Union of Black Episcopalians Honors Michael Curry

Union of Black Episcopalians Honors Michael Curry, First Black Presiding Bishop, for His Transformative Leadership

The Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) celebrated Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s groundbreaking tenure with a heartfelt tribute.

This special banquet took place on June 21, 2024, during UBE’s 56th annual conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

The event highlighted Curry’s impactful leadership as the first Black presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

Celebrating a Pioneering Leader in Episcopal History

Bishop Michael Curry’s historic appointment in 2015 marked a watershed moment for the Episcopal Church. As the first person of color to hold the position of presiding bishop, Curry championed inclusivity and spiritual renewal.

His nine-year term focused on evangelism, racial reconciliation, and environmental stewardship. Former Michigan Bishop Wendell Gibbs expressed his admiration, stating, “It’s wonderful to celebrate such an incredible Christian who’s been such an incredible presiding bishop for us.”

Curry’s return after recent health challenges was met with enthusiasm and gratitude from attendees.

The Jesus Movement: Curry’s Transformative Vision

Curry’s tenure introduced the concept of the “Jesus Movement,” emphasizing love and inclusivity. This vision resonated deeply within the Episcopal community and beyond. The Rev. Christopher Slane described Curry’s leadership as “a watershed moment for our church.”

Curry himself reflected on the importance of spiritual roots during the banquet. He emphasized, “Roots are important because if the rootage is there, the fruit will come.” This metaphor encapsulated his approach to building a strong, inclusive church.

Advancing Racial Reconciliation and Social Justice

Under Curry’s leadership, the Episcopal Church intensified its efforts towards racial reconciliation. Notable initiatives included researching the church’s historical role in Indigenous boarding schools. Additionally, the “Sacred Ground” program was launched in 2019, addressing racism’s impact on American society and institutions.

Virginia Assistant Bishop Gayle Harris highlighted the broader impact of Curry’s work. She noted, “We’re part of something bigger than ourselves… All of this is the Jesus Movement when it’s talking about love and not hate.”

Environmental Stewardship and Global Impact

Curry’s tenure saw increased Episcopal involvement in global climate initiatives. The church gained UN observer status, allowing participation in climate conferences. In 2022, the General Convention committed to carbon neutrality in all church facilities by 2030.

These efforts reflect Curry’s holistic approach to spiritual leadership, encompassing social and environmental concerns. His vision extended the church’s influence beyond traditional boundaries.

A Legacy of Love and Inclusivity

The UBE banquet featured a lighthearted mock trial, celebrating Curry’s numerous accomplishments. From his work with Episcopal Relief & Development to his famous royal wedding sermon, Curry’s impact was playfully acknowledged.

Miriam McKenney, Southern Ohio’s dismantling racism director, summed up Curry’s legacy: “He taught us that we must focus on following Jesus, not worshiping Jesus.” This sentiment encapsulates the transformative nature of Curry’s leadership.