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American bishop brings human rights focus to royal wedding

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry waves to the crowd as he arrives at the Washington National Cathedral on Nov. 1, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

(AP) — He’s the son of an American civil rights activist and the descendant of African slaves. He condemned last year’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., as fascist and he has outspokenly stood up for gay rights.

The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry also plans to join a march on the White House next week that rejects President Trump’s “America first” stance as “theological heresy.”

The 65-year-old leader of the Episcopal Church was handpicked by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to deliver a sermon at their wedding Saturday (May 19) even though the couple had not met him at the time.

The bride and groom haven’t said why they chose Curry, but he’s known as an engaging, impassioned speaker who preaches openness and tolerance. He can be relaxed and jocular at the pulpit, peppering his sermons with jokes and personal anecdotes, but also fiery as he delivers more serious messages.

Curry, who has two grown daughters with his wife, Sharon, was born in Chicago and raised in Buffalo, N.Y. His father, the late Rev. Kenneth Curry, was rector of an important African-American parish there and an outspoken civil rights activist.

In 2015, Curry became the first black presiding bishop of the predominantly white Episcopal Church, an offshoot of the Church of England in the United States that has been the spiritual home of many of the American Founding Fathers and U.S. presidents.

His appointment came just after the church decided to bless same-sex marriages, and in his sermons and writings he has frequently compared the black civil rights movement to the LGBT struggle for equality.

The Episcopal Church’s stance on gay marriage has caused friction with the greater Anglican Communion and with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who will be officiating as the latest royal couple make their marriage vows.

Despite those differences, Welby tweeted that he was “thrilled” Curry had been asked to deliver a sermon during the royal wedding, calling Curry a “brilliant pastor, stunning preacher and someone with a great gift for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.”

Curry’s stances have also brought him into open conflict with several Trump administration policies, including its move to end the Obama-era immigration program that shielded hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation, known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

In a September statement, Curry emphasized the Episcopal Church’s support for the immigration program and the youth affected, saying “our Christian values are at stake; humane and loving care for the stranger, the alien and the foreigner is considered a sacred duty and moral value for those who would follow the way of God.”

Earlier last year, Curry denounced Trump’s plan to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military, saying it was “a violation of the fundamental ideal of equality in America.” He has also thrown his support behind the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation’s protest against a planned oil pipeline backed by the Trump administration.

On May 24, Curry plans to join other Christian leaders in a march on the White House to draw attention to a joint declaration that sets out a number of concerns. It says that “we are living through perilous and polarizing times as a nation, with a dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership at the highest levels of our government and in our churches.”

In rejecting Trump’s “America first” policy, the declaration says “while we share a patriotic love for our country, we reject xenophobic or ethnic nationalism that places one nation over others.”

It also adds: “Global poverty, environmental damage, violent conflict, weapons of mass destruction and deadly diseases in some places ultimately affect all places, and we need wise political leadership to deal with each of these.”

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  • “He’s the son of an American civil rights activist and the descendant of African slaves. He condemned last year’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville as fascist and he has outspokenly stood up for gay rights.

    The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry also plans to join a march on the White House next week that rejects U.S. President Donald Trump’s ‘America first’ stance as ‘theological heresy.’”

    It was fascinating to follow Twitter responses to what Michael Curry said as he was preaching at the royal wedding. Some entirely predictable and tired reasons some people were angry at what Curry said and at the choice to give him a high profile at this event:

    1. He stands for and speaks out about LGBTQ rights.

    2. He’s black.

    3. Meghan Markle is black, they’re angry about that and the fact that she’s integrating the royals, and the choice of a black preacher for the wedding only underscores what’s happening all the more.

    4. He speaks out openly about the moral monstrosity in the White House and the heresy of white Christians supporting him.

    5. Some people objected to Curry and what he said because they are anti-religious and didn’t like having any religious figure receive such a high profile at this event.

    6. They imagine that the royal family and its traditions belong solely to white people.

    7. They want to stop the world in its tracks and cement their white privilege in place forever.

    Meanwhile, there’s the rest of the world, which includes many folks in many places who find this choice of a preacher for the royal wedding energizing, and who see the future as multi-racial, multi-cultural, tolerant and inclusive of sexual minorities — and Christianity as all about love.

    Even when you have no particular interested in royals and their high doings — as I don’t — you can still find the drama playing out over the choice of Michael Curry to preach at the royal wedding intriguing and entertaining. And you can be inspired by what he said.

  • Queen Elizabeth didn’t look too happy with Rev. Curry’s gig. She looked a bit uncomfortable, in contrast to her usual public smile and calmness. I wonder why.

  • No, while it did drag on a bit, and he tended to repeat himself at times, it was still one of the best I have ever heard. He spoke about love, and its power to change the world. May his message be heard.

  • I know Dr Lindsey fairly well, and am pleased to call him a friend. He stands for love of God and of neighbor, and against bigotry of all sorts.

  • Very true, but certainly THAT can’t be the reason why the Queen of England (and Sir Elton John too!) were looking so dour.

  • I don’t know the queen of England or Elton John, Mr. Lee, so I can’t ask them why they were looking dour — or why you thought they were looking dour.

    To be honest, I don’t much care about whether a queen or a celebrity look dour or people imagine they looked dour in response to a sermon.

    I’m more interested in what that sermon said, and in how the black U.S. church and its gospel message received a wide hearing at this historic event — when the loud, shallow end of the pool of American Christianity, white evangelicalism and its hangers on, try always to claim center stage, misrepresenting all of American Christianity as loud and shallow and exceedingly dour.

    The message I heard today wasn’t a message about how a queen or a celebrity looked. It was the Christian gospel preached loudly and clearly:

    When love is the way, poverty will become history. When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary. When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields down by the riverside to study war no more.

    When love is the way, there’s plenty good room — plenty good room — for all of God’s children. When love is the way, we actually treat each other like we are actually family. When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all. We are brothers and sisters, children of God.

    Brothers and sisters: that’s a new heaven, a new earth, a new world, a new human family.

    Sounds like Jesus and his message to me. And to a lot of others, I suspect.

  • I take it you’re in the new heaven, new earth, new world, and new human family, and those who disagree with you are not?

  • I believe I’m in the same world in which you are living, Mr. “Arnzen” — and so that world can surely not be called the new heaven and the new earth, can it?

    What you “take” as real and true is, sadly, often neither.

  • You do love your soap box.

    You’re always capable of responding to comments substantively. You rarely do, sadly but wisely.

  • Wasn’t just me who noticed the frowns. Media, y’know.

    But you’re right; no big deal. Curry’s sermon was not to blame. Good black-preaching style and good Scriptures too.

    (Curry even called everyone’s attention to Jesus and His salvation for a couple seconds. Hopefully THAT move didn’t upset anybody.)

    Ironic, really. Curry was picked and approved for this giant preaching gig partly because he’s this huge supporter of gay marriage and gay clergy within TEC. Supposedly this was a signal to conservatIves that they better surrender.

    But Curry himself winds up preaching the one thing that’s guranteed to destroy gay marriage and the entire LGBT lifestyle. The incomparable Gospel of Jesus Christ.
    Yes, there’s “plenty of good room” for everybody…at the Cross.

  • She had a dour puss in every shot of her that I saw during the entire service. Even during God Save the Queen, when you might expect a monarch to radiate in return the honor, love and support she is receiving from everyone in the room, her family included.

    I think that is likely more attributed to her age. She’s a stalwart old queen, endowed with a sense of duty beyond others. But she may still be tired and feeling the aches & pains of a body long past its warranty.

    I’m not near her age, but arthritis in my joints takes its toil and I have been told that I look more serious when caught off guard than I once did.

  • Elton isn’t a spring chicken either. But it’s England, he knew that a traditional Anglican wedding would include a sermon. I got the impression from the camera shots, that he & his husband weren’t in the quire, the section of the church closest to the bride and groom. But was in the section closest to the main door, where folks couldn’t really see, just hear the service.

  • As a gay man, +Curry didn’t say anything that would make me think that I wasn’t welcome. He’s the Presiding Bishop of the Church of which I’m a confirmed member. I have always felt welcome and included in the Gospel of Jesus that he shares with me.

  • As much a human rights focus as Jesus always made; “and the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself…When love is the way, poverty will become history. When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary. When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields down by the riverside to study war no more.

    When love is the way, there’s plenty good room — plenty good room — for all of God’s children. When love is the way, we actually treat each other like we are actually family. When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all. We are brothers and sisters, children of God.”

    Human rights, poverty, care for the planet, they all made an appearance.

    He’s not that great a preacher, but he has an exuberant delivery.

  • A line like “When love is the way, there’s plenty good room – plenty good room – for all of God’s children. When love is the way, we actually treat each other like we are actually family. When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all. We are brothers and sisters, children of God.” sounds like it was written by Helen Steiner Rice.

    If Jesus spoke like that, instead of the Eight Beatitudes we’d have the Eight Platitudes.

    A more realistic theology – that life can and often is difficult, but love can get through it and perfect love can overcome it – would have probably been more appropriate for the occasion, but I understood both the context and the audience may have called for more exuberance and less solid theology.

  • On the traditional wedding, the world get to see on TV what the Bible says about a man and his woman. It brings back the contrast of men’s work and Christ live via the one eye monster (TV) to the unbelieving world of heathens and religious who walk about with many legal wives, in and out relationships, lunch time fast pass, pastoral scandals, and motor hands as opposite to the ζωὴ (zōē) vision of lasting love of Christ for His Bride.

    God took out from Adam’s side not from the crown so she dominate him nor from the sole so he lord over her but work side by side in the service of their garden. The Hebrew word ( צְלָעֹת – H6763 ) “rib” is also “side”.

    That is how our LORD treat His bride with such grace and love, His church when “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” (John 19:34)

    That is how His death spring forth the fountain of blood and water for the church to flower (not by our actions.) Perfectly He still love us so and wash us every day every moment to give life and righteousness. Our life even now are redeemed into His kingdom and His righteousness. By His sacrificial love, God the Father gain a family. By the same work now finished, we are no longer unemployed gardeners toiling on the dust to eat bread with the sweat on our brows because He took all our curses with drops of sweat of blood falling on the dust in another garden. We are kings and priests in the heavenly amen amen in His heart (pictured by the 12 jewels on the high priest’s breast). Amen.

  • You have not said either way, so I’m asking if you do.? It’s a simple “yes” or “no” question.

  • For those who do not know…..communion is a celebration for followers of Christ because He went through whipping, being spit upon, assaulted, his beard pulled out, His hands nailed to a cross, His feet nailed to a cross, He took our sins on Him, so that we would not have to die, but could have everlasting life with His Father. God’s wrath for our sin was placed on Him.
    He went through this so we don’t have to die for our sins should we accept Him as our Lord and Saviour. That is what the celebration of communion is essentially about.

    The man, “celebrates” communion with people who rebel against Christ and the sacrifice that He went through for anyone/everyone. These people cherish and celebrate their sin and endorse it for others to be bound up in – a mockery of what Christ did and accomplished at the cross. Christians do not observe this blessing lightly and unrepentant sinners are basically ridiculing what Christ did – spitting in the face of God.

    This man, teaches people to embrace their sin – thus leading them to Hell and death – nothing he could do is worthy of praise. He works for satan.

    2 Corinthians 11:14 English Standard Version (ESV)

    14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

    Christ is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin, should we repent, turn to Him and follow Him.

  • He was so refreshing to hear at the Royal wedding !

    Seems like a great priest , especially since he introduced many to the Jesuit .: Pierre Tiehard de Chardin , that wonderful visionary priest who has inspired so many including Pope Francis , bravo!

  • Boilerplate post – the same thing you wrote in the other article about +Curry.

    Communion was not served at the wedding service. All +Curry did was deliver a 10 minute sermon about love.

  • no one said communion was served. What was said was that he celebrates communion with godless heathen and has no compunction about it

  • Plenty good room is from a Black spiritual, which is in the wheelhouse of this descendant of a civil rights activist, sharecroppers and slaves. It comes from a solid theology & heritage where life was always difficult, and the difficulty overcome by love.

  • “That is what the celebration of communion is essentially about.”

    Wrong.

    Communion is about people coming together to give thanks to God for all God’s blessings. The terms ‘eucharist’ (=thanks) and ‘communion’ are intimately intertwined.

  • I would add “sandinwindsor” to your list. Your understanding of God is toxic, a rejection of the belief that God is Love.

  • It was certainly the bridge and groom’s choice, and unless it involves singing parrots and a calliope, I am wont to argue with that.

  • Her understanding and interpretation of scripture is all that there is. If you disagree with her, she says that you are actually disagreeing with Jesus.

    However, she doesn’t read, write or speak Biblical Hebrew or Greek, so all she knows of the Bible are the various English translations. Beyond that she is ignorant of scripture in its original. I doubt that she even understands the difference in what types of translations into English there are.

  • Well, two personal assessments of one poster from two individuals who exemplify the saying “”Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones”.

  • Naw, it’s you who should watch out about throwing stones. You’ve always been the biggest phony here.

  • Ah, yet another negative personal assessment of another poster.

    Is your point “Do as I say, not as I do.”?

    As to phonies, that little round on the Anglican Communion was certainly illustrative.

  • and how can those who openly reject God’s blessings be giving thanks for them Joe?

  • My reply is a blessing only if you see its truth as applied to your religious belief.

  • You post “negative personal assessments” of folks all the time. The pot calling the kettle black.

    Illustrative, that I am who I say that I am.

  • Really?

    I assume this is the sort of thing you are talking about:

    https://disqus.com/home/discussion/religionnews/tony_perkins_appointed_to_us_panel_on_international_religious_freedom/#comment-3907725801

    Notice that it was not a negative personal assessment, but an assessment of the contents of his posts vis a vis his statement that:

    “I have been reliably informed by many Christians of your type that DISAGREEMENT ISN’T HATE, no matter how hateful and damaging their actions might be to the people in their gunsights.”

    Try as I might, I cannot parse “Illustrative, that I am who I say that I am.”

  • So, you are unable to scroll up a few posts and read. I said that Dr Lindsey “stands for love of God and of neighbor, and against bigotry of all sorts.” I asked if you disagreed with this stance. You have bobbed and weaved and run away from answering a very simple question.

    Could it be that you support bigotry? Then how can you call yourself a Christian?

  • Not at all.
    Ephesians 5:11 – 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

    Acts 20: 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

  • You asked a “yes or no” question.

    In scrolling up I don’t see one.

    If your question is:

    did you write: “I know Dr Lindsey fairly well, and am pleased to call him a friend. He stands for love of God and of neighbor, and against bigotry of all sorts.” ?

    the answer is “yes”.

    As to your hypothetical, it is merely hypothetical.

  • I’m simply reminding you (fairly frequently, I must admit) that your opinion is contrary to what we find in the four canonical gospels, which, by definition, are the heart of all Christian scripture.

  • You earlier asserted that “[Jesus] went through this [passion and crucifixion] so we don’t have to die for our sins should we accept Him as our Lord and Saviour. That is what the celebration of communion is essentially about.”

    I replied that communion is part and parcel of “eucharist”, i.e., “thanksgiving” for all of God’s blessings.

    You went on to accuse Bishop Curry of “‘celebrat[ing]’ communion with people who rebel against Christ and the sacrifice that He went through for anyone/everyone. These people cherish and celebrate their sin and endorse it for others to be bound up in – a mockery of what Christ did and accomplished at the cross.” You accused these people of “openly reject[ing] God’s blessings.”

    I replied that your question, i.e., “and [sic] how can those who openly reject God’s blessings be giving thanks for them[,] Joe?”, was “loaded” because it was based on your ill-founded assumptions.

    What is your “assumption”? Quite simply, you assume that the “people” rebel against Jesus, cherish and celebrate their sin, and endorse it for others.

    How do you know your “assumption” is supposedly correct?

    You made the original assertion. Prove it.

  • most people are ashamed of their sin because they are hurting the One who died for them, so they don’t have to sin.

  • He’s in the “new world,” all right: the “Brave New World” of which Aldous Huxley warned us decades ago.

  • You made the assertion. I challenged you to prove the truth/accuracy of your assertion. My challenge remains unanswered by you.

  • Please demonstrate the truth/accuracy of your original assertion that the people worshiping with Bishop Curry “rebel against Christ…cherish and celebrate their sin and endorse it for others to be bound up in…”

    Your reply demonstrates no such thing.

  • Ah, you are able to read with comprehension. I doubted this. But then, as as Trump supporter, you are expected to be stupid and dishonest, just like your hero.

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