Michael Curry (bishop)

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The Most Reverend
Michael B. Curry
27th Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church
Curry in 2016 wearing a miter and vestments
Church Episcopal Church
Diocese Non-territorial/non-metropolitical
Installed November 1, 2015[1]
Predecessor Katharine Jefferts Schori
Other posts Bishop of North Carolina

June 1978 (deacon)

December 1978 (priest)
Consecration June 17, 2000
by Robert Hodges Johnson
Personal details
Born (1953-03-13) March 13, 1953 (age 64)
Chicago, Illinois
Nationality United States
Spouse Sharon
Children 2
Alma mater Hobart College
Yale Divinity School(M.Div.)
The College of Preachers
Princeton Theological Seminary
Wake Forest University
The Ecumenical Institute at St. Mary's Seminary
Institute of Christian Jewish Studies

Michael Bruce Curry (born March 13, 1953) is the 27th and current presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church. Elected in 2015, he is the first African American to serve in that capacity. He was previously bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina.

Early life and education[edit]

Curry says in his autobiography that both sides of his family were descended from slaves and sharecroppers in North Carolina and Alabama.[2] He was born in Chicago and attended public schools in Buffalo, New York.[3] He graduated with high honors from Hobart College in Geneva, New York, in 1975. He then earned a Master of Divinity degree, in 1978, from the Yale Divinity School. Curry has also studied at The College of Preachers, Princeton Theological Seminary, Wake Forest University, the Ecumenical Institute at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, and the Institute of Christian Jewish Studies.

Ministry as priest[edit]

Curry was ordained deacon at St. Paul's Cathedral, Buffalo, New York by the Rt. Rev. Harold B. Robinson in June 1978 and priest at St. Stephen's, Winston-Salem, North Carolina by the Rt. Rev. John M. Burgess in December 1978.[4] He served initially as deacon-in-charge and subsequently as rector of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church (1978–1982) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; then as rector of St. Simon of Cyrene Episcopal Church in Lincoln Heights, Ohio (1982–1988). He served as rector of St. James' Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland (1988–2000). In his three parish ministries, Curry participated in crisis response pastoral care, the founding of ecumenical summer day camps for children, preaching missions, creation of networks of family day care providers, and the brokering of investment in inner city neighborhoods. He inspired a $2.5 million restoration of the St. James' church building after a fire.[5]

Ministry as diocesan bishop[edit]

Bishop Curry

Curry was elected eleventh bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina on February 11, 2000, and consecrated bishop on June 17, 2000, at Duke Chapel on the campus of Duke University in Durham.[6] The consecrators were Robert Hodges Johnson, J. Gary Gloster, and Barbara C. Harris.

As a diocesan bishop, he served on the board of directors of the Alliance for Christian Media [5] and chaired the board of Episcopal Relief and Development.[7] He also had a national preaching and teaching ministry and was a frequent speaker at services of worship and conferences around the country.

Throughout his ministry in North Carolina, Curry was also active in issues of social justice, speaking out on immigration policy and marriage equality. Curry also instituted a network of canons, deacons, and youth ministry professionals to support preexisting ministries in local congregations. Curry also led the Diocese of North Carolina to focus on the Episcopal Church’s Millennium Development Goals through a $400,000 campaign to buy malaria nets that saved over 100,000 lives.[8]

Ministry as presiding bishop[edit]

Curry in 2015

On May 1, 2015, the joint nominating committee for the election of the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church nominated Curry and three other bishops as candidates for 27th presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church.[9] The election occurred on June 27, 2015, at the 78th General Convention meeting in Salt Lake City.[10] Curry was elected by the House of Bishops meeting in St. Mark's Cathedral on the first ballot with 121 of 174 votes cast. Laity and clergy in the House of Deputies ratified Curry's election later the same day.[11] Curry was installed as presiding bishop and primate on November 1, 2015, All Saints' Day, during a Eucharist at Washington National Cathedral.[12] The service included readings in Spanish and Native American languages.[13][14]

Dismissals of high ranking staff members[edit]

Among Curry's first acts as presiding bishop was placing three senior staff at Episcopal Church headquarters on administrative leave due to misconduct pending investigation for violating workplace policies on December 9, 2015. In April 2016, Curry followed-up by dismissing deputy chief operating officer Sam McDonald and director of public engagement Alex Baumgarten. Bishop Stacy Sauls was removed as chief operating officer but remained a bishop.[15] When announcing the staff dismissals, Curry publicly stated:

...Our task as staff is to serve The Episcopal Church in such a way that it can serve the world in the Name and in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. We are therefore all called to strive for and adhere to the highest standards of personal and professional conduct embodying the love of God and reflecting the teachings and the way of Jesus.[16]

The precise nature of the alleged misconduct was never disclosed nor were criminal charges filed.[17]

Revival tours[edit]

During 2017 and 2018, Bishop Curry is scheduled to launch a series of revivals "that promise to stir and renew hearts for Jesus, to equip Episcopalians as evangelists, and to welcome people who aren’t part of a church to join the Jesus Movement."[18] The revivals include multi-day public events in the Episcopal Dioceses of Pittsburgh, West Missouri, Georgia, San Joaquin, and Honduras before culminating in a "joint evangelism mission" with the Church of England in July 2018.[19]

Anglican Communion[edit]

Primates' gathering in 2016[edit]

In January 2016, Primates in the Anglican Communion gathered at Canterbury Cathedral, mother church of the global Anglican Communion, at the invitation of the Most Rev. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. It was the first such meeting attended by Michael Curry as presiding bishop. Human sexuality and the Episcopal Church's July 2015 approval of same-sex marriage rites were prominent topics of discussion.[20]

The primates in attendance unanimously resolved to walk together before a majority of Anglican Primates also publicly sanctioned the Episcopal Church, for a period of three years, demanding that it “no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”[21][22]

In the aftermath of sanctions, Curry maintained his public support for marriage equality stating:

Our commitment to be an inclusive church is not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture, but on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all. While I understand that many disagree with us, our decision regarding marriage is based on the belief that the words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians are true for the church today: All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in Christ. For so many who are committed to following Jesus in the way of love and being a church that lives that love, this decision will bring real pain. For fellow disciples of Jesus in our church who are gay or lesbian, this will bring more pain. For many who have felt and been rejected by the church because of who they are, for many who have felt and been rejected by families and communities, our church opening itself in love was a sign of hope. And this will add pain on top of pain.[23]

As part of the final communique from the gathering, the Anglican Primates announced that the Archbishop of Canterbury would appoint a "task group" aimed at healing the rift and rebuilding of mutual trust amidst deep differences.[24] The Archbishop of Canterbury named Curry as one of the 10 members of that "task group" in May 2016.[25]

Delegation to Rome[edit]

In October 2016, Curry represented the Communion as part of a delegation of Anglican Primates to the Vatican led by Archbishop Justin Welby. The leaders joined together in an ecumenical vespers service led jointly by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Roman Pontiff followed by a private meeting between Pope Francis and the Anglican Primates. The events honored the fiftieth anniversary since then Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey and Pope Paul VI met in 1966, the first such meeting since the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century. The meeting also celebrated the fiftieth anniversary since the Anglican Centre in Rome was established.[26] Curry emphasized the need for Christian cooperation publicly stating:

[the] mission of the church is to help the human family, with all its variety and all its diversity and all its differences, to find a way to become not simply a disparate community but a human family of God. Dr. Martin Luther King said it this way, ‘we shall either learn to live together as brothers and sisters, or we’ll perish together as fools.’ The choice is ours, chaos or community.[27]

Curry's presence in Rome was criticized by Nicholas Okoh, Archbishop of Nigeria and chairman of the traditionalist group GAFCON. Okoh publicly stated Curry's invitation was a violation of sanctions established by Anglican Primates during their January 2016 gathering in Canterbury.[28]


Curry has received honorary degrees from the School of Theology-Sewanee, Virginia Theological Seminary, Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, the Episcopal Divinity School,[29] and the Seminary of the Southwest.[30] Curry was appointed a member of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem by Elizabeth II on July 25, 2015.[31]

Personal life[edit]

Curry and his wife Sharon (née Clement) have two adult daughters.[32]

Published works[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Holy Eucharist with the Installation of Bishop Michael Bruce Curry as the Presiding Bishop". Episcopal News Service. Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs. July 29, 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-04. 
  2. ^ Curry 2015, p. 2.
  3. ^ City Desk (June 27, 2015). "Buffalo native elected to head Episcopal Church". The Buffalo News. Retrieved June 28, 2015. Michael B. Curry, an Episcopal bishop who grew up in Buffalo, was elected Saturday to be the presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church. 
  4. ^ McLean, Naomi C. (December 23, 1978). "Rev. Michael Curry Ordained Dec. 9". Baltimore Afro-American. Baltimore, Maryland. Retrieved 2015-05-08. The Rev. Michael B. Curry...ordained Dec. 9 
  5. ^ a b "The Most Rev. Michael Curry". Day 1. Atlanta, Georgia: The Alliance for Christian Media. Retrieved 2015-11-04. The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry is presiding bishop and primate of The Episcopal Church. 
  6. ^ Mack, Daphne; Schjonberg, Mary Frances (February 3, 2006). "Reconciliation is hard but necessary work". Daybook. Episcopal News Service. Retrieved 2008-06-30. Keynote speakers and preachers included...Bishop Michael Bruce Curry of the Diocese of North Carolina 
  7. ^ Fontaine, Ann (January 10, 2015). "Bishop Michael Curry Named Chair of Board of Directors of Episcopal Relief and Development". The Episcopal Café. Retrieved May 15, 2015. The Right Reverend Michael B. Curry, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, has been appointed as Chair of Episcopal Relief & Development’s Board of Directors. 
  8. ^ Graebner, Rev. Dr. Brooks. "Previous Bishops". Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. Retrieved January 7, 2017. 
  9. ^ Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop. "The Election of the 27th Presiding Bishop: The Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "The Rt. Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, presiding bishop-elect". Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. Retrieved November 5, 2015. 
  11. ^ Episcopal Church Public Affairs (June 27, 2015). "From TEC: Bishop Michael Bruce Curry from North Carolina Elected 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church". Retrieved November 4, 2015. The Rt. 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. 
  12. ^ Boorstein, Michelle (November 1, 2015). "Episcopal Church installs its first African American presiding bishop". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Retrieved November 2, 2015. The public face and style of the Episcopal Church shifted Sunday with the installation of Michael Bruce Curry, the denomination’s first African American spiritual leader. 
  13. ^ Townsend, Matt (November 1, 2015). "‘God Has Work for Us to Do’". The Living Church. Retrieved November 4, 2015. the installation of the Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry as 27th presiding bishop featured a diverse liturgy 
  14. ^ Bergengruen, Vera (November 7, 2015). "Episcopalians looking to future of inclusion: Church recently instated first black presiding bishop". The Colombian. Retrieved December 5, 2015. The service that installed Michael Bruce Curry as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church on Sunday would have been unrecognizable to Episcopalians of the past century. 
  15. ^ Chatelain, Kim (April 4, 2016). "2 Episcopal Church executives fired over personnel conduct". The Times-Picayune, New Orleans. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  16. ^ Curry, Michael. "Presiding Bishop Curry addresses, updates staff". The Episcopal Church. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  17. ^ MacDonald, G. Jeffrey (April 13, 2016). "Experts push Episcopal Church to explain firings". Religion News Service. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  18. ^ "Presiding Bishop's Visit to Launch Series". Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. Retrieved January 1, 2017. 
  19. ^ "Presiding Bishop's Visit to Launch Series". Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. Retrieved January 1, 2017. 
  20. ^ Goodstein, Laurie &, de Freytas-Tamura, Kimiko (January 14, 2016). "Anglican Church disciplines U.S. Episcopals over Gay Marriage". New York Times. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  21. ^ "New from Primates 2016". Primates 2016. Anglican Communion Office. Retrieved January 7, 2017. 
  22. ^ Davies, Matthew (January 14, 2016). "Majority of primates call for temporary Episcopal Church sanctions: Curry says primates' statement will be painful for many Episcopalians". Episcopal News Service. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  23. ^ Davies, Matthew (January 14, 2016). "Majority of primates call for temporary Episcopal Church sanctions: Curry says primates' statement will be painful for many Episcopalians". Episcopal News Service. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  24. ^ "Communiqué from the Primates of the Anglican Communion, January 15, 2016". Primates 2016. Anglican Communion Office. Retrieved January 7, 2017. 
  25. ^ Drake, Gavin (May 10, 2016). "Task group appointed to maintain conversation amidst deep differences". Anglican Communion News Service. Retrieved January 7, 2017. 
  26. ^ "Angican Primates Head for Rome". Anglican Centre in Rome. October 3, 2016. Retrieved January 10, 2017. 
  27. ^ Davies, Matthew (October 6, 2016). "On the Brink of Unity? Anglicans, Roman Catholics celebrate 50 years of dialogue and partnership". Episcopal News Service. Retrieved January 10, 2017. 
  28. ^ Okah, Nicholas D. "Chairman's October 2016 Letter (November 3, 2016)". Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON). Retrieved January 10, 2017. 
  29. ^ "2013 Honorary Degree Recipients Announced". Episcopal Divinity School. Cambridge, Massachusetts. March 26, 2013. Retrieved May 15, 2015. Michael Bruce Curry...eleventh Bishop of North Carolina 
  30. ^ "Commencement 2016 - Seminary of the Southwest". Retrieved 2016-06-30. 
  31. ^ "No. 61305". The London Gazette. 24 July 2015. p. 13772. 
  32. ^ Quillin, Martha (June 20, 2015). "NC Bishop among 4 nominated to lead Episcopal Church in the United States". News & Observer. Raleigh, North Carolina. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 

External links[edit]

Episcopal Church (USA) titles
Preceded by
Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop
November 1, 2015 – present
Preceded by
Robert C. Johnson Jr.
11th Bishop of North Carolina
Succeeded by
Samuel Sewall Rodman III