “work of the people,” but we also understand it as “God’s work on the people.” In our church, we think of these concepts as the living out of our faith through ordered services of worship. Each of our worship gatherings feature slightly different orders. This guide to our liturgy covers the basics of what we do when we come together and provides a full understanding about what we receive each week through Scripture, prayer, song, sermon, and sacrament.

Our clergy team leads the Advent family of faith, along with a vibrant church staff, and elected leaders called “the Vestry.” Our clergy are ordained ministers, church staff come from a variety of backgrounds, and vestry members are elected to three-year terms every January. Our Senior Warden leads the Vestry in his or her third year, supported by our Junior Warden who serves under his or her senior during the second year.

OUR CLERGY

A heart for the gospel

We are passionate about proclaiming the transformative reality of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. As a gathered body of sinners, we hope all who come will experience the power of the gospel, which is the power of God for salvation to all who believe.

We are passionate about proclaiming the transformative reality of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. As a gathered body of sinners, we hope all who come will experience the power of the gospel, which is the power of God for salvation to all who believe.

A heart for those who have not heard the gospel​

There are billions of people in the world (many of whom live in Birmingham) who have never heard the gospel. In obedience to Christ, and with compassion for others, we (who are consciously aware of our own sinfulness) seek ways to share the message of Christ’s love with those who have never heard it.

A heart for those who have been burned by the church

For whatever reason, many have been hurt by the church. We hope to be a place where those who have been burned will find comfort and strength from the gospel. 

A heart for the city of Birmingham

The Advent has been a presence in Birmingham since its formation in 1872. We continue a rich heritage of bringing the transforming power of grace to those in need around us, and we work to bless the city through the arts, historical preservation, and community involvement. Believing that the gospel touches all areas of life and we have a heart for the city where God has called us to serve. 

The Very Reverend Andrew Pearson

The Very Reverend Andrew Pearson

Dean and Rector

Andrew began his leadership of the Advent in 2014. Prior to this role, he served as our Canon for Parish Life and Evangelism. Before moving to Birmingham, Andrew was Associate Rector at Parish Church of St. Helena in Beaufort, South Carolina. Andrew is married to Lauren, has three daughters, and holds degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of Oxford (Wycliffe Hall).
The Rev. Craig Smalley

The Rev. Canon Craig Smalley

Canon Pastor and Advent Episcopal School Chaplain

Craig oversees the Advent’s pastoral care ministry and serves as Chaplain for our Advent Episcopal School. Craig answered God’s call to the Advent in 2006 and served as our Canon for Christian Education. Prior to the Advent, Craig served other churches in Alabama, Texas, and South Carolina. Married to Paula with three adult children, Craig holds degrees from The Citadel and Virginia Theological Seminary.

The Rev. Katherine Jacobs

The Rev. Katherine Jacob

Deacon

Katherine actively serves our congregation on Sunday mornings as Deacon, a role she has held since 2002. Prior to this, Katherine served as the Advent’s Missions and Outreach Coordinator. Katherine has three adult daughters and six grandchildren, and holds degrees from Birmingham-Southern College and Beeson Divinity School.

The Rev. Canon Matthew Schneider

The Rev. Canon Matthew Schneider

Canon for Parish Life and Evangelism

Matt serves the Advent by leading the Five O’Clock  service, overseeing ministries for newcomers, and engaging Adventers in numerous Bible studies and discipleship ministries. Prior to serving at the Advent, Matt worked in a variety of ministry settings in Washington D.C., Connecticut, and South Carolina. Matt is married to Hawley, has four children, and holds degrees from San Francisco State University and Yale Divinity School.

The Rev. Dr. Michael Weeks

The Rev. Dr. Michael Weeks

Assisting Clergy

Michael serves the Advent by assisting with worship services and leading the Young Adults and college ministries. Michael was born in Canberra, the capital of Australia, and attended college in Sydney. After college, he worked as an apprentice minister for two years with the Evangelical Union of Sydney University. He then studied four years at Moore Theological College, and in December 2016 he came to Birmingham where he completed a Doctor of Ministry degree at Beeson Divinity School. Michael is married to Rachel.

The Rev. Canon Zac Hicks

The Rev. Canon Zac Hicks

Canon for Liturgy and Worship​

As our Canon for Liturgy and Worship, Zac oversees different aspects of our worship services. In addition, he helps lead the music at the 11:00 a.m. service in the Refectory and the Five O’Clock service on Sundays in the Nave. Zac leads Advent Birmingham, a group of musicians writing and producing modern hymns on a range of musical instruments. Zac is married to Abby, has four children, and holds degrees from Biola Conservatory of Music and Denver Seminary. He is the author of The Worship Pastor and shares his thoughts on his website zachicks.com.