After his acclaimed sermon at the Royal Wedding and whirlwind media tour, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was in Washington, D.C. last week to participate in the Reclaiming Jesus service and procession (see our previous coverage here). Jack Jenkins of Religion News Service followed up on some of the reactions to the procession by asking whether Curry will be able to use his status as a rising star to attract an audience beyond the progressive-leaning parts of the Christian tradition and/or to bolster the progressive agenda.
“’Bishop Curry has now become the love bishop,” said the Rev. Angela Brown, an attendee at the event and pastor at Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco. “(His wedding sermon) was very good for me. … I just needed to know that love still matters to people … that love is what is going to get us through all of this madness.”
“Curry’s recent conversations with the press do tend to center on Jesus and love. The bishop often pairs inflections of social justice-centered theology with appeals to a broader religious audience, such as when he lifts up his two models for public theology: famed civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. and evangelist Billy Graham.
“’It may be that Billy Graham helped us to understand how to draw closer to and love God through his evangelism, and Dr. King helped us understand how do we draw closer to loving our neighbor through social justice and service,’ Curry said in a recent interview with RNS. ‘It’s the same gospel, just different methodologies and approaches.’”
Time will tell what the long-term effects of movements like the Poor People’s Campaign and Reclaiming Jesus will have on the religious and political landscapes in the U.S. In the present moment, they’ve become part of the ongoing conversation swirling around how we treat one another. To paraphrase the lyrics of “I Walk The Line” by Johnny Cash, it seems that Bishop Curry and other leaders keep a close watch and walk the line, because they feel strongly that those landscapes belong to everyone.