SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Bishop Michael Curry of the Diocese of North Carolina made history when he was chosen as the Episcopal Church’s 27th presiding bishop at its general convention held in late June.
Curry became the first African-American bishop for the church organization.
Episcopal News Service reported that the 62-year-old cleric was elected out of a field of four nominees, having garnered 121 of the 174 votes cast. It was accomplished on the first ballot. Only 89 votes were needed to win.
His confirmation was made by the House of Deputies an hour after the vote, complying with church cannon, by an 800 to 12 landslide.
The gathering welcomed him with “sustained applause” when the current Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Curry entered the House after the confirmation. Some even stood on their chairs, the news service said.
Curry spoke and shared, “It really is a blessing and privilege to serve our church and to serve our Lord in this way. I treasure this church, this house, the House of Bishops, all of us. We are God’s children.”
He will take on the nine-year term on Nov. 1 at which time a liturgy marking Curry’s tenure as presiding bishop and primate will take place at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
Curry was born in Chicago, Ill. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., and a Master of Divinity from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University. He was ordained to the diaconate in 1978 and at the end of that year became rector at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Winston-Salem, N.C. He has taken an outspoken stand on social justice issues, immigration policy and marriage equality and spoke out against Amendment One in 2012.
The Winston-Salem Journal reported that the church’s convention would vote on “eliminating gender-specific language from church laws on marriage so religious weddings can also be performed for same-sex couples” as qnotes went to press with its print edition. The newspaper added that its clergy could make the decision to not perform ceremonies. Currently, individual bishops make decisions on whether its priests may conduct gay marriages, it added.
Subsequently, the Associated Press reported that the church’s convention did vote overwhelmingly on July 1 to allow same-sex religious marriages throughout its denomination. “The new law eliminates gender-specific language on marriage so same-sex couples could have religious weddings. Instead of ‘husband’ and ‘wife,’ for example, the new church law will refer to ‘the couple.’ Clergy can decline to perform the ceremonies,” AP shared.
ENS reported that Integrity, the denomination’s LGBT outreach, celebrated its eucharist for the first time in the convention’s main worship space. LGBT church community members and and their supporters celebrated with somewhere between 1,200 and 1,500 worshippers. The service “celebrated the pioneers and victories of the past 40 years while looking ahead to the work yet to be tackled,” ENS added.
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