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From Columbus: Committee recommends one bishop consent; another is pending

By Melodie Woerman

The Rev. Canon Barry Beisner, canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Northern California, was elected May 6 as bishop coadjutor of his diocese.  


[Episcopal News Service]  The Joint Legislative Committee on Consecration of Bishops recommended June 14 that General Convention consent to the election of Bishop Marc Andrus to become bishop of the Diocese of California.

The committee heard testimony the election of the Rev. Barry Beisner to be bishop coadjutor for the Diocese of Northern California but had no time to conduct their deliberations before the start of the afternoon session of the House of Deputies. The committee will deliberate June 15 at 7:15 a.m. in executive session and then announce their decision.

Andrus, 49, is now suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Alabama, a post he has held for the past five years. He was elected on the third ballot May 6. In his episcopate, Andrus has been responsible for diocesan college chaplaincies and the diocesan camp and conference center, along with other episcopal ministries. He was a priest in the dioceses of Virginia and Pennsylvania prior to his election in Alabama. Andrus is married; he and his wife Sheila have two college-aged daughters.

Andrus' election was applauded by California Bishop William Swing and by Bishop Henry Parsley of the Diocese of Alabama. The Rev. Michael Barlowe, one of the other candidates for bishop and a deputy from the Diocese of California, said he was certain Andrus was the person God was calling to be California's next bishop.

"He's a person of prayer, a person who walks his talk," Barlowe said.

Roderick Duglass, a lay deputy and a member of the bishop search committee, said, "Marc's authenticity, his integrity and courage, speak for itself."

Beisner, 54, was elected on the fourth ballot, also May 6. He is canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Northern California. He also has served parishes in the dioceses of Northern California, California and Southern Ohio. He and his wife, the Rev. L. Ann Hallisey, have six children. Hallisey is national director of Fresh Start, a program for clergy in transition. Beisner will succeed Bishop Jerry Lamb when he retires January 1.

In his remarks to the committee, Beisner addressed the fact that he has been divorced twice and married three times, noting that this had not been an issue in his election but has been raised since then by people outside the Diocese of Northern California. None of those who addressed the committee raised the issue.

Lamb said that when he selected Beisner to be canon to the ordinary, "I knew him to have extraordinary skills and knew he was an extremely gifted priest. I had experienced his ability to plan, to see questions, to see issues." Malcolm Mackenzie, lay deputy from the Diocese of Northern California, said, "Barry is unique, in my experience, as someone who has ideas and is very good at implementing them and seeing that things happen. That is a wonderful gift not many have."

A resolution endorsing Andrus, as well as four other endorsements the committee made June 13, will go to the House of Deputies, then on to the House of Bishops for final action. Assuming Beisner receives the committee's endorsement, a resolution on his election will follow the same course.