In 1947, two groups of English-speaking Episcopalians in
Mexico gathered to worship with the Rev. Melchor and Catherine Saucedo in
Guadalajara and in Lakeside. The group in Guadalajara became Christ Church and
later, St. Mark’s. The small group who had met in a Lakeside apartment on
Fridays moved to the Little Chapel, which it outgrew to become St. Andrew’s,
named for the patron saint of fishermen.
Anglicanism in Mexico had two inceptions. In the mid
1800’s, numerous British and American citizens came to Mexico to work in the
oil, mining, and railroad industries. Their request for English language worship
led the U.S. Episcopal Church to send Rev. Henry C. Riley, who on Christmas Day,
1869, conducted the first English language Episcopal service in Mexico City,
beginning the long tie between Mexico and the US Episcopal Church (ECUSA).
Meanwhile, Mexico’s long oppression under the Colonial
Spanish and their Roman Catholic faith had led to bitterness and intolerance by
the state. The 1810 The Mexican War for Independence revealed a deep national
desire to break from Colonial Spain, and a longing for a Mexican-centered
church. In 1857, while church reformation was encouraged by Mexican President
Benito Juarez, three Mexican Roman priests,
Frs. Bustamante, Aguas, and Hernandez, led a liberal reform
movement within the Roman Church. But, as in Europe, reform efforts were
quashed by Rome, and leaders of the movement ostracized. Reformers organized as
the Mexican Catholic Church independent of Rome. By 1882, renamed the Mexican
Iglesia de Jesus, the Church of Jesus had grown to 7,000 members.
Once again, the struggle with Rome found support from the
Mexican Government. By presidential decree, Benito Juarez granted the former
Roman Church, San Jose de Gracia in Mexico City, to Episcopalians for their
national Cathedral. It is now a national monument.Throughout the 1900’s, both
the Mexican Anglican and English-speaking Episcopal churches spread over Mexico,
especially in rural areas, vigorously encouraged by the first native Episcopal
Bishop, Efrain Salinas y Velasco, and by three young Mexican priests—Leonardo
Romero, Mel Saucedo, and his brother, Jose Guadalupe Saucedo.
The Saucedos had long been protectors of the faith. In the
early 1900s, Mel and Jose’s grandfather, Cipriano, was a lay bodyguard who rode
shotgun for Bishop Henry D. Aves as he served widely scattered Episcopal
missions throughout the Republic of Mexico.It was a rough and exciting time as
the Mexican Episcopal Church grew of its own energy without U.S. influence or
intervention. In 1907, the Church of Jesus was adopted by the Episcopal Church
of the United States as the Missionary District of Mexico, later becoming the
Missionary Diocese of Mexico. The word Missionary was then removed, giving the
district the right to elect its own Bishop. Mel Saucedo became Bishop of the
diocese in 1964. In 1973, the Anglican Church of Mexico was divided into three
dioceses and later into five as it is today.
Meanwhile, congregations in Guadalajara and Chapala
continued to grow. In the early 1950’s, the US Episcopal Church sent the Rev.
Alanson Brown of the Diocese of West Texas to encourage English-speaking
congregations. Next, Rev. Alfonso Gomez came to Christ Church in Guadalajara,
assisted by Col. M. Barry Watson, Canadian Lay Reader. In 1964, the Rev. Thomas
Bond of West Texas served Christ Church and part-time at the Lakeside
congregation, followed by Rev. James P. Dannelley of the Diocese of Texas. Lay
Readers served when the vicar or bishop were not available, including Ralph H.
G. Mathews, Retired Commodore USN, and Fred Brand, a native of Scotland. The
present rectory was formerly Brand’s home.
In 1976, Rev. Ralph M. Carmichael, recently retired from
St. Andrew’s in Albany, New York, came to Mexico to study Spanish. He and his
wife Jean called on Bishop Saucedo, and Carmichael offered to take on any work
available in the diocese. Mel suggested the growing congregation on Lake
Chapala, and Carmichael was installed that November as the first priest in
residence of St. Andrew’s.
In 1979, the congregation purchased the Brand home in Chula
Vista, creating a home where “summer clergy” could remain throughout the
year. In 1990, the church bought a building in Riberas del Pilar, quickly
remodeled the former gymnasium and held its first service on June 3, 1990, with
the Rev. Harry Smith from the Diocese of Newark presiding.
January 1st, 1995, the General Convention of the
Episcopal Church in the U.S. (ECUSA) recognized Mexico was ready to become a
self-governing province. The Mexican Episcopal Church then separated from ECUSA,
becoming an independent province within the worldwide Anglican Communion, and
thus St. Andrew’s became an Anglican Church. The Constitution and Canons of the
new Anglican Province IX provided for the congregation to continue their use of
the familiar Episcopal Book of Common Prayer.
The Rev. Robert
Johnson of Panama City, Florida, led St. Andrew’s through that transition, and
in 1996, the Rev. Iris R. Slocombe, formerly of Grace Episcopal Church in Mt.
Clemens, Michigan, was installed as Vicar. The congregation began a period of
new growth, and on January 26, 1999, St. Andrew’s was granted full Parish
status, making Rev. Slocombe its first Rector.
In April, 2005, Rector Slocombe resigned for health
reasons, and Rev. Andrew Krumbhaar of the Diocese of Central Florida, by then a
member of the congregation, stepped in as Interim Rector. A search in 2006
brought Rev. Michael Percival from the tiny town of Westcliffe, Colorado, as the
second Rector. Following Fr.
Michael's retirement in 2010, the Vestry called The Rev. Winston W. Welty to be
the third Rector of St. Andrew's.
Much had changed since St. Andrew’s early days. Responding
to church growth, the vestry purchased land adjacent to the church in 1999 and
renovated the offices and courtyard. Also in 1999, Lissa Taylor proposed an
outreach effort to support local charities. The idea gave birth to Regalorama
Navidad, St. Andrew’s popular Christmas Bazaar, distributing more than 350,000
pesos annually. The church was enlarged to include a new sanctuary in 2003 under
the leadership of Senior Warden Russ Aldcroft, with Bob Deschamps and Dryden
Jones leading the redesign effort. Stained glass windows and a new Allen
digital sampling organ were added in 2004.
Church grounds now include the sanctuary with kitchen,
columbarium, garden/courtyard, offices, and storage space. Church lay leaders
are the Senior, Junior, and Associate Wardens and Vestry with nine full- time
members and three seasonal members. Twelve volunteer committees keep church
activities running smoothly, and a lay ministry of altar guild, choir, acolytes,
chalicers, readers, ushers, and greeters assists with worship. Working
volunteer committees include Finance, Buildings and Grounds, Administration,
Outreach, Social and Hospitality, the Company of Gentlemen, and church office
One of St. Andrew’s assets is its music program. An
experienced choir under organist and choirmaster, Timothy G. Ruff Welch,
presents its Sunday worship music nine months of the year and prepares special
holiday programs. Morning worshipers enjoy hearing piano, organ, brass,
strings, and even harmonica, with selections ranging from medieval chant to
spirituals, classical, and original compositions.
The congregation of St. Andrews began the 21st
century as an active and diverse community. Average Sunday attendance by 2006
ranged from 160 in summer to 275 in winter. Eighty percent of the congregation
falls between the ages of 51 and 80, including slightly more women than men,
with most parishioners in married or committed relationships. Most are retired,
and many participate in a wide range of activities and volunteer positions, both
in the church and the community. Worshipers come from many denominational
backgrounds. Confirmation classes are offered to those who wish to become
St. Andrew’s stands in the middle ground of liturgical
practice familiar to the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church of
the USA and invites those without this background to share in the worship
service by sitting, standing, or kneeling. The 1979 Book of Common Prayer
gives participants a collective voice, and St. Andrew’s welcomes all baptized
Christians to Christ’s table for communion. We invite all to share God’s grace
through the ministry of charity, hospitality, and fellowship with God and Jesus
Christ through the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Compiled from various
historical sources; personal memory of Catherine Saucedo and others; and edited
by Connie Percival.