Our Clergy


The Very Reverend Andrew C. Pearson, Jr.
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 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.


RCS600-2014The 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.


DRL600-2014The Rev. Canon Deborah R. Leighton
Canon Missioner and Director of Women’s Ministries

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 traveling. She and her husband are expecting their first child in 2017.


Matt july2016 600











The Rev. Canon Matthew C. Schneider
Canon for Parish Life and Evangelism

Matt is an atheist convert to Christianity with a deep commitment to Reformational theology, especially as it has expressed itself in the Anglican tradition. As such, he has a heart for ministering to those outside the church and those who’ve been burned by the church. Matt is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and has an M.A. in English. After a brief career as a writing teacher with failed doctoral ambitions, he answered a pastoral calling and worked in campus ministry at Georgetown University before going to seminary. He received his M.Div. from Yale Divinity School and served churches in Connecticut and South Carolina before coming to the Advent in 2014.

Matt is the pastor of our Five O’Clock community, which worships every Sunday at 5 pm, and he oversees our Newcomers Ministry, including the Inquirers Class. He is also a very active writer and editor interested in engaging with contemporary arts and culture by collaborating closely with writers and artists on a diversity projects. Matt is the editor of The Advent magazine, our annual arts and theology journal, and he is the host of our Arts + Culture Series, which explores creative topics through public conversations.

He is married to Hawley Schneider, a professional portraiture photographer originally from Washington, DC. They met while studying at a language institute in Nice, France. Hawley and Matt now have two daughters, Eden and Zoë, and they live in the Crestwood neighborhood. They love living in Birmingham and are actively engaged in the city’s revitalization efforts, hoping to help our city become an increasingly vibrant place to live and visit.


zac 600The Rev. Canon Zachary M. Hicks
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 forthcoming 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 will take the lead on all liturgical matters for our worship services, and he will also help lead the music at the Five O’Clock service. Zac is married to Abby, and they have four children – Joel, Jesse, Brody and Bronwyn.


adam-600The Rev. Adam A. Young

Adam Young joined the staff as an additional curate in early July, 2015.

Adam comes to us by way of the Presbyterian Church in America where he most recently served as an associate pastor at Red Mountain Church, here in Birmingham. Prior to his time there, he served a church in Orlando, and worked with Desire Street Ministries in New Orleans. Adam is a graduate of the University of Georgia and Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando.

Adam and his wife Beth and their three children will be with us for a year before he transitions into ministry in the Episcopal Church.


The Rev. Katherine P. Jacob

Kathi 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.

Kathi 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. Kathi was ordained to the permanent Diaconate in November 2002. She served on the Cathedral staff as Outreach Missions Coordinator from 2002 to 2007.

Kathi enjoys painting, spending time with her grandchildren, and foreign travel. She has three grown daughters and six grandchildren.