Cathedral Church of the Advent
The Cathedral Church of the Advent, located on the southeast corner of 6th Avenue North and 20th Street in downtown Birmingham is the mother church of the Episcopal parishes in the Birmingham area. "The Advent" (as the cathedral is referred to by local Episcopalians) was established as a parish church in 1872, a few months after the founding of the city, and was one of the first churches to be built downtown. The first building on this site was completed on March 5, 1873, but was destroyed by fire on November 24, 1892. The present structure, designed in a modified Romanesque style with Gothic details by Wheelock, Joy, and Wheelock, was occupied in 1893, with completion of the tower and portico in 1895.
In 1982 the Church of the Advent became a cathedral, when the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama declared it as its seat; previously, the diocese had no cathedral, although the diocesan headquarters had been located next door to the church for many years. Since the Advent became a cathedral the rector carries the additional title of "dean." Today, nearly 4,000 members comprise the Church of the Advent, making it one of the ten largest Episcopal parishes in the United States.
The Cathedral is known for its historical building and courtyard garden, as well as for the reputation of its music program. In 2005, the Cathedral Choir was named "Best Church Choir" by readers of the Birmingham News.
A major project to preserve the sandstone exterior of the Cathedral was undertaken between 1999 and 2005. During this same period the Rector's Garden was redesigned to improve drainage and accommodate a columbarium, and the belltower was refitted for a carillon of fifteen bells, cast by Fonderie Paccard of Lac d'Annecy, France.
In April 2021, Andrew Pearson abruptly resigned as dean and rector. He was subsequently received into the Anglican Church in North America and founded Grace Church. In June 2021, the cathedral and the diocese issued a new covenant statement affirming the Advent’s “Protestant, evangelical” expression of Anglicanism and its role in the diocese. Strains in the Advent's relations with the diocese were again made public after Bishop Glenda Curry ordained a man who was married to another man in the cathedral in December 2021. Cathedral leaders stated afterwards that they were unaware of the man's marital status.
- Philip A. Fitts, 1873-1875
- Thomas Beard, 1882-1896
- Thomas J. Beard. 1882-1896
- John Murray, 1896-1903
- Middleton Barnwell, 1913-1923
- Charles Clingman, 1924-1936
- Charles Carpenter, 1936-38
- John Turner, 1939-1965
- Hugh Agricola, 1965-1974
- Brinkley Morton, 1974-1982
- Larry Gipson (Dean and Rector), 1982-1994
- Paul Zahl (Dean and Rector), 1994-2004
- Frank Limehouse (Dean and Rector), 2004-2013
- Andrew Pearson Jr (Dean and Rector), 2013-May 2021
- Craig Smalley (Dean and Rector), 2022-present, interim Dean and Rector, 2021-2022
- “Joint Statement of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama and the Cathedral Church of the Advent” (June 25, 2021) https://www.dioala.org/dfc/newsdetail_2/3207672
- Rogers, Rebecca Pegues (1973) The Strength of Her Towers. Birmingham: Episcopal Church of the Advent
- Rogers, Rebecca Pegues (1990) How Firm a Foundation. Statesboro, Georgia: Southern University Press
- Hargrove, John & Jay Ezelle (April 28, 2021) "Letter to parishioners" - via anglican.ink
- Millard, Egan (December 16, 2021) "Ordination of married gay man at Alabama cathedral renews conflict with diocese" Episcopal News Service
- Cathedral Church of the Advent website