https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/first-black-episcopal-church-leader-will-continue-his-fathers-teachings/2015/10/14/bede82e2-72b2-11e5-8d93-0af317ed58c9_story.html http://www.episcopalchurchsc.org/lent-2016.html https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/episcopal-church-installs-its-first-african-american-bishop/2015/11/01/d9b7c44c-80d2-11e5-9afb-0c971f713d0c_story.htmlhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/episcopal-church-installs-its-first-african-american-bishop/2015/11/01/d9b7c44c-80d2-11e5-9afb-0c971f713d0c_story.html
What's Happening at Calvary
My fellow Calvary Members;
in the mean time
the vestry will hold an open forum on Sunday July 3, 2016
immediately following our service to answer any questions you may have.
Diocesan Future Committee seeking input
March 15, 2016
The Diocesan Future Committee is contacting the leaders of all parishes and missions in the diocese to update them on its progress and seek input from clergy, vestries and parishioners about the future leadership of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
In a letter sent March 11 to clergy and senior wardens of the 31 congregations of the diocese, the committee said it wants to communicate regarding its work and open a dialogue to hear the views of parishioners about the options for governance that the Future Committee is considering.
The blue-ribbon ad-hoc committee has been meeting since November 2015 and is tasked with studying various possible models for governance, aiming to make recommendation that can be brought before the Diocesan Convention.
In January, Bishop Charles G. vonRosenberg announced he will retire as provisional bishop after his visitation calendar concludes in June 2016. To address the shorter-term needs of the diocese, the Standing Committee voted in February to move ahead with calling another part-time provisional bishop. A search process is under way with help from theRight Reverend Clay Matthews, Bishop for the Office of Pastoral Development in the Presiding Bishop’s Office.
Jo Ann Ewalt and Mark Szen, co-chairs of the Future Committee, said theStanding Committee’s decision came as good news to the Future Committee because it allows the diocese to have a smooth and timely transition, while allowing the futures panel to take time to think prayerfully and strategically about the longer-term needs of the diocese.
The Future Committee has sent leaders of each congregation a packet of information about the options the committee has been researching, asking that it be shared with parishioners so they can engage in conversations and provide feedback. Members of the Future Committee are also making themselves available to attend meetings around thediocese to provide information and answer questions.
The committee began by identifying seven main options for governance, and currently is focusing on these four:
· Aim for calling a full-time bishop. The committee noted that a full-time bishop is the ideal, but would require a diocesan budget of $800,000-$1,000,000, compared with the current 2016 budget of $471,737. That would mean most congregations would have to significantly increase what they are giving to support the diocese.
· Elect a part-time bishop.
· Continue with a part-time provisional bishop.
· Create a new diocese by re-unification with Upper South Carolina. This would require approval from both dioceses, but not General Convention approval, because historically the two entities were formed out of one diocese.
The Future Committee noted that the first three options have broader appeal because they allow TECSC to maintain its identity. "There is considerable support and pride in who we are as a diocese and what we have become in three and a half years," the report says.
Diocesan Future Committee
November 5, 2015
Mark Szen*, All Saints, Hilton Head
Bob Pinkerton, St. Mark’s, Port Royal
Emily Guess, Christ Church, Denmark
Lonnie Hamilton*, Calvary, Charleston
Jeremy Cook, Grace, Charleston
Betsy Walker, St. Stephen’s, Charleston
Ginga Wilder, Good Shepherd, Summerville
Jo Ann Ewalt*, St. Francis, Charleston
Bill Lomax, St. George’s, Summerville
Doug Roderick, St. Stephen’s, North Myrtle Beach
Lucille Grate, Holy Cross Faith Memorial, Pawleys Island
The Rev. Jeff Richardson * (St. Alban’s, Kingstree, St. Stephen’s, St. Stephen and St. Catherine’s, Florence)
* Asterisk indicates the Co-Chairs (one representing each Deanery)
Facilitators (Conveners of the four Deaneries)
The Rev. Chris Huff
The Rev. Wil Keith
The Rev. Rick Lindsey
The Rev. John Zahl
Diocesan leaders take first steps in long-range planning process
September 21, 2015
A blue-ribbon, ad hoc committee is being formed to study the possibilities ahead for The Episcopal Church in South Carolina and make a recommendation in 2016 about what administrative model will best serve the diocese and its growing congregations in the years ahead.
The committee will be tasked with identifying and investigating options for the future. A major part of its responsibility will be to share information about the options with parishioners across the diocese and seek their opinions and responses. Finally, the panel will make a recommendation directly to Diocesan Convention.
The decision to form the committee came at a special joint meeting of the Standing Committee, the Diocesan Council, and the Trustees of the diocese on September 10, called at the invitation of the Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg, the provisional bishop of the diocese.
The three groups heard a presentation by the Right Reverend John C. Buchanan, who shared his experience in the Diocese of Quincy (Illinois), where he served as a provisional bishop after a schism there in which about half the diocese left The Episcopal Church.
The South Carolina diocese also suffered a split in 2012. The group that broke away from The Episcopal Church currently controls the diocesan assets, and the majority of parishes aligned with the breakaway group. Those assets and properties are the subject of a lawsuit filed by the breakaways, which is now before the South Carolina Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the continuing Episcopal Church diocese, TECSC, has 30 congregations and an annual budget of about $435,000 in 2015. Bishop vonRosenberg, who came out retirement in 2013 to become provisional bishop, is compensated on a part-time basis.
To outline a way to begin long-range planning for the diocese, Bishop Buchanan recounted the planning process that evolved in Quincy after their schism. At that time, legal battles were ongoing about the property issues there, but the leadership decided it needed to move forward, and formed a blue-ribbon committee to identify all the options for the future of the diocese.
The options included the “usual” model of a diocese with a full-time bishop; or having a part-time bishop; or a bishop who also served as a parish rector; or merging with other nearby dioceses. After investigating all the options thoroughly, the panel made a recommendation to reunify Quincy with the Diocese of Chicago, to which Quincy originally had belonged. The reunification finally took place in 2013.
Bishop Buchanan said reunification was the right option for Quincy, but he reminded the South Carolina leadership, “Dioceses are like snowflakes. Every one is different,” he said.
“South Carolina has lots of options – good options, one that’s particularly made for you. But we won’t know until someone takes a serious look at them.”
When Quincy was discerning its future, it consisted of nine congregations with about 900 total members and an annual budget of about $75,000. South Carolina is in a much different situation, with some 7,000 members in its 30 congregations, and a proposed budget of $465,000 for 2016.
One factor leading up to the conversation has been Bishop vonRosenberg’s future plans as the provisional bishop. While the bishop has made clear that he has no immediate plans to move on, he has said that he forsees that he and his wife Annie will want to return to retirement at some point in the future.
At the September 10 meeting, Bishop vonRosenberg told diocesan leaders that it is important for them to consider the long-range planning that needs to be done for the future of the diocese as a separate issue from his personal plans. Bishop vonRosenberg affirmed – and Bishop Buchanan agreed – that those are two distinct issues.
In a wide-ranging conversation after lunch, the diocesan leadership discussed guidelines for setting up a committee for South Carolina’s future. A primary aim was to have its members be broadly representative in terms of gender, race, age, and geographical location. Leaders also said they will seek a balance of lay and clergy members, and people from long-established congregations as well as newer missions. No parish would have more than one representative on the committee.
The conveners of the four deaneries of the diocese have been tasked with selecting appointees, coordinating with one another to ensure the broadest possible representation. They are the Reverend Rick Lindsey of the Southern Deanery, the Reverend Chris Huff of the West Charleston Deanery, the Reverend John Zahl of the Peninsular Charleston Deanery, and the Reverend Wil Keith of the Pee Dee-Waccamaw Deanery.
The goal is to work with diocesan leadership to have the special committee appointed before the 225th Annual Diocesan Convention November 13-14. The panel’s final recommendation could be made either at a subsequent annual convention, or at a special called convention, if necessary.
As we remember the killings at Mother Emanuel one year ago, we now encounter another indication of the pervasive power of hatred, in Orlando. Because of our experience, we have a window through which to see the Florida tragedy. The view may be different, the landscape may have changed, but the setting of hatred's power is the same.
In response to this encounter with hate, though, we remember the example of the families of Emanuel's victims, who followed the example of Jesus himself. That example, of course, leads inextricably to love. And, from the time of the cross, hatred loses its power when confronted by love.
The families of Emanuel knew this. The families of Orlando will come to know the same, I pray. May we all learn that lesson from our Lord, even in the pain, grief, and anger cultivated by hatred. Love will have the final word, for love is of God... and God is love.
The Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg
A Prayer for Peace
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP p. 815)
Updated 6/14/2016 at 3 pm:
Here are some events that have been planned in response to the Orlando massacre, and to remember those lost at Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015.
As information about others becomes available, we will update this blog post, and share on our diocesan Facebook page.
June 14: North Charleston
Everyone is invited to attend a Prayer Vigil at Park Circle in North Charleston beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Gazebo. Parking will be available at Park Circle, or you can park at St. Thomas Episcopal Church.
June 14: Beaufort
St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Port Royal is encouraging those in the Beaufort area to attend a vigil in Beaufort's Waterfront Park at 7:00 p.m.
June 16: Beaufort
St. Mark's, Port Royal will participate in the Mother Emanuel Nine Annual Memorial Service: "Remembering, Uplifting, Moving Forward" at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 16 at Grace Chapel AME Church, 502 Charles St., Beaufort. The event is sponsored by the Beaufort Unified Interfaith Community Coalition and all are welcome.
June 19: Holy Communion, Charleston
The 10:30 Mass intention for Sunday, June 19 at Church of the Holy Communion will be in remembrance of the violence at Mother Emanuel AME church last year and to honor the lives violently lost on Saturday in Orlando, and to honor those who mourn.
June 16: St. Anne's, Conway
On Thursday, June 16 at 7:00 p.m., St. Anne's, Conway will hold a Memorial Eucharist with Fr. Father Barry Stopfel and Deacon Rob Donehue presiding. The service will be at the Lackey Chapel is located at the corner of University Boulevard and University Drive on the Coastal Carolina University campus. All are welcome.
June 19: Grand Strand
The Rev. Dr. Wilmot T. Merchant II, Rector of St. Stephen's North Myrtle Beach, will be the preacher as the Upper Grand Strand Ministerial Alliance holds an Ecumenical Memorial Service at 2:00 p.m. to remember the Charleston Nine. The service will be at St. Paul’s AME Church in Little River on Highway 17 next to the Little River Post Office.
Originally scheduled to meet for four weeks, the group has bonded and grown in their commitment. They continue to meet after 20 weeks, entertaining lively and healing discussions. All are invited and encouraged to attend.
It’s a June evening in Charleston, and the back door of the church is unlocked. People come in at their own pace, embracing, smiling, setting down plates of cookies on the big table in the parish hall.Marlene O'Bryant-Seabrook, Barbara Eckman and Judith Ewing work on journal-quilts on June 14.
No one speaks of it yet, but on everyone’s mind is a June evening in Charleston almost one year earlier, when nine people were shot dead just a mile away at Emanuel AME Church, in an African American congregation that opened its doors and invited the killer into their weekly Bible study.
The horror of June 17, 2015 and the days that followed gave way to deep grief, and deep questions. How could this have happened? What could I be doing to change that? How can we find bridges across the barriers of race?
Every Tuesday night, a small group from two local Episcopal churches, East Cooper and Calvary, have been meeting to see if they can find some answers. The name they have given themselves reflects the simple agenda for the group: “Gatherers Around the Table.”
After the massacre at Mother Emanuel, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina accelerated its plan to offer anti-racism training for the diocese – training that is required by Episcopal Church canons, but was never offered until a rift in 2012 brought new leadership. Bishop Charles G. vonRosenberg, who took office in January 2013, immediately put anti-racism training on his short-list of needs for the reorganizing diocese, and the first one was on the calendar when the Emanuel tragedy struck.
In September 2015, Calvary hosted one of four “Traces of the Trade” conferences offered around the diocese. Each event encouraged people to open their minds and hearts to conversations about the legacy of slavery and racism.
Judith Ewing, an Episcopal deacon who serves at East Cooper, was at the Calvary program. “I realized how ignorant I was,” she said. “I realized the importance of relationships, of just getting to know each other. I just knew we needed to gather at the table.”
She quickly sought out the Rev. Michael Burton, a supply priest at Calvary, about setting up an initial gathering. The first one happened in October: Six people from each congregation, who committed to meeting every Tuesday for a trial run of six weeks.
Like Emanuel, Calvary has deep roots in Charleston’s history, founded in 1847 for “religious instruction” of enslaved African Americans. For years, it housed the only preschool and kindergarten for African American children on the Charleston peninsula, and many leaders passed through its doors. The first black jurist to serve on an appellate court in the United States, Jonathan Jasper Wright, was buried in its churchyard in 1885.
By comparison, the East Cooper Episcopal Church is in its infancy. Approved as a new mission congregation at Diocesan Convention in 2014, it serves the predominantly white suburbs across the Cooper River from Charleston. It was formed by Episcopalians who were left without a place to worship when churches in that area went with the breakaway group that left The Episcopal Church in 2012.
With widely different backgrounds, the two groups shared one common characteristic: Curiosity, and a desire to learn about each other.
Their first meeting was planned as a simple Bible study, “because that would be sweet and safe and nobody would say anything that will upset anybody,” Ewing said. “But I said, ‘Maybe we need to say things that upset people.’”
Artist and educator Marlene O’Bryant-Seabrook was there, and had the same reaction. Ewing recalls her saying: “I’ve been to many Bible studies, and nobody ever mentions the elephant in the middle of the room. Why can’t we mention the elephant in the room?”
Eight months later, the elephant is still loose. Trayvon Martin and Freddie Gray. The challenges of growing up in a mixed-race family. Assumptions about intelligence. Co-workers who act friendly, but never get close. The Spoleto production of “Porgy and Bess.” Ethnic foods they like and dislike. It’s all on the table when they gather.
“We’ve never put aside anything, or say ‘We mustn’t talk about that.’ We talk about everything,” Deacon Ewing says.
Along the way, others have joined. One member recently moved from New York after years in churches that were active in social justice issues, looking for a community in Charleston where that could keep happening. Another regular Gatherer is a social worker from another church who came with an East Cooper friend. “I thought I knew almost everything about black culture, especially in Charleston,” she says, laughing. “But I don’t.”
Dr. O’Bryant-Seabrook, a Calvary member in her 80s, has become the group’s matriarch and historian. On the recent Tuesday night in June, she gave them all an assignment: Come up with a personal statement about why they came to be “Gatherers Around the Table,” and then create a small journal-quilt to illustrate it. A few skeptical looks were exchanged around the table, but the group quickly warmed up to the task of explaining why they come to the meetings week after week.
The Tuesday before the Emanuel anniversary, they were putting the final touches on their letter-sized pieces of fabric art filled with color, symbols, and words like Curious, Sharing, Understanding, Love, and Hope. Beside an image of Emanuel, one proclaims: “Hate Will Not Win!”
As a child growing up in Charleston, Dr. O’Bryant-Seabrook says, “I could not go three blocks without passing a church. I remember asking my mother, ‘I would like to know what they’re praying for.’ With all the inequities and oppression, I wondered, were they praying for something that black churches were not praying for?”
Decades later, those questions persist. “I wanted to be a part of this group because for a long, long, long, long time, I wanted to be comfortable in a group of caucasians and blacks where we can actually, openly, honestly and safely discuss what happens, and why it happens,” she says.
As the members of the group went around the room, the words “safe place” came up again and again.
“When we started, we said we weren’t’ going to judge, or say “You shouldn’t be saying that,” Deacon Ewing says. “We were going to accept each one in our knowledge and our ignorance, and love each other anyway.”
As the gathering wraps up, the group continues to share their ideas as they pass the plates of cookies around the table. “When you eat with somebody, it changes the whole dynamic,” one woman says. “It gives me a lot of hope.”
In the words of Anne Nietert’s journal quilt: “Anger exploded into the Palmetto night, but, in the shadows, a new day is dawning as we Gather at the Table to learn, to listen, and to love.”
Holly Behre, Director of Communications
The Episcopal Church in South Carolina
Sunday, November 1, 2015 12 PM
Holy Eucharist with the Installation of
Episcopal Church installs its first African American presiding bishop
Michelle Boorstein November 1 at 10:22 PM
The public face and style of the Episcopal Church shifted Sunday with the installation of Michael Bruce Curry, the denomination’s first African American spiritual leader.
Curry, 62, a high-energy, evangelical pastor, is expected to bring a positive, Pope Francis-like vibe to a church community marked in recent years by shrinking numbers and legal disputes related to gay rights.
“Don’t worry! Be happy! God loves you!” Curry boomed at the close of his sermon to the 2,500 people gathered in the soaring Washington National Cathedral. Preaching from the elevated Canterbury Pulpit, Curry immediately changed the face of Episcopalianism, historically one of the faiths of the nation’s white elite.
Curry, known for focusing on evangelism and programs for the poor, follows Katharine Jefferts Schori, a somber Nevada oceanographer who was presiding bishop for nine years.
Jefferts Schori oversaw a tumultuous period as Americans turned away from the denomination and conservatives streamed out, in some cases triggering litigation over church properties that bled into many millions of dollars. The church has faced the same tensions that other faiths have had for decades over issues such as gay rights and the female clergy, but it ordained Gene Robinson, an openly gay bishop, in 2003. Since then, the church has lost 20 percent of its membership.
Curry focused his installation sermon on racial reconciliation, a cause at the center of what he calls “the Jesus movement” — a new emphasis on evangelism. Preaching in an animated style more familiar to a Baptist church, he told the story of a young black couple who visited an all-white Episcopal church in the 1940s. The woman, an Episcopalian, approached to take Communion. The man, who was studying to be a Baptist pastor, sat in the back, watching to see what would happen when it became clear in this segregated era that there was just one cup from which everyone would drink.
When the white priest offered the cup to the young black woman, the scene was so dramatic that the man shifted his affiliation and was ordained as an Episcopalian.
“The Holy Spirit has done evangelism and racial reconciliation in the Episcopal Church before, because that man and woman were the parents of the 27th presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church,” Curry said, speaking of himself.
The church broke into roars and applause.
“Yes, the way of God’s love turns our world upside down. But that’s really right-side up,” Curry preached. “And in that way, the nightmare of this world will be transfigured into the very dream of God for humanity and all creation. My brothers and sisters, God has not given up on God’s world. And God is not finished with the Episcopal Church yet.”
Racial reconciliation has become a higher priority for many predominantly white U.S. churches. The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, along with the Rev. Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, in recent years have elevated it in sermons, programs on gun control and symbolic actions such as removing the Confederate flag from stained glass in the cathedral. The question for Curry and other faith leaders is how to avoid the political polarization Americans both love and hate and with which many young people associate organized Christianity.
While Curry focused on overcoming economic, racial, educational and political divisions, he is known as a progressive who was one of the first bishops to allow same-sex marriages to be performed, in North Carolina. He was involved in grass-roots demonstrations in Raleigh called Moral Monday, challenging local and state governments to address the poor and marginalized.
“Is it an understatement to say we live in a deeply complex and difficult time for our world,” Curry said. “Life is not easy. It is an understatement to say that these are not, and will not be, easy times for people of faith.
“Churches, religious communities and institutions are being profoundly challenged,” he said. “But the realistic social critique of Charles Dickens rings true for us even now: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’ . . . Don’t worry! Be happy!”
The installation drew a large crowd for the cathedral, including 150 bishops who streamed in together in white-and-red clerical garb. There were at least 75 “watch parties” of Episcopalians across the country, church spokeswoman Neva Rae Fox said.
The Episcopal Church is the U.S.-based part of the global Anglican Communion, one of the largest Christian communities in the world. Its membership, about 1.8 million, was never large, but until recently was home to a disproportionate number of the United States’ business and political elite. Culturally it was considered a proper part of U.S. society, with a refined and orderly worship style. Although that is a somewhat outdated image, Curry’s installation drove home the change as clergy processed to powerful Native American drumming music and an intense rendition of the black spiritual “Wade in the Water.”
Michael Bruce Curry was elected and confirmed as the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church at the 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City on June 27, 2015. He was previously elected as the 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina on February 11, 2000. He was consecrated on June 17, 2000, in Duke Chapel on the campus of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, on March 13, 1953, Bishop Curry attended public schools in Buffalo, New York, and graduated with high honors from Hobart College in Geneva, New York, in 1975. He received a Master of Divinity degree in 1978 from Yale University Divinity School. He has also done 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.
Bishop Curry was ordained to the diaconate in June 1978 at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buffalo, New York, by the Rt. Rev. Harold B. Robinson and to the priesthood in December 1978, at St. Stephen’s, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, by the Rt. Rev. John M. Burgess.
He began his ministry as deacon-in-charge at St. Stephen’s, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1978 and was rector there 1979-1982. He next accepted a call to serve as the rector of St. Simon of Cyrene, Lincoln Heights, Ohio, where he served 1982-1988.
In 1988 he became rector of St. James’, Baltimore, Maryland, where he served until his election as bishop.
In his three parish ministries, Bishop Curry was active in the founding of ecumenical summer day camps for children, the creation of networks of family day care providers and educational centers, and the brokering of millions of dollars of investment in inner city neighborhoods. He also sat on the Commission on Ministry in each of the three dioceses in which he has served.
During his time as Bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina, Bishop Curry has taken the Diocese into 21st-century Galilee, the complex modern world that churches must engage in order to continue spreading the Gospel. He instituted a network of canons, deacons, and youth ministry professionals dedicated to supporting the ministry that already happens in local congregations and refocused the Diocese on The Episcopal Church’s Millennium Development Goals through a $400,000 campaign to buy malaria nets that saved over 100,000 lives. Throughout his ministry, Bishop Curry has also been active in issues of social justice, speaking out on immigration policy and marriage equality.
Bishop Curry serves on the boards of a large number of organizations and has a national preaching and teaching ministry. He has been featured on The Protestant Hour and North Carolina Public Radio’s The State of Things, as well as on The Huffington Post. In addition, Bishop Curry is a frequent speaker at conferences around the country. He has received honorary degrees from Sewanee, Virginia Theological Seminary, Yale, and, most recently, Episcopal Divinity School. He served on the Taskforce for Re-imagining the Episcopal Church and recently was named chair of Episcopal Relief and Development’s Board of Directors. His book of sermons, Crazy Christians, came out in August 2013, and his second book, Songs My Grandma Sang, came out in June 2015.
He and his wife, Sharon, have two adult daughters, Rachel and Elizabeth.
Source: Washington National Cathedral website: http://www.cathedral.org/staff/PE-7CHH8-380004.shtml
Source: Wikipedia: Click here for a list of the Presiding Bishops of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_presiding_bishops_of_the_Episcopal_Church_in_the_United_States_of_America
The Episcopal Church’s first black leader — and its ‘tortuous’ path toward integration
By Sarah Pulliam Bailey October 15
Bishop Michael Curry vividly remembers growing up in segregated Buffalo in the 1950s and ’60s, where on one bright morning in 1963, he crossed Main Street from East Buffalo to West Buffalo to attend an integrated school.
As an Episcopal priest and civil rights activist, his late father, Kenneth Curry, helped lead the boycott of the city’s segregated public schools. And yet, like the larger culture at the time, worship in the Episcopal Church he so loved was largely segregated. As leader of a black congregation in Buffalo, he never would have been called to the pulpit of a white Episcopal church.
Five decades later, Kenneth Curry probably would never have imagined that his son would be chosen to lead the entire denomination.
On Nov. 1, Michael Curry — who was elected
this summer just one week after the shootings at a historic African
Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, S.C. — will be installed as
the first black presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church at Washington
National Cathedral. He will replace Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts
Schori, who was elected the church’s first female presiding bishop in
In many ways, Curry’s tenure will be a continuation of what his father taught him: In God’s eyes, all human beings are equal and deserve to be treated as such. “I grew up seeing that Jesus of Nazareth has something to do with our lives and has something to do with how we structure and order our society,” said Curry, 62.
Curry, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina since 2000, was elected with an overwhelming majority, the third black candidate for presiding bishop in the church’s history.
“Most black Episcopalians interpret this as catching up, as something they should’ve done before,” said Byron Rushing, vice president of the House of Deputies and a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Blacks make up 6.3 percent of the church’s membership, compared with 86.6 percent for non-Hispanic white members, according to church data.
But as presiding bishop, Curry will face membership challenges that extend far beyond race. Like other mainline denominations, the Episcopal Church — the historic home to U.S. presidents and the nation’s elite — has struggled to fill its pews. It has lost more than 20 percent of its members since it consecrated its first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003, and new statistics suggest that membership continues to fall, dropping 2.7 percent from 2013 to about 1.8 million U.S. members in 2014.
Progressive on social issues
On Tuesday, Curry and other church leaders gathered at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria to consecrate a chapel to replace the one that burned down in 2010. Curry was like a rock star to many of the seminarians, making faces for selfies.
Ian Markham, dean of the seminary, noted that the founders and faculty from the institution once owned slaves and that its new chapel has a plaque noting its past segregation in worship. “We have to recognize the sins of our past and repent of them,” he said.
Curry has a clear passion for evangelism, something he calls “the Jesus movement,” though not a formal movement within the church. He is also progressive on social issues and was one of the first bishops to allow same-sex marriages to be performed in North Carolina churches.
As bishop in North Carolina, Curry was involved in the grass-roots Moral Monday demonstrations in Raleigh, challenging local and state governments to address the poor and marginalized.
“The work of evangelism and social justice must go together, because it’s part of the whole gospel,” he said.
Observers note Curry’s desire to keep his installation service simple and his focus on people on the margins — almost like a Protestant Pope Francis who could help change the face of the church. His friends point to his boisterous preaching style as he moves around the pulpit and gestures with his arms, more Baptist than Episcopal in some ways.
The father of two adult daughters with his wife, Sharon, Curry is known for his infectious laughter and self-deprecating humor. He is an avid reader, a Buffalo Bills fan and a self-described “certified NFL grief counselor,” and a lover of music who took up the violin about seven years ago.
Curry said he was deeply shaped by his Baptist grandmother, the daughter of sharecroppers and granddaughter of slaves. While he was in middle school, she stepped in after Curry’s mother went into a coma brought on by a cerebral hemorrhage.
“My grandmother couldn’t imagine Barack Obama in the White House, and I know she couldn’t imagine her grandson as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church,” he said.
As a family, they would pray every night, and Curry jokingly said he would secretly hope that his father would pray so it would be a shorter one. “If it was the Baptist prayer, it would go on forever,” he said.
His mother, who grew up Baptist, switched to the Episcopal Church after she read “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis. His father, who was a licensed Baptist pastor and came from a line of Baptist preachers, followed her.
Curry remembers the denominational bantering between his father and grandmother.
“They would tease each other. She would say, ‘How do you know if someone in your church has the Holy Spirit?’ He’d say, ‘You all got too much Holy Spirit in your church.’ ”
Ending the battles
Curry’s down-to-earth style and gift for bringing people together should prove valuable as he leads a church riven by divisions in recent years over issues from gay rights to how to read Scripture. However, many of its more theologically conservative churches have left the denomination after having been involved in multimillion-dollar lawsuits over the right to church properties.
Part of Curry’s challenge will be to put those battles over social issues fully in the past, said Ryan Danker, a church historian at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington.
“If he can bring some peace and healing, maybe end the lawsuits, have discussion and dialogue with various parties, I think he’ll be very successful,” Danker said.
Jefferts Schori, the outgoing presiding bishop, said Tuesday that the Episcopal Church is no longer “the establishment church” in the United States, which she considers to be a good thing.
“We’re more focused on the people of the margins,” she said. “We’re willing to go be with, rather than do for, and I think that’s healthier spiritually.”
The Rev. Sandye Wilson, rector of St. Andrew and Holy Communion Episcopal Church in South Orange, N.J., and a friend of Curry’s, said he is uniquely able to address the range of Episcopal Church members.
“He is comfortable with kings and princes but doesn’t lose the common touch,” Wilson said. “He is as comfortable with people who are very wealthy and comfortable with people in prison.”
The Episcopal Church is affiliated with the larger worldwide Anglican Communion, the world’s third-largest Christian denomination, which is discussing whether it can remain unified amid divisions over sexuality and other issues. A large percentage of Anglicanism is thriving in the developing world, where more-conservative leaders have been unhappy with the Episcopal Church.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who attended Tuesday’s chapel consecration in Alexandria but declined interviews, has called Anglican leaders to a special meeting in January.
The Episcopal Church voted this summer to let gay couples marry in the church’s religious ceremonies, which Welby said “will cause distress for some and have ramifications for the Anglican Communion as a whole, as well as for its ecumenical and interfaith resolutions.”
January’s gathering of leaders includes a review of the worldwide Anglican Communion’s future.
Some believe that Curry’s election as presiding bishop could help lead the way into that future, in which the membership of the global church will probably keep growing more diverse.
“It could change the face of the Episcopal Church, which is — at least in the eyes of many — a largely white, upper-class denomination of people in power,” said the Rev. Adam Shoemaker of Church of the Holy Comforter in Burlington, N.C. “It will be significant now that we have a nonwhite presiding bishop to represent us to the rest of the church.”
"Traces of the Trade" program encourages conversations, listening, and action
See a full report and pictures at this link:
Clergy and laypeople from around the diocese filled historic Calvary Episcopal Church in Charleston on Tuesday for the first diocesan “Traces of the Trade” event and an opportunity to bring open minds and hearts to conversations about the legacy of slavery and racism.
Participants at Tuesday's session said they were glad they took part in the conversations, and encouraged others to attend the remaining programs being offered this week in Hilton Head Island, Conway, and North Charleston.
“This event sheds light, so that others can light their candles by it,” said Joe Frazier, Senior Warden of Calvary. “It’s a worthwhile opportunity for people to come and participate.”
Marlene O’Bryant-Seabrook, a retired educator and lecturer who attended the session, said events like “Traces” were a way of beginning to address the need for better education. “So much of the problem of communication between the races is due to a lack of knowledge,” she said. “This is a great opportunity to learn how each group is feeling – to lessen the gap.”
Bishop Charles vonRosenberg opened the gathering by recalling his first experience with Dain and Constance Perry, the couple who are visiting Charleston to facilitate the programs. The Bishop had invited the Perrys to East Tennessee several years ago, when he was bishop there. “That began a process that is ongoing, and we hope the same will be true here.”
Tuesday’s program consisted of a screening of the Emmy-nominated documentary “Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North,” followed by a time for people to share their own stories. Introducing the film, Dain Perry spoke of growing up in Charleston. He attended Porter-Gaud School. His father was rector of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Charleston for 13 years; and his grandfather was James DeWolf Perry III, the 18th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, who died in Summerville in 1947.
The DeWolf family was the pre-eminent slave trading family in United States history, playing a role in bringing more than 10,000 enslaved people from Africa to the Americas. Mrs. Perry, meanwhile, introduced herself as a descendant of slaves from North Carolina and Virginia – states in which Dain Perry’s maternal ancestors once were slaveholders.
Mr. Perry told the audience that on June 16, the couple had just confirmed their plans to come to Charleston to facilitate the “Traces” program. The following day, June 17, the Emanuel AME shootings occurred.
“We were struck down to the depths of our hearts,” he said. Under the circumstances, he said they almost expected a call from the diocese asking to postpone the “Traces” program. But Bishop vonRosenberg’s response was different, Mr. Perry said: that the events at Emanuel made this kind of conversation more important and necessary than ever. “We were just awed by that,” he said.
Reflecting on the reaction to the tragedy by the people of Mother Emanuel and the people of Charleston, he said, “I haven’t ever been more proud of Charleston. You all did a remarkable job, and you’re continuing to do a remarkable job. You are bringing the gospel right to where the gospel needs to work the hardest.”
Events like the four “Traces” programs being offered by the diocese are not about blame or guilt, he said. “It’s about getting a better understanding of how we’ve gotten so terribly stuck where we are today, so we can begin healing.”
The film traced the journey of 10 of the DeWolf family descendants, including Dain Perry, as they uncovered the family’s historic involvement with the slave trade that bought and sold human beings, sugar, rum and ships in a triangular route from Rhode Island to Ghana in West Africa, to Cuba, and back to New England.
After watching the documentary, people gave one-word descriptions of their feelings. Some of the words they used were: understanding and respect, sadness, shame, guilt and sorrow; hopefulness and gratitude; desire for action; impatience for change and healing; despair and hope, disappointment, and urgency. They elaborated on these words by sharing some of their personal stories and experiences with racism.
Conversations like these are “a very holy time, a time of handing over these feelings to God,” Constance Perry said. And they are not times for debate, but a time to speak and listen with open hearts.
The Episcopal Church’s calendar is divided into seasons that celebrate particular periods of the life of Jesus and the Church. The two main cycles of feasts and holy days are dependent on the fixed date of Christmas and on the movable date of Easter. Other holy days can be found in the Prayer Book. Principal Feasts are marked (+). Most links are to the Glossary of Liturgical Terms.
Calendar of the Church Year:
*The Prayer Book contains a table for finding the date of Easter Sunday and other holy days in any given year.
The Dates below are for the Church Year 2016, Year C of the Revised Common Lectionary
and Year 2 of the Daily Office of the Book of Common Prayer, beginning with the First Sunday of Advent, 2015.
** In some churches, Red is used only on Pentecost Sunday and the following week.
In the chart above, with the exception of Advent, more traditional colors are in the left column and alternate colors in the right column. Some Protestant church traditions use only traditional colors, including purple for Advent, while others are more free to use alternate colors within the basic sequence. Where two colors are given for a particular Sunday, either color is appropriate. For example, for Advent either Dark Blue or Bright Blue can be used if using Blue (many Protestants), or either Purple or Blue Violet are appropriate if using Purple (Catholic traditions). The exceptions are Holy Days in which White and Gold (or White and Yellow) are usually used together, with White being the primary color. For more detailed information on each Season of the Church Year, visit the page for that Season (The Church Year).
Metallic Silver is sometimes used for, or with, white, especially at Easter and Christmas. Likewise Metallic Gold can be used for gold or yellow. While some traditions (Roman Catholic, for example) still use for purple for Advent, there is a trend to use a bluish violet for Advent and deep red violet for Lent.
In most traditions, the sanctuary cross is draped in color only during Lent (purple), Good Friday (black), and Easter (white). Some churches leave white on the cross through Eastertide, drape the cross in red for Pentecost Sunday, and then leave the cross undraped until the beginning of Lent the next year. Usually the cross is not decorated during Ordinary Time, nor during the Holy Days of Advent-Christmas-Epiphany both because the focus is not yet on the cross, and because the Greens of Advent and the other symbols of the Christmas season carry the visual message of that season.
Click below for information about the various Seasons and Holy Days that comprise The Christian Church Year. Except as noted, the dates are for 2015-2016, Year C , of the Revised Common Lectionary, Year 2 of the the Daily Office (daily readings) of the Book of Common Prayer. (For a more complete calendar, see The Church Year, 2016)