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Executive Council Reunites with Recovering PB — in Person!

For the first time in more than a year, Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry physically attended a meeting of the Executive Council beginning April 18 — and the council rejoiced.

A succession of health issues have robbed Curry of much of the final year of his nine-year term as the 27th presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. He has been hospitalized six times since May 2023, undergoing three brain surgeries related to subdural hematomas, a potentially serious pooling of blood putting pressure on the brain. The other hospitalizations addressed irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding, and removal of an adrenal gland and attached, noncancerous mass.

Curry’s opening remarks

As the council began its three-day meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina — just a few miles from Curry’s home — he was met with raucous standing ovations, both before and after his opening remarks.

He thanked all the people who have been praying for him, and said there were times he could physically feel the prayers. He told of waking up during one of his hospitalizations on a Saturday evening or Sunday morning in a state of confusion.

“I’d been out since Wednesday, and I didn’t know where I was,” he said. A nurse came into the room, “and a part of me said, is this an angel?” He asked where he was, and the nurse said “you’re in the ICU, you did very well in your surgery, you came through your surgery, and now you can just rest.” He talked about how grateful he was for that simple message.

And then he changed the mood, starting a reflection on the 14th chapter of Exodus. “It’s just when Charlton Heston has led the Israelites…” he said, as the room exploded in laughter.

Executive Council is the governing body of the church between General Conventions, and the council normally meets three times a year. Curry missed the meetings in May 2023 and January 2024, as he recovered from two of his surgeries. An October meeting that had been scheduled first for Ecuador, then for Panama, was moved online, in part so Curry could participate virtually.

Curry, who turned 71 in March, noted that this will be his last Executive Council meeting as presiding bishop. His successor will be elected in late June at the General Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, and five bishops have been nominated.

He said he had not really understood in advance the seriousness of his most recent surgery, in January, but his wife Sharon relayed what she had been told by the surgeon. “The hope is, he’ll recover,” she was told. “The risk is… this is risky surgery.” It allowed her to face the surgery “not with a false confidence, but with an informed faith.”

He described the procedure to the council — “I forget what they call it.” (It was a relatively new procedure called a middle meningeal artery embolization.) The surgeons inserted a small coil that “fills up the aneurysm, the bubble, and it takes over the bubble and creates a dam, so that blood won’t go through it.”

“The surgery has worked, it seems to have actually made a difference,” he told TLC later in the day. His walk is a bit unsteady and he’s visibly lost weight, and there’s a dent near the edge of his hairline where his skull was punctured for one of his surgeries. “The memory stuff comes, but the neurologist said it’s slow. Just let it be, let it go slow,” he said. The only evidence of memory loss during his remarks and the later interview was his inability to remember “middle meningeal artery embolization,” for which he should not be graded too harshly.

His doctors cleared him to drive a couple of weeks ago, and he drove to the meeting that morning. He’s been cleared for short airline flights, but his next trip also will be by car. He’ll drive to Charlotte, North Carolina, in late April at a sort of meet-and-greet with the House of Bishops, where they will talk and pray with the candidates for presiding bishop.

“I’m blessed,” he said.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the House of Bishops will meet in Charlottesville, Virginia. The article has been corrected.


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