Published: Sunday, October 31, 2010, 3:07 PM ??? Updated: Sunday, October 31, 2010, 3:26 PM
The pastor of the nearly 130-year-old Sixth Avenue Baptist Church, one of Birmingham's largest black congregations, resigned today.
The? Rev. Al B. Sutton Jr., announced his resignation, effective immediately, at the 8:30 a.m. service, members of the church said. Some members wept openly after his announcement.Sutton said he was leaving to start a new church, Living Stones Temple, which will meet at Temple Emanu-El on Highland Avenue. He did not preach at the 11 a.m. service. A church official announced Sutton's resignation at that time.
Efforts to reach Sutton and the chairman of the church's board of deacons for comment were unsuccessful today.
Sutton, the church's eighth pastor, had led Sixth Avenue Baptist Church since August 2000. He had been hired to replace the Rev. John T. Porter who had served at the church 38 years, including through the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Sutton, a native of Baltimore, Md., had been pastor of a church in Buffalo, N.Y.,? for a decade before moving to Birmingham to serve as pastor of Sixth Avenue. He had served at a church in Virginia three years prior to that.
Sutton has a bachelor's degree from Bishop College in Dallas, Texas; and master of divinity and doctorate of ministry degrees, both from Virginia Union School of Theology in Richmond, Va.
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