The Search for the Ninth Bishop of California

Diocese of California elects the Rev. Austin K. Rios as its ninth bishop

December 4, 2023News

Rios will be the diocese’s first Latino bishop

[Dec. 2, 2023- SAN FRANCISCO] The Episcopal Diocese of California elected the Rev. Austin K. Rios as its ninth bishop during a special convention on Saturday, December 2, 2023, at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

“God has blessed our diocese with so many resources and the gift of proximity to and influence upon the ideas, trends, and possibilities for the future of our world,” Rios said in an address to the diocese shortly after being elected. “We as a connected network of congregations called DioCal have the chance to bless the larger church and the world through our witness that a multicultural, multigenerational, multi-faceted, and multilingual community is where our greatest strength and possibility as a people are found,” he added.

Born in Texas, Bishop-elect Rios calls Rome, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Texas, and Louisiana home. He is of Mexican-American heritage on his father’s side and of Scotch and English descent on his mother’s side. Bishop-elect Rios is the first Latino elected bishop in the Diocese of California. He learned to speak Spanish and Italian as an adult and is fluent in both languages. Rios currently lives in Rome, Italy, where he serves as rector of St Paul’s Within the Walls Episcopal Church, a multilingual and multicultural community that hosts an outreach center for refugees. Pending the required consent from the wider Episcopal Church, the bishop-elect will be ordained and consecrated on Saturday, May 4, 2024, and will serve as bishop coadjutor with Bishop Marc Handley Andrus until July 2024, when Bishop Andrus will retire. At that time, Rios will succeed Andrus as bishop diocesan.

Addressing the electing convention, Bishop Andrus offered prayers for the Bishop-elect and words of hope that Rios and the diocese will “fan with prayer the living ember of our faith,” taking what is best from the past and moving forward with urgency to address the needs of the present moment.

Rios was elected on the second ballot with 95 votes in the clergy order and 135 votes in the lay order. The other nominees were the Rev. Phil Brochard, Rector of All Souls’ Episcopal Parish in Berkeley, California, and the Rev. Canon Augusta Anne Anderson, Canon to the Ordinary and Chief of Staff in the Diocese of Western North Carolina.

“We are deeply grateful for God’s grace and love and the prayerful discernment of our diocesan family that brought us to this moment,” said the Rev. Dr. Mauricio Wilson, president of the diocesan standing committee, the senior governing body that oversaw the election process.

Bishop-elect Rios earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina, and a Master of Divinity degree from The Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. He was ordained a priest in 2005. He is married to Maleah Rios and has one child.