By Beth Crow, Youth Missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina and coordinator of Lift Every Voice [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Beth Crow, Youth Missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina and coordinator of Lift Every Voice [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

New Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was installed this weekend at the Washington National Cathedral.

The Episcopal Church on Sunday installed Michael Curry as its Presiding Bishop at the Washington National Cathedral. He took over the reins from Katharine Jefferts Schori, who also made history as the first female leader of the church. Michael Curry had words of praise for the latter, who he said led the church towards a level of spiritual maturity where everyone could be honest with each other. He hoped to build on the good work of his predecessor, whose nine-year term came to an end this year.

Curry, 62, stressed that one of his larger goals would be that of racial reconciliation. The Episcopal Church has had a history of condoning slavery, itself indulging in racial segregation. Schori had in 2008 led a service to atone for its actions in the past, and Curry shared his own experience – his mother was given Communion at a white Episcopal parish and allowed to drink out the same chalice, something which prompted his father to become a priest. Curry too took after his father, graduating from Yale Divinity School and rising through the ranks of priesthood to become the Bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina, where he served for fifteen years. He added that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream was not a utopian ideal, but rather the difference between chaos and community.

His election comes at a time when the Episcopal Church, now 1.9 million strong, is battling dwindling numbers and finds itself at odds with its British counterpart, the Anglican Church, over the issue of gay marriage. Michael Curry has long been known for his support of same-sex marriage and sees no reason to discontinue with his stance. Curry said that he hopes to boost the image of the church and increase its membership, largely eroded by differences over the same topic. Evangelization is another priority of his, and he said that some things would change if two million Episcopalians actually went out and shared God's Word, while living in a way God would approve of. He pointed out Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who belongs to the Anglican Church, as an example.

The Episcopal Church was the denomination that many of America's founding fathers belonged to. Some have likened Michael Curry's election to that of President Obama, but the new Presiding Bishop only shrugged it off, hoping the President wouldn't be embarrassed by the comparison.

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