The Rev. J. Russell Kendrick strides through the construction area at Trinity Episcopal Church in Mobile, where only a few months ago, clergy and laity delegates from across the Central Gulf Coast elected him bishop. An architect before he answered God’s call, Kendrick is dressed in a black clergy shirt, a priest’s collar — and blue jeans.
“I’ll be the first homegrown bishop,” says the Fort Walton Beach native who will be ordained and consecrated Saturday, July 25. “I think that’s significant.”
Kendrick, 54, has his own term for the solemn ceremony in which other bishops lay hands on him and current Bishop Philip Duncan gives him the crozier, a staff that signals the transition of office. “I’m … saying I’m going to be ‘bishopized,'” Kendrick says.
Years ago, Kendrick was working as an architect in the family business and volunteering with youth at his hometown parish, Saint Simons By-The-Sea, when he answered God’s call to become a priest. Having earned a Bachelor of Architecture and a Bachelor of Science in business from Auburn University, he added a Master of Divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary. He was ordained in 1996. He has served as rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Cahaba Heights in Birmingham since 2007.