Dean and Rector
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 the 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.
The Rev. Canon R. Craig Smalley
Canon Pastor 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.
The Rev. Deborah R. Leighton
Director of Women’s Ministries and Clergy Associate
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 tap dancing, cooking, and spending time with her husband and daughter.
Canon for Parish Life and Evangelism
Matt is a convert from atheism to Christianity originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. He holds a B.A. in communications and an M.A. in English. After a brief career as a college writing instructor, he answered a pastoral calling and worked in campus ministry at Georgetown University before eventually going on to seminary and ordained ministry. Although he switched professions, Matt is still an active writer and often draws on these skills as well as his teaching background as a pastor.
He received his M.Div. from Yale Divinity School and served churches in Connecticut and South Carolina before coming to the Advent in 2014. In addition to generally serving on our clergy team, Matt is the pastor of our Five O’Clock community. He also oversees our newcomers ministries, Inquirers Class, adult confirmation, and spends much of his time doing discipleship work and leadership training.
Matt is married to Hawley, who is originally from Washington, DC. They met while studying at a language school in France. Hawley and Matt now have three children: Eden, Zoë, and Simeon, and they live in the Crestwood neighborhood of Birmingham. At home, Matt maintains a small homestead where he raises chickens and roasts his own coffee among many other similar interests.
Canon for Liturgy and Worship
A native of Hawaii, Zac received his bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in classical vocal performance from the Biola Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, and went on to receive his M.Div. from Denver Seminary in Colorado. He is currently working on his doctorate, which focuses on the theology and worship of the English Reformation.
Ordained in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Zac has served churches in Colorado and Florida, having most recently served as Pastor of Worship at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale. Zac is also a recording artist and the author of the book, The Worship Pastor. His passions include exploring the intersection of old and new in worship and thinking through the pastoral dimension of worship leading. You can find more about that at his website, ZacHicks.com.
Zac assumed his duties at the Advent in June 2016. He leads in all liturgical aspects of our worship services, and he also helps lead the music at the Five O’Clock service.
Zac is married to Abby, and they have four children – Joel, Jesse, Brody and Bronwyn.
The Rev. Katherine P. Jacob
Katherine 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.
Katherine 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.
Katherine was ordained to the permanent Diaconate in November 2002. She served on the Advent’s staff as the Missions and Outreach Coordinator from 2002 to 2007.
Katherine enjoys painting, spending time with her grandchildren, and foreign travel. She has three grown daughters and six grandchildren.