Alabama’s Suffragan Bishop Mark Andrus was elected bishop for the Diocese of California on May 6, succeeding Bishop William Swing, who will retire in July after leading the diocese for more than a quarter-century.
Andrus, 49, was one of four bishops elected since late April. The others are Barry Beisner, 54, coadjutor bishop in the Diocese of North Carolina; Steven Todd Ousley, 44, coadjutor diocesan bishop in the Diocese of Eastern Michigan; and Dena Harrison, 59, suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Texas.
The four, together with others who have been elected within 120 days before General Convention, will come before diocesan bishops and deputies at convention for their consent. Normally, consents are given by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees.
After the third attempt on May 6 and a total of 36 ballots, the Diocese of Tennessee failed to choose a successor to Bertram Herlong and simply adjourned, requiring the bishop and his staff to determine how to proceed with a new search. A two-thirds majority is required from both clergy and laity for an election, and each group favored its own candidate through all three election attempts.
It took three ballots for Andrus’ election. He was the frontrunner among clergy from the first ballot, while lay delegates favored Eugene Sutton, 52, a canon at Washington National Cathedral. Five other nominees, of whom three were openly gay, were far behind.
Andrus, who once worked as a regional planner on Virginia’s eastern shore before entering Virginia Theological Seminary, has been suffragan bishop in Alabama for five years. Addressing the electoral synod by telephone immediately after his election, he said his commitment to inclusion was resolute.
“We must all understand, and here I address the Diocese of California and those listening from elsewhere, that your vote today remains a vote for inclusion and communion – of gay and lesbian people in their full lives as single or partnered people, of women, of all ethnic minorities and all people,” he said.
He serves on national steering committees for Bishops Working for a Just Society, a coalition that works for public policy that benefits the poor; Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation; and the executive of the Committee on the Status of Women. He and his wife, Sheila, a researcher and educator, have two daughters, both college students.
In the Diocese of Northern California, Beisner, canon to the ordinary since 2002, will succeed Bishop Jerry Lamb on Jan. 1. The new bishop has led vestry planning retreats, clergy retreats and mutual-ministry reviews. He has taught parish leadership at the Episcopal seminary in Berkeley, Calif. He and his wife, Ann, a priest who is national coordinator of the Church Deployment Office program Fresh Start, have six grown children.
Petition candidate elected
Ousley, missioner for congregational development and clergy deployment for the Diocese of Eastern Michigan, was elected on the fifth ballot. He will succeed Edwin Leidel Jr., first bishop of the new diocese, at the year’s end. Ousley’s name was added by petition to the diocese’s existing slate of nominees. A native Texan, he and his wife, Ann, have three sons.
A diocesan convention in Houston on April 29 elected Dena Harrison, archdeacon and canon for ministry in the Diocese of Texas, as suffragan bishop on the third ballot. She becomes the 13th woman elected as a bishop and will oversee pastoral and congregational development under the direction of diocesan Bishop Don Wimberly.