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