A missionary who became the first bishop of the Dioceses of Botswana in Central Africa, and El Camino Real in the US, has died. Bishop Shannon Mallory, who had been suffering from leukaemia, died in Monterey, California on 4 April “with friends and family having accompanied him in love and prayer along his journey toward death,” the current Bishop of El Camino Real, Mary Gray-Reeves, said. He was 81.
After studying at the University of California in Los Angeles and the General Theological Seminary in New York, he was ordained to the Diaconate in Los Angeles before heading out to Africa as a missionary. He was ordained a Priest in Africa, where he served in Namibia, South Africa, and Uganda. In 1972 he was elected as the first bishop of Botswana. The embryonic Anglican diocese didn’t have a cathedral and he was consecrated in the Roman Catholic cathedral.
Not only was the diocese without a cathedral, it also lacked an office, budget, typewriter, office equipment, structures, committees, commissions, policies and procedures. It had just six priests serving the entire country. In December 1975, Michael Molale was installed as Dean of a cathedral without a building. Bishop Shannon laid the foundation stone in Decem,ber 1977 and the new Cathedral of the Holy Cross was dedicated in November 1978.
In 1978, after serving in Africa for 18 years and building up the foundations for a strong diocese in Botswana, he returned with his family to the US, serving as an assistant bishop in the Diocese of Long Island before becoming the first Bishop of El Camino Real in 1980, which he served until his retirement.
He said at the time that “we are a pilgrim Church on the King’s Highway. This new diocese is an optimum size for rediscovering and experiencing some of the dynamic qualities of the early Church.”
His vision for the diocese included “a more effective and supportive quality of fellowship among clergy and laity,” less hierarchy, and “more of a collegial relationship among bishop, clergy and laity.”
“Bishop Shannon was able to support the Diocese of El Camino Real in its call to be a missional diocese with a collaborative mode of ministry among lay and clergy leaders,” Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves said. “His interest in people, their spiritual journeys, and his sense of adventure were gifts to our diocese in its earliest days, nurturing it as a place where the Gospel could always flourish amidst a very diverse and rapidly changing context. He will always be a critical part of the story of El Camino Real and will be missed.”
Funeral arrangements are still being made.