From the Field, a newsletter of the Diocese of Georgia, offers background on Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s primatial staff:
Julius and Julia Ariail of Christ Church, Valdosta, report they learned of a connection between that staff of office and the Diocese of Georgia. The cross on the staff was given to then-Presiding Bishop Arthur Lichtenberger in December of 1961 by Bishop Henry I. Louttit, Sr., of South Florida on the occasion of the consecration of two bishops suffragan, James Duncan and William Hargrave.
The staff was made in London. According to an article in The Living Church (December 31, 1961): “The staff consists of a sterling silver cross mounted on ebony. The seal of the Presiding Bishop, in red, white, and blue enamel, reads: “Seal of the Presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA.” On the ebony base, ringed with sterling silver, are inscribed the words: “Presented to the Presiding Bishop-Dec. 19th, 1961, by the diocese of South Florida.”
A double-barred cross is usually regarded as patriarchal, but some precedent seems to exist for the use of such a cross by primates or heads of national churches. The staff marking a Presiding Bishop as the head of our church was a gift of the father of the ninth Bishop of Georgia, Bishop Henry Louttit, Jr.
Image: Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry stands on the steps of Washington National Cathedral Nov. 1 just after he was installed as the Episcopal Church’s 27th presiding bishop and its primate. • Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service