One sits in the high desert surrounded by mountains and the other is a sprawling blue-collar city, but the Rev. Canon Daniel Gutierrez says the similarities between his native Albuquerque, N.M., and Philadelphia are greater than the differences.
Gutierrez, 51, said the problems his parishioners faced in the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, based in Albuquerque, are universal - problems he will also face as bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania.
In a service rich with Episcopal tradition, Gutierrez was ordained Saturday at New Covenant Church in Germantown before hundreds of parishioners and clerics.
The new bishop sat in a front pew with his family as the Rt. Rev. Michael L. Vono, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, which covers New Mexico and portions of West Texas, preached that the arrival of Gutierrez would lift the spirits of church members throughout Pennsylvania. And he urged church members to think creatively.
"I would encourage you not to follow the 11th Commandment that we Episcopalians know so well: 'We've always done it that way'," he said.
He also dropped in a reference to Gutierrez's apparent fondness for technology.
"I would enourage you not to try and take away Daniel's iPhone," Vono said. "You will discover that your new bishop gives new meaning to the word 'connectivity.'"
Toward the conclusion of the service, as Gutierrez donned the traditional bishop's mitre, or headdress, and took hold of a shepherd's staff, the assembled congregants broke out in applause and cheers.
In an earlier interview, Gutierrez professed his fondness for his new city and region.
"I've fallen in love with Philadelphia and the Diocese of Pennsylvania in a relatively short time. When a child is crying and suffering in pain, it's up to the church to reach out and touch them," Gutierrez said Friday afternoon at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral in University City. "There is so much hope and potential here."
The diocese, founded in 1784, is the second-oldest in the Episcopal Church, and has 132 churches with 33,000 parishioners in the city and four surrounding counties. Gutierrez said he plans to visit every one.
"I made a commitment just to listen and to see how we can do things together. I have all my afternoons and weekends filled for the next six months," he said.
Like most of what are known as mainline Protestant churches, the Episcopal Church has seen numbers fall. There were 43,000 parishioners in the diocese in 2013. Gutierrez knows it will be difficult to get people into churches the way it was in the 1950s, but he looks at younger generations and their interest in social justice as evidence that some haven't wandered too far from the message - even if they don't come in for the service.
"We have an important voice and we're reclaiming it once again," he said.
Gutierrez was elected during a special convention of the diocese in March.
Gutierrez and his wife, Suzanne Fletcher Gutierrez, have a son, Jude, who will finish his final year of high school in New Mexico. His son is touring Philadelphia colleges and is already a 76ers fan, Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez laughed when asked about his own rooting interest in professional teams, saying only that he looked forward to seeing a Flyers game.
"There's not much ice hockey in New Mexico," he said.
There's also no red, green or "Christmas" chile in Philadelphia, he said, and he'll have to get the New Mexican staple mailed to him from time to time.
Gutierrez said his family came to what is now the United States in the 1560s with the Spanish conquistadors, settling in New Mexico.
The new bishop is a graduate of the University of New Mexico, where he earned bachelor's degrees in history and political science in 1987 and a master of arts in public administration in 1992.
He worked as chief of staff to former Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez and as director of the Bernalillo County Economic Development Department before being ordained in 2008. In Albuquerque, he functioned as chief operating officer and chief of statff of the diocese.
He was raised Roman Catholic and had thought of joining the priesthood but joked that he "wanted to be a father before he became a father."
"I never strayed too far," he said. "Christ was always there, even at a distance."
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church said Gutierrez would fit easily into Philadelphia.
"The truth is in the human heart," he said at the cathedral Friday. "Everybody has that same hunger to be in the same relationship with God and with each other. That's true whether you're in Albuquerque, Philadelphia, or London."