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Episcopal Church body elects Right Rev. Michael B. Curry as 27th Presiding Bishop

June 30, 2015 From Episcopal News Service
Presiding Bishop-elect, the Right Rev. Michael Bruce Curry. Photo courtesy of the Episcopal News Service

The Right Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, was elected the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church on the first ballot on June 27, making him the first African-American to be elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

The landslide election occurred during the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Curry received 121 of the 174 votes tallied on the first ballot (a candidate needs 89 votes to be elected.)

Following his election by the House of Bishops, Curry’s election was overwhelmingly confirmed by the House of Deputies: 800 in favor, 12 against. Members of the House of Delegates, composed of clergy and lay delegates from each diocese, greeted Curry with a standing ovation. Parishes from the Diocese of Long Island, which encompasses Brooklyn, also sent delegates. Brooklyn has several Episcopal parishes with rich histories, particularly in the Downtown-area neighborhoods.

Curry fielded a range of media questions with characteristic humility and humor on June 27 and said he intends to build on the good work of his predecessor “because that’s the way the Spirit works.”

Current Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori introduced Curry at a crowded press conference at the Hilton Hotel in Salt Lake City, saying the House of Bishops handed him “a major mandate” with the historic landslide victory.

Curry jokingly agreed that he thought both bishops and deputies “were happy houses today.” Schori and Curry became diocesan bishops the same year and “it’s the first time presiding bishops from the same class have been elected” successively,” she said. It is also the first time that a presiding bishop has been elected on the first ballot.

Speaking on evangelism, he said, “I am looking forward to serving and working for the cause of the Jesus movement in the world … to help this become a transformed world that looks more like God’s dream and less like our nightmare. That’s what energizes me and what I believe in and we can really continue and build on the good work that’s been done in Bishop Katharine’s years.

“Everybody knows I really do take evangelism seriously and discipleship and witness and service and social advocacy, the gospel principles that we hold. Those three things are critical and needed in this time. I think the Episcopal Church has something to offer in the public square. We have a way of looking at the gospel that makes known the love of God in Jesus.”

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Bishop Curry, 62, was ordained Bishop of North Carolina on June 17, 2000. Prior to that he served as rector at churches in Maryland, Ohio and North Carolina, and was chaplain of the Bethany School.

He currently serves on several boards and committees. He is chair of the board of directors for the Episcopal Relief & Development; chair of the advisory committee for the Office of Black Ministries; current on the board of trustees at Saint Augustine’s University; North Carolina Council of Churches; Moral Monday Movement; and the TREC/Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church.

Curry holds a Bachelor of Arts with high honors from Hobart and William Smith College; a Masters of Divinity from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale; Continuing Studies at The College of Preachers, Princeton Theological Seminary, Wake Forest University, The Ecumenical Institute of St. Mary’s Seminary and Institute of Jewish Christian Studies; and D.D., honors causa, from Sewanee The University of the South,  Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, Virginia Theological Seminary, and The Episcopal Divinity School

Among his many books and publications are, most recently, “Songs My Grandmother Sang” (Morehouse Publishing, spring 2015); “Crazy Christians: a Call to Follow Jesus” (Morehouse Publishing, 2013) and an opinion piece, “Some Strange Things Are Happening in Charlotte,” (The Huffington Post, Sept. 4, 2012).

He and his wife Sharon are the parents of two adult children.

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is meeting through July 3 in Salt Lake City, Utah (Diocese of Utah). The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years and is the bicameral governing body of the church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the church, at more than 800 members.

Additional reporting by Francesca N. Tate, Brooklyn Daily Eagle

 

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