Icon (Close Menu)

Curry Tribute: Thank God for This Life-Giving Extrovert

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

The brief General Convention of 2022 gave me a key to understanding Presiding Bishop Michael Curry beyond his ability to brighten any photograph with his reliable smile. Because this General Convention was so abbreviated and constricted by COVID-19, it seemed less like the noisy sausage factory of legislation than usual.

I had only copy editing to tend to, and TLC was not publishing a brief daily edition, unlike during previous conventions. I took some leisurely moments to watch the streaming video of the House of Bishops in action. When he was presiding in the house, which was most of the time I tuned in, Bishop Curry was a source of joy and mirth. He would greet other bishops with affection, and murmur playful asides when the bishops turned their attention to a dreary and boring topic.

Within minutes of hearing this steady beat, I began to feel something unfamiliar from roughly 30 years of writing about General Convention. I felt loose, relaxed, and almost entirely peaceful.

Then the gear clicked into place. Bishop Curry, I realized, is a life-giving extrovert. As a lifetime introvert, who has sometimes felt alienated and scorned by groups of extroverts, I’ve developed a deep gratitude for life-giving extroverts. They are not simply people who enjoy being in the spotlight or telling loud jokes at large parties. Instead, the life-giving extroverts I’ve come to love are those whose joy is natural, unforced, and so essential to their identity that the world seems off-kilter if they appear unhappy or troubled.

I love that for nine years a life-giving extrovert has led a denomination that has a special appeal to introverts. If you doubt this, you have had exceptionally good luck at coffee hours. He helped more Episcopalians learn to speak about Jesus without throat-clearing. To paraphrase a joke, he could read from the phone book and make it a stirring sermon. He nearly stole the show when he preached at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. I have often hoped that his homily for that day would bring healing to the grief-laden quarrels among Prince Harry, Prince William, and King Charles III.

Bishop Curry will be an impossible presiding bishop to follow, and I expect the five nominees for the office realize this. I am glad he breathed more life into the lungs of a church that has sometimes struggled with its identity. I hope we all honor him by keeping a mirthful twinkle in our eye and greeting one another with affection, especially when we are in the path of the juggernaut known as General Convention.

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

Top headlines. Every Friday.

MOST READ

CLASSIFIEDS

Most Recent

GSFA Meets with Coptic Pope, Elects New Leaders

Delegates also visited a historical museum, library, and baptistry on the grounds of the papal compound.

GSFA Discusses Wartime Suffering, Sexuality

Delegates to the First Assembly of the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans (GSFA) heard from the Episcopal Church...

People & Places, June 14

Appointments across the Episcopal Church

Title IV Charges Revealed as PB Election Nears

The church released information about disciplinary complaints involving three of the five candidates