Michael Curry elected Presiding Bishop
Michael Curry, 62, bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina, was elected the 27th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church for a nine-year term. He was chosen among four nominees on the first ballot with 121 votes out of 174 votes cast. The House of Deputies confirmed the election with 800 voting yes and 12 voting no.
"It really is a blessing and privilege to serve our Church and our Lord in this way," Curry told the House of Deputies. "We are God's children and this is the church where I was baptized as a baby to the 1928 Prayer Book. This is the church I learned about Jesus. This is a good and wonderful church. We are good and wonderful people. We are so blessed. I am so blessed. Just know my heart is really full."
Curry is elected as the country's first African American president and has been a guest speaker in the Dallas diocese when he preached during Lent of this year at Saint Michael and All Angels in Dallas. He and his wife, Sharon, have two adult daughters, Rachel and Elizabeth.
After the election Curry answered questions during a news conference, including one asking about race relations and the role of the Church. He said the Episcopal Church will seek to to be a conversation partner in the national arena regarding racial issues that face the nation. Followers of Christ are already poised to make a difference, he noted.
"If you look at Charleston, the reality is that it was the voice of the Christian Community that changed the narrative that could have been negative and hurtful to one of forgiveness...."
Curry also fielded questions regarding the Church's diverse beliefs with both liberal and conservative viewpoints. He said he worked hard at building unity as bishop of North Carolina and he will continue to do so as presiding bishop. "We will find a way forward and the spirit of God will create space for all of us," he said. He recognized the challenge of differing viewpoints regarding same-sex marriage. "How do we make marriage wholesome and fulsome for us all? How do we help our society get into that? That is a critical pastoral issue for us," he said.
When asked whether he could be called an evangelist, Curry said that he's a follower of Jesus, and that the Church needed to find new ways of carrying out the good news of Jesus. He said the Church's strategy shouldn't be one of waiting for the congregation to come to it, but one where the Church goes to the congregation.
Curry was the rector of St. James’ Episcopal Church, Baltimore, Maryland, when he was elected on February 11, 2000, to be the 11th bishop of North Carolina. He was ordained and consecrated on June 17, 2000. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1975 from Hobart and William Smith College, in Geneva, New York, and a Master of Divinity degree in 1978 from the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale.
The other candidates were The Rt. Rev., Thomas Breidenthal, 64, bishop of the Diocese of Southern Ohio; The Rt. Rev. Ian Douglas, 56, Diocese of Connecticut; and the Right Rev. Dabney Smith, 61, Diocese of Southwest Florida.
Breidenthal received 19 votes, Douglas 13 votes and Smith received 21 votes.
Curry will be the preacher at the closing General Convention Eucharist on July 3, from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. (MDT). Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will be the celebrant at this closing Eucharist, which will be live-streamed.
The seating of the Presiding Bishop at the Washington National Cathedral is scheduled for noon on Nov. 1. Details of this service are under the supervision of the Presiding Bishop Transition and Installation Committee appointed by the Executive Council. The National Cathedral will arrange for the seating to be live-streamed, as are all of the Cathedral’s major services.
Curry told the group of about 50 journalists at the news conference that he hadn't been on the job very long and didn't quite have everything figured out yet, but made clear that he wants to build on the work that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has accomplished during the last nine years.
"I’m a follower of Jesus. I'm not a perfect one, but I want to be one of His disciples, Curry said. "It's a Life that sets us free. And it's a life that sends us places we couldn’t go on our own."