Monday, December 2, 2019


The Diocese of Alabama is in the process of choosing a new bishop coadjutor who will replace Bishop Kee Sloan. Yesterday, the Standing Committee announced three candidates. Find the announcement here . 

The three candidates are:

1)     the Rev. Dr. Glenda S. Curry. Rector of All Saints' Episcopal Church, Birmingham. 

2)     the Rev. Evan D. Garner. Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Fayetteville, Arkansas.

3)     the Rev. Allison Sandlin Liles. Priest-in-charge of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Hurst, Texas. 

All three have strong ties to Alabama. Curry has the most impressive credentials. Before ordination she was president of Troy University at Montgomery, in Alabama. However, at 66, age may be an issue to some people since bishops have to retire at age 72. Liles grew up in St. John's, Decatur AL, and has many contacts in the state. 

On his blurb, Garner wrote:  "I am a product of both the Diocese of Alabama and, in particular, the Cathedral Church of the Advent. The evangelical strand of the Anglican tradition is not only familiar to me but is also foundational to my identity as a Christian." This statement raises my concern. For nearly two decades, the Cathedral Church of the Advent has been a center of hostility to the reform developments of the Episcopal Church (the dean put out a black flag on he day TEC confirmed an openly gay bishop). There are historic and close ties between St. Helena's, of Beaufort SC, since the 1990's a well-known hotbed of hostility to TEC, and the Cathedral Church of the Advent, in Birmingham. See my blog piece on Dean Andrew Pearson here . It behooves the communicants in AL to explore the relationship between Garner and the staff at Advent before casting a vote. The last thing anyone in Alabama should want is a repeat of the schism in SC. It would devastate this diocese the way the schism of 2012 smashed apart the grand old diocese of South Carolina. 

At any rate, we have three candidates. I am sorry to say I do not know any of the three, in fact I have never heard of them, so I approach this with an open mind but also a wary one considering my familiarity with the recent history of South Carolina. Now, the task is to find the one best suited to the continued development of the great diocese of Alabama in the mainstream of the Episcopal Church. I will do my homework in preparation for the election. 

(The Diocese of Alabama is one of the largest and strongest dioceses in the Episcopal Church. It listed 32,160 baptized members in 2018 and 87 local churches. While Province IV declined by 13% in baptized membership between 2008 and 2018, Alabama declined by 0.8%. It has had outstanding bishops who kept the diocese steadily in the mainstream of the Episcopal Church. Henry N. Parsley served as diocesan bishop from 1999 to 2012. He was the close runner-up in the election of TEC presiding bishop in 2006. Geographically the diocese is the upper two-thirds of the state with cities as Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa and the two large universities. It maintains a model diocesan camp, Camp McDowell. The diocese experienced relatively little dissension and division in the period of the schisms.)