Bishop Michael Curry, who once gained fame for a sermon referring to “crazy Christians,” and who has focused on racial justice, was chosen to deliver the sermon at the Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle.
Curry, who also goes by the name of Michael Bruce Curry, is an American leader of the Episcopal Church who resides in Chicago, Illinois. Although the selection breaks with royal tradition, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who will also preside over the wedding service, praised Curry on Twitter, writing, “I’m thrilled that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have asked Bishop Michael Curry to preach at their wedding. @PB_Curry is a brilliant pastor, stunning preacher and someone with a great gift for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.”
According to Anglican News.org, “The US-based Episcopal Church is the oldest independent Anglican province outside the British Isles. When European travelers first colonized what is now the United States of America, they took with them clergy from European Churches, including the Church of England.”
“This bishop is a tireless advocate for people on the margins,” said Adam Shoemaker, a church rector, to The News-Observer. Curry gave a fiery and passionate sermon that earned some fans on Twitter. “Love is the way,” was his core phrase. “Dr. King was right. We need to discover love. The redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world,” he said during the wedding in what was an unusually dramatic and lengthy sermon for a Royal Wedding. You can watch it in full here:
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Michael Curry Says That Harry & Meghan’s Love ‘Has Its Source & Origin in God’
Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle “have asked that The Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, the 27th Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church, give the address at their wedding,” Kensington Palace confirmed in a statement.
“Presiding Bishop Curry, from Chicago Illinois, will travel to Windsor to take part in the Service. He will join The Dean of Windsor, The Rt. Revd. David Conner, who will conduct the Service. The Most Revd. and Rt. Hon. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, will officiate as the couple make their marriage vows,” the statement said.
The Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry said, according to the Kensington Palace statement: “The love that has brought and will bind Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle together has its source and origin in God, and is the key to life and happiness. And so we celebrate and pray for them today.”
2. Curry Is Famous for a Sermon About ‘Crazy Christians’ & Speaks Out on Social Causes
According to CNN, Michael Bruce Curry is the first black leader of the Episcopal Church in America. He first became known because of a sermon he gave that referred to “crazy Christians.” You can watch a video of the sermon above.
That 2012 sermon came when Curry was bishop in North Carolina and, according to CNN, he “quoted several versions of the Bible characterizing Jesus as someone who was thought to be out of his mind,” and said, “They thought he was crazy! And he was! He is!…And those who would follow in his footsteps, those who would be his disciples, are called and summoned and challenged to be just as crazy as Jesus.”
“An approachable man and a charismatic preacher, he also uses Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo and the diocese’s website to advocate for social justice and racial and gender equality, and to encourage congregations undertaking that work,” The News Observer reported.
CNN reports that the sermon was later turned into a book. On his Twitter page, Michael Curry describes himself as “27th Presiding Bishop of @IAmEpiscopalian. Following Jesus into a loving, liberating, and life-giving relationship with God, each other, and with the earth.”
Bishop Curry is outspoken on social causes, such as immigration policy and marriage equality, his Episcopal Church biography says. “In his three parish ministries in North Carolina, Ohio, and Maryland, Presiding Bishop Curry had extensive involvement in Crisis Control Ministry, the founding of ecumenical summer day camps for children, preaching missions, the Absalom Jones initiative, creation of networks of family day care providers, creation of educational centers, and the brokering of millions of dollars of investment in inner city neighborhoods,” according to his Episcopal Church biography.
The New York Times described him as a “gay marriage backer.”
The church biography notes that Michael Bruce Curry is married to wife Sharon Clement. The couple has two daughters, Rachel and Elizabeth.
3. Curry Was Born in Chicago, Illinois & Is the First Black Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
Curry lives in Chicago, Illinois, and he has roots in that city. Meghan Markle also has ties to the Windy City because she once attended Northwestern University there. In his autobiography, My Grandma Sang, Curry revealed “that his family are descended from slaves and sharecroppers in North Carolina and Alabama,” The Guardian reports.
According to The Chicago Tribune, Michael Curry was born in Chicago in 1953 but grew up in Buffalo, New York. He became the Episcopal church’s presiding bishop in 2015.
At the time of his selection, The Tribune reported, “Curry was elected by a landslide in a vote at the Episcopal General Convention, the top legislative body of the church. Curry earned 121 of 174 votes from bishops on the first ballot.”
Curry described his selection as the first black bishop by saying, it was “a sign of our church growing more deeply in the spirit of God and in the movement of God’s spirit in our world,” according to The Tribune.
4. He Has Urged Christians to Become Part of the ‘Jesus Movement’ & Was Called to the Faith by a Dream
When he was named bishop, Curry said in an interview with Anglican News.org that he wanted all Christians to enter what was referred to as the “Jesus Movement.”
“I can tell you that I believe passionately in the Great Commission and its call to go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and teaching them to obey everything that Jesus has taught us,” he told the organization.
“I believe that that’s a call, an invitation and an exciting possibility; and I think that is one of the foundational principles of our call to be the Church: to help to make other followers of Jesus who can then, following his teachings and following the way of Jesus in their life and in our lives together, help to make this world a better world – something that is less like a nightmare and more like God’s dream and God’s vision and God’s intention for the human family and the whole of creation,” he added.
Curry told the organization that he was drawn to preach by a dream that came to him in college. A friend was going through troubles in his life, and Curry was trying to help him. “He had a dream and realised that “it was time for me to . . . own the faith that had been given to me and to claim it,” the site reports.
5. Curry’s Father Led an All-Black Parish & Curry Helped on Bobby Kennedy’s Campaign
Michael Bruce Curry’s father was also a pastor but in a different tradition. “His father led an almost all-black Anglo-Catholic parish. It was, Michael Curry said, ‘the old inner-city Catholic model of priesthood – real incarnational spirituality’ where his father was involved in community life and the civil rights movement,” according to Anglican News.org.
Curry told The New York Times that his father was drawn to the Episcopal Church because black and white parishioners drank from the same cup.
His father’s interest in the civil rights movement was inherited by his son. Bishop Curry once considered becoming a politician after helping with Bobby Kennedy’s political campaign but later went a different route. According to his Episcopal Church bio, “He received a Master of Divinity degree in 1978 from Yale University Divinity School in New Haven, CT. He has furthered his education with continued study at The College of Preachers, Princeton Theological Seminary, Wake Forest University, the Ecumenical Institute at St. Mary’s Seminary, and the Institute of Christian Jewish Studies.”
The biography continues, “Presiding Bishop Curry was ordained to the diaconate in June 1978, at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buffalo, NY, by the Rt. Rev. Harold B. Robinson and to the priesthood in December 1978, at St. Stephen’s, Winston-Salem, NC, by the Rt. Rev. John M. Burgess. He began his ministry as deacon-in-charge at St. Stephen’s, Winston-Salem, in 1978 and was rector from 1979-1982. He next accepted a call as rector at St. Simon of Cyrene, Lincoln Heights, OH, serving from 1982-1988. In 1988 he was called to became rector of St. James’, Baltimore, MD, where he served until his election as the 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina in February 2000.”