The Diocese of AlabamaThe Diocese of Alabama
This diocese is rooted and grounded in the mission of Jesus Christ. We try to see ourselves as a missionary people committed to spreading the gospel and sharing in the ministry of Jesus Christ for the reconciling and healing of the world. During the period of 1990 to 2003, the Diocese of Alabama grew by more than 25% to a baptized membership of over 36,000 members. This growth trend is expected to continue well into the 21st century as new urban parishes are being planned at a rate of one new parish every three years, and a new full-time college campus ministry in Montgomery in 2002. Beginning in 2000, a Hispanic Ministry Missioner was funded with the calling of a full-time diocesan Hispanic missioner to work among the growing numbers of Hispanic/Latino peoples moving to Alabama.
The Diocese of Alabama is eucharistically centered. The sacrament of Holy Eucharist is the worship norm at the principal services on Sunday throughout the diocese. The 1979 Book of Common Prayer is the liturgical customary for the diocese, and the 1982 Hymnal is universally in use and is supplemented with other hymnals such as the Alleluia II, Wonder, Love and Praise, and Lift Every Voice.
The diocese strongly supports the ordination and deployment of women and minorities, and is an equal opportunity employer. The diocese cherishes the enrichment of ordained ministry that women and minorities bring to us and seeks to expand the opportunities for parishes to experience these ministries.
All baptized persons are regarded as ministers living out the baptismal covenant in the world.
The diocese and the parishes are called to nourish and support the laity in their individual ministries in the family, the church, and the world. The bishops and clergy support and encourage lay participation in the liturgical life of the parish as lectors, chalice administrators, Eucharistic ministers as well as music ministers. In 2000, the renewal of the ordained order of Deacons became a reality. In 2002, 13 deacons were ordained to servant ministry in the diocese, with another 15 ordained in the fall of 2004. Ecumenical sharing and cooperation have been a high priority of this diocese for many years, but much more still needs to be accomplished. A good working relationship has been established with the Southeast Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America and the two Roman Catholic dioceses, as well as with several of the major judicatories that are headquartered in Birmingham and Montgomery. Full communion with the ELCA Lutherans was implemented in the diocese in 2001.
The diocese has vigorously urged local parishes into outreach ministry and supported them in this work. Over the years, parish-based outreach has grown and is now considerable. At the same time, the diocese has sought to address the underlying problems of hunger, unemployment, and racism with a recent initiative focused on the Black Belt area of the diocese. Through its Department of Outreach and Mission, parish-based outreach grants have been available to assist in the funding of ministries to the poor, to prisoners, to abused children and women, and to urban ecumenical agencies in Birmingham, Montgomery, and Huntsville.
While alcohol and drug abuse are recognized as major health concerns which affect all members and strata of society without regard to role, gender, or ethnic background, they are regarded as a form of illness, not a moral deficiency. The church, as a redemptive community of Christian believers, must be sensitive to the need for exercising a healing ministry to the problem drinker or addict, and members of his or her family.
A major focus of formation and renewal within the diocese is the Cursillo movement. This lay-led movement was begun in the diocese in 1979. With the full support and encouragement of the bishops, this program for spiritual renewal has reached into almost every parish. Small groups meet weekly for mutual support, and there are monthly gatherings on citywide or convocational levels for continued growth and sharing among participants. Kairos, an ecumenical weekend program for spiritual renewal within prisons, has been a direct outreach of the diocesan Cursillo movement. In recent years Kairos Outside, a program for spouses and families of those incarcerated, has also been initiated in the diocese.
Christian formation is seen as an on-going process for both adults and our youth. The local parish is the primary unit of the church in which our people learn what it means to be a committed child of God. We support parishes in this teaching role by training, consultations, and special curricula. The diocese offers opportunities for education which an individual parish could not undertake-the Camp McDowell camping programs, conferences, and topical workshops-to support people as they strive to live out their Baptismal Covenant.
A strong parish and diocesan-based Youth Ministry and, more recently, our Yada (Young Adults in the Diocese of Alabama) program provide a strong focus on formation of the next generation of adults as leaders for both mission and ministry.
The leadership of the diocese seeks to take a collaborative stance in decision making. The Diocesan Council functions similarly to the way a vestry functions in relationship to the rector of a parish. It is a body which deliberates, consults, guides, and acts to assist the bishops in the nurture and extension of Christ's Church. Leadership seeks input from those who are affected by decisions and intentionally works toward consensus.
Since 1969, the diocese has had a high commitment to the Companion Diocese Relationship Program and over these years has had a formal relationship with the Dioceses of Chile, Bolivia, and Peru, and with the Diocese of Namibia in Southern Africa and the Diocese of South Dakota in the United States. Between 1999 and 2002, a relationship with the Diocese of Sao Paulo, Brazil, was maintained. Currently, there is a companion diocese relationship with the Diocese of Haiti.
Since 1980, the diocese has been funded by voluntary giving rather than by assessments on the parishes. While maintaining the standard of voluntary giving, beginning in 2001, the long-range goal calls for parishes with income of more than $150,000 to pledge 15% to the work of the Church through the diocese, and for parishes with income under $150,000 to pledge 10% to the diocese.
Mindful of the importance of unity, the diocese has been a strong supporter of the work of the entire Episcopal Church and continues to exhibit this support through the acceptance and payment of the apportionment asked of us and participation at all levels. Our diocesan giving to the National Church did decline somewhat in the 2004 budget. We assign this high priority to the budget of General Convention because of its missionary outreach both within the United States and around the entire Anglican Communion. At the same time, the diocese strives to maintain the realistic growth of the salaries of its clergy and full-time lay employees.
In summation, the diocese believes that "the window should be open", allowing fresh breezes to flow through. These local breezes include the interchange with overseas and domestic dioceses, the support of main-line renewal and growth for the church, including the Vision 20/20 initiative to double average Sunday attendance of the Episcopal Church by the year 2020, implement a Strategic Planning initiative of the diocese begun in 2004 and designed to support church growth, Christian formation for all ages, promoting justice and peace among all people, and equipping all of our people to do the work of God. Our bedrock belief is that the Lord calls us to live the gospel of grace joyfully, as we share life with all the Lord's creation.
We seek to glorify God in Christ by experiencing His Word in worship, communion, and study; by living out His Word in fellowship, healing, and love; and by proclaiming His Word through teaching and outreach. We invite you to bring your unique personality and gifts, and become a partner in Christ’s work with us.
Regular Worship Services:
- Sunday: 8:00 am – Holy Eucharist, Rite I; 10:15 am – Holy Eucharist, Rite II.
- First Sunday of Every Month: 7:30 pm -Compline - chanted (with music).
- Third Sunday of Every Month: 5:00 pm - Evening Eucharist (chancel-informal-come as you are)
- Monday-Friday: 8:00 am - Morning Prayer (chapel).
- Tuesday: 8:00 am - Choral Morning Prayer (chancel).
- Wednesday: 6:00 pm - Holy Eucharist, Rite II (chapel).