At installation, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry urges Episcopalians to join ‘Jesus movement’

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Bishop Michael Bruce Curry stands with Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori after his Installation ceremony, at the Washington National Cathedral, in Washington, November 1, 2015. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Mike Theiler

Bishop Michael Bruce Curry stands with Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori after his Installation ceremony, at the Washington National Cathedral, in Washington, November 1, 2015. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Mike Theiler

Bishop Michael Bruce Curry applauds as he begins his sermon after his Installation ceremony, at the Washington National Cathedral, in Washington, November 1, 2015. Curry becomes the first African-American Episcopal presiding bishop. Photo courtesy REUTERS Mike Theiler

Bishop Michael Bruce Curry applauds as he begins his sermon after his Installation ceremony, at the Washington National Cathedral, in Washington, November 1, 2015. Curry becomes the first African-American Episcopal presiding bishop. Photo courtesy REUTERS Mike Theiler

WASHINGTON (RNS) After knocking loudly three times on the door of the Washington National Cathedral, Bishop Michael Curry was installed as the new presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church Sunday (Nov. 1), the first African-American to lead the 2.5 million-member denomination.

Curry preached on how his father was moved to become an Episcopalian after watching a church welcome his then-fiancee to drink from the common Communion cup in the often-segregated 1940s.

“The Holy Spirit has done evangelism and racial reconciliation before in the Episcopal Church,” he told a congregation of almost 2,500. But he added: “God is not finished with this church. God has work for us to do. Jesus has shown us the way and we are the Jesus movement, so my brothers and sisters, walk together, children, don’t you get weary.”


MORE: Bishop Michael Curry’s vision: A world transformed by the love of God


The service of almost three hours encompassed the traditions of the church and the diversity Curry, 62, is encouraging it to embrace. He was elected during an unprecedented first ballot at the church’s General Convention this summer after serving 15 years as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.

When church leaders, including his predecessor, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, welcomed him into the door of the cathedral, Curry declared himself a “child of God, baptized in St. Simon of Cyrene Church,” the Maywood, Ill., congregation where his father served as a priest.

He then used boxwood fronds to sprinkle the worshippers with holy water to remind them of their baptism. Instrumentalists later played Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.”

A dashiki-clad gospel choir from a Philadelphia Episcopal church sang its rocking rendition of Bill Gaither’s “He Touched Me.” Piscataway Indians drummed and chanted as 150 bishops processed into the cathedral and Scriptures were later read in Spanish and Lakota. Catholic, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders took turns offering prayers of blessing for Curry.

In his sermon, in which he quoted Charles Dickens, Bobby McFerrin (“Don’t worry, be happy”), and Jesus, Curry gave a new interpretation of the Good Samaritan story. He noted that a Muslim might be the one to care for a person in need.

“Or change it even more: A police officer was beaten and wounded and it was an African-American young man or a Latino young man or woman who brought healing,” he said.

Bishop Michael Bruce Curry stands with Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori after his Installation ceremony, at the Washington National Cathedral, in Washington, November 1, 2015. Curry becomes the first African-American Episcopal presiding bishop, after previously serving as Bishop of North Carolina. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Mike Theiler

Bishop Michael Bruce Curry stands with Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori after his Installation ceremony, at the Washington National Cathedral, in Washington, November 1, 2015. Curry becomes the first African-American Episcopal presiding bishop, after previously serving as Bishop of North Carolina. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Mike Theiler

At the same convention where Curry was elected, the Episcopal Church voted to make marriage liturgies available to same-sex couples across the church while protecting the conscience of clergy who oppose such ceremonies.

A supporter of LGBT rights, Curry has said he nevertheless intends to keep his denomination open to those who may not share his perspective.

“I really do believe that when Jesus said ‘go make disciples of all nations,’ ‘all’ really meant all,” he told Religion News Service in a recent interview. “That means traditionalists and progressives.”

The Rev. Todd R. Dill, rector of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Waxhaw, N.C., was among the theologically conservative Episcopalians who attested to Curry’s inclusive nature. Though he and Curry differ on the issue of marriage, he said they agree on feeding the hungry, caring for the marginalized and preaching the gospel.

“I believe that Bishop Curry’s fervor for the Lord has shaped his faith and his leadership and has uniquely positioned him as a unifying and reconciling voice during these deeply divided times,” said Dill. “He has done that in North Carolina and it is my prayer that he can help bring this sense of unity to our national church and our international communion.”

Members of the Union of Black Episcopalians, who have called Curry’s election their “Obama moment,” hosted a vigil Saturday at the D.C. Armory, allowing more people to celebrate his installation. That group also provided a live-stream of the installation on large screens at the same location as dozens of churches held viewing parties across the country.


READ: Episcopal Church elects Michael Curry first black presiding bishop


Annette Buchanan, president of the Union of Black Episcopalians, said about 2,000 people, mostly black Episcopalians, gathered for the vigil.

“But in addition to that it was a rainbow of people from across our church — every culture, every ethnicity participated in the service,” she said. “It absolutely embodies what he stands for, which is the whole church being reconciled to Christ.”

Bishop Anne Hodges-Copple, suffragan bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina, said Curry’s focus on evangelism will bridge divides in the nationwide church.

“The Episcopal Church has never been cold but I think that Bishop Curry turns up the heat,” she said. “He takes the fear factor out of evangelism.”

Curry informed those gathered that the ceremony was less about him and more about them becoming part of what he calls the “Jesus movement.”

“That’s why we are here,” he told them. “That movement turns the world upside down.”

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  • Doc Anthony

    Sincere question: What are the particulars, the specifics, of this Episcopalian “Jesus Movement”? What happens if Jesus and Liberalism clash at some point, does the Jesus get accepted and the Liberalism get rejected? Or is it vice versa?

  • Fran

    Jesus’ top priority was preaching the good news of God’s kingdom (Matthew 4:17) as the only hope of government for mankind.

    It remains the same today (Matthew 24:14) before the end of this wicked era (and not the end of earth and/or humans) takes place (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21).

  • joep11111

    “Catholic, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders took turns offering prayers of blessing for Curry.”

    Why?

    God does not hear the prayers of those who reject Him and His truth. Roman Catholics, Jews (who deny Jesus is the Christ) and Muslims reject the truth of God.

  • Ted

    Jesus was the original socialist, so there’s no real concern here. The people who need to be concerned are those who’ve decided to worship a book they wrote, rather than Jesus, and who’ve tried to pass off right-wing bigotry as Christianity. These are the ones who stand to lose their numbers even faster than they already are.

    Try to find anyone under 40 who hates LGBT people the way Evangelical Bible-cultists say they should. Good luck.

  • Jeff

    2.5 million members, a totally bogus number. Where is the fact checker? This may still include the nice faithful folks throughout the US that TEC is suing and unable/unwilling to tolerate. A 2014 tally had membership dropping to 1.8 million. And dropping… Our beloved Church has left us.

  • Adam

    Opposing gay marriage does not mean one hates LGBT people. It doesn’t make one afraid of them either. The stereotypes and prejudices need to end…on both sides.

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  • Rich

    How did you find out about this “Jesus” with out “that book”?

  • Rich

    We are not told of the Bishop’s beliefs regarding scripture, salvation or the Trinity. It would be interesting to hear his beliefs in these areas.

  • Rich

    He appears to be a stealth “Obama” like figure. A man, 62 years old with the basic pastoral education and only two works to his credit…who is this man?

  • Derrick M.

    The Bishops who elected him in an unprecedented landslide and the Deputies who confirmed him in an unprecedented landslide seem to have had a lot of confidence that they know who he is. Perhaps to answer your question “who is this man?” you could ask your bishop or some of the deputies that your diocese sent to General Convention. Or perhaps you could read his candidate profile or view his introductory presentation or one of his numerous sermons or interviews online. Or, perhaps you could read one of his books. I recommend viewing his installation sermon. It was great. Good luck on your quest to find out who he is. There’s a wealth of information out there, if you care to look for it.

  • Cranmer

    He graduated from both Hobart and Smith College and Yale Divinity School, served as Rector of three parishes between 1978 and 2000 and then as bishop between 2000 and his election as Presiding Bishop in 2014. That is a 36 year long career in ordained ministry, with nearly 15 years spent as a bishop. None of that is stealth or unusual for a Presiding Bishop’s CV.

  • Bernardo

    I thought the Episcopalian Jesus movement went out with Henry VIII’s conduct towards his many wives?

  • Rich

    Well, what is his view of Scripture? Inerrant and infallible? What is his view of the Trinity? What is his understanding of the Way of Salvation? You seem to know a lot about this gentleman.

  • Jack

    Jesus believed we should give abundantly and sacrificially to the poor, something that few people do, but that doesn’t make Jesus a “socialist.” Socialism is a political and economic system in which the government seizes the property of richer people and gives it to poorer people, irrespective of circumstance. There is nothing to indicate that Jesus demanded that government behave in that manner.

    You have to be naive on the extreme to confuse the two.

  • Jack

    Gee, thanks for not posting my message, RNS. Way to go.

    To repeat, Jesus’s support for sacrificial giving to the poor is not the same as supporting socialism, in which the government forces richer people to give money to poorer people irrespective of circumstance. It’s a top-down, one-size-fits-all solution which, if repeated enough times, destroys rather than creates wealth in society, because it is subsidizing poverty while punishing wealth.

    The better solution is for government instead to fund successful charities or charitable networks who do a far better job in directly helping the poor than government ever can do, and for a lot less money.

  • Chris

    Shame on the Catholics for taking part in this ceremony. If the Catholic priests and other prelates in attendance really believe that the Catholic Church is truly the Una Sancta, then why are they participating in consecrating someone who willfully rejects the dogmas and doctrines of their church. WHy not just attend and wish him well? Why also participate in the consecration?

  • Ted

    People followed Jesus for centuries before the early Catholic church chose which books to deem canonical. It was never meant to be worshiped nor taken literally. “Solo scriptura” is a protestant invention of the last few centuries which is thankfully coming to an end, as it leads to ridiculous contradictions and distortions.

  • Ted

    No, you’d have to read Acts. It idiocies like “the prosperity Gospel” which pervert the way of Jesus.

  • Ted

    Ha! Medicare and Social Security have been repeatedly proved more efficient than virtually any religious charity, too many of which are tax dodging scams for “prosperity gospel” Evangelical Bible-cultists. The supposed efficiency of private business/charity is a Big Lie whose time is past.

  • Ted

    Or did it disappear under some Catholic priest’s cassock, with the little boys? Or up some hooker’s skirt with Jimmy Swaggart? Or off to planet Kolob with Brigham Young? Or into the closet of a 100 room mansion with Joel Osteen? Or …

    The

  • Ted

    No, 20% walked out because they hate gay people. 80% did not. Think about that for a few minutes.

  • Ted

    Uh, because they follow Vatican II and believe in practicing what the church preaches (rather then superceded dogmas favored by right wing remnants)?

  • Shawnie5

    A huge part of “following Jesus” during the early centuries was gathering together to listen to the reading of scripture which, as Jesus Himself said, testified of Him. The canon was very nearly the same as what we have now by the middle of the 2nd century at the very latest. The 4th century councils did not suddenly pronounce scripture to be canonical; it mainly rubber-stamped what was already deemed authoritative by virtually all Christians.

    By your standards Jesus was the biggest “Bible-worshipper” of all. At least 25 times in the gospels alone: “It is written…” or “Haven’t you read…” Consequently, I’d say we’d all better read.

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  • Claire Hetherington

    Jack, I’m dismayed by your disingenuous interpretation of Jesus’ teaching. He quite clearly stated “Whatever you do the the least of these my people, you do unto me” That doesn’t sound like “sacrificial giving” to my ears. That sounds more like a call for us all to act with compassion to anyone in any circumstances. Socialism isn’t about taking from the rich to give to the poor, it’s about a fairer distribution of the wealth this planet affords us all. Rich people would do well to read Luke 16:19-31 and ponder it’s implications for their lifestyle choices.

  • Anonymous

    You need to stop watching Fox News listening to the Conservative Media Bubble. Progressivism is not about stealing people’s money, but about fairer distribution of wealth so that poor people don’t starve and sick people don’t die (Remember, ministering to the poor and sick was a very central aspect of Jesus’ ministry). It does not lead to tyranny. Your right-wing ideology would be more likely to do that (you know, the idea that we should give all our money to rich people and that it will eventually trickle down to everyone else). Your right-wing ideas would eventually lead to an oligarchic tyranny where rich people run everything. Also, please spare me your fake “compassion” towards LGBT people. We know that the ACNA split primarily due to gay rights in TEC. You can’t get more bigoted than that.

  • Anonymous

    @RN: Please tell me how standing up for the rights of women, gays, the poor, and the sick is considered hateful, especially when it is conservatives who stand in the way of any progress to help these groups of people? By the way, it was not liberals in TEC who demanded lock-step purity on issues, but the conservatives who split and formed ACNA over differences of opinion on human sexuality. As for your ad hominem attack, I think you right-wingers should be careful who you label crazy, especially considering the beliefs that many conservatives espouse (e.g. young-earth creationism, climate change denialism, Ben Carson’s belief that that the Egyptian Pyramids were built by Joseph for grain storage, etc.)

  • Richard Mallory

    Doc,

    Jesus is a Liberal.