New bishop called to heal divide in diocese
Conservatives dismayed by ordination of women, gays
By Christine Morente,
STAFF WRITER Inside Bay Area
Marc Andrus inherits a more progressive diocese than any other in the United States, but he has his work cut out for him to spread his message of inclusion to the rest of the country's Episcopal community.
On Saturday, at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, Andrus will become the eighth bishop of the California diocese, replacing retiring Bishop William Swing.
Andrus, 46, has seen his share of red-blue controversy in other dioceses that still do not accept gay or women ministers in conservative congregations.
At the same time, the Bay Area diocese has the most diverse membership — both economic and ethnic — open to anyone who believes he is called to serve. Andrus sees it as an important diocese.
"More women have been ordained in this diocese, and now its role is inclusion for gay, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual people," he said. "My role as bishop is to help that voice be heard in a larger level."
On June 14, the Joint Legislative Committee on the Consecration of Bishops in Columbus, Ohio, agreed to elect Andrus as bishop. He was elected in May by the Diocese of California. Previously, he served as assistant bishop in the Diocese of Alabama.
Married with two children, Andrus is attracted to the diocese by its energy. The Episcopal Diocese of California has a 27,000 members and has parishes in San Mateo, San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa and Marin counties, and two congregations in Santa Clara County.
"They're very engaged Christians," he said. "They want to be part of a solution for good, they want to grow spiritually and want to offer what they have to a wider community."
Several San Mateo County congregation members see him as someone who can heal the divide that has been brewing since the Episcopal Church's participation in the civil rights movement, when conservatives felt the Episcopal Church should have stayed out of it. Instead, some dioceses moved toward progressive attitudes and social justice.
The schism became larger in 1979, when the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer was changed to accept anyone who wanted to become clergy.
The Rev. Lisa Eunson, of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Belmont, shrugs off the discourse among conservatives who don't believe women and gays should be ordained.
"I'm a priest, and I try to call people back to what God is saying," she said. "In the Episcopal Church, we believe very much in the fact that clergy are called by God. Who are we to question who God is calling? We have to trust that God is doing what God wants to happen next."
The Rev. Catherine Costas, deacon of the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Belmont, said Andrus is a strong pastor interested in keeping contact with the Anglican Communion to address world problems.
"He will fight for issues on matters of justice," she said.
Meanwhile, Eunson believes Andrus is up to the challenge.
"He's someone who does yoga and loves nature. He's passionate on environmental issues," she said. "He comes to us with all the tools — both intellectually and spiritually — to be very much at home in this diverse climate."
Andrus said that, under his leadership, the Episcopal Diocese of California will help people find a spiritual home.
"It will help people search for meaning and relationship."
The investiture celebration starts at 11 a.m. The Rt. Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, Bishop of North Carolina, will preach, and the Rt. Rev. Harry B. Bainbridge III, Bishop of Idaho and President of Province VIII, will preside at the liturgy.