Rector Search

Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who will choose a rector for Saint Thomas, that we may receive a faithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Rev. Dr. Virginia Monroe joined St. Thomas as our Interim Rector in January 2022.

Calling Committee Chair: Brett Tomlin
Profile Committee: Liam Ayers, Sally Barnett, Donna Booth, Kathy Branick, Barbara Meyer, Dan Seaman, Susan Smith, Jim Teasdale, Julie Williams
Discernment Committee: Lois Adams, Kathleen Brewer, Kathie Clayton, Genie McCoy, Tom Perry, Carol Roy, Nancy Ward, Peter Wilson, Michell York

Holy Conversations

The first Holy Conversation was held on March 5, 2022 at the Parish Retreat at Camp McDowell.

Our second Holy Conversation was held on Thursday, March 24 in the Parish Hall with over 50 parishioners in attendance. The main topic of discussion was the most important characteristics of our new rector.

Our last Holy Conversation was held on Sunday, May 1 at 9:30 AM in the Parish Hall.

The Parish Profile Committee gathered input from parishioners 16 years and older via the Parish Profile Survey about who we are now, what we want to become, and the qualities we would like to see in our next rector.  The survey was completed by Thursday, April 21.

The 2022 St. Thomas Parish Profile has been completed and is available by clicking here.

Names for our Rector position were accepted through July 31, 2022.


We have now begun accepting names for our Rector position.  If you know of a particular individual or would like to recommend someone, please forward this information to Brett Tomlin at


August 10, 2022:  With the conclusion of the candidate application process, the discernment committee has shifted into high gear.  We have been blessed with a strong group of candidates, have made initial contact with each of them, and are looking forward to beginning the interview process.  We appreciate your prayers as we continue this work on behalf of the parish.

Introductory ZOOM interviews were held with all applicants August 10 through August 16. We continue to be impressed with the quality and breadth of experiences of the interested candidates. Your committee is continuing to meet regularly and the second round of interviews is next on the horizon. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we continue this process.

The second round of ZOOM interviews has been completed.  Please continue to keep your committee in your prayers as we move forward in the discernment process.  

The Discernment Committee was on the road during the month of October. Zoom interviews were concluded and it was determined which candidates we would invite to continue in the discernment process with us. A team of four committee members planned discreet visits to the parishes of our remaining candidates. When the team presented their observations to the rest of the committee, there was enthusiastic and unanimous support to move forward with a particular candidate. While visiting, the team recorded their observations of the parish’s physical plant including the grounds, worship space, other gathering spaces and surrounding neighborhood. The team also recorded their observations of the candidate conducting Sunday’s service including the sermon, liturgy, and interaction with parishioners, etc. The team joined the candidate and the candidate’s spouse for dinner on Saturday evening. The in-home visit with the candidate and their spouse proved both beneficial and exciting. 

In the meantime, the entire committee was also conducting extensive interviews of the candidate’s references. These reference checks were quite productive and helped us build a clearer picture of a candidate’s personality and ministries as seen through the eyes of people with whom they have worked and interacted.

The next step in the process was to host our selected candidate in Huntsville and at St. Thomas. This also occurred in October. It was a very exciting visit and a great opportunity to share more about St. Thomas and a great time to display all that Huntsville has to offer.

The committee spent much time in prayer and discussion and, through this process, has discerned the candidate we believe God is calling to be our next rector.

If you have questions, concerns or inputs, please feel free to contact any member of the committee. Most importantly, we ask that you pray for our committee, the candidate, and St. Thomas during this time of transition.

We welcome Fr. Donavan Cain as the eighth rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church.  He comes to us from All Saints Episcopal Church in Jacksonville, Florida where he has served as rector for the last 9 years. Prior to that he served for two years as the Associate Rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Jacksonville. Before moving to Northeast Florida, Fr. Donavan served for three years as the Rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Paris, Kentucky, in the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington.

Fr. Donavan received his Master of Divinity degree from the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in New York City, and prior to that, he served as a Lay College Chaplain in the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington, serving Episcopal student groups at Berea College in Berea, KY, and Transylvania University in Lexington, KY.

Fr. Donavan was born and raised in the Central Appalachian Coalfields of Eastern Kentucky, and, prior to entering the ordination process in the Episcopal Church, he earned a Master of Arts degree in Appalachian Studies from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.  He is an accomplished traditional Appalachian musician, and he has performed Old Time and Bluegrass music, both solo and with the Berea College Bluegrass Band, around the United States and in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Fr. Donavan, his wife Audrey, and youngest daughter Aoife, will join the St. Thomas family on January 8, 2023.  They have two older daughters; Erin is in college at Eastern Kentucky University and Abby is a head recruitment specialist for a youth advocate program in Kentucky.

Calling a New Rector

Process Timeline, Diocese of Alabama

Call Interim and Prepare
Call Committee Appointed and Commissioned
Profile Team
Self-Study and Parish Profile
Discernment Team
Discern and Present
Extend Call and Confirm
Vestry and Transition Team
Prepare for New Rector and Transition