Black Contender for Presiding Bishop in TEC

N.C. Local bishop could lead the Episcopal Church

GREENSBORO — Michael Curry’s father loved to tell the story of what caused him to abandon his Baptist roots and embrace the Episcopal faith.

It happened on a Communion Sunday, when the elder Curry was visiting the parish of the woman who would become his wife.

He watched with awe the Communion cup everyone drank from and his fiancee going up to drink along with everyone else.

It was the 1940s, when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was still in seminary and the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott was years away .

The elder Curry and his fiancee were black.

“Any church in which blacks and whites drink out of the same cup knows something about the Gospel that I want to be a part of,” the father told Michael Curry, who is now the Episcopalian spiritual leader for the part of North Carolina that includes the Triad.

Curry, the son, now has the chance to lead the Episcopal church his dad so loved.

On Friday, Curry — Bishop Michael B. Curry — was named one of four finalists to lead the denomination, which is made up of 2.4 million people in the United States and abroad, and is part of the Anglican Communion, a global community of 74 million people in 38 member provinces throughout the world.

“For some time, Bishop Curry’s name has been a part of the conversation,” said the Rev. Milton Williams, the interim rector at St. Francis Episcopal Church in Greensboro. “It says something about his work. People sense in Bishop Curry a man of tremendous faith and a love for God and the Gospel ministry.”

The charismatic Curry could not be reached for comment, but he issued a statement saying that all the nominees for presiding bishop could provide “faithful and capable leadership for the Church in this mission.”

The other finalists are:

l The Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal, the bishop of the Diocese of Southern Ohio.

l The Rev. Ian T. Douglas, the bishop of the Diocese of Connecticut.

l The Rev. Dabney T. Smith, the bishop of the Diocese of Southwest Florida.

The election is scheduled for June 27, during the Episcopal Church’s 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City.

If elected, Curry, who has served as bishop for local Episcopalians since 2000, would follow the denomination’s first female presiding bishop and would be the first African American elected to the position.

“We are very excited and we are very proud of Bishop Curry for his nomination,” Shelley Kappauf, who works in the diocese’s Greensboro satellite office, said Friday.

The presiding bishop is elected by the denomination’s House of Bishops and would serve a nine-year term.

Curry leads a diocese of 48,000 people, 112 congregations and nine campus ministries throughout 38 counties in the central part of North Carolina. The state has three dioceses.

He was ordained into the priesthood in December 1978 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Winston-Salem, where he served as rector from 1979 to 1982.

He then served in churches in Ohio and Maryland before taking on the role of bishop, where he has been active in issues of social justice.

Curry, 62, has previously said the common thread throughout the Bible is to love one another — “no ifs, ands or buts.”

________________________________________________________________________________

Not a bad statement of Faith for a possible Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, and not a bad paradigm for the inclusive Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ:

“Curry, 62, has previously said the common thread throughout the Bible is to love one another — “no ifs, ands or buts.”

It would seem that Bishop Michael Curry, the Episcopal Bishop of North Carolina, has a lot going for him as a possible future Presiding Bishop of TEC, the Anglican Leader of the Episcopal Church in The United States of America. First of all, he is black, and knows what it is to have endured segregation and discrimination – in both Church and Society in the USA.

I love the story of his father’s ‘moment of truth’ when, as a Baptist Elder in the 1940’s, he witnessed the amazing grace of his fiancee and future wife’s sharing of the Common Cup in the Eucharist in an Episcopal church. Of that experience, he had this to say:

“Any church in which blacks and whites drink out of the same cup knows something about the Gospel that I want to be a part of.” 

Whoever eventually is elected by the next General Convention of The Episcopal Church in the United States (TEC), Bishop Curry certainly has what to takes to hold together those who believe that the Church is for all the Baptized – male and female, black and white, rich and poor, high and low, gay or straight – all are baptized in the Body of Christ – The Church. I pray for God’s sovereign choice to govern the electoral process!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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