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Dean & Rector Search

Updates on the work of our Search Committee will be posted here as they come available. If you wish to receive these updates in your inbox, subscribe to our parish-news email list HERE. To contact the committee directly, email DeanSearch@CathedralAdvent.com. 

Quick Links

Process & Timeline

Interim Dean appointed by Vestry ✔️
Search Committee appointed by Vestry ✔️

PLAN 100%

Appoint Prayer Coordinator for search process ✔️
Develop Search Committee unity and trust (pray, discuss, listen, read, and research) ✔️
Prepare Survey (Response Summary Here✔️
Prepare Parish Profile ✔️
Prepare Dean Position Profile ✔️
Gather information ✔️


Collect and receive list of potential candidates ✔️
> Review, research, study, listen, and discuss candidates
Prayerfully glean candidates to meet Dean’s Profile
Visit, meet, and interview


Choose, confirm, and recommend final candidate to Vestry
Extend Call 
Announce new Dean and Rector
Praise, welcome, and celebrate



Advent Family,

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  (Romans 12:12)

The Search Committee continues its work in the Discernment phase, and recently experienced an intentional, short period of quiet. 

For a few weeks prior to Easter, we did not meet in person, communicate via email, or Zoom with one another. This intentional “quiet period” allowed individual time for prayer and reflection on the abundance of information we have processed the past 10 months. It also gave us the opportunity individually to seek God’s wisdom for what is ahead in this process, as we seek his will for our church. More importantly, this quiet period allowed our candidates a reprieve from distraction during the busy Lenten season, which can generally be quite demanding personally as well as for his or her staff.

Jesus knew the importance of quiet and modeled it throughout the Gospels. He often sent the crowds away so he could pray and reflect. He regularly withdrew from people, activities and even ministry to be alone with his Father. Jesus recognized when he needed quiet, and he knows when we need it as well.  Quiet is most definitely an anomaly in this age of noise, busyness, and 24/7 availability, yet quiet is a gift that is often necessary for renewal or refreshment. 

We resumed meeting the Tuesday following Easter, and it was a most productive gathering.  We are currently back on a regular meeting schedule, and have found that we are as eager as you to finish this search. We want to finish well, and we remain committed to our call to work the search process faithfully, prayerfully, intelligently, diligently, and intentionally, as we wait on God to move.

With God’s grace and in his timing, we look forward to a successful call of the Advent’s next Dean and Rector. We appreciate your continued patience and prayer.

As always, we welcome and appreciate your thoughts, comments and concerns. 


Tanya Cooper


Dear Fellow Adventers:

We continue to work diligently in our search for our next Dean and Rector and remain in the phase of discernment. The gift of technology has allowed us to dive deeply into each candidate’s teachings, writings, interviews, social media presence, and podcasts, as well as current and past sermons. Although this is an advantage in terms of convenience, it most certainly has added a layer of “information overload” to the process. We feel a great responsibility to be thorough and exhaustive for each footprint of our remaining candidates.

Our first meeting was held on June 29, 2021, which means we are approaching nine months. We realize that some feel we should be close to presenting a candidate for approval. As stated previously, we do not have a time frame, but continue to rely faithfully on the Lord’s timing and provision. God has been truly present, and we have seen his hand at work in the many details of this process. He has opened some unexpected doors and closed others. Daily, we pray for wisdom and direction as we explore, prepare, discuss, and discern. The Lord has provided graciously for the Advent for 150 years, and we trust he will continue. We encourage you to remain faithful in your prayers and hopeful for our future.

Every search meeting begins with a Blessed Little Thought (BLT), and continues with a liturgy of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication.  We conclude each meeting with individual prayer. I will leave you with the prayer of thanksgiving we collectively pray:

Lord, you have provided us with faithful clergy for 150 years. By your grace and mercy, you have brought countless people to saving faith through the teaching and preaching of your Holy Scripture. Thank you, Lord, for your abundant provision for us at the Advent. Thank you, Lord, for the clergy you have called to faithfully minister, shepherd, and lead us. AMEN.

Thank you, sincerely, for your continued prayers and patience.  As always, we welcome your thoughts, comments, or concerns.

Tanya Cooper

The Search Committee remained busy over Christmas and into the New Year. Since our last update on December 1, we have met nine times. We are focused faithfully on the task you have entrusted us. Our charge, responsibility, and mission have not changed, and we have had productive and honest discussions regarding the leadership style, vision, character, and faithfulness required in our next Dean and Rector.  As always, we are relying on the Holy Spirit to give us a clear vision of where we are, and more importantly, where we are headed, not only as a Search Committee but as a congregation. Our charge is not for the benefit of the few, but for the whole.

We are currently in the Discernment Phase.  This phase of our four-step process (available for review on the website) requires the greatest amount of effort, research, discussion, prayer, and time.  What started as a large list of 51 names has narrowed significantly to a solid group which we are excited to explore further and possibly meet. As we begin looking at a smaller pool of candidates, we are called to be deliberate and exhaustive in our efforts, which means this is not the time for us to “fast track” or compromise our responsibilities in any way. Other large, similar churches have told us their searches easily approached 18 months; we are currently approaching seven. We ask for your continued patience and prayers through the process, and also that we all continue to respect the confidentiality that is needed from each Search Committee member. Confidentiality is vital for the privacy of the candidates we are prayerfully considering.

Truly, we are hopeful and energized by how God is leading us through this journey of seeking his will for our church family. We hope that by joining us in prayer and hopeful expectation, you and your family will be as well.

As we labor together for the Kingdom and our Lord’s work in Birmingham through the Advent, we thank you for your continued letters of encouragement, recommendations, patience, and especially prayers.  As always, we welcome your thoughts, comments, or concerns.

God’s peace,
Tanya Cooper

Advent family,

I hope you and your family had a wonderful, meaningful Thanksgiving! We at the Advent certainly have much to be thankful for. Recently, Mary Hanson, our Prayer Coordinator, shared with the Search Committee that more than 400 of you are faithfully praying for our church, our committee, and our future Dean. More than 400! It was not long ago that many of us were feeling fractured, confused, and uncertain about the future of our beloved Advent. Today, we are 400-plus collectively praying as one in Christ Jesus, and that is powerful and encouraging. The Advent has committed and caring clergy, two prayerful and faithful Wardens, and a dedicated staff who have led us well through these many months of change. We are not a church confused or fractured, but a living and daring community of believers seeking Jesus together. We indeed have much to be thankful for.

The Search Committee continues to work through the process of discerning our next Dean. Sermon listening has concluded, and we have begun delving into each candidate’s teachings, writings, and theology. We have narrowed our search from what started as a long list of potential candidates to a smaller group of candidates. That being said, we are continuing to receive letters of recommendation, and we remain open to all possibilities that the Lord presents until the Vestry calls a Dean.

Your opinions, comments, and concerns continue to be at the forefront of our thoughts. We are committed not only to calling a preacher and teacher, but someone who can and will develop clergy, encourage and lead a staff, envision growth, and relate personally to us as a church family. We pray for a pastor who will shepherd us well. We continue to prayerfully follow God’s leading as well as his timing. Our team has again visited Advent House, and the words “wait on the Lord” were received by multiple intercessors. Waiting is often difficult and uncomfortable. However, waiting, more often than not, yields an abundance of fruit and blessing. Thank you for your continued patience.

There is much kingdom work left to do in and through the Advent. We are greatly encouraged and excited about our future. As we move from a season of Thanksgiving into this beautiful season of Advent, which appropriately means “coming,” we ask that you remain in prayer for our clergy, our congregation, our Search Committee, and the man or woman God is preparing in mind and spirit to lead our church.

-Tanya Cooper

We would like to thank sincerely everyone who submitted a survey. We received 421 responses, including 194 comments. We appreciate your honesty, encouragement, concerns, and especially the prayers. We are listening and will consider both the survey results and comments as we begin discerning candidates. From the survey, we found that the most important quality for our next Dean and Rector was Preacher (85 percent), followed by Leader (65 percent), Pastor (57 percent), Theologian (50 percent), and Teacher (39 percent). A summary of the survey data is available here.

Our Parish Profile, which is a beautiful summary of who we are as a church, is completed and available here. It will be especially helpful to anyone seeking information about the Advent, and we encourage you to review it. Our Process and Timeline, indicating the stage in which we are working, is posted too. We have completed the “planning and preparation phase” and will soon begin the “discernment phase.”

Recently, we spent time at Advent House receiving prayer. Our Search Committee continues to stay grounded in God’s word, waiting on the Lord, while walking forward in faith that he will provide. 

Our prayer focus for this month is protection: 

Almighty God, our refuge and fortress, we ask for your protection and care over our church family. For you know the mighty plans you have for the Advent. Transform any fear into hope and grant us peace as we wait on your perfect timing in the calling of a new Dean. Give your angels charge over this church to guard us in all our ways.

We also ask for your divine protection over our Search Committee, our future Dean, and their families. Preserve them from fear of the enemy, from the arrow that flies by day and the trouble that hides in darkness. Send out your light and your truth and lead them in paths of righteousness. Give them ears to hear your voice and boldness of faith to turn away from distractions and worldly considerations. Grant them grace to walk in your light, trusting in your faithfulness step by step and holding fast the confession of their hope, for your name’s sake. Amen.


The Search Committee

**Update as of September 21, 2021: The Parish Survey is now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted a response. Your input is greatly appreciated.

Dear Friends,

First, a heartfelt thank you to all for your prayers and support of the Advent, particularly the search committee, as we continue to discern God’s will in our search for our next Dean and Rector. We are also extremely grateful for the many names of potential candidates you have shared with us. 

Second, please take a moment and complete our parish survey, linked above in the timeline. Your input will be extremely important and is greatly appreciated. Please complete the survey by Monday, September 20.  

Finally, one of the most important things we can do as the body of Christ gathered at the Advent to demonstrate the hope that is in us as we await our next Dean is to gather in corporate worship. If you are able to join us, shake off the Covid blues in worship and fellowship this Sunday. We have missed you!  

As the author of Hebrews reminds us, it is easy to drift when we neglect to meet together: 

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it…And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb. 2:1, 10:24-25)

With God’s grace and in his timing, we look forward to our successful call of the Cathedral Church of the Advent’s next Dean and Rector.


The Search Committee


The Dean and Rector of the Cathedral Church of the Advent will be a gifted preacher and teacher of the orthodox Christian faith, understanding that we are all sinners in constant need of the message of Christ’s redeeming love.

The Dean and Rector will communicate this message to people clearly, concretely, and personally, both orally and through the written word.

In leading this Christ-centered parish, the Dean and Rector will live a Christ-centered life, with personal Bible study and prayer as regular parts. In responding to God’s word, the Dean and Rector’s relationship to the Lord will be manifest in compassion for his flock, with a desire for all to know Christ personally and to be inspired to carry the gospel out into the world.

The Dean and Rector will lead the clergy and lay staff. While daily responsibility for administrative, financial, and program direction may be delegated to others, the Dean and Rector must be personally engaged with all members of the clergy and staff, bringing oversight and vision along with appreciation and commitment to all aspects of the life and programs of the parish.

In leading the parish, the Dean and Rector recognizes that an effective church is one unified by the love of Christ and his call to spread the gospel. The Dean and Rector’s leadership will accommodate the dynamics of a large and diverse urban parish and reflect a genuine concern and sensitivity to the needs of each parishioner. Anchored in the love of Christ, the Dean and Rector will have a “pastor’s heart” manifested in all aspects of the Dean and Rector’s ministry and from which flows a discernible love for the congregation and compassion for all sinners.

The Cathedral Church of the Advent is above all else a parish church, but one which values its special relationship with the Diocese of Alabama. The Dean and Rector will work collaboratively with the Bishop of Alabama to foster the mission of the Advent as a Bible- believing, Christ-centered parish church and to enable the Advent, as the Cathedral of the Diocese, to serve well the Diocese and its other parishes.

Dear Parish Family, 

The Search Committee began meeting in June, and during these initial meetings, we have focused on laying groundwork that will be fundamental to the discernment process in the months ahead. To build unity, we spent time getting to know one another by sharing our personal faith journeys. To understand where our church has been and where it is now, we reviewed the rich history of the Advent, the Diocese of Alabama, the national Episcopal Church, and our former deans. We prayerfully divided leadership duties and set goals for the busy months ahead. Most importantly, our meetings have involved time in God’s word and in prayer. Each of us believes that our committee and our search must be steeped in prayer and centered around God’s word. We pray for our church family, our clergy, our vestry, and each other. We also pray for whoever God has chosen to be our next dean. 

We have developed a parish survey so that the congregation may provide feedback, regarding the specific talents and qualities that are desired in our new dean. Soon, the survey will be sent via email, postal mail, and linked on our website. Individual Advent members, 16 years of age and older, may submit a survey response. Your input is both valuable and vital to this process. We look forward to hearing from each of you.

The entire Search Committee desires to be transparent; however, we simply are not able to share all details and discussions. Our Process & Timeline, above, will be a helpful resource in understanding the work of our committee. If you would like to follow along and read future updates, visit AdventBirmingham.org/DeanSearch.

What can you do to help?  

  1. Pray for us and with us — Pray that our committee will work this process and faithfully wait on God to act.
  2. Read with us — To help guide our search, we are reading When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search by Chris Brauns. We encourage you to get a copy and read it along with us. It will provide insight as to how we are approaching this process: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
  3. Pray for our next dean — Pray that he/she will be available and obedient to God’s calling and for his/her family.
  4. Understand our need for confidentiality — As we move through this search together, please do not ask us to share information discussed in our meetings regarding specific candidates. 
  5. Communicate with us — Share your thoughts, comments, and recommendations with us in person or via email (DeanSearch@Cathedraladvent.com).

Mary Hanson has graciously taken on the role of Prayer Coordinator. She has organized Advent House prayer teams, sends prayers to small groups, and connects with anyone willing to pray for us. We would love to include you as we seek God’s promises for our church. If you would like to receive these prayers, please email Mary to be added to the list.

Finally, we collectively would like to have a monthly prayer focus, and this month, we ask that you join us in praying for unity:

Holy Father, who with Christ and the Holy Spirit are one, bring oneness to our Advent Search Committee. We pray that this team will be unified in purpose and walk together in the direction you set before them. Protect this group from the evil one who would seek to divide and sow seeds of discord. Allow trust to flourish among them as they labor to uncover the minister you have been preparing in heart, mind, and spirit for our church, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. 

In Christ,

The Search Committee

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The Vestry has the privilege and duty of issuing a call for a new Dean. On behalf of the Vestry, we are pleased to announce the newly formed Search Committee whose role will be to facilitate this process and to recommend a candidate to the Vestry. The members of the Search Committee who have been prayerfully selected are:

Robin Anderson
Anne-Marie Brown
Tanya Cooper
David Fleming
Ginger Mayfield
Beeland Nielsen
Gunter Owens
Browning Thornton

John Hargrove, ex officio
Jay Ezelle, ex officio
Don Menendez, Chair

The work of the Search Committee will begin immediately.  We invite you to assist us with our work as we begin the process of discernment and search for a new Dean.

First, we ask for your prayers as we begin this journey. Please join the Vestry and our Search Committee in offering prayers daily for the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit as we discern God‘s will for our church and its next Dean.

Second, we encourage you to share with us the names of individuals whom you feel should be considered. We have an email address specifically for the search: DeanSearch@CathedralAdvent.com.  Any background information you can provide would be helpful. In doing so, be mindful that confidentiality of the work of the Search Committee is essential.   So, while each of the above members will be an open and willing listener, please understand that they will not be able to provide any feedback to you on any suggested candidate. We thank you for your patience and understanding of the need for confidentiality throughout this process.

Finally, later this summer we will be conducting a parish-wide survey designed to help guide the Search Committee as they carry out their work.  Your input is important and will be greatly appreciated.

With God’s grace, we look forward to a successful call of the Cathedral Church of the Advent’s next Dean.


Don Menendez

John Hargrove
Senior Warden

Jay Ezelle
Junior Warden