Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

Mark 12:31: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Leviticus 19:34: “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

Numbers 15:15:  One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, an ordinance for ever in your generations: as ye are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord.”

Deuteronomy 10:19: “Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

 

On Saturday, the Washington National Cathedral hosted the National Prayer Service for the President, Vice-President, their families, and those who will be taking on the grave responsibility nominated to cabinet posts. Religious leaders from many traditions joined their voices in prayer and song, and while we shared our most sacred scriptures, we prayed for wisdom for all those who serve our nation. I affirm those prayers, and ask that our leaders listen to the powerful call to serve those who are most vulnerable in continuing to welcome refugees from around the world.

As Christians, we are asked to pray: for our leaders, for our loved ones, for our enemies, and for those who are suffering. Our work does not end with prayer: we also offer assistance to those who are fleeing persecution. We find homes for those who have been forced out of their homes. We feed those who are hungry. The refugees who enter the United States do so after experiencing violence and persecution undeserved of any human being, and they come to the U.S. with hopes to build new lives. 

Refugee resettlement is a form of ministry, and one that we, and many other churches and faith-based organizations, cherish. The work of Episcopal Migration Ministries is God’s work, and we show the face of God through the care and compassion in that work. I ask President Trump to continue the powerful work of our refugee resettlement program without interruption, recognizing the long wait and screening process that means refugees wait months and sometimes years to enter the country. We ask that we continue to accept as many refugees as we have in the past, recognizing the need is greater than ever. We ask that refugees from all countries receive consideration to come to the U.S. and not to ban those who come from countries most in need of our assistance.

Our Book of Common Prayer asks for God to “look with compassion on the whole human family;” to “break down the walls that separate us and unite us in bonds of love.” On Saturday, we prayed for God our Father to look with compassion upon the widowed and orphans, outcasts and refugees, prisoners, and all who are in danger. We pray to love one another as God loves us. I echo that prayer now, and ask that we may work together to build a more grace and compassion-filled world. 

Mark 12:31: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Leviticus 19:34: “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” Numbers 15:15:  One

The ocean-facing courtyard of Cape Coast Slave Castle. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will lead a weeklong Episcopal Relief & Development pilgrimage focused on reconciliation to Ghana Jan. 20-28, visiting cities and sites critical to understanding the trans-Atlantic slave trade and Episcopal Relief & Development partners and programs working to improve Ghanaians’ lives.

“At General Convention in 2015, we promised to address systemic, structural racism as a church. One of the first steps is learning the stories: how our church supported and prospered because of slavery and oppression, how black people have related to one another, how Ghanaian communities bear huge gifts and wisdom into the world today. That’s what this pilgrimage is all about,” said the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and creation.

An estimated 12 to 25 million Africans passed through Ghana’s ports to be sold as slaves in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. Pilgrims will visit Cape Coast Castle, the W.E.B. DuBois Center, Elmina Castle and Pikworo Slave Camp for a historical perspective on the slave trade. They will also have an opportunity to meet Episcopal Relief & Development’s partners, including the Anglican Diocesan Development and Relief Organization in the Anglican Diocese of Tamale, and to witness its asset-based community development work.

“Episcopal Relief & Development is honored that the presiding bishop is leading this pilgrimage of brother and sister bishops along with current and former members of our board,” said Rob Radtke, president of Episcopal Relief & Development. “Our Ghanaian church partners and my colleagues look forward to sharing our asset-based community development work with the pilgrims in the northern part of the country, and later traveling to the Cape Coast to pray and reflect on the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the work of reconciliation required of all of us as followers of Jesus.”

Britain abolished the slave trade in 1807; the U.S. President Thomas Jefferson signed a law prohibiting the importation of slaves. The Episcopal Church and individual Episcopalians benefited from the slave trade. The 75th General Convention sought to address the church’s role in slavery.

Pilgrims will share photos, thoughts and videos of on a designated Facebook page, where Episcopalians and others can follow their journey. Episcopal News Service coverage and a video will follow the pilgrimage.

“We hope people everywhere will pray and join our reconciliation witness on Facebook. Most of us will never make the trip to Ghana. We’ll never see the camps where enslaved Africans were herded before being torn from the Mother Land, or see the Anglican church that rises like a blessing behind the main slave castle. So, we will go, and we will reflect and film and return to help our whole church to keep reckoning and changing,” said Spellers.

— Lynette Wilson in an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service.

The ocean-facing courtyard of Cape Coast Slave Castle. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service [Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will lead a weeklong Episcopal Relief & Development pilgrimage focused on

Allow me to talk about the vision of the Jesus Movement on the practical  churchwide level and what that really begins to look like and how embracing that has obvious implications for budget and structure and engagement.

This is the result of work by the officers and canons who have been working together, and by the way, we meet together monthly to think on a broader strategic level, and it’s one way to unite or bring together every aspect of the DFMS (Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society).  We just started that and it really does seem to be an effective way to make sure that we’re all in touch with each other on that broader level. That decision was an outgrowth of the work that we did with the Human Synergistics folk that led to this diagram. The intent here was to really flesh out what does it mean to be a church that embodies the Way of Jesus of Nazareth in our common life together as a whole church. It’s really clear that the actual life of the church gets lived in our congregations, our lay and clergy people, it is lived as people of God as Verna Dozier used to say, “The real action happens when the dismissal get said, ‘Go into the world’”, that’s when the action happens.

And so how do we on a churchwide level actually enable that to happen throughout the entire church?  And this is one way to begin to look at that.  Let me just walk you through.  We looked at the Jesus Movement, began to think “OK, now let’s put some more language on that so that it just doesn’t become a rhetorical frame, so that it begins to take on life.”  It took us a while to get there but then we finally realized that what we’re talking about is a community of people who are committed by their baptism, as baptized disciples of Jesus Christ, to live the way of Jesus.

And when you look at the light of Jesus of Nazareth, there are a lot of things that you would expect.  This brother was and is incredibly loving, and that love liberates folk, and liberation gives life to folk.  Liberated people can live the life that God has dreamed from the beginning.  Loving, liberating, life-giving.

It was in the parable this morning, the lawyer comes to Jesus, he says love God, love your neighbor and all that stuff.  And Jesus says to him do this and you will live. That this Jesus is loving, liberating, life-giving, and his way is loving, liberating and live-giving, you see that up at the top, the movement is about a community of people baptized and committed to living that and helping this world to reflect that.  It doesn’t even have to make everybody Episcopalian though that would be nice, it wouldn’t be bad, but that is not the point of it. The point of it is to transform the world so that it looks something as Bishop Stokes said last night something like the reign, the kingdom of God in our world.  Like the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

And so that top piece of the chart was kind of fleshing out the Jesus Movement a little bit more, just in that simple statement, “Following Jesus into a loving, liberating, life-giving relationship with God and with each other,” is the summary of the law Jesus already taught us. We’re not coming up with anything new.  We are living the way of Jesus.  That is the way we are headed, we are people of the way, Jesus is our direction.

And then at our General Convention we were aware of this and we talked about this. General Convention identified three mission priorities and two were very clear and when the officers and canons met we realized when were together that there was a third. That’s where the third one came from, General Convention was clear about Evangelism and Reconciliation but we know Environmental Stewardship is critically important in this moment too, because all too often people needing liberation are the ones who experience firsthand the harmful impact of what happens when we don’t care for God’s creation.  So we focus on those three.

I was at a gathering with other Bishops and Archbishops when I was asked to explain the actions of our General Convention, with particular interest in our changing the marriage canon.  There were obviously questions and concerns, but I can tell you that when I said that this reflects who we are in Christ, that that’s how we are living into being followers of Jesus Christ and reflecting what St. Paul said in Galatians 3, “All who are baptized into Christ have put on Christ, there are no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, all are one in Christ.” Our brothers and sisters listened, even where there might be disagreement.

Then I said, “Now, the next thing you need to know that our General Convention did, we worked on Evangelism.”  We are really talking about participating in re-evangelization of the West.  And re-evangelization in a way and evangelism that actually looks something like Jesus of Nazareth and not like cultural accretions around Jesus of Nazareth.  And that’s an important distinction to make.

And I have to tell you the room changed. One bishop actually asked, “The Episcopal Church is actually doing Evangelism?”  And I said, “My Brother, that’s what we’re about. I wouldn’t be a Presiding Bishop if we weren’t doing that.” That is what we are talking about. The room, the conversation changed and focused on Evangelism.

And then when we went to Racial Reconciliation. Others in the world know about the racial and other polarizations in American society. They knew about Charleston, they knew about our struggles here.

The gospel work of Racial Reconciliation and the work of Evangelism really did resonate.

And the third one, when I talked about Environmental Stewardship, at first they said, “What are you talking about?”  I said, “About the care of God’s creation.”  “What are you talking about?”  If we mess up the earth where we all have to live then none of us is going live!  And then they started talking about ways in which damage to the climate and the environment is impacting them directly.  My point is the three mission priorities, which is the three pillar-like things there actually resonate beyond our church because they have to do with our following the way of Jesus, helping to make this world and this global community something that really does resemble God’s dream and not our nightmare.

And so General Convention did that and that’s what those three represent. Then we kept looking at what is the work of the church because General Convention set those missional priorities: Evangelism, Racial Reconciliation and Environmental Stewardship.  That doesn’t mean that’s all we’re doing because there is an ongoing life of the church that makes work on those priorities possible.

That next foundational piece, the ongoing work of the church, there’s a lot of stuff that goes on in that area, that’s ongoing, and that’s part of the life and the mission of the church.  Some of that ongoing work is work within the Episcopal Church to support and nurture it and to encourage the work that actually happens in congregations and in the life of our people. I’ve said this before, we don’t need the church-wide community to do what dioceses do better, and we don’t need the church-wide community and the dioceses to do what congregations do better. There are roles for all to play. We don’t need to try to replicate on a churchwide level what a congregation or a diocese does. We need to do at the churchwide level what we can’t do at other levels and do that in what’s which bring everybody together throughout our church.

And so the ongoing work of the church and the work of keeping us together in our churchwide community, is important.  It helps us do the other work.  Some of this has to do with our life together within the church, and some of it has to do with our life together beyond the Episcopal Church in terms of Anglican Communion, our ecumenical and interfaith relationships, as well as our relationships with government, whether it be with U.S. government in particular or the United Nations.  So you have ongoing work within the Episcopal Church, ongoing work beyond the Episcopal Church.

And then the foundation at the bottom.  Governance, finance, and legal.  That’s the stuff that keeps the machinery going. I used to say when I was a parish priest that I spent most of my time with doctors and morticians.  When I became a bishop I spent my time mostly with lawyers and Russ Randall and his friends, I mean his employers.  Governance, finance, legal, all of it, operations, that’s the stuff that undergirds, it helps this ministry work, it greases the wheels, it actually helps us get going again, and it helps us to plan for good strategic and efficient ways forward.

That’s the big broader picture of what might this Jesus Movement might look like on a churchwide level, both in terms of how we kind of organize, maybe even how we do our budget, but it’s a way of conceptualizing, the pillars, mission priorities, the ongoing work of the church within without, and legal, financial, operation that makes it all happen.

This is a way for our particular time.  Each new age and each new generation must discern how it will faithfully live out the Gospel of Jesus.  But this represents a way for this particular period of time, and nothing is final, nothing is settled except for the kingdom of God. We are a movement after all. And our church has a long and faithful history, I’ve seen it, of faithful witness to the Gospel of Jesus. And in our time it may be to awaken that in some new ways. I heard once that Billy Sunday the evangelist, at one point, this must have been turn of the century, the 19th or 20th century, he apparently said, “Heaven help the rest of Protestantism if the Episcopal Church ever wakes up.”  And I heard that saying but I didn’t really know the context or the history of it and I quoted it in New York at the Church Club dinner and Bishop Dietsche and one of the priests came up and they told me the backstory of that quote which I had wondered about -was it a compliment, was it a backhanded compliment, I wasn’t quite sure what he really meant by it.  And this priest who I believe is at St. George’s said the story behind that quote is that Billy Sunday had been invited to St. George’s Church in New York to actually do a revival there.  He had never visited an Episcopal church before, and he came and did his revival thing and he happened to walk in the pews and he saw a Book of Common Prayer and he started reading the Book of Common Prayer.  And as he read the Book of Common Prayer, he lifted his head and said, “Heaven help the rest of the Protestant world if the Episcopal Church ever wakes up.”

My Brothers and Sisters, we are awake.

God bless.

Allow me to talk about the vision of the Jesus Movement on the practical  churchwide level and what that really begins to look like and how embracing that has obvious implications for budget and structure and engagement. This is the result of work
Tagged In: LentMichael Curry

Clarence Jorden of the Koinonia Movement many years ago wrote this: 

Jesus founded the most revolutionary movement in human history, a movement built on the unconditional love of God for the world, and the mandate to those who follow to live that love.

The season of Lent is upon us.  It is a season of making a renewed commitment to participate and be a part of the movement of Jesus in this world.  You can see some of that in the Gospel lesson for the first Sunday of Lent where Luke says that after the Baptism of Jesus he went into the wilderness, there to be tempted of Satan. 

After the Baptism.  Baptism is the sacrament of commitment to the Jesus Movement. It is to be washed, if you will, in the love and the reality of God, and to emerge from that great washing as one whose life is dedicated to living that love in the world. 

In this season of Lent, we take some time to focus on what that means for our lives, whether it is as simple as giving up chocolate candy or as profound as taking on a commitment to serve the poor or to serve others in some new way. Whatever it is, let that something be something that helps you participate in the movement of God’s love in this world following in the footsteps of Jesus. 

And the truth is, the fact that Jesus was baptized and began that movement in the world and immediately found himself tempted by the devil is an ever-present reminder that this movement is not without struggle. It is not easy. The truth is, this movement is difficult. It’s hard work. It’s work of following Jesus to the cross. And it’s work of following Jesus through the cross to the Resurrection. To new life. And new possibility. That is our calling. That is the work of the movement. To help this world move from what is often the nightmare of the world itself into the dream that God intends. 

So I pray that this Lent, as they used to say many years ago, might be the first day of the rest of your life. It might be a new day for this world. 

God love you. God bless you. Have a blessed Lent, a glorious Easter, and you keep the faith. 

 

The Most Rev. Michael Curry

Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Episcopal Church

Clarence Jorden of the Koinonia Movement many years ago wrote this:  Jesus founded the most revolutionary movement in human history, a movement built on the unconditional love of God for the world, and the mandate to those who follow to live that
Tagged In: Michael Curry

Before I say a word about our gathering here at the Primates Meeting, I just want to say a word of thank you to you for all of your prayers: your prayers for this meeting, your prayers for me personally, both here and in my earlier sickness. We are well, and God is God, and I thank you.

Let me say a word about the meeting.

This is not the outcome we expected, and while we are disappointed, it’s important to remember that the Anglican Communion is really not a matter of structure and organization. The Anglican Communion is a network of relationships that have been built on mission partnerships; relationships that are grounded in a common faith; relationships in companion diocese relationships; relationships with parish to parish across the world; relationships that are profoundly committed to serving and following the way of Jesus of Nazareth by helping the poorest of the poor, and helping this world to be a place where no child goes to bed hungry ever. That’s what the Anglican Communion is, and that Communion continues and moves forward.

This has been a disappointing time for many, and there will be heartache and pain for many, but it’s important to remember that we are still part of the Anglican Communion. We are the Episcopal Church, and we are part of the Jesus Movement, and that Movement goes on, and our work goes on. And the truth is, it may be part of our vocation to help the Communion and to help many others to grow in a direction where we can realize and live the love that God has for all of us, and we can one day be a Church and a Communion where all of God’s children are fully welcomed, where this is truly a house of prayer for all people. And maybe it’s a part of our vocation to help that to happen. And so we must claim that high calling; claim the high calling of love and faith; love even for those with whom we disagree, and then continue, and that we will do, and we will do it together.

We are part of the Jesus Movement, and the cause of God’s love in this world can never stop and will never be defeated.

God love you. God bless you. And you keep the faith. And we move forward.

 

Before I say a word about our gathering here at the Primates Meeting, I just want to say a word of thank you to you for all of your prayers: your prayers for this meeting, your prayers for me personally, both here and in my earlier sickness. We are

Six years ago today, a tremendous earthquake of historic magnitude shattered the lives of Haitian mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. Their cries of lamentation echoed across Haiti even as the aftershocks continued to rock Port-au-Prince and the surrounding countryside. Haiti, the poorest state in the Western Hemisphere, is also the island-home of a branch of The Episcopal Church. More Episcopal souls live and breathe in the Diocese of Haiti than in any other diocese in the world, and on this day, we stand in solidarity and solemn remembrance with Haitians everywhere.

 

We continue to grieve with families who lost their loved ones in the earthquake and with those who were affected by the cholera epidemic that still ravages the Haitian community. We express gratitude for the lives salvaged from the ruins, for the creative resiliency of the Haitian people, and for new dreams imagined and realized as the rebuilding effort continues, including in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince. Finally, we recognize that there is still tremendous work ahead of us to heal, transform, and sustain the country of Haiti.

 

Tens of thousands of Haitians remain displaced from their homes, subsisting in the dangerous and unsanitary conditions of tent camps. The Haitian cholera epidemic has sickened hundreds of thousands of Haitians and ended over 9,000 lives to date. Faced with these enormous challenges, we find hope and strength in our faith. The Haitians have a proverb: Bondye di ou: fè pa M or “God says to you: ‘Do your part, and I’ll do mine.’” God is at work in Haiti, moving with doctors and engineers, teachers and farmers, and reminding and encouraging us to continue our good work. Indeed, as Episcopalians, we have a crucial part to play.

 

We can hold our governments accountable for ensuring that development aid is distributed fairly and transparently, and we can call on policymakers to adequately fund the Cholera Elimination Plan that delivers much-needed supplies and vaccinations to at-risk Haitians. We can give our time, our expertise, and our funds to the ongoing effort of restoring Haiti and promoting sustainable development therein. And last, we can remember that the Haitian people are our family, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and by working together with them and with our God, we can fulfill the holy task of healing Haiti. 

 

Note: On January 12, 2010, a massive earthquake struck Haiti, a diocese of The Episcopal Church, killing more than 300,000 people, seriously injuring more than 250,000, and leaving 1.3 million homeless. An extensive number of private and public buildings were destroyed including Holy Trinity Cathedral and the affiliated Episcopal institutions in the Cathedral Complex.

Six years ago today, a tremendous earthquake of historic magnitude shattered the lives of Haitian mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. Their cries of lamentation echoed across Haiti even as the aftershocks continued to rock Port-au-Prince and

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