He will be ordained as a transitional deacon, which is one who aspires to later become an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church. Starting July 1, he will serve as associate rector at Canterbury Episcopal Chapel at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Montgomery will serve as a deacon before realizing his goal of becoming an ordained priest.
Montgomery’s dream of becoming a priest began during his time at St. Peters Episcopal Day School. It was there, he said, that Bob Blackwell, rector of St. Peter’s Church and chaplain of the Day School, became a “great inspiration” to him.
“He loved what he was doing so much, it made me pay attention to my own spiritual life,” said Montgomery, who recently graduated from The General Theological Seminary in New York City with a master of divinity degree.
“Being from the South, being in New York was totally different,” he said.
He said there was a different attitude in the church and various opinions and thoughts in that part of the country, but he was glad to have been exposed to the culture and mindset there.
“It exposed me to a wide range of views and beliefs,” Montgomery said. “It’s important to know all those different views.”
He said he also learned from others who had come from across the country to attend The General Theological Seminary.
Montgomery said there is a “unifying nature” about the Episcopalian faith, and that because of that he feels “connected” to other Episcopalians around the world.
Montgomery will begin his official role with the church Sunday when he is ordained as a transitional deacon. He said his job as a deacon in the church will be to assist the bishops and priest and to also report to the church on the needs of the outside world, “the sick, the hungry, the needy.”
“My job is to come back and let them know who needs help,” he said.
Montgomery will serve as a transitional deacon for six months before becoming a priest.
“I want to be a scholar priest,” he said. “I think a lot. I can use that gift to make people reflect on the goodness and compassion of God.”
While studying at The General Theological Seminary, Montgomery completed part of his education in the field. He spent two years working in the church. The first year was spent at St. Luke’s in Philadelphia and the second at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in New York City.
“What I got out of St. Luke is what it was like to be a pastor and really care for people,” Montgomery said. “I was going full throttle.”
While at St. Luke, Montgomery was confident in his previous decision to work towards becoming an ordained priest.
“This is what I wanted to do,” he said.
After his time was done at St. Luke, Montgomery moved on to St. Thomas to continue his education. He said that St. Thomas was large and was made up of a multi-cultural congregation, different from the predominantly African-American makeup of St. Luke. He said he witnessed the scholar priest vocation being practiced there and that there was a “heavy emphasis on theology.”
“They were very serious about the Christian formation,” he said. “The clergy at St. Thomas embodied that scholar priest mentality.”
Montgomery’s ordination will take place Sunday at St. Peters in Talladega at 6 p.m. and all in the community are invited.
“It’s been an experience,” Montgomery said. “But the experience is just beginning.”
Contact Kenny Farmer at email@example.com.