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Curry Tribute: A Genuine Pastor

The Way of Love:
Reflections on Presiding Bishop Michael Bruce Curry

This is one of a series of tributes to Presiding Bishop Curry, as published in the May 26 edition of The Living Church.

The legacy of the Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry on the Episcopal Church and his legacy as a faith leader adored by the broader culture is significant. His accomplishments, inspirational sermons, sage wisdom, and steady urging to follow in the ways of Jesus are already filling books on our shelves.

History will no doubt be clear about Bishop Curry’s homiletical gifts and his clarity of mission to call us to deeper formation in following Jesus’ Way of Love. He will be remembered for his commitment to dismantling systemic oppression and racism and his advocacy for creation care and environmental stewardship.

Years from now, I will want to remember that at a critical time in history, when polarization and artificial intelligence skewed our relationships and our sense of what is real, the Episcopal Church was led by a bishop authentic in his identity as a child of God, deeply rooted in his faith, and infectious about his love of Jesus.

Bishop Curry has been an inspiration and mentor to me for nearly 35 years. I have been in his debt for the wisdom and care he has offered, first when I was a young priest and in my seven years as a bishop. In whatever positions he has held over the years, he has maintained the heart of a pastor. And like his preaching and his love for Jesus, his pastoral heart is genuine.

Bishop Curry modeled for me — and the church — how to lead with a genuine self. His leading in this way as a groundbreaker was particularly profound. In my earliest days as Bishop of Indianapolis, I had conversations with both Bishop Barbara Harris, of blessed memory, and with Bishop Curry about what it has meant to be a “first” — Bishop Harris as the first female bishop in the Anglican Communion, Curry as the first Black Presiding Bishop, and me as the first Black, female, diocesan bishop.

Though our elections and calls to these positions were in different times and places, we understood the power of representation to expand imaginations of what’s possible. Seeing a Black man in leadership as Primate made a difference not only for those of us from the African diaspora, but for the whole church. Yet “Michael, beloved child of God,” would be the identifier he claims most highly.

Finally, we would be right to extol Bishop Curry’s leadership and legacy of leading our church during a time of political turmoil, environmental degradation, wars and foreign conflicts, and a global pandemic. Through it all, he helped our denomination to be less self-conscious about the source of our hope and salvation — Jesus Christ. In the way that only he can, Bishop Curry has shown us that laughter is holy, that being who God created us to be is a gift, and that following Jesus as those committed to the Way of Love and its command to love others and love ourselves is worth it all.

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