Michael Curry (bishop)

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Michael Bruce Curry
27th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
Bishop Curry in 2018
ChurchEpiscopal Church
InstalledNovember 1, 2015[1]
PredecessorKatharine Jefferts Schori
Other post(s)Bishop of North Carolina
OrdinationJune 1978 (deacon)
December 1978 (priest)
by Harold B. Robinson (deacon)
John M. Burgess (priest)
ConsecrationJune 17, 2000
by Robert Hodges Johnson
Personal details
Born (1953-03-13) March 13, 1953 (age 70)[2]
SpouseSharon Clement
Alma mater

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

Early life and education[edit]

Curry noted in his autobiography that both sides of his family were descended from slaves and sharecroppers in North Carolina and Alabama.[3] He was born in Maywood, Illinois, a suburb just west of Chicago.[4] His grandfather and great-grandfather were Baptist ministers.[5] His parents were Dorothy and the Rev. Kenneth Curry, who had been Baptists but became Episcopalians when they were allowed to drink from the same chalice as whites in racially segregated Ohio.[6] His mother died when he was young; his father and grandmother raised him.[7]

Curry attended public schools in Buffalo, New York.[8] 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, in association with Berkeley 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 Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies.[7]

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.[9] 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.[10]

Ministry as diocesan bishop[edit]

Curry preaching in 2015

Curry was elected eleventh bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina on February 11, 2000.[11] When he was consecrated at Duke Chapel in Durham on June 17, 2000, he became the first African-American diocesan bishop of the Episcopal Church in the American South. Nearly 40 bishops participated in the service, including Robert Hodges Johnson, J. Gary Gloster, and Barbara C. Harris as consecrators.[12]

As a diocesan bishop, he served on the board of directors of the Alliance for Christian Media[10] and chaired the board of Episcopal Relief and Development.[13] 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.[14] 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 Millennium Development Goals through a $400,000 campaign to buy malaria nets that saved over 100,000 lives.[15]

Ministry as presiding bishop[edit]

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.[16] The election occurred on June 27, 2015, at the 78th General Convention meeting in Salt Lake City.[17] 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.[18] Curry was installed as presiding bishop and primate on November 1, 2015, All Saints' Day, during a Eucharist at Washington National Cathedral.[19] The service included readings in Spanish and Native American languages.[20][21]

Curry (top right) presiding over the consecration of a bishop

Dismissals of high ranking staff members[edit]

Among Curry's first acts as presiding bishop in December 2015 was placing three senior staff at Episcopal Church headquarters on administrative leave pending investigation for violating workplace policies. In April 2016, Curry followed up by dismissing Bishop Stacy Sauls as Chief Operating Officer, as well as two other senior administrators, although Sauls remains a bishop.[22] When announcing the staff dismissals, Curry 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.[23]

The precise nature of the policy violations noted by Curry was never disclosed nor were criminal charges filed.[24]

Revival tours[edit]

During 2017 and 2018, Curry launched 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."[25] The revivals include multi-day public events in the Episcopal Dioceses of Pittsburgh, West Missouri, Georgia, San Joaquin, and Honduras and will culminate in a "joint evangelism mission" with the Church of England in July 2018.[25]

Anglican Communion[edit]

Curry wearing pontifical vestments in 2016

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 Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. It was the first such meeting attended by Curry as presiding bishop. Human sexuality and the Episcopal Church's July 2015 approval of same-sex marriage rites were prominent topics of discussion.[26]

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."[27][28]

In the aftermath of the sanctions, Curry maintained his public support for same-sex marriage 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.[28]

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.[29] The Archbishop of Canterbury named Curry as one of the 10 members of that "task group" in May 2016.[30]

Delegation to Rome[edit]

In October 2016, Curry represented the Anglican Communion as part of a delegation of Anglican primates to the Vatican led by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The leaders joined together in an ecumenical Vespers service led jointly by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the 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 English Reformation in the 16th century. The meeting also celebrated the 50th anniversary since the Anglican Centre in Rome was established.[31] 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.[32]

Curry's presence in Rome was criticized by Nicholas Okoh, Archbishop of Nigeria and chairman of the traditionalist group Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON). Okoh publicly stated that Curry's invitation was a violation of sanctions established by Anglican primates during their January 2016 gathering in Canterbury.[33]

Curry preaching in choir dress in 2018

Royal wedding[edit]

Curry was invited by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to deliver the sermon at their wedding.[34] The wedding took place on May 19, 2018, at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle in England. Curry's 14-minute sermon attracted considerable comment and reactions were largely positive.[35][36][37]

The sermon emphasized the redemptive potential of love and used fire as a metaphor for its power and significance.[38] His enthusiastic style was reportedly well received by some attending the wedding[35][39] and the address was described as "electrifying the wedding" having "won smiles but also some quizzical glances"[36] and even upstaging the bride.[40][41] The address was wide-ranging in its sources quoting from Martin Luther King Jr.,[35] the traditional African-American spiritual "There Is a Balm in Gilead", New Testament epistles, and the French Jesuit priest and scientist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.[42] In the aftermath of the wedding Curry received widespread international attention, has published a book, and offered several widely republished soundbites on the service, such as "I could feel slaves",[43][44] and has been frequently interviewed by American media outlets as to provide a spiritual perspective in the aftermath of significant events.[45][46]

Other services[edit]

On September 1, 2018, Bishop Curry served as the officiant for the state funeral of Senator John McCain. Shortly thereafter, Curry officiated at the funeral of George H. W. Bush in the Washington National Cathedral on December 5, 2018.[47] Less than a week later he delivered a sermon-like address at "The Spirit of Apollo" program organized by the National Air and Space Museum. The program was held at Washington National Cathedral and commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission to the moon.[48][49]


Curry has received honorary degrees from the School of Theology-Sewanee, Virginia Theological Seminary, Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, the Episcopal Divinity School,[50] the Seminary of the Southwest,[51] and Church Divinity School of the Pacific.[52] Curry was appointed a serving brother of the Order of St John by Elizabeth II on July 25, 2015.[53] In 2019 he received the James Parks Morton Interfaith Award.[54]

Personal life[edit]

Curry and his wife Sharon (née Clement) have two adult daughters.[55] He underwent surgery as treatment for prostate cancer in 2018.[56][57]

Published works[edit]

  • Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Morehouse Publishing. 2013. ISBN 978-0-8192-2886-4.
  • Songs My Grandma Sang. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Morehouse Publishing. 2015. ISBN 978-0-8192-2993-9.
  • Following the Way of Jesus. Church's Teachings for a Changing World. Vol. 6. New York, NY: Church Publishing. 2017. ISBN 978-0-89869-969-2.
  • The Power of Love: Sermons, Reflections, and Wisdom to Uplift and Inspire. New York, NY: Avery / Random House. 2018. ISBN 978-0-5255-4289-6.
  • Love Is the Way: Holding On to Hope in Troubling Times. New York, NY: Avery. 2020. ISBN 978-0525543039.

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. ^ "Biography: The Most Rev. Michael Curry". Episcopal Church. 20 October 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  3. ^ Curry 2015, p. 2.
  4. ^ Romain, Michael (May 19, 2018). "Maywood Native's Sermon on Love Is a 'Surprise Star' at Royal Wedding". The Village Free Press. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  5. ^ "Bishop Michael Curry: The Power of Ordinary Love". Podcast - Kate Bowler. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  6. ^ Agboola, Adedamola (May 16, 2018). "Michael Curry, Pioneering Bishop, to Speak at Royal Wedding". Black Enterprise.
  7. ^ a b "Biography: The Most Rev. Michael Curry". The Episcopal Church. The Domestic and Foreign Mission Society. 2018.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Mack, Daphne; Schjonberg, Mary Frances (February 3, 2006). "Reconciliation is hard but necessary work". Daybook. Episcopal News Service. Retrieved 2008-06-30.
  12. ^ E. T. Malone Jr. (July 9, 2000). "Historic Consecration in North Carolina". The Living Church. 221 (2): 6.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (2016-03-18). "Episcopal Church's First Black Leader, a Gay Marriage Backer, Focuses on Race". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-02-14.
  15. ^ Graebner, Rev. Dr. Brooks. "Previous Bishops". Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  16. ^ Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop. "The Election of the 27th Presiding Bishop: The Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  17. ^ "The Rt. Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, presiding bishop-elect". Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ 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
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ Chatelain, Kim (April 4, 2016). "2 Episcopal Church executives fired over personnel conduct". The Times-Picayune, New Orleans. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  23. ^ Curry, Michael. "Presiding Bishop Curry addresses, updates staff". The Episcopal Church. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  24. ^ MacDonald, G. Jeffrey (April 13, 2016). "Experts push Episcopal Church to explain firings". Religion News Service. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  25. ^ a b "Presiding Bishop's Visit to Launch Series". Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  26. ^ Goodstein, Laurie &, de Freytas-Tamura, Kimiko (January 14, 2016). "Anglican Church disciplines U.S. Episcopals over Gay Marriage". The New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  27. ^ "New from Primates 2016". Primates 2016. Anglican Communion Office. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  28. ^ a b 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.
  29. ^ "Communiqué from the Primates of the Anglican Communion, January 15, 2016". Primates 2016. Anglican Communion Office. Archived from the original on June 6, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  30. ^ Drake, Gavin (May 10, 2016). "Task group appointed to maintain conversation amidst deep differences". Anglican Communion News Service. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  31. ^ "Anglican Primates Head for Rome". Anglican Centre in Rome. October 3, 2016. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ Okah, Nicholas D. "Chairman's October 2016 Letter (November 3, 2016)". Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON). Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  34. ^ "The Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry to give address at Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle's wedding", www.royal.uk, Kensington Palace, 11 May 2018, archived from the original on 20 May 2018, retrieved 20 May 2018, Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle have asked that The Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, the 27th Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church, give the address at their wedding
  35. ^ a b c McCluskey, Megan (19 May 2018). "The Internet is raving over Bishop Michael Curry's Royal Wedding sermon". Time. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  36. ^ a b "The Royal wedding was business as usual ... and then the Reverend Michael Curry showed up". ABC Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 19 May 2018. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  37. ^ "US Bishop Michael Curry's royal wedding address prompts huge response". itv.com. ITV (TV channel). 20 May 2018. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  38. ^ Love is the way: Bishop Michael Curry's captivating sermon - The Royal Wedding - BBC on YouTube
  39. ^ "Royal wedding preacher: Who is Michael Curry?". BBC News. 19 May 2018. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  40. ^ Crabb, Annabel (20 May 2018). "Royal wedding: Reverend Bishop Michael Curry upstages Meghan Markle with impassioned sermon". ABC Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  41. ^ "There were some very British reactions to the American preacher at the Royal Wedding". Esquire. 20 May 2018. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  42. ^ "'There's power in love': Bishop Curry's sermon in full". BBC. 19 May 2018. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  43. ^ "Bishop Michael Curry says he 'could feel slaves' at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal wedding". www.msn.com. Retrieved 2021-01-03.
  44. ^ "Bishop Curry: He could feel, hear slaves at Meghan and Harry's royal wedding". TheGrio. 2020-09-23. Retrieved 2021-01-03.
  45. ^ "Rabbi and bishop offer messages of hope as holy season nears". TODAY.com. Retrieved 2020-06-18.
  46. ^ "Bishop Michael Curry: 'We have to learn how to live together'". TODAY.com. Retrieved 2020-06-18.
  47. ^ Feit, Noah (December 5, 2018). "NC Bishop Michael Curry presided at Bush funeral; he also preached at Royal Wedding". The State. Columbia, South Carolina.
  48. ^ "The Spirit of Apollo". National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  49. ^ Jenkins, Jack (December 13, 2018). "Bishops and Astronauts Gather in Washington to Remember Apollo 8". Religion News Service. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  50. ^ "2013 Honorary Degree Recipients Announced". Episcopal Divinity School. Cambridge, Massachusetts. March 26, 2013. Archived from the original on July 8, 2018. Retrieved May 15, 2015. Michael Bruce Curry ... eleventh Bishop of North Carolina
  51. ^ "Commencement 2016 - Seminary of the Southwest". Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  52. ^ "CDSP | Presiding Bishop Curry to Speak at Commencement". CDSP. Retrieved 2018-03-14.
  53. ^ "No. 61305". The London Gazette. 24 July 2015. p. 13772.
  54. ^ "Our Honorees | ICNY". Icny. 10 May 2019.
  55. ^ 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.
  56. ^ "Bishop Curry, head of Episcopal Church and Royal Wedding preacher, faces cancer surgery". newsobserver. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  57. ^ "Presiding Bishop to have surgery for prostate cancer". Jul 25, 2018. Retrieved May 29, 2019.

External links[edit]

Episcopal Church (USA) titles
Preceded by Presiding Bishop
November 1, 2015 – present
Preceded by 11th Bishop of North Carolina
Succeeded by