Bishop Mary Blessing the Host

Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, 3rd Bishop of the Diocese of El Camino Real, visited St. Mary’s on December 9 for the last time as our Bishop. She will retire as Bishop in 2019 once a new Bishop has been chosen. On Sunday, Bishop Mary confirmed 6 candidates (John and Charles Pellegrin, Susan Elliott, Sharon Tiner, Norah Schramm, Nina Hubrich) and received 1 person (Ron Garcia) into the Episcopal Church from another denomination. In her sermon, she spoke about the satisfying relationships she has encouraged between our Diocese and the Diocese of Gloucester in England and the Diocese of Western Tanganyika in Tanzania. These partnerships between such different peoples–nevertheless united as Episcopalians–were thought to be unlikely to succeed, until we proved they could be established.

She reminisced about how far women have come in the Episcopal Church from when she was first elected Bishop in November 2007. Only a few months after her installation she attended the triennial Lambeth conference in England, a gathering of all 800 Anglican bishops from around the world. There were only 4 or 5 women Bishops in the Anglican Communion then, and opposition to women serving as Bishops was strong in the United Kingdom. As she processed to the first meeting at Lambeth through narrow streets with a male Bishop who had just introduced himself, she was about to respond when a protestor stepped in front of her with a sign and shouted into her face “You are a whore of the church!” She turned to her fellow Bishop and continued her introduction saying “Well, I guess that’s all you need to know about me!”

This episode captures Bishop Mary’s grace under fire, her humor, her quick wit, and her wonderful spirited and spiritual presence. She has been a blessing to the people of this Diocese and we will miss her very much, even as we welcome the new bishop to come.

Kathy Herbig