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UM grad named third black Episcopal priest in diocese history

Published 2:53pm Thursday, December 6, 2012

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

A University of Montevallo graduate was ordained as only the third black priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama Dec. 2.

Talladega native Brandt Montgomery graduated from the University of Montevallo in 2007. While attending UM, he was president of freshmen forum and student government president during his senior year, as well as president of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.

Brandt Montgomery.

According to Montgomery, the Episcopal church has a “stereotype of being a ‘rich, white persons’ church,’” which stems from colonial America times.

“It was the church of the aristocratic classes in America. Because of that, in the late 1700s and 1800s, (it was) the slave-owning church,” Montgomery said. “The church is desperately trying to get over that past of being the ‘rich, white persons’ church.’”

In the dioceses’ 175-year history, only three black priests have been ordained in Alabama.

“My ordination to the priesthood was a historic moment for the life of the diocese,” Montgomery said. “I just hope to do what I can to spread the love of Jesus and say that God loves people, and I love people because God loves me.”

Montgomery was ordained as a deacon in the Episcopal church May 27 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Talladega, which is where he grew up.

Montgomery began to consider a life in the ministry when Rev. Bob Blackwell of St. Peter’s Episcopal started asking the then 14-year-old Montgomery if he considered becoming a priest. At the time, Montgomery planned to become a politician.

“Since the age of 13 or 14, I felt God pushing me away from the political world and into the world of ordained ministry and church for the people of God,” he added. “When I was in my early 20s about to graduate from Montevallo, the idea of ordained ministry was in my mind.”

Montgomery was appointed to Canterbury Episcopal Chapel on the University of Alabama campus July 1. Since the Diocese of Alabama sponsored him, by policy, Montgomery will give two years of service to the church, and he plans to remain at Canterbury Episcopal for the duration.

Montgomery, who was a music performance major at the University of Montevallo, keeps his trumpet handy.

“I’m a jazz person. I’m a big jazz lover, especially late ‘30s, ‘40s and early ‘50s jazz,” he said. “I pick up trumpet and go through jazz heads, which are tunes, and improvise on those tunes. It does a lot to revive my spirit and get me recharged to come back to the ministries of the church.”

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