The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus is said to be wise, calm and a conciliator. If true, he will have the opportunity to demonstrate all three attributes in the months ahead. Bishop Andrus was invested July 22 as the eighth Bishop of California, a diocese with a multitude of races, creeds and colors surrounding San Francisco Bay.
Grace Cathedral, which stands atop Nob Hill, is the see for a diocese that encompasses Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Bohemian Club. But it is far from a collection of rich, white parishes. Caucasians are no longer a majority in California, there is a large, visible homeless population in San Francisco, and perhaps nowhere have the distractions of wealth and alienation produced a more fecund cauldron for cults and narcissistic fads. The diocese also has a large, visible gay population.
Meanwhile, Bishop Andrus’ predecessor, the Rt. Rev. William E. Swing, and three other bishops with jurisdiction in California have accused the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, their colleague in the neighboring Diocese of San Joaquin, with abandonment of communion on June 29.
Asked how he would approach the dispute, Bishop Andrus said after the investiture service, “I have pledged my full being to the life of the Episcopal Church, but I will work to understand my brothers and sisters.”
Bishop Andrus comes to California from Alabama, where he was bishop suffragan. Social justice ministry was a significant focus of his episcopacy there. The Rt. Rev. Robert Miller, retired Bishop of Alabama, says Bishop Andrus “brings a lot of wisdom” to his new post. “We trained him well in Alabama,” he said.
“He has great energy and love of the Lord and will continue the great things that Bishop Swing has done here,” said the Rt. Rev. Harry Bainbridge, Bishop of Idaho, who served as the chief consecrator. In particular he can be expected to push ahead with social justice issues, he said.
“He will go to the mat for justice issues,” said Sister Helena Marie, of the Community of the Holy Spirit in New York.
Just as important perhaps will be whatever skills at reconciliation Bishop Andrus brings to the job.
The Bishop of North Carolina, the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, who was the preacher for the service, says those skills are considerable.
“He is skilled at bringing people together — it’s part of who he is,” Bishop Curry said.
Bishop Andrus also brings what the Rev. John Kirkley, rector of St. John the Evangelist Church in San Francisco calls “a non-anxious presence” to the debates of the church. Fr. Kirkley, who is openly gay, said Bishop Andrus has been supportive on gay and lesbian issues, but just as important, he has also supported children and youth ministries and recognized the cultural diversity of the church.
On the first Sunday after his consecration, Bishop Andrus was scheduled to serve breakfast to the homeless at Episcopal Community Services, attend church at Holy Child & St. Martin’s Church in Daly City, which is predominantly Filipino, and meet with young people at the Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Oakland.
Despite a record high temperature of 97 degrees Fahrenheit recorded in San Francisco Saturday, the investiture, the first in 27 years for the Diocese of California, attracted an overflow congregation of some 2,250. Bishop Andrus and Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori administered communion to the overflow crowd who watched the service via a video link in the basement.
The diversity of the diocese was emphasized at several points during the service. The procession was led by Chinese dragons and drums. The first lesson was read in Mandarin (Chinese) and the gospel was read in Spanish.
“Two hours and 15 minutes,” noted the 92-year-old retired Bishop Suffragan of California G. Richard Millard following the service. “Not bad.”