The Rt. Rev. Charles Shannon Mallory, 81, first bishop of the Diocese of El Camino Real, died peacefully in Monterey on April 4. Bishop Mallory, who led El Camino Real from its founding in 1980 through his retirement in 1990, had recently returned to Monterey County and was preceded in death last November by his wife Marti.
Memorial services will be held Saturday, October 13 at 10 a.m. at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, Cal.
Born September 9, 1936 in Dallas, Tex., Bishop Mallory grew up in Van Nuys, Cal., completing his education at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the General Theological Seminary in New York City. He entered the mission field after his ordination to the diaconate in the Diocese of Los Angeles. In 1961 he was ordained priest in Africa where he exercised his ministry first as a missionary in Namibia, South Africa, and Uganda, then as the first Bishop of Botswana. In 1978, after 18 years in Africa, he and his family returned to the United States where Bishop Mallory served as Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Long Island.
He was elected the first bishop of El Camino Real in 1980 and his installation took place that October in San Juan Bautista. The Rt. Rev. John Allin, then Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, presided over the service in the plaza of the historic California mission.
“We are a pilgrim Church on the King’s Highway,” the bishop noted at the time. “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.”
Following his retirement Bishop Mallory held the position of Senior Director of World Neighbors in Oklahoma City, then lived in La Jolla, Cal. before settling in Indian Wells, Cal. as a member of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church. He authored two books – Blacklisted!, his memoirs of 18 years of traveling throughout Africa, and Other Roads Less Traveled, a collection of sermons and meditations that ask and answer a range of provocative questions about God, death, the value of prayer, the common thread of religions and more. “It was all a blessing,” he wrote in Blacklisted!, “and God has a delightful sense of humor.”
Mallory’s pastoral strength and love of the world’s people have left their mark on both sides of the ocean. A service commemorating him is being held in May at St. Mary’s Mission, Odibo, Namibia, where he was well loved and nicknamed “Ekuni” (meaning “rhino” in Oshikuanjama, the local language).
On the other side of the globe, the Rt. Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves, current bishop of El Camino Real, says “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.”
Bishop Mallory was predeceased by Martha (“Marti”), his most recent wife, and before that Antonia (“Toni”). He is survived by his brother William Lee Mallory and his first wife Mondi, mother of his five children, plus nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.