The Episcopal Church of the future he hoped would be catholic in doctrine, evangelistic in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, soaked in the Bible, and animated by hearts converted by faith through grace to seek justice and peace for all people.
The era of litigation and ideological litmus tests may have come to an end for the Episcopal Church with the election of the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, Bishop of North Carolina, as 27th Presiding Bishop.
While Bishop Curry affirmed his support for his predecessor, the Episcopal Church of the future he hoped would be catholic in doctrine, evangelistic in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, soaked in the Bible, and animated by hearts converted by faith through grace to seek justice and peace for all people.
At a press conference held on 27 June 2015 shortly after his election, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori introduced Bishop Curry to the media. She noted that they had been members of the same “class” of bishops consecrated in 2000, and knew him well. She added that his election was noteworthy not only because he was the first African-American Presiding, but also because he was the first to be elected on the first ballot.
Bishop Curry thanked the presiding bishop for her remarks, and said he “hoped to build” upon her legacy as presiding bishop. He said the Episcopal Church “has something to offer in the public square” to America at this moment in history. It must be a “Gospel witness” and an agent for “social justice.”
The presiding bishop-elect developed this theme in his answer to the first question posed by the press. “We should seek to address issues of poverty, racism” and social injustice across the country he said. However, Bishop Curry said social activism arises in the response to the call made upon our lives by faith in Jesus Christ.
The Episcopal Church should “seek to be a conversation partner with those dealing with poverty and racism,” he said, then adding, “let me take it further. It was the voice of the Christian community in Charleston that changed the narrative, from hatefulness to forgiveness.” What the Episcopal Church had to offer to a suffering world was the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which would convict the hearts of its hearers — and “build God’s dream, rather than our own nightmares.”
Asked to repudiate to Anglican Ink’s headline describing him as “evangelical”, Bishop Curry declined to be identified with any of the historic church parties — high church/low church, liberal/progressive, Anglo-Catholic or Evangelical. He said: “Well you could say that Michael Curry was a follower of Jesus Christ.”
“I am a follower of Jesus,” he told ENS. “I am serious in saying” that. “The way of Jesus is the way of God’s love. It sets us free”
He added he was “not perfect”, a sinner, whom he implied had been saved the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross and the free grace given to him.
Asked what concrete steps he would take to bring people together across the spectrum of the Episcopal Church that was respectful to all, he responded he would “try to let people know I really do believe in love.” The Episcopal Church “will be a house of prayer,” he said. “We must strive for that,” adding in North Carolina he had sought to foster an environment where “liberal and traditional people come together.”
“I ask if you believe in Jesus, and that is good enough for me,” he said. “We will deal with each other in love,” and he hoped the “spirit of God will create space” within the church for all.
Asked by journalist David Virtue if he repudiated the litigation strategy of Bishop Jefferts Schori, he responded “I can tell you I am a supporter of our presiding bishop and our leadership.”
However, he added “I don’t know enough to comment” on the litigation. The presiding bishop-elect stated he was “committed to reconciliation” within the Episcopal Church and with the GAFCON fellowship. “I will be an instruct of God’s reconciliation any way I can,” Bishop Curry said.
The Episcopal Church he hoped would arise in the coming years was “truly catholic in doctrine and truly catholic in representing the faces of all people” in America.