Concluding a 22-year tenure that included ministries ranging from parish growth to social justice outreach to LGBT rights, the Rev. Canon Mark Asman retired as rector of Trinity Church, Santa Barbara on May 1.
Asman became rector of Trinity Church in 1994. Since that time, the congregation has grown from 150 to 750 members and completed two successful capital campaigns to preserve its historic buildings, located at State and Micheltorena streets. The parish, is now approaching its 150th year of ministry in Santa Barbara.
Asman has been a leading voice for social justice in the area. He was a founding board member of Casa Esperana, founded in 1999 as a shelter for the homeless. It now operates a 200-bed winter shelter and a year-round day center that provides such services as food, shelter, hygiene, public health services, and medical and mental health services. In 2015, Casa Esperanza merged with PATH, a California nonprofit providing homeless services. Trinity church also operates an overflow warming shelter in the winter months.
As an openly gay priest, Asman has been dedicated to LGBTQ rights and full inclusivity in the church and the state of California, including advocacy for same-sex marriage. In 1996, Trinity held a yearlong conversation about marriage equality, and decided to support it, and a gay couple was married at the church in 1997. Asman served for 10 years on the Board of Pacific Pride Foundation, including four years as chair. In 2000, he was awarded the Chadbourne-Drost Award from the Santa Barbara Gay and Lesbian Business Association for leadership and advocacy for LGBTQ justice.
He has also been an active supporter of Planned Parenthood in the Santa Barbara area.
As a board member from 1997 to 2016 and chair from 2002 to 2004), he helped lead a $5.5 million capital campaign “Building Healthy Communities.”
In 2006, he received the Giraffe Award from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties for leadership of Clergy for Choice, and in 2009 was honored by Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties as Volunteer of the Year.
In 2014 Bishop J. Jon Bruno named Asman an honorary canon of the Cathedral Center of St. Paul. U. S. Representative Lois Capps recently invited him to attend the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., in recognition of his peace and justice work.
Asman was a co-founder and leader of the Santa Barbara chapter of CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice), which brings together people of all faiths to address homelessness, hunger, immigration, and the environment.
In honor of Asman’s ministry, Trinity Church has established the Mark Asman Progressive Theology Fund, which will sponsor special speakers and conferences that promote the parish’s commitment to progressive theology and interfaith adult education.