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“Now I’ve got one word for you,” the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry of North Carolina, Presiding Bishop-Elect, told the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in his sermon on July 3. “If you don’t remember anything else I say this morning, it’s the first word in the Great Commission: GO!”

Presiding at the Eucharist was Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Following the sermon, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori read a letter of congratulations sent by President Barack Obama to Presiding Bishop-Elect Curry.  (video, text at end)

The sermon is available here: 

The following is the text of the sermon:

 

GO! We are the Jesus Movement

The 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church

The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry

Friday, July 3, 2015

 

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Before I say anything, I must again say thank you to you, Almighty God, for the privilege and the possibility of serving as Presiding Bishop-Elect. I love this Church, I love our Lord, and God is not finished with us yet.

To our Presiding Bishop, who has been an incredible leader—

We go back 15 years. We were ordained bishops in the same year, and this is a woman of God. She has led the people of God with courage, passion—

Now her passion is a little different than mine. I told the bishops, I want to get a little bit of cool from her.

She has been an incredible God-sent and God-inspired leader.

And I so look forward to working together with President Jennings. We’ve known each other off and on over the years and—

I’m older than she is, I’ll say it that way.

I’m probably not.

I really do look forward to working together with her. Leadership is not easy, and she has exercised it here at this convention with grace and clarity. I look forward to working with you, my sister.

And then lastly—I know they didn’t move the service up to 8:30 so I had more time to preach—but I must offer a word of disclaimer before getting into the sermon. I didn’t know what the text was going to be for today; I had no idea that it would be the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” And when I saw what the text was, all I could do was say, “There’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place.”

Matthew ends his Gospel telling the story and compiling the teachings of Jesus with Jesus sending his disciples out into the world with these words: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have taught you.” And remember, I am with you in the first century and in the 21st. “I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”

I am more and more convinced that God came among us in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth to show us the way to be reconciled with the God who deeply and passionately loves each and every one of us, to be reconciled and right with that God and to be reconciled and right with each other as the children of that one God who created us all. He came to show us how to get right and how to get reconciled. He came to show us therefore how to become more than simply the human race – that’s not good enough – came to show us how to be more than a collection of individualized self-interests, came to show us how to become more than a human race.

He came to show us how to become the human family of God. And in that, my friends, is our hope and our salvation, now and unto the day of eternity.

Or to say it another way.

Max Lucado who’s a Christian writer says “God loves you just the way you are, but he [doesn’t intend] to leave you that way.”

Jesus came to change the world and to change us from the nightmare that life can often be to the dream that God has intended from before the earth and world was ever made.

Julia Ward Howe said it this way, during America's Civil War, an apocalyptic moment in the history of this nation if ever there was one:

 

In the beauty of the lilies

Christ was born across the sea.

With a glory in his bosom

That transfigured you and me.

As he died to make [folk] holy

Let us live to set them free

While God is marching on.

Glory, glory hallelujah

God’s truth is marching on.

 

Now I’ve got one word for you. If you don’t remember anything else I say this morning, it’s the first word in the Great Commission: GO!

Don’t do it yet, but go!

And the reason I lift up that word “go” is because we are the Jesus Movement.

Go!

Let me tell you, I began to realize something—I stumbled into it a few months ago— while I was getting ready for Advent and I was reading the Gospel Advent messages for the three-year cycle.

I noticed something I hadn’t seen before.

I noticed that all four of the Gospels preface the ministry of Jesus not only by invoking John the Baptist, but they preface the ministry of Jesus by quoting Isaiah chapter 40: “Prepare the way of the Lord, / make straight [ ] a highway for our God”

And if you look back, go back to Isaiah 40, Isaiah says:

Prepare the way of the Lord,

For every valley shall be exalted,

Every mountain and hill made low,

The crooked straight and the rough places a plain,

And in this the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,

And all flesh shall see it together.

 

The Bible’s trying to tell us something about Jesus. This brother didn’t come into the world to leave it the way he found it. He came to change it until valleys are lifted up and mountains are brought down, until the world is righted the way god dreamed it. The landscape of our reality and lives is changing.

The story behind Isaiah 40—and I won’t get into all the details—is that the people of God found themselves free one day and in slavery the next. This time it was not a slavery of Pharaoh’s Egypt; this time it was the slavery of exile in Babylon.

For indeed in the year 586 BCE, the armies of Babylon began a prodigious March of conquest throughout the Middle East. Eventually they came to Palestine. They razed the countryside, moved toward and fought their way to Jerusalem, breached the walls of the Holy City, entered the city and burned much of it, and killed people. They entered the Sacred Temple that Solomon had built and desecrated it. And then they took many of the leading citizens and they carted them off to Babylon where they made virtual slaves of them.

It was a nightmare.

In Babylon they sang, as old slaves used to sing, “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, a long, long way from home.”

In Babylon one of their poets wrote:

 

By the waters of Babylon,

we sat down and wept,

When we remembered thee, O Zion.

 

When we remembered what it was like to be home.

 

How shall we sing the Lord’s song

In a strange land?

 

And then it happened, almost as swiftly as they had been enslaved by the nightmare of the world, they were set free by the treaty of God.

See the Babylonians who had conquered were conquered themselves. Have you ever played that game King of the Mountain? Somebody’s gonna knock you off.

Or as that great philosopher Frank Sinatra said, “You can be riding high in April and shot down in May.”

And so an emperor named Cyrus came to the throne in Persia. He conquered the Babylonians and as a kind of “in your face” to the Babylonians, everyone the Babylonians had enslaved, Cyrus set free. He issued an edict of religious toleration. We thought pluralism and multiculturalism was new. Cyrus did that a long time ago.

He issued an edict of religious toleration, the Jewish people were set free, they went home, and as they were on their way going home, one of their poets said: Prepare the way of the Lord, for everybody shall be exalted, every mountain made low, the crooked straight.

And we’re going home!

The nightmare has ended, and God has changed the landscape of reality, His dream has broken out!

My friends, all four Gospels preface the story of Jesus by pointing us back to that story in Isaiah. Jesus came to show us the way, to change the landscape of reality, from the nightmare it often is into the dream that God intends and we, my friends, are part of the Jesus movement.

So go!

Now if you still don’t believe me, go see the movie.

Now I’m not commending the movie I’m about to mention because I actually haven’t seen the movie itself, but it’s the movie Son of God. It came out about a year ago if I remember correctly, and it kind of got eclipsed because Noah with Russell Crowe came out at the same time.

Everybody knows that would certainly have told the story accurately.

Anyway, the movie Son of God—again I’m not commending it because I haven’t seen it.

But the trailer is really good.

And in the trailer there’s this one scene, where Hollywood conflated several biblical versions, of the story of Jesus calling Simon Peter.

And Peter is fishing in the Sea of Galilee and Jesus comes along. Peter’s not catching any fish—and you can see he’s frustrated—and Jesus comes along and says something like, “What’re you doing, brother?”

Sometimes when you read the Bible, you gotta read between the lines and imagine what the expressions were like.

When Jesus says, “Well, what are you doing?,” Simon Peter says, “I’m obviously fishing.” And then Jesus says, “Well why don’t you put your net on the other side of the boat?” And you know Peter’s been there all day, and you can assume he probably did know something about Jesus, and knew the brother was a carpenter, not a fisherman.

And therefore, he was probably thinking, you don’t know a thing about this, but what I’ve been doing all day isn’t working—

Which is a parable for the church today, but I’ll leave that alone.

Jesus said if it’s not working for you, put the net on the other side and go where the fish are, don’t wait for them to come to you—

That’s another message for the church.

So anyway, Peter takes the net and casts it on the other side of the boat and then the next scene—now this is in the trailer, I haven’t seen the movie—the next scene is under the water and the camera is looking up.

Now this is clearly Hollywood, and you can see Jesus’ image kind of refracted through the water. You can tell it’s Jesus because he has a beard.

And then he takes his finger, and he touches the water, and the water starts to quiver and shake like the old song, “Wade in the Water.”

“God’s gonna trouble the water.”

That’s Hollywood. That wasn’t in the Bible, but neither was Cecil B. DeMille, and I actually like his version of The Ten Commandments.

So anyway, the water is quivering. And then the next scene goes up on top, and you see Peter, and probably Andrew and John, they’re hauling all of the fish. They’ve got so many, the net is breaking.

Notice they listened to Jesus, and caught more fish than they did when they were doing it on their own.

That’s another lesson, but we’ll talk about that later.

Anyway they’re trying to pull up all these fish, and then Jesus comes along and says, “Peter, now come and follow me.”

Now again, imagine what was going through Peter’s mind: I’m finally catching some fish, and you want me to follow you?

And Jesus says, “Come on and follow me,” and Peter says “Where are we going ?!”

Jesus says, “To Change the world.”

God came among us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth to change the world, to change it from the nightmare it often can be into the dream that God intends. He came to change the world, and we have been baptized into the Triune God and summoned to be disciples and followers of this Jesus and to participate in God’s work, God’s mission of changing and transforming this world. We are the Jesus Movement now.

And his way can change the world. The Diocese of Ohio has popularized a way of capturing Jesus’ summary of the law: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. On these two hang all the law and the prophets.

It’s all about that love.

Duke Ellington said, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.”

It’s all about that love!

The Diocese of Ohio says it this way:  “Love God, love your neighbor and change the world.”

With this I’ll sit down.

I will.

In May of 1961, now-Congressman John Lewis, one of the Freedom Riders, was a young man. He together with other young men and women, black and white, were Freedom Riders who dared to trust the recent Supreme Court decision with regard to interstate transportation, seeking to end and eradicate Jim Crow in our land. They were on a Greyhound bus, 13 of them, headed from Washington through Virginia and North Carolina, through South Carolina and heading onto New Orleans, Louisiana. When they stopped in Rock Hill, South Carolina, just to fill up the tank, go to the bathroom, get something to eat, they were met there by hooded night riders. They were met there by those who would burn a cross for hatred instead of the reason behind the cross: love.

And they were beaten, many of them nearly beaten to death.

John Lewis was beaten not only there but also on that Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. He bears on his body the marks of Jesus, and so do so many others.

Now fast forward, 48 years later. John Lewis is a Congressman from Georgia. One of his aides tells him there’s a man named Edwin Wilson, who wants to meet him.

Mr. Wilson came in, he met John Lewis, and he said “I’m one of the men who beat you and the other Freedom Riders in Rock Hill in 1961, and I’ve come to apologize and to ask you to forgive me.” Lewis forgave him. He said in the book where he told the story, “I accepted the apology of this man, who physically and verbally assaulted, but this is the testimony of the power of love, the power that can overcome hatred."

This is what Jesus taught us to do.

God came among us in the person of Jesus to reconcile us with each other and in so doing to change the world. We’ve got a day of crisis before us in this country.

We’ve got a day of crisis before us in this global community.

We have enormous challenges before us as Church and followers of Jesus.

But as St. Paul said in Romans, “With God before us, who can be against us?”

Or as Bishop Barbara Harris said—

How do you like that, Paul and Barbara Harris?

As Bishop Barbara Harris said, “The God who is behind us is greater than any problem that is ahead of us.”

We are part of the Jesus Movement, and that movement cannot be stopped because we follow a Lord who defeated death and follow a Lord who lives.

We are part of the Jesus Movement, and he has summoned us to make disciples and followers of all nations and transform this world by the power of the Good News, the gospel of Jesus.

And look at us: We’re incredible!

Have you seen all the babies crawling around this convention? They’re all over the place!

Some of us are babies!

Some of us are children. The children are right here. You can’t see them—

Hey, guys! Hey!—They’re waving—How are you?

Some of us are children!

Some of us are young people. They’ve been here.

Some of us are young adults, and they’ve been here, and they’re gonna change the world!

Some of us have got  AARP cards.

I do!

And some of us—help me, Jesus—some of us are Republicans. And some of us are Democrats.

But if you’ve been baptized into the Triune God, you are a disciple of Jesus, and we are all in the Jesus Movement.

What God has brought together, let no one tear asunder.

Some of us are labelled traditionalists—Help me, Jesus!

Ready? And some of us are labelled progressive.

I don’t care whether your label is traditionalist or progressive, if you’ve been baptized into the Triune God, you’re in the Jesus Movement.

See, we are all different. Some of us are black and some of us are white, some of us are brown.

But I like that old song that said:

 

Jesus loves the little children,

All the children of the world.

Red and yellow black and white,

They are precious in his sight.

Jesus love the little children of the world.

 

I don’t care who you are, how the Lord has made you, what the world has to say about you, if you’ve been baptized into Jesus you’re in the Jesus Movement and your God’s.

Therein may be the Gospel message of hope for the world. There’s plenty of good room.

Plenty good room.

Plenty good room for all God’s children.

For in the beauty of the lilies—Christ was the one who taught us this.

 

With a glory in his bosom

That transfigured you and me.

As he died to make [folk] holy

Let us live to set them free

While God is marching on.

 

Glory.

Glory, hallelujah.

God’s truth is marching on.

Now go.

 

 

Letter from President Obama

 

The following is the text of the letter sent from President Barack Obama to Presiding Bishop –Elect Curry.

Dear Bishop Curry,

As you prepare to begin serving as Presiding Bishop, i send warm congratulations.

Since our Nation's earliest days, faith communities across our country have shown us how a willingness to believe and a dedication to care for others can enrich our lives. Your leadership over the years has reflected your powerful vision for a more inclusive tomorrow.  Guided by your commitment to a future of greater compassion and opportunity, I trust you will continue to use your gifts to bring people of all faiths and backgrounds together to realize the America we know is possible.

Again congratulations.  I wish you all the best.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

 

 

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is meeting through July 3 in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah). The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.
 

The video services of the daily Eucharist during General Convention 2015 have been produced by the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

 

 

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

General Convention: http://www.generalconvention.org/

Diocese of Utah: http://www.episcopal-ut.org/

Salt Palace Convention Center: http://www.visitsaltlake.com/salt-palace-convention-center/

 

#‎GC78

 
“Now I’ve got one word for you,” the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry of North Carolina, Presiding Bishop-Elect, told the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in his sermon on July 3. “If you don’t remember anything else I say this morning, it’s...

“There is a single, eternal, and glorious Word whom we worship here today: the Word of God made flesh who dwelt among us, died on the cross of shame, and rose victorious,” the Rev. Colin Mathewson said in his sermon July 2 to the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. “Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection form the basis of a story that has changed each of us in this room.”

 

Presiding at the Eucharist was Bishop Julio Holguin of the Dominican Republic 

Mathewson hails from St. Paul’s Cathedral,San Diego (Diocese of San Diego)

The following is the text of the sermon:

“For a Single, Beautiful Word”

“The general remembers the tiny green sprigs/ men of his village wore in their capes/ to celebrate the birth of a son. He will/ order many, this time, to be killed/ for a single, beautiful word.” Thus concludes the poem “Parsley” by Rita Dove, a piece remembering the so-called Parsley Massacre of 1937.

That was a year of economic struggle for the Dominican Republic as sugar prices plummeted.  Neighboring Haitians struggled too, and thousands crossed the porous border to work the cane fields for American conglomerates.  In response, the Dominican Republic’s dictator, Rafael Trujillo, instituted harsh deportation policies that didn’t seem to be working -- for the demand for cheap labor on the fields remained.  In the face of growing unrest, scapegoats were needed to maintain control.  In September of that year Trujillo welcomed a Nazi delegation and publicly accepted the gift of Hitler’s Mein Kampf.  Trujillo’s dream of whitening the skin of Dominicans to bolster national pride at the expense of their darker-skinned Haitian neighbors had found its justification.

Just weeks later, while drunk at a party, Trujillo ordered the deaths of thousands of Haitian immigrants along the border.  When it wasn’t clear by skin color alone who was of Haitian descent and who was not, Trujillo’s men would ask the terrified detainee to pronounce the word “parsley” in Spanish: perejil.  Haitians could not roll their “r”s, and thus spoke “pelejil.” And so they were destroyed, their bodies dumped into the aptly-named Massacre River.  

To be killed for a single word: a shibboleth, a word designed to distinguish us from them, first employed by the Gileadites at the fords of the Jordan River to murder 42,000 Ephraimites in the Book of Judges.

To be killed -- and remembered -- for a single, beautiful word.

The Rev. Charles Barnes arrived in the Dominican Republic at the age of 42, five years into Trujillo’s reign.  Charles’ church in the capital, Santo Domingo, had been rebuilt in the poor part of town, and his congregation included many struggling West Indian immigrants.  As he came to know their plight, which was related to the blackness of their skin and the fact that many could only speak English, his eyes began to open to the racialized world in which he lived.  This realization enabled him to believe and investigate the rumors of the Parsley massacre, and make the decision to write to his American contacts about Trujillo’s crime.  

I wonder what making that terrible decision was like. How long after Charles had heard of the massacre did he write his first letter?  Did he know that he was scratching out his own death sentence?  Did he agonize over the sealing of the envelope?  It was a Gethsemane moment, I imagine, for Charles Barnes.  He had been invited into Christ’s sacrifice for us, and, picking up his cross, he gave himself up and into its deep love.

To be killed -- and remembered -- for a single, beautiful string of words, words that stood courageously in the face of the powers of this world.  These words were struck down, and the Church resurrects them.

There is a single, eternal, and glorious Word whom we worship here today: the Word of God made flesh who dwelt among us, died on the cross of shame, and rose victorious.  Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection form the basis of a story that has changed each of us in this room.  God is the author of this Christian story, and we are its bearers and its witnesses and its tellers.  We take up its well-worn pages in awe and gratitude as the saints and martyrs have for centuries before us.  Even as we tell this saving tale to the world we are shaped by its grammar of grace and its language of love.  And as its words settle into our bones we can inspire us to act, like Father Barnes, in quite beautiful ways.

During the announcements the Sunday before I left for Salt Lake, I asked the Latino congregation with whom I serve to bless my travels.  The guest preacher said a blessing after everyone gathered around me in the center of the sanctuary. Then he marked the sign of the cross on my forehead, and, surprisingly, asked everyone else to do the same.  One parishioner after another, beginning with the kids, came up to me as I knelt down and looked into my eyes and blessed me with their hands and with their words.  I have never felt so loved by a community.  There is no us and them in God’s gracious story.

I wonder how well Charles Barnes spoke Spanish. Though. I’m not sure it really matters.  His actions, as did the tender blessings offered by my congregation, drew from a deeper language at the heart of the great Christian story to which we owe our lives.  This is the heart of mission.

To be killed for a single, beautiful word, a string of words that comprise the story that has captivated us so -- reminds us that the powers of this world have little patience for truth and scarce use for history that cannot be molded to meet the immediate needs of kings on their thrones.  In the Dominican Republic, nearly 80 years after the Parsley Massacre, the government has begun a new program of Haitian deportations, including even those who have lived their entire lives on Dominican soil.  Once again, language is used to separate and destroy.  And the Dominican Episcopal Church, strong and growing stronger each year, stands as a truth teller in the gap between racial justice and political expediency.  Our memory of the saints and martyrs show us this way.  Indeed, every Sunday the congregants of the Episcopal Cathedral of the Epiphany in Santo Domingo take communion above the tomb of Charles Barnes.

In such moments of remembrance history cannot help but be pulled into the present, where God’s Spirit of truth and love can minister to the still-weeping wounds of violence, and send us out as bearers of the story to tell again and again and again the singular, beautiful, and loving words of God.

 

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is meeting through July 3 in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah). The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

The video services of the daily Eucharist during General Convention 2015 have been produced by the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

 

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

General Convention: http://www.generalconvention.org/

Diocese of Utah: http://www.episcopal-ut.org/

Salt Palace Convention Center: http://www.visitsaltlake.com/salt-palace-convention-center/

 

#‎GC78

“There is a single, eternal, and glorious Word whom we worship here today: the Word of God made flesh who dwelt among us, died on the cross of shame, and rose victorious,” the Rev. Colin Mathewson said in his sermon July 2 to the 78th General...

“I invite you to sing a song that resurrects hope within you,” the Rev. Kimberly Jackson, chaplain and vicar of the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center, Emmaus House Chapel, Atlanta http://absalomjones.org/said in her June 30 sermon to the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

Bishop Wendell Gibbs of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan presided at the Eucharist.  

The following is the text of the sermon:

The Rev. Kimberly Jackson

A few years ago, there was a man scheduled to be executed in the state of Georgia named Troy Davis. Many people across Georgia and indeed, the country, believed that Troy was innocent. And so, people organized to try to halt his execution. My students, young black men and women from Clark Atlanta, Morehouse, and Spelman colleges were among those who literally took to the streets in protest over the fact that our state was willing to kill a potentially innocent man.

My students skipped some classes, but they skipped classes to scale bridges to drop down banners, to sign thousands of petitions, and they chanted themselves hoarse. For many of them, this was the hardest that they’d ever worked, and the loudest that they’d ever protested on behalf of someone who they’d never even met.

Now, I don’t know how often you all get to spend time with college students like the ones we have right here, but if you have - you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say the energy that they brought to the space was electrifying. They believed that they could make a difference. They believed that they could save lives. Their energy was contagious and invigorating… their energy gave me hope.

Despite all of their efforts as many of you know, Troy Davis was executed.

The following day, we gathered at the Episcopal chapel to process and to plan next steps. In the midst of the conversations and the questions about the why and the how, this student, Kareem, a quiet young sophomore, in the midst of the chatter, he raised his hand and he said, “Y’all we need to sing.”

Now, admittedly, I had a nice agenda laid out, and it did not include singing. Like good Anglicans, though, we began with prayer.

But, thankfully, I listened to Kareem and I gave him the floor. He stood and with trembling voice he began singing James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Out of all of the songs that a nineteen-year-old boy from Baltimore could choose from, that young man picked that 100 year-old hymn — and as my southern grandmama used to say, “that chile sang dat song.” And as he sang — as he retold the story of a people who have tread a path through the blood of the slaughtered… as he sang a “song full of the hope that the dark past has taught us,” we all began to feel the hope, we all began to feel God’s spirit revive within us. We started to remember that yes, yes, another world is possible and just maybe, maybe with God’s help we can still make a difference.

——

Sisters and brothers in Christ, our gathering here — this 78th Convention of The Episcopal Church has been incredible! It has been amazing. We’ve seen history made in the Supreme Court’s decisions of last week. We’ve made history here in the election of our Church’s first Black Presiding Bishop! Friends, the energy in this place is exciting, invigorating and I have so much hope for us, for the Church, our nation and indeed world!

Friends, we serve a mighty God! And we, we are so blessed so abundantly blessed, to be a part of God’s Church!

In the midst of all of this excitement and good news, we have chanted and cheered, shed tears of joy, and some of us have sang ourselves hoarse. These feel like happy times in our Church. So in many ways, today’s readings just don’t seem to quite fit.

Remember the gospel reading? John is calling people snakes and warning about the wrath to come!  And then the Epistle has all of this militaristic language about putting on armor so that we can fight. Fight? We’ve been fighting in this Church for decades. We don’t want to fight. These are happy times. But in truth, if we’ve learned anything at all about last week, we know that while many of us were celebrating marriage equality, we were also grieving the racist murders of the Charleston 9.

Now, I know this may make me sound like I’m not an Episcopalian, but friends here’s the truth, “the spiritual forces of evil” that Paul talks about are real. We are wrestling against “rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers in this present darkness.” Those powers, those systems of oppression, and authorities - they have many names! They are named: white supremacy, sexism, trans* and homophobia and racism. We are called to find strength to shield ourselves and others from the fiery darts of classism, environmental injustices, and xenophobia…. We called to reject the notion that some people’s lives are of greater value than others.

So, yes we do celebrate, but we also must fight. For as the young people at Black Lives Matter rallies have reminded us, it is our duty to fight. And I know, I know that I’ve rattled off a long list of -isms and phobias that seem way too big for us to ever defeat. But my friends, I flew out here from Stone Mountain, Georgia with some good news. Friends, the good news is that we do not fight alone.  We fight against the forces of darkness with ourselves together. We fight as one. We fight with the power of the Holy Spirit providing us with strength and wisdom.

With the power of our Almighty God, we will tear down the sexism that plagues this very Church. With the strength that comes from standing in truth and righteousness, we will destroy patriarchy, white supremacy and racism.  We can and we will.

Beloved, I’ll admit this is hardwork. But most holy work is. Most holy work is hard. What I learned from that young man named Kareem, I learned that when doing hard-holy-work, it’s really important to stop to sing. Now, of course, I’m not inviting you to sing just any ole song… No… That young man from Baltimore taught me to sing the songs that remind of us that the Lord is our strength and our refuge - that the Lord is our Light and our Salvation.

So friends, as we prepare to continue in the struggle, I invite you to find your song. I invite you to sing that song that inspires, that enlivens, that gives you the courage to run on. And don’t just sing it in the shower! Sing in the car and hum it the grocery store. Share your song. Share it with friends and family in times of joy and in heartache. Sing the song that reminds you that we are all just leaning on the everlasting Arms.

My friends, I invite you to sing a song that resurrects hope within you.

Amen.

 

 

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is meeting through July 3 in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah). The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

The video services of the daily Eucharist during General Convention 2015 have been produced by the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

 

 

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

General Convention: http://www.generalconvention.org/

Diocese of Utah: http://www.episcopal-ut.org/

Salt Palace Convention Center: http://www.visitsaltlake.com/salt-palace-convention-center/

 

#‎GC78

“I invite you to sing a song that resurrects hope within you,” the Rev. Kimberly Jackson, chaplain and vicar of the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center, Emmaus House Chapel, Atlanta http://absalomjones.org/said in her June 30 sermon to the 78th General...

“There are times when the weight of our historic experience seems like it is unbearable,” Archbishop Vicken Aykazian of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church in America said in his June 29 sermon to the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. “And yet, it is precisely at such moments that Christ can become most powerfully present to us.”

 

Presiding at the Eucharist was Bishop Mike Klusmeyer of West Virginia 

Preacher: Archbishop Vicken Aykazian of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church in America 

The following is the text of the sermon.

 

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian

Before beginning my formal remarks, I would like to say what a privilege it is to be among you today, on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, for this Community Eucharist. I would especially like to thank Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, your Primate and Presiding Bishop, a great church leader, and my dear friend, for generously extending this invitation. 

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.
 

The readings for today—from the Book of Ezekiel, the Psalms, Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy, and the Gospel of John—seem on the surface to have very little in common.  But on reflection, there is a common thread weaving them together.  Each of the readings deals, in its own way, with the idea of “exile” or “displacement.”

The prophet Ezekiel offers an image—which our Lord Jesus would also later take up—of a shepherd gathering in his scattered, lost sheep: seeking them out in the distant countries, returning them to their own land:

“I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away,” Ezekiel says of his urgent mission.  “I will bind up that which was broken, and strengthen that which was sick” (Ez 34:16).

Psalm 87, on the other hand, is a hymn to a lost homeland, sung by those who remember, with pride and nostalgia, the now-distant land of their birth:

“Of Zion it shall be said, ‘This man and that one was born in her,’ …The Lord shall count in the records of the people, that there, this man was born” (Ps 87:5-6).

St. Paul, writing to Timothy, speaks of a different kind of displacement: the exile from human society that comes from his unjust imprisonment.  He knows he will never return to the world he knew; but in one of the most famous passages in all of Scripture, Paul confides to us his faith that his exile is ultimately the doorway to a greater reality:

“I am ready now;” he writes; “the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith.  For the future, a crown of righteousness is waiting, which the Lord shall give me at that day.  And not only to me, but to all who love him” (2 Tm 4:6-8).

Thoughts about exile have held a special meaning for me this year, as a bishop of the Armenian Church.  For it was exactly one hundred years ago that my people became exiles from their historic homeland, in the cataclysm that would eventually be known as the Armenian Genocide.

 

* * *

The Ottoman Turks launched this deadly plan to transform their disintegrating, multi-ethnic empire into a homogeneous state.  Their vision of a new Turkish state covered territory which included the Armenian homeland, so the decision was made to annihilate every Armenian man, woman and child through deportation, starvation and wholesale murder.

The genocide of more than one and a half million Armenians began in 1915.  When it was over, two out of three Armenians living in that country had perished—the victims of a systematic extermination of Turkey’s Armenian population.

In this manner, our people were effectively eliminated from their homeland of nearly three thousand years.  Even the memory of the Armenian nation was intended for obliteration: churches and monasteries were desecrated, and small children—the seed of the future—were snatched from their parents, renamed, and farmed out to be raised as Turks. More than 2600 churches and monasteries were destroyed.  More than 4000 clergy were killed.

Sadly, such brutality set the tone for the 20th century: a tone which would be heard again in the Nazi death camps, in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Rwanda and Darfur.  And it echoes in our own days, in the Middle East, in Syria, in Iraq, in Africa, and other desperate places.

* * *

As you can imagine, these thoughts have weighed heavily on me throughout this year, both as a leader of the Armenian Church, and as one of many exiles from our lost homeland.  There are times when the weight of our historic experience seems like it is unbearable.
 

And yet, it is precisely at such moments that Christ can become most powerfully present to us.  For myself, during this Genocide Centennial year, I felt His presence in the incredible outpouring of support and encouragement Armenians have received, from friends, co-religionists, national governments, and even from people we had never met before.  All of them asserted their solidarity, their understanding, their recognition and appreciation of what the Armenian people endured.

Like you have done today, this outpouring of good will made us realize as never before that we are not alone.  That the burden of pain and exile was not something my people alone have experienced.  Others share that burden with us, in different ways.  And most of all, our Lord shares that burden with all His children.

That is the deep meaning today’s scriptures hold for us.  Through them, we are led to the realization that we are all exiles: scattered sheep, lost in a wilderness.  Displaced souls longing for our true home.  Prisoners awaiting release, knowing that we will be led where we do not want to go.

And yet we are also assured that a crown of glory is awaiting us.  For the truth is that wherever we may live, Christ’s faithful followers—just like their master—have no real home upon this earth.  “Foxes have dens, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head,” said our Lord Jesus (Mt 8:20).  Our true homeland is God’s kingdom.  And human life is the exile’s journey of return.  Along that path we will experience all of life’s drama: its sorrow and pain, but also its joys and beauty.  And all the while, we await the sound of our shepherd’s voice—the Shepherd who has never ceased searching for us, to gather us in, and deliver us home.

I want to conclude by thanking you all for sharing in our journey this year.  Your generosity, your encouragement, and your abiding friendship are great blessings for myself, my church, and for my people.  May God bless you, and may He guide all His children to their true home in His eternal kingdom.  Amen.

 

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is meeting through July 3 in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah). The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

The video services of the daily Eucharist during General Convention 2015 have been produced by the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

 

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

General Convention: http://www.generalconvention.org/

Diocese of Utah: http://www.episcopal-ut.org/

Salt Palace Convention Center: http://www.visitsaltlake.com/salt-palace-convention-center/

 

#‎GC78

“There are times when the weight of our historic experience seems like it is unbearable,” Archbishop Vicken Aykazian of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church in America said in his June 29 sermon to the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal...

“Talitha, cum.  Get up, girl – and boy, and woman, and man – get up and dance!” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told the gathering in her June 28 sermon to the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

The following is the text of the sermon

General Convention
June 28, 2015

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

                “Talitha, cum.”  Get up, girl, you’re not dead yet.  Jesus might just as well be speaking to this church.  This event comes after an aging woman is healed of her hemorrhage when she finds the courage to reach out and touch Jesus’ robe.

                Can we hear these remarkable healing stories as speaking to the body of Christ often called Mother church?  The story is told twice to drive home the point – if we don’t understand the child’s healing, perhaps we will recognize the woman made whole.

                We have lived for too long like that shamed and bleeding woman.  She’s had to endure finger-waggers blaming her for her own illness.  Anger and anxiety over membership loss in this church has frequently prompted finger-waggers to use that image of unstoppable hemorrhage – and it’s been going on for almost exactly 12 years, since we began to tell the truth about who we were and are and are meant to be.  We have consulted plenty of ecclesiastical doctors, without much relief – until we began to find the temerity to reach out and touch Jesus’ robe.  It’s the same Temple-filling hem we heard about on Friday.[1]  The bleeding began to be staunched when we found the courage to reach out and touch the face of God, to see God at work in new contexts, and to have the confidence to claim our experience of the divine presence.

                We don’t know why the woman in the gospel story was bleeding, though we are learning plenty about how women are mistreated and abused all across the world.  Part of our healing as a church has been the willingness to tell the truth about that.  Teaching about human trafficking and rape as a weapon of war has begun to restore bleeding women to wholeness.  Tending the rainbow bruises and wounds from all sorts of violence has brought new life into this body.

                Like too many girls in the world today, the daughter of Jairus is not referred to by her own name.  She is known only in relation to her father, whose name means “God enlightens.”  He pleads her cause, asking Jesus to lay hands on her, so she might be healed and live.  Many have prayed similarly for this Church, and this gathering is a sacramental expression of that plea.  Girls and boys at camp in the Diocese of Dallas get it – they’ve made a video for us, with illustrated prayers in Spanish and English:  “guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it.”  They finish it by saying, “we believe in you!”[2]

                This gospel story begins[3] with Jesus crossing the sea to the other side.  Jesus has just left Gentile country where he’s delivered a man from near death – a man who has been living in the graveyard, possessed by a Legion of demons.  Jesus comes back to the Jewish side of the lake and heals this girl and woman.  The good shepherd is at work healing everywhere – and everyone.  The story cannot be contained, even when he tries to shush people.

                The healing and enlivening of this body have come in the same way, by crossing over into new territory.  We saw it in the aftermath of Katrina, as people from across the spectrum of this body went to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast to muck out houses and build new homes.  We’ve seen daughters rising and growing in Brazil and the Philippines and elsewhere, as relationships change to ones of greater equality – we are now sister churches, interdependent parts of the body, rather than parent and child.   

                We are beginning to see new life in the bleeding one as we confront the violence around us, particularly the war that guns are unleashing on the innocent in these United States.  We will see the body rise as we address the death and violence that continues to be perpetrated here and around the world.  The grassroots peacemakers in the West Bank are finding the courage to reach out and touch the robed image of God in their neighbors; the same thing is happening in war zones where churches are teaching healthy and life-giving images of manhood.[4] 

                Like the unnamed daughter and the shunned and bleeding woman, this church will find new life by crossing old boundaries and exploring new territories.  It may be in small, rural congregations that discover the Spirit already at work around them, like St. James, Cathlamet, WA, who have been supporting the life and healing of children, youth, parents, and domestic violence victims for 30 years.[5]  Their 25 members have leveraged their gifts to touch most of the households in their county.  St. James, Cannon Ball, ND, is rising from the ashes of arson to continue their hope-giving ministry with youth on the Standing Rock reservation.  The Heimkehrer ministry of Christ the King in Frankfurt serves deported German-Americans by bringing hope for new life out of the loss of home and country.[6]

                The spectrum of healing is as wide as the wounding.  Rainbow Village, in the Diocese of Atlanta, just received a large United Thank Offering grant to continue its exceedingly successful ministry with homeless families and children.[7]  The United Thank Offering is 125 years old, but simply reading the list of grants made at this Convention will give you a sense of how the life of this old girl is being revived by work with the least and lost and left out.  The number of lives touched by United Thank Offerings’s work tells us the ministry of that venerable dame is surprisingly fertile!

                There are some other venerable bodies celebrating jubilees this year as well.  Seventy-five years ago, in the midst of war in Europe, the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief emerged in response to the growing need to aid and resettle refugees.  Some 90% of such displaced people are women and children.[8]  Crossing cultural and language boundaries to meet the face of God brings new life to resettled migrants – and to those who welcome strangers.  Episcopal Relief & Development and Episcopal Migration Ministries are the offspring of that work, and they’re showing us the supple vigor and greenness of youth.  Did you see the refugee tent? Did you get to see a virtual reality glimpse of how its inhabitants are finding new life?  Go explore Episcopal Relief & Development’s photo exhibition of vigorous and abundant life emerging from devastation and death and despair!

                Mother Church will continue rising from the dead if we keep crossing into new territories, in our back yards, prisons, city parks, and pockets of despair, here and across the globe.  If we believe, if we’re faithful, we know that the ancient truth remains, and resurrection is always emerging from death.  That healing may cost plenty of blood, sweat, and tears – but it is rooted in the firm belief that God does enlighten, heal, and deliver. 

                Pay no attention to the finger-wagging.  Turn around and look for the hem of Jesus’ robe.  Go searching in new territory.  Reach out and touch what is clothing the image of God.  Give your heart to that search and you will not only find healing but become healing.  Share what you find and you will discover the abundant life for which all God’s children have been created.  And indeed, the Lord will turn weeping into dancing.[9]  Talitha, cum.  Get up, girl – and boy, and woman and  man – get up and dance!

 

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is meeting through July 3 in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah). The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

The video services of the daily Eucharist during General Convention 2015 have been produced by the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

General Convention: http://www.generalconvention.org/

Diocese of Utah: http://www.episcopal-ut.org/

Salt Palace Convention Center: http://www.visitsaltlake.com/salt-palace-convention-center/

 

#‎GC78

“Talitha, cum.  Get up, girl – and boy, and woman, and man – get up and dance!” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told the gathering in her June 28 sermon to the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. The following is the text of...

“This is my story, this is who I am,.” the Rev. Cathlena A. Plummer of Navajoland shared in her sermon to the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church on June 27. 

Bishop Michael Smith of North Dakota presided at the Eucharist.

The following is the text of the sermon:

A Very Good Shepherd

The Rev. Cathlena A. Plummer
 

Let Us Pray…God, today, we ask you to give us clear minds, open spirits and loving hearts. Amen.
 

Can I just say what a relief it is for me to finally sit down to reflect on our gospel today? How appropriate for a former shepherd from the Good Shepherd Mission in Fort Defiance, Arizona to reflect on our very own Good Shepherd, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
 

As a young Navajo girl in the southeastern part of Utah, I grew up helping my mother and father with a herd of sheep that have been our sustenance as well as our extended family members.

Sheep do not have a complicated life but they are creatures of habit.  Within their own flock they have leaders who they follow as they feed and there is a hierarchy that they follow and one of their number cannot usurp that position.

Likewise the sheep know who their master is, their shepherd.  They will in fact come at their master’s voice and anyone else who tries is just wasting their time.

If a stranger attempted to enter their pen the nervousness they would feel would be evident but when the shepherd appeared he could move through their midst as if he were one of them.

I think that this comparison of us to sheep and Christ as the great shepherd is an apt one.  Those who are His spend time in His word and recognize His voice.  His flock wants to follow where He leads them, He can impart comfort and confidence.  Just as a ewe in difficult labor must rely on her shepherd, so must we rely upon Him for help through our travails.  Just as the master over a flock knows what is best for a flock because of the mind that God has given man, so is God’s knowledge of what is best for us.  And just as a predator stalks a flock so are we stalked “as our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Those are just some of the parallels that can be drawn but there are also places that they cannot.  Unlike the sheep in a flock we have a complicated life.  We have other leaders that we follow. Unlike the sheep we have people who have gone against the natural leadership that should be followed.

In the case of the Jews that is what happened with the Pharisees and the high priests.  Those leaders had become thieves and robbers who destroyed by their lack of godly leadership and like the hired hand who doesn’t own the sheep.  No one cared for the people as a true shepherd would his flock.

Fortunately for us Christ is the shepherd.  Though we were sheep that were not of the original sheep pen we have heard and listened to His voice. But…the Bible tells us that there will be another. 

I want to share with you my sheep story.

As a Native American growing up in the Episcopal tradition it has always been a challenge to connect two very opposite views of spirituality, that of Navajo and of Christianity.

In the summer of the year 2008 I believe I was called upon, by the Great Holy Spirit to do the work of an Episcopal priest. My father, the late Rt. Rev. Steven T. Plummer, Sr., had already been gone from our world for three years.

On a particular warm and sunny summer afternoon I was asked by my mother to fetch the herd of sheep that we have been raising for many years. This day they had retreated to the high cliffs thanks to the neighbor’s dogs that have always enjoyed chasing them. Two lambs, only days old, were my deepest worry for retrieving the herd before nightfall.

In the middle of my search I came across a steep bend on the edge of a steep 400 foot drop at the mouth of a canyon ridge. A concave space in the cliff wall I was pressing up against was the only net of safety to keep me from falling over the edge. I drew up my strength to press on so I continued climbing. Just as I was about to turn the corner, a loud voice spoke to me in the air, I could not tell if it was inside my head, or if I was actually hearing it out in the open.  This voice sounded a lot like my father’s voice but it could not have been because my father was gone. The voice continued to speak. This time it was calling me in my Navajo name. This drew my attention. I did not know if I was hallucinating or imagining the whole incident, but I very quietly whispered, “yes?”

Then the voice continued to speak to me in Navajo telling me, “as my child I am very pleased with you and I need your help with my people for they are in trouble.” Without really analyzing the situation, I pictured in my head a meeting that had happened the week before where everyone was bickering at each other about whether or not they should have more meetings because the Bishop was to visit the following month to go over financial documents in the parish. In my memory it was clear that there were voices that were not being heard, which at this meeting, included the presence of the Navajo laity. As soon as the thought disappeared from my mind the voice spoke again and said in Navajo, “you know what I speak of.”

I immediately knelt down and wept. I had not heard my father’s voice in so long, so I wondered whether or not I was going insane or not. I finally stood up to continue on.  Just as I stepped forward a rush of little hooves ran passed me very quickly, and the rest of the herd followed. I was grateful I did not have to go any further up the canyon, and I waited ten paces back from the herd to make sure everyone had been accounted for.

Navajo spirituality, as known to a medicine man in our tribe, is described as a soft gentle breeze. This is exactly what I felt when I was hearing the voice. Later on, when I would tell this story to my Commission On Ministry members, everyone agreed that the voice was probably my father and that it was God’s disguise to get me to listen to him in a way that I could.

I remember that day vividly, almost as vividly as I remember the day my father died, so it was truly a better memory to have. From that day forward whenever I am in doubt of the presence of my father or of God, a gentle voice saying my Navajo name will come and appear and I realize then that I am right where I am supposed to be.        

I desire to help my people understand that Christianity and Navajo traditions are hand in hand and connect in so many ways than one. Our church has an understanding of this harmony and we call it “Hooghan Learning Circle.” 

Hooghan Learning Circle first of all represents the shared walk along the Sacred Way, in which we as a people are to learn to relate to the wisdom and traditions of our own Holy People and Jesus in harmony and beauty. It is an on-going development of ministry formation process that encourages and supports the emergence and carrying of the wisdom of the two spiritual traditions, Diné and Christianity for all who seek this common faith. My father implemented this ministry development process and I intend to honor his work with Hooghan Learning Circle with the help of my own theological education formation.

This is my story, this is who I am, I believe in both faith traditions.  AMEN

 

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is meeting through July 3 in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah). The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

The video services of the daily Eucharist during General Convention 2015 have been produced by the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

 

Watch the Eucharist on the Media Hub here

 

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

General Convention: http://www.generalconvention.org/

Diocese of Utah: http://www.episcopal-ut.org/

Salt Palace Convention Center: http://www.visitsaltlake.com/salt-palace-convention-center/

 

#‎GC78

 

“This is my story, this is who I am,.” the Rev. Cathlena A. Plummer of Navajoland shared in her sermon to the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church on June 27.  Bishop Michael Smith of North Dakota presided at the Eucharist. The following...

    

The Rt. Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, was elected the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church on the first ballot on June 27.

Bishop Curry, 62, is the first African-American to be elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

The election occurred during the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

Of the 174 votes tallied, Bishop Curry received 121 (89 needed to elect).

Following his election by the House of Bishops, Bishop Curry’s election was overwhelmingly confirmed by the House of Deputies, 800 for, 12 against.

Meet Presiding Bishop-Elect Curry

Curry was ordained Bishop of North Carolina on June 17, 2000.

His experience includes:

1988-2000: Rector, St. James' Episcopal Church, Baltimore, Maryland

1982-1988: Rector, St. Simon of Cyrene Episcopal Church, Lincoln Heights, Ohio

1982-1988: Chaplain, Bethany School

1978-1982: Rector, St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Winston Salem, North Carolina

He has served on a number of Episcopal Church Committees, a Commissions, Agencies, and Boards:

  • Chair, Board of Directors, Episcopal Relief and Development (current)
  • Board of Trustees, Saint Augustine's University (current)
  • North Carolina Council of Churches (current)
  • Moral Monday movement (current)
  • Chair, Advisory Committee, Office of Black Ministries (current)
  • Bishop Visitor, Community of the Transfiguration (current)
  • TREC/Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church
  • General Convention Committees: Evangelism, Global Mission
  • Standing Commission on World Mission
  • Union of Black Episcopalians
  • Institute of Christian and Black Studies of Baltimore
  • Ecumenical Clergy on the Square, Revival and Citizens on Patrol (Baltimore)
  • Jubilee Ministry, St. James' Afterschool Academy, Baltimore
  • Board, Episcopal Social Ministries, Diocese of Maryland
  • Chair and Co-Chair, convention Planning Team, Diocese of Maryland
  • Commission on Ministry, Dioceses of Maryland, Southern Ohio and North Carolina
  • General Board of Examining Chaplains
  • Board and Faculty, College of Preachers
  • Coordinator, The Racism Steering Committee, Diocese of Southern Ohio
  • Board, Winston-Salem Urban League

He holds a Bachelors of Arts, with High Honors from Hobart and William Smith College; a Masters of Divinity from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale; Continuing Studies at The College of Preachers, Princeton Theological Seminary, Wake Forest University, The Ecumenical Institute of St. Mary's Seminary and Institute of Jewish Christian Studies; and D.D., honors causa, from Sewanee The University of the South,  Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, Virginia Theological Seminary, and The Episcopal Divinity School

An author, his publications include:

  • Songs My Grandmother Sang (Morehouse Publishing, Spring 2015)
  • Crazy Christians: a Call to Follow Jesus (Morehouse Publishing, 2013)
  • "Some Strange Things Are Happening in Charlotte", opinion, (The Huffington Post, Sept. 4, 2012)
  • "Stay in the City", sermon (The African American Pulpit, Judson Press, 1999 issue)
  • "Abyssinian Annals," a weekly column( The Baltimore Times)
  • Essay ("Joy", Forward Movement, 1995)
  • Article Series (Episcopal Life, September 1993- May 1994)
  • "Servant Woman" and "There's Power in the Word " , sermons ( Sermons that Work 11, Forward Movement Publications)

Married to Sharon, they are the parents of two adult children.

 

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is meeting through July 3 in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah). The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

 

 

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/episcopalian

Twitter: www.twitter.com/iamepiscopalian

  

     The Rt. Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, was elected the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church on the first ballot on June 27. Bishop Curry, 62, is the first African-American to be elected...

The United Thank Offering of The Episcopal Church awarded 55 grants for a total of $1,558,006.85 for the mission and ministry of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. The announcement was made by Samuel McDonald, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Mission for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, during the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, meeting June 25- July 3 in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah).

The United Thank Offering is a ministry to promote thankfulness and mission in the whole Church. Known worldwide as UTO, the United Thank Offering grants are awarded for projects that address human needs and help alleviate poverty, both domestically and internationally in The Episcopal Church.

The 2015 grants were awarded to projects in
46 dioceses, which included 34 dioceses located in the United States, five non-domestic dioceses, five companion dioceses, and two grants to the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society: one each for missionaries serving internationally and Young Adult Service Corps (YASC).

Also, in honor of the 125th Anniversary of the United Thank Offering, nine special grants were awarded to young adults (ages 21-30), one in each Episcopal Church Province. (see info here)   

“In celebration of the 125th anniversary of the United Thank Offering, the annual grants and the young adult grants are sound steps in striving for God’s vision and are seeking to change lives in a new way by a variety of actions,” commented Peg Cooper of Missouri, United Thank Offering board member.  

Recently, the Rev. Heather Melton, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s United Thank Offering Missioner, reported that the United Thank Offering experienced a record year of generosity, marking a 2.14% increase for 2014-2015 over the previous year. She noted that the United Thank Offering was able to fund 35% of requests in 2014;  38 dioceses of The Episcopal Church increased their Ingathering amounts in the past year; six of the nine Provinces increased their overall Ingathering amounts; and Anglican Communion donations also increased over last year.

The focus for the 2015 grants was the Fourth Anglican Mark of Mission—to seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation. The focus of the young adult grant was to provide seed money for a new project that was based on any of the Five Marks of Mission.

Recipients

  • Diocese of Alabama - Christ Church Cafe, Christ Episcopal Church, Fairfield, AL:  $36,687.46
  • Diocese of Alaska - Good Grief – Working Together to Overcome Grief, Formalized relationship with Diocese of Navajoland:  $29,750.00
  • Diocese of Albany - Support Group Beginnings and One in 4 Awareness Healing a Woman’s Soul, Inc., Capital District Area, Albany, NY:  $13,650.00
  • Diocese of Atlanta - Early Childhood Program at Rainbow Village Rainbow Village, Inc., Diocesan Program:  $75,000.00
  • Diocese of California - Stairway to Greater Learning, Holy Trinity/La Santisima Trinidad Episcopal Church, Richmond, CA:  $54,398.00
  • Diocese of Central Florida - Itolwa Water Well Project, Companion Diocese of Kondoa, Itolwa, Tanzania:  $46,464.00
  • Diocese of Chicago - Workforce Development Program, Lawrence Hall Youth Services; Joint Venture with Episcopal Charities, Chicago, IL:  $ 9,820.00
  • Diocese of Delhi - Province Haryana, Nurses Hostel, Philadelphia Hospital, Ambula City, North India:  $30,000.00
  • Diocese of East Tennessee - Interfaith Congregation Organizing, FISH Hospitality Pantries; Episcopal Led Interfaith Community Organization, Knoxville, TN:  $20,000,00
  • Diocese of Ecuador – Litoral - Reconstruction of housing for the missionary and his family in the Episcopal Church of San Pablo Quevedo, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Canton Quevedo, Los Rios Province, Ecuador:  $62,000.00
  • Diocese of El Camino Real - Expansion of Los Puentecitos/Little Bridges Bilingual Preschool, St. Lukes’s Episcopal Church, Hollister, CA:  $75,000.00
  • The Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe - Navigating New Life, a project of the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center (JNRC), St. Paul’s Within the Walls Episcopal Church, Rome, Italy:  $22,800.00
  • Diocese of Fond du Lac - Organizing for Justice in North Central Wisconsin, John the Baptist Episcopal Church, Wausau, WI:  $34,000.00
  • Diocese of Georgia - The Community of St. Joseph, The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, Savannah, GA:  $19,660.00
  • Diocese of Idaho - The House Next Door: Mentor, Grace Episcopal Church, Nampa, ID:  $20,000.00
  • Diocese of Indianapolis - Swords to Plow Shares Community Farm, St. Alban's Episcopal Church, Indianapolis, IN:  $16,151,77
  • Diocese of Iowa - Luyengo Farm for Food Equity and Self-Determination, Companion Diocese of Swaziland, Luyengo, Kingdom of Swaziland:  $40,000.00
  • Diocese of Jerusalem - Renovating and Equipping St. Luke's Hospital Intensive Therapy Units for Improved Quality Services, The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, Nablus, Palestine:  $136,750.00
  • Diocese of Lexington - Hazard Episcopal Ministries, St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Hazard, KY:  $24,000.00
  • Diocese of Liberia - Portable Science Laboratory Project, Monrovia, Liberia:  $40,040.00
  • Diocese of Louisiana - A Safe Place: Ensuring Fire Safety for Our Children, St. Anna’s Episcopal Church, New Orleans, LA:  $16,260.00
  • Diocese of Michigan - Kids in the Kitchen, All Saints' Episcopal Church, Pontiac, MI:  $32,430.00
  • Diocese of Missouri - St. Stephen's Industrial Kitchen - St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Ferguson, MO:  $31, 804.00
  • Diocese of Montana - "Keeping the Feast:"  A Nutrition Education Program, Camp Marshall, Polson, MT:  $8,000.00
  • Navajoland Area Mission - Blue Corn Meal Project, St. Christopher’s Mission and Good Shepherd Mission Bluff, UT and Fort Defiance, AZ:  $97,400.00
  • Diocese of Nebraska - Friends of Tamar: A Ministry of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Omaha, NE:  $33,300.00
  • Diocese of Nevada - Community Immigrant Legal Services Project, Christ Church Episcopal, Las Vegas, NV:  $25,000.00
  • Diocese of Newark - Vehicle Replacement for Bishop of Liberia, Companion Diocese of Liberia, Monrovia, Liberia:  $48,000.00
  • Diocese of North Carolina - St. Cyprian's Afterschool Literacy Center, St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church, Oxford, NC:  $ 5,000.00
  • Diocese of North Dakota - Tiny Houses Building Life Capacity, St. James’ Episcopal Church, Cannon Ball, ND:  $43,500.00
  • Diocese of Northern Indiana - Camp New Happenings, Camp Alexander Mack, Milford, IN:  $ 5,360.00
  • Diocese of Olympia - Sports for Peace, Companion Diocese of Aweil, South Sudan:  $15,000.00
  • Diocese of Oregon - St. Michael/ San Miguel Playground Equipment, St. Michael/San Miguel Episcopal Church, Newberg, OR:  $27,813.46
  • Diocese of Pennsylvania - The Darby Project: Collaboration between the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, Episcopal Community Services and the leadership of Darby Borough, Darby Borough, PA:  $12,050.00
  • Diocese of Rorya, Province of Tanzania - Community Vehicle, Rorya District, Tanzania:  $28,200.00
  • Diocese of South Dakota - The Dakota Territory Human Trafficking Project, Formalized relationship with Diocese of North Dakota:  $54,800.00
  • Diocese of Southwest Virginia - New Music Program at St. Paul’s, Martinsville, VA, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Martinsville, VA:  $3,795.00
  • Diocese of Spain, Extra-provincial jurisdiction - Pilgrim Center for the Anglican Communion in Pontevedra, Spain, Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church/ Iglesia Española Reformada Episcopal, Pontevedra, Spain:  $60,000.00
  • Diocese of Utah - Ministry through Journey of Hope, Journey of Hope, Inc., Salt Lake City, UT:  $25,000.00
  • Diocese of Virginia - St .Peter’s Episcopal Church Community Kitchen Upgrade, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Port Royal, VA:  $14,996.16
  • Diocese of Virginia - Vehicle for the Rt. Rev. Wilson Kamani, Diocese of lbba, South Sudan, Companion Diocese of  Ibbba, Ibba, South Sudan:  $46,290.00
  • Diocese of West Tennessee - Friends of Thistle Farms, Calvary Episcopal Church and Episcopal Church of the Annunciation, Memphis, TN and Cordova, TN:  $22,591.00
  • Diocese of Western Massachusetts - Mission de Gracia /Mission of Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Holyoke, MA:  $30,000.00
  • Diocese of Western Michigan - Durable Medical Goods Lending Pantry, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Cadillac, MI:  $35,800.00
  • Episcopal Church Department of Mission, The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society - To provide monetary gifts for discretionary use of women and men who serve overseas (outside the United States) as Episcopal Missionary Personnel; this also includes individuals in religious orders outside the United States; these gifts are to be sent to the recipients at the same time as all other United Thank Offering grant awards:  $40,000.00
  • Episcopal Church Department of Mission, The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society - To provide for the continuation of the Julia Chester Emery, Young Adult Service Corps/United Thank Offering intern:  $35,000.00

 

The United Thank Offering award funds are derived from the Ingatherings/funds/contributions received through offerings from the well-known and easily recognizable UTO Blue Box.

 

 

 

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The United Thank Offering of The Episcopal Church awarded 55 grants for a total of $1,558,006.85 for the mission and ministry of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. The announcement was made by Samuel McDonald, Deputy Chief Operating...

“We don’t seek solutions whose only virtues are that they save us time, save us energy and save us money,” the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies said in her sermon to the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church on June 26.  “We seek solutions that serve the kingdom.”

The following is the text of the sermon:

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
78th General Convention
June 26, 2015

 

In the Name of our Living, Loving, and Magnificent God!  Amen.
 

Our first two readings today speak of visions. They paint frightening pictures, even for those of us who look at them from a distance of almost two thousand years, in one instance, and more in the other. Isaiah gives us six winged creatures tending a sovereign the hem of whose garment—just the hem—fills a temple. John of Patmos tops that with his four living creatures whom an earlier passage tells us looked like a lion, an ox, an eagle and a human being, only with lots of wings. Which were covered with eyes.

Visions are a kind of language. They are the way writers help us glimpse truths that are beyond what any of us has seen or even imagined. Christians have resorted to visions throughout our history, and in its way, the language of vision is an admission that our minds can neither comprehend nor communicate the fullness of God’s majesty and mercy.

If you listen to the gospel closely—and you kind of have to listen to this Gospel closely—you will see that even Jesus has a hard time using language to speak about the nature of God. The sentences keep twisting back on each other: I am in you, you are in me, they are in us. Put these sentences in front of someone who hasn’t been listening to them their whole life and they’d have a hard time telling you what they mean.

His language is bursting at the seams. In a metaphor that probably has fresh relevance for you after your journey to Salt Lake City, the suitcase of human comprehension is not big enough for the concepts Jesus needs to stuff into it in this passage.

Throughout Christian history, mystics and visionaries, like John of Patmos, Hildegard of Bingen, and Julian of Norwich, have resorted to forbidding and ecstatic language to tell us about divine experiences that ordinary prose just can’t contain.

And yet, here is the thing about visions, as Joseph and Daniel and Ezekiel knew:  they have to be interpreted; they have to be rendered sensible to the people who credit their authenticity but who aren’t seeing them themselves.

It’s appropriate then, that these readings celebrate the feast of Isabel Florence Hapgood. She was among other things, a translator. We celebrate her for the 11-year project of translating the Service Book of the Holy-Orthodox Catholic Church into English. But she also gave readers of the English language Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, a magnificent gift, although I expect my 16-year-old technology assistant, who has to write a paper on “Anna Karenina” by the middle of next month, doesn’t think so.

I’d like to think that each of us is involved every day in the act of translation, of living and speaking in ways that try to put an every day wardrobe on phenomenal beings with wings covered with eyes.

As Christians, it is our job to take the ecstatic, frightening, demanding dreams of our great prophets and seers, and make them sensible to the people around us.  It is our task to speak and act in ways that make it obvious what we believe and why we believe it. It is our task to give people some sense of the incredible power of the magnificent, living God whom we worship.

It may seem that there are few human enterprises further from visions of spectacular garments with hems that fill a temple of creatures with eyes on their wings than General Convention. I am not a digital native. I was born well before computers and online culture transformed the world and transformed the church, but I know what a mashup is and I’ve wondered what would happen if John of Patmos ran headlong into the House of Deputies. I think it might sound something like this: I saw the temple filled with deputies in shimmering raiment and a creature with six arms and a voting device in each one said, “I rise to a point of personal privilege during which I would also like to amend the amendment on the previous motion and immediately end debate and refer the resolution back to the parallel committee for further consideration.” And the Lamb, in a voice that caused all to tremble said, “Sit down deputy. You are out of order.”

But listen: ours is an incarnate faith. We believe that the Word takes flesh. Our faith is transformative. We believe that the Word having becomes flesh redeems the world. We do not believe in untethered visions, but we also don’t believe in reality untethered from vision.          

We don’t seek solutions whose only virtues are that they save us time, save us energy and save us money. We seek solutions that serve the kingdom.

The work of disciples is spinning the golden threads that tie the ecstatic vision of a loving, powerful God to your life, to mine and to the life of the church on earth. We weave these threads when we study scripture to understand the source of visions, when we delve into our history to learn about mystics and seers and the societies that produce them; when we act in ways that make it obvious that we are inspired by a God of breathtaking power and love, when we tend the sick, feed the hungry and advocate for the voiceless.

And we weave those threads between holy vision and ordinary life when we gather to order our common life, to discern what God is calling us to do and how God is calling us to do it. It isn’t easy to spin these threads, and it isn’t necessarily exciting every minute. Reading resolutions, testifying in hearings, finding yourself frustrated because people are disagreeable, or conversely, finding yourself frustrated because people avoid conflict, is all part of bringing God’s vision to rest in the church. I ask you to count it all as blessing, to understand that the labor required to see and then serve a shared vision is holy work.

We will fall short. Visions exist because the God we serve can neither be fully understood nor perfectly served. And yet, and yet—to invoke another seer and another vision—if we wrestle this angel, it will bless us.

Amen.

 

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is meeting through July 3 in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah). The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

The video services of the daily Eucharist during General Convention 2015 have been produced by the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

Watch on the Media Hub here

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

General Convention: http://www.generalconvention.org/

Diocese of Utah: http://www.episcopal-ut.org/

Salt Palace Convention Center: http://www.visitsaltlake.com/salt-palace-convention-center/

 

#‎GC78

“We don’t seek solutions whose only virtues are that they save us time, save us energy and save us money,” the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies said in her sermon to the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church on...

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued this statement following today’s Supreme Court ruling:

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.  [1Corinthians 13:4-8]

I rejoice that the Supreme Court has opened the way for the love of two people to be recognized by all the states of this Union, and that the Court has recognized that it is this enduring, humble love that extends beyond the grave that is to be treasured by society wherever it exists.  Our society will be enriched by the public recognition of such enduring faithful love in families headed by two men or two women as well as by a woman and a man.  The children of this land will be stronger when they grow up in families that cannot be unmade by prejudice or discrimination.  May love endure and flourish wherever it is to be found.

 

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Episcopal Church

 

 

 

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Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued this statement following today’s Supreme Court ruling: Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it...