Shortly after Rev. Andy Andrews began working as dean of St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Memphis, the city newspaper published an article titled “Is the Cathedral Dying?”
“Eleven years later, it is thriving, a beacon of light for its parishioners – who have doubled in number – and for the homeless in the church district,” said Ray Hume of Vicksburg.
In mid-February Andrews, a native of Greenville, will become rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Vicksburg.
After a process that took over seven months, the 10-member Holy Trinity and Andrews search committee think they are “a perfect match,” said committee member Hume.
“Andy Andrews is one of the most spiritual people I have ever met. At the same time, he’s one of the most down to earth people I know. It makes an incredible combination, ”he said.
The Holy Trinity Search Committee met Andrews in Memphis the second week of November.
“When we went there and met him, we fell in love with him,” Hume said. “When you talk to Andy, you get the impression that he’s totally centered. He listened. He was focused. You knew he caught every word and every nuance.
An improbable match
The match from the start was unlikely.
“In Memphis, Andy is the head of the church that serves as the original church for the Diocese of the Episcopal Church of West Tennessee. There are two other ordained priests there and 15 staff members. We have three staff and Andy will be the only priest at Holy Trinity, ”Hume said.
Andrews’ name was thrown in the hat along with the names of other potential rectors by a couple of Holy Trinity parishioners. This list was forwarded to Bishop Brian Seage of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi, who selected this list and produced a shorter list, which was presented to the church’s research committee in July. Andrews name was on it.
“When we saw where he was after 22 years as a priest, we thought we can dream, but he surely isn’t really serious,” Hume said. “The more we talked, the more we learned that his interest was genuine.”
He said Andrew’s job in Memphis involved spending a lot of his time on administrative matters.
“His love is pastoral care, to work with people, to get to know them, to help them grow spiritually and to help them in their life decisions. Help them become the people and individuals God wants us to be, ”Hume said.
The process was like courtship, he said.
“The whole search committee and Andy realized that we were a perfect marriage. I know this sounds a bit cheesy.
“I know people are scared or uncomfortable when people hear you speak of the Holy Ghost. Many think of some sort of thing over there, another kind of this world. I am here to tell you (during this process of seeking) that the Holy Spirit was absolutely floating around us in a tangible way. If you can touch something that is only there in the spirit, we will touch it. It was with us and got us to listen and not just to listen to where we were led, but to listen to each other, to Andy, to our hearts and to our minds, ”Hume said. “If you speak to one of the 10 people on this committee, everyone will tell you that this has been the most profound religious experience we have had. We are changed.
A welcome change
Mindy Giambrone, senior director of Holy Trinity and member of the search committee, agreed.
Giambrone moved to Vicksburg at the age of two when his father, Reverend Clifton McInnis, became the 11th rector to serve Holy Trinity. It was also the oldest, from 1969 to 1992.
“I grew up in Holy Trinity,” Giambrone said. “My father was rector. My father was my father.
Giambrone said she was convinced Andrews would be the Shepherd Holy Trinity needs.
“When you meet him, you know he’s so filled with the Holy Ghost. He’s genuine, and I think he’s going to be a priest for every age, every situation. It will bring not only a puff or wind, but a gust of wind. He’s going to bring energy not only to Holy Trinity but to all of Vicksburg as well.
Giambrone said after receiving permission from the bishop, she and Hume met at the steeple of the Holy Trinity Church and rang the bell 15 times for Andrews, who will be the 15th rector of the Holy Trinity. .
“We were so excited. We filmed it and sent it to Andy, ”she said. “I’m one of those weird people who loves change. It never scared me. It’s just something new. It means that life goes on. I know Andy was that change for our search committee. It will not only touch the Holy Trinity and the life of the congregation, but the life of every person who will open up in the community.
His best time
Andrews said what Holy Trinity in Vicksburg has to offer is very appealing to him and his family.
Andrews and his wife Anne, from Laurel, are the parents of three children aged 16, 13 and 11.
“They are a committed group who want to deepen their bonds of affection and who want to help meet the 21st century needs of Warren County,” said Andrews.
He received his undergraduate degree from Ole Miss, his Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Episcopal Seminary in Austin, Texas, and his doctorate in ministry from the School of Episcopal Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
He said that as a native of the Mississippian he is “spiritually and physically connected to this land. I never thought I would be in Vicksburg and I am certainly grateful for this opportunity.
Andrews said St. Mary’s Cathedral in Memphis is a “great, dynamic and exciting place to work. I have been here for 11 years and I really feel in my heart that I do not want to take this privilege of working in this beautiful place. This community is ready and I am ready.
“Honestly, I feel like my best era of ministry and human being is ahead of me and I humbly come and serve everyone in the name of love.”