The Episcopal Church elected its first African-American presiding bishop, Bishop Michael Curry, on this day in 2015.
Bishop Curry on racism:
“When I was in seminary, the expectation at the time was that if you were a black priest or seminarian, you were going to be serving in black churches. There was a black church world and a white church world. That was the given-ness of racism, not that anybody said anything.”
Bishop Curry on racial reconciliation:
“Rather than creating just another program, we said we have got to go deeper. Because laws can change behavior, and must change behavior, but laws don’t change hearts. We’ve got to be about the work of changing and transforming hearts. And that happens by deepening real sustained relationships, and listening to and telling and sharing of our life stories.”
Bishop Curry on equality for gay people:
“When I think about it, it was more an evolution from not really thinking about the life of gay and lesbian people, to be honest, to becoming very aware. I was ordained in 1978. I think the first general convention resolution [on homosexuality] was about in 1979. But I was in seminary with people who were gay. We all knew. It was just kind of, don’t ask, don’t tell. During the AIDS crisis, I was at St. James Baltimore. I began to see the interconnections between what I was perceiving as patterns of exclusion across a lot of different lines — race, gender, class.
When I was a little boy, this was during the civil rights struggle, I remember my father, who was involved in the movement in Buffalo, I remember hearing him say, God didn’t make my children to be second-class citizens in this country. God didn’t make anybody to be a second-class citizen. Of this country, or the human family. I believe it because I believe that’s what the Scripture teaches. And that is clearly what Jesus teaches. He says, come unto me all of you. He didn’t limit love. The dude, he got it.”
Photo courtesy of the Episcopal Church