Presiding Bishop Curry at the National Press Club

Picking up on themes and words from Martin Luther King, Jr, former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, St Augustine of Hippo, and Jesus, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry told the National Press Club yesterday that inclusion, racial reconciliation, and evangelism are “tied up with the truth of this Jesus movement.”

That is the most extraordinary … Jesus just said that everything that’s in that Bible is straining and pointing to the love of God, love of neighbor, everything in the Mosaic edifice pointing to love of God, love of neighbor. Religion is totally and completely to be about the love of God and the love of neighbor. And if it’s not about love, it’s not about God. Period. Exclamation point.

It’s not sentimental, said Curry. Jesus’ teachings about love almost all occur in the context of Holy Week, the decision to give up his life for the good of the world. The love of God is about the sacrifice of self-centered interest for the love of God and the love of others.

Following his remarks, the Presiding Bishop fielded questions from the floor, starting with a question about the status of the Episcopal Church in the wake of the Primates’ gathering.

I think the Primates … understood clearly that we as the Episcopal Church – we are certainly committed to the Anglican Communion. We are equally committed to being a church that is a house of prayer for all people. And as I said to them there, we believe in the full inclusion, and marriage equality, whatever the language is – we believe in that not as a social program, but we believe in it because the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross really are about embracing and welcoming us all, and we are the children of God, created in God’s image and likeness. And I believe that’s what love bids us do. … But that also means that we love you, those of you who disagree with us, with me … and we’re not changing.

Curry said that there shouldn’t be an expectation that the Episcopal Church would change its mind about inclusion and equality in the next three years, nor its love, affection, and commitment to the rest of the Communion.

He said that he believed that while the majority of the Primates voted to censure the church for its challenge to their understanding of the doctrine of marriage, they “did not vote us off the island.” That, said Curry, is “a moderated response that expressed displeasure but that recognized that we are still an Anglican family, and is committed to that…. I think that is potentially an adult response.”

Curry said that in working for racial reconciliation, there would be more coming from the Episcopal Church, and that that work was being undertaken very intentionally.

A question came in by phone from the AP about St George school in Rhode Island, describing the spread of the investigation beyond the school and into other states and dioceses as concerns about individuals were identified. Presiding Bishop Curry responded by detailing how the canons and the church’s approach to sexual abuse and investigations of allegations were changed and tightened in the 1990s since, and that bishops in any of the jurisdictions affected would be following those updated, tighter protocols.

Addressing the theory that young people are being put off religion by the spread of extremism, Curry stressed the Episcopal Church’s recent General Convention’s focus on evangelism, and finding new ways to reach out to populations unfamiliar with the work of the church, and take the church out into the world.

Read more and view the video here. What would you have asked the Presiding Bishop?

Featured image: Presiding Bishop Michael Curry addresses members and guests of the National Press Club on Feb. 8 in Washington, D.C., on the church’s role in creating a more inclusive society. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service


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  1. Rod Gillis

    I have not watched the entire video; but I see the PB took questions from the press. Too bad he was not asked about the Bishop Mouneer Anis report regarding the lunch meeting he had with the PB and The Canadian Primate, a report which implied a negotiation with regard to the outcome of The Primates’ meeting.

  2. William (Bill) Paul III

    “Because we differ on a core doctrine, it would not be seen as appropriate for us to represent the Anglican Communion in ecumenical, interfaith, ambassadorial relationships. That’s fair,” Curry assessed. “Because we disagree on core doctrine they are asking that we not cast our vote on matters of doctrine or polity — not about our life together and a whole bunch of other things that get considered.”

    Nice. Kudos to +Curry for saying “that’s fair.” There is a common-sense decency and clarity to this, an appropriate minimalism, if you will. He doesn’t try to load the meeting and decision and outcome with every important issue or say everything that might be said as a possible interpretation or possible implication. And his words give a sense that an attitude of fairness and earnest affection may well have pervaded the meeting in contrast to the paroxysmic reactions here. Nice.

    • christopher seitz

      I agree. It was quite a clear statement. Gives one a good sense that the meeting was productive and people didn’t have their fingers crossed. There were adults in the room, and +Curry was one of them.

      This is also what happens when people stay in each other’s company for 4-5 full days.

      I would be very interested if his use of the term ‘core doctrine’ was reflexive — it doesn’t sound like it — and if not, if he is telling us the lay of the land in the context of the Primates discussion. In which case, the disagreement may be as much about whether there is such a thing as ‘core doctrine’ so far as TEC is concerned.

      I’m sure we’ll learn in time.

      Good on +Curry for speaking so clearly.

      • Rod Gillis

        “This is also what happens when people stay in each other’s company for 4-5 full days.”

        Yeah, or after 4-5 days of in camera meetings under pressure, they come away with a mild case of Stockholm syndrome.

      • christopher seitz

        I have a good deal more faith in Bishop Curry’s bearing and strength, but you can say he has a syndrome if you so choose.

      • Rod Gillis

        “I have a good deal more faith in Bishop Curry’s bearing and strength, but you can say he has a syndrome if you so choose.”

        Stop the misdirection. PB Curry is a dynamic preacher and seems like a guy with both a social conscience and a big pastoral heart.

        It’s your confidence in and spin on the Primate’s meeting that I don’t share. Stockholm syndrome, which I use here in a sardonic sense, is about what happens to causalities. No one is immune from the ongoing side effects of the kind of pressure several of the Primates, but especially the TEC and Canadian Primates were likely under at the meeting.

        But perhaps the The Holy Spirit’s work is more self evident when we are talking about a cloistered door meeting of the hierarchy, especially when the hierarchy behind those closed doors are the same gender as we are and of the same relative age, no?

        Having said that, I’m not really all that into team building metaphors. I’m not that taken with the “Jesus movement” metaphor of the PB or the trademark ” our beloved church” metaphor of my own Primate, effective though such metaphors may be at a popular level.

        However, what I really take exception to is the siege mentality against the modern world by religiously motivated social conservatives. Spoiler alert: most sieges end badly.

      • Jerald Liko

        “There were adults in the room, and +Curry was one of them.”

        I hate it when people on the Internet simply repost a comment with “This.” But you earned it, Professor:


        The permanently enraged voices of the church want to burn the house down, and +Michael is standing out there with a mitre in one hand and a garden hose in the other, ticking off a list of logs in TEC’s own eye. I’m thankful to have a leader like him.

    • Kurt Hill

      I think that it is also fair, Bill, that The Episcopal Church immediately defund the Anglican Communion bureaucracy, beginning with committees having to do with ecumenical, interfaith and ambassadorial relationships. I would also immediately defund the Anglican Communion Office and its Secretary General. Of course, we can continue to fund worthwhile projects anywhere in the world, with partners who are willing to accept our aid.

      Kurt Hill
      Brooklyn, NY

    • John Chilton

      “That’s fair.”

      My reading is that Curry is saying no more than this: it’s fair that the primates gathered and a majority had the opportunity to collectively express their displeasure with The Episcopal Church.

      Is he also saying that “the consequences” are fair? I don’t know.

      P.S. – I know those are Curry’s words you quote, but where did the “Curry assessed” phrase come from?

      • William (Bill) Paul

        Well, hang on. Curry did not say “well. That’s democracy at work”. He made the link between a significant departure/difference in a fundamental matter (which he called “core doctrine”) and the vote against us serving representatively of the mind or identity of the communion. It’s a coherent link and IMHO the right one to make. There should be an “of course” attitude and response to the Primates by us in TEC viz “of course we don’t speak for the communion and shouldn’t presume, given the magnitude of the change we’ve made, to be commissioned to do so. “.

      • Kurt Hill

        Well, hang on, Bill. I don’t think the change that we have made comes close to the “significant departure/difference in a fundamental matter,” for example, of the Sydney Diocese permitting lay celebration of the Holy Eucharist. (Not “officially” of course, the Jensenites are far too hypocritical to be open about it). Yet these pompous primates ignored this “significant departure” from Catholic norms entirely.

        Again, the Communion shouldn’t presume that we Episcopalians will continue to fund its far-flung bureaucracy given the claim by some of the primates of the so-called “magnitude” of the change we have made.

        Kurt Hill
        Brooklyn, NY

      • William (Bill) Paul

        Kurt, direct your comments to Curry, maybe. He made the link.

  3. MaryLou Scherer

    So there…did you hear that, bishops from the GAFCON?

  4. christopher seitz

    “What would you have asked the Presiding Bishop?”

    1. Do your remarks mean that TEC reps will step to the side as requested? That’s what you seem to be saying.

    2. It has been over a month since the news came out about your putting several high-ranking officials on leave. How is that going?

    3. How is your health?

    • Gregory Orloff

      Yikes! Out of Christian consideration and love for one’s neighbor, I think I’d ask him about his health first, before church politics, not last.

    • John Chilton

      These are all good questions that I wish were asked. I’m sure Christopher meant no ranking of importance by the order presented.

      • Prof. Christopher Seitz


        I am genuinely interested in knowing if, e.g., Gay Jennings’ post Canterbury comments still stand, or whether the TEC leadership team has got together and decided a route like +Curry seems to be espousing now.

        When there was a name change to ‘TEC’ it seemed to be accompanied by an effort to claim an international church, with lots of flags at GC, etc. I simply wonder if this will be the direction TEC now pursues.

        Prayers for +Curry’s health and stamina.

      • John Chilton

        And now we’re in our usual position – not agreeing.

        I don’t see any contradiction between Curry’s comments and Jennings’ comments.

        As to the name The Episcopal Church it reflects the reality that the province is not limited to the US.

        To be clear, that does NOT mean The Episcopal Church pretends to impose its doctrine on any other province. Any other interpretation is misapprehension that members of ACNA and others seek to foment.

      • christopher seitz

        My question is IF there is in fact a contradiction, not what do you or I think.

        I suspect we will learn in time.

        It sounded to me like the PB was acknowledging the gatherings’ statement of consequences. But I could be in error.

  5. Tracy Lawrence

    “We’re not changing – so there shouldn’t be an expectation that in the next three years the Episcopal Church is going to change,” declared Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry about the denomination’s approval of new gender-neutral marriage rites this past July. “This is who we are.” If you listen to Curry speaking, he is recounting this as what he said to the Primates before they voted to consequence TEC. He wasn’t reaffirming this or underscoring it. In fact, the only time he mentioned this in the entire event is when he got a question from a reporter. His talk was about Evangelism and Racial reconciliation and the Jesus movement. He really has a new mission that came out of some of the less publicized votes at the last general convention. He also was clear that he has no idea what the next three years will bring. So there was a wait and see comment about TEC’s future within the Anglican Communion.

  6. Don Brownlee

    To follow up on Prof. Seitz’ Question #2: Indeed, it has been almost two months now since Bp. Curry put several high-ranking officials on leave. He said the law firm hired to investigate the charges “is expected to brief me about its plan for the investigation early in the new year.” Perhaps Episcopal Cafe could follow up with his office on where this stands?

  7. John Klopacz

    Might it not now be “fair” for the Primates to follow up on this part of their communiqué?
    “The Primates condemned homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. This conviction arises out of our discipleship of Jesus Christ. The Primates reaffirmed their rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.”
    Sorry to be a one-note Jack, but this seems a small, first step to show good faith on the part of the Global South Primates.

    • John Chilton

      As you may know, John, ACNA says the majority of Gafcon primates had already left when those words were adopted into the communique — they’d achieved what they’d come for, “consequences” (pretty limp consequences, in fact) for The Episcopal Church.

      • Jeremy Bates

        Yes. They could dish it out, but they couldn’t take it.

    • David Allen

      a small, first step to show good faith

      How many folks must be maimed, imprisoned and killed before that actually do something substantial?

  8. Jeremy Bates

    “That’s fair.”

    No, it is not.

    Unequal marriage is not a matter of “core doctrine,” and it does The Episcopal Church an enormous disservice for the PB to suggest that it is.

    Unequal marriage is not doctrine. It’s discrimination.

    • Tracy Lawrence

      Well, that clearly depends on one’s perspective. Not everyone agrees with that; and therein lies the problem.

      • Jeremy Bates

        The unity-in-diversity response would be fine, if it were being followed. It’s not.

        Isn’t it interesting how the only province getting “consequented” is The Episcopal Church.

        It’s an appalling thing for the Primates to do–but then not as appalling, of course, as the life imprisonment that LGBTI people can be subjected to in some parts of the Communion.

        All with the local primate’s wink, or even his outright encouragement. And all without any Communion consequences whatsoever.

        In sum, the real problem is that The Episcopal Church is being discriminated against because it refuses to discriminate.

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