Mancil introduced as new rector at St. Mary’s Episcopal

Published 9:15 am Saturday, January 28, 2023

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St. Mary’s Episcopal Church of Andalusia recently welcomed Eric Mancil as its new rector and the church’s first priest since Cindy Howard retired in early 2021.

Although Mancil grew up in Enterprise, he was born in Andalusia with family in the area. He attended LBW Community College for a year and met his wife, Chelsea. They transferred to Auburn University, where he received his degree in Music Education. He taught music for six years before joining the seminary and becoming a priest.

“I felt God calling me to become a priest in the Episcopal Church. I returned to Andalusia for family and also because I have a love for this community. I felt that pull to come back to a small-town community and really love that. One of the things that really drew me to St. Mary’s was the community outreach this parish does with our monthly Rice and Beans and annual dinners at Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Mancil said.

He first took over at St. Mary’s at the beginning of the year and shared goals he has for his new role.

“I know the pandemic was tough for everybody and St. Mary’s. They went through about a two-year period without a permanent priest. I would like to help bring new life back into the parish and invite old members to come back as well as anybody in the community who is looking for a church home. I feel the Episcopal Church has a lot to offer, especially those who may doubt themselves or seek a community of faith where they can belong. The Episcopal Church is such a welcoming community where we accept everybody, and all are welcome here. I want people to know this is a place they can come and feel at peace and find God’s presence.”

Mancil added that worship services are traditional at St. Mary’s, where the church currently has approximately 200 members.

“We use hymns from the hymnal and worship using the Book of Common Prayer. Our worship is based on an order of service that we use from week to week. That provides a sense of comfort for a lot of people, and they know they can refer to the prayer book and feel at home here. We are also a very welcoming and affirming congregation. Although attendance dropped during the pandemic and clergy transition period, we are building it back and have seen more and more people returning to us.”

It was not until his junior year of college at Auburn that he first made connections to the Episcopal Church.

“I was drawn to seminary because I mostly felt God calling me. That started off as a gentle nudge in that direction, and as time went on, that feeling grew stronger. It’s a long process to go through becoming a priest in the Episcopal Church. My role now as a priest is to direct people’s attention to Jesus. The center of our worship is Christ, and we meet Christ at the altar,” he said.

Mancil’s grandparents lived in Andalusia, and he also had other relatives in the area he would occasionally come to visit. He also had previous ties to St. Mary’s and went to the church when he and his family were in town during the holidays.

“I have always had a love for this parish. Although I was not a member, we visited and had an admiration for the church. The support I have received from church members and the community has been absolutely amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better reception, as people have been so supportive and willing to help me get settled and familiar. Everyone has been excited about having a new priest come in.”

Mancil has plans to add worship services on Wednesdays at noon in addition to the services currently held every Sunday at 9:15 a.m. He also said he wants to eventually begin a youth group on Sunday nights.

“We will most likely do evening things during the seasons of Advent and Lent. Those are special seasons of study and prayer, so it’s nice to have special events during those times.”

He and his wife Chelsea of 16 years have two children: Sophie, 13, and Jude, 11. The family welcomes the public for a meet and greet event at The B in downtown Andalusia on Wednesday, Feb. 1, at 5:30 p.m.

“I want the public to know St. Mary’s Episcopal Church is a place they can come and belong. Anyone who loves God and wants to worship Him is welcome with a place here,” Mancil said.