Evan Smith: I’m struck that everybody still refers to you as “Andy.” In their minds, you’re a regular guy who only happens to be the newest Episcopal bishop of Texas.
C. Andrew Doyle: Each and every one of us is on a journey of becoming who God is inviting us to be, and that journey isn’t different today than it was before I became bishop. You, as editor in chief of Texas Monthly, are continuoustly discovering who you are, and the people reading this interview are discovering who they are. What’s interesting is that a new vocabulary has inserted itself into the dialogue I have with God and the larger community.
ES: How is the conversation with God different?
CAD: I’m asking different questions. It’s not about discovering what a bishop does—I understand that. It’s not about what kind of sacramental life a bishop has within the church. Rather, it’s “How is Andy the bishop who God has called him to be?” It’s about opening my eyes to see the ways in which my manner, my way of being with individuals, affects the office. It’s probably encapsulated in the town hall meetings I’ve been doing, traveling around Texas, meeting with young adults and people of the church, and inviting them to have a conversation about our work together.
ES: What have you heard? I’m imagining you, like a politician, on a listening tour to meet with your constituents.
CAD: One of the things that I heard from people inside and outside our church was a yearning for holy relationships—holy as in sacred. People want to be together. Some of them want to engage in a discussion about their spiritual journey; they feel their spiritual lives are nurtured as they engage in that conversation. But there’s also a real desire for unity. Not uniformity—over the last decade, both within the church and within our culture, we’ve been dividing into camps, and yet I really have a sense of people seeking a wholeness, for themselves and their community. A wholeness that respects people who have different ideas and who seek nourishment in the marketplace of ideas. In church, as in the corporate world, people want to be asked their opinion.
ES: There has been and still is a big divide in the church.
CAD: Human beings have an amazing tendency to split up into like-minded camps with incredible efficiency. The reality is that not just the Episcopal Church but every church has been divided over the years. Here’s the thing for me that seems important: On the night Jesus was taken into custody, he prayed that his followers would be unified. So difficult is the task of a healthy, thriving community that our Lord had to actually pray for it. We can spend a lot of time talking about every issue that divides us, but what about the challenge that we’ve been given to be one people in the midst of our great diversity? I’m not sure that wholeness and unity isn’t exactly what we’re supposed to be aspiring to.
ES: Are there people who worship at Episcopal churches around Texas who would disagree with the idea that their purpose is unity and