Saturday, June 27, 2015

New Presiding Bishop Elected

Today was an historic day for the Episcopal Church. Bishop Michael Curry was elected by an overwhelming majority on the first ballot. Bishop Curry is first African American to be elected to the office of Presiding Bishop.

The day was full of drama and ceremony. At the conclusion of our morning worship, the congregation was asked to be seated for moment of silence. Imagine several thousand people sitting in silence all waiting and praying for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. This holy silence moved many to tears. After this time of prayerful reflection, the bishops exited the hall and made their way to St. Mark's Cathedral just a short distance from the convention center where the business of the General Convention is taking place. Once the bishops were gathered, they spent additional time in prayer and reflection, and then stood to sing hymns of praise and thanksgiving. 

And then the voting began...

The first ballot was taken. The bishops waited eagerly for the initial results to be announced.  Many prepared to move onto the next ballot. And election? On the first ballot? Unprecedented! The announcement was made to the bishops that the Rt. Rev. Michael Bruce Curry had been elected. The entire gathering of bishops erupted in thunderous applause.

However, despite the drama and ceremony, there was no white smoke! Instead, a delegation was sent from the gathering of bishops back to the convention center to announce the results to the 842 lay and clergy deputies who were gathered at the convention hall awaiting the election results. The delegation arrived at the convention hall and the business of the house of deputies stopped. A designated committee was gathered to receive the official results. Eventually the announcement was made to the lay and clergy deputies that Bishop Curry had been elected. A eruption of applause and cheers filled the hall. The President of the House of Deputies called us to order and reminded us that we still needed to officially "confirm" the election and send a delegation back to the gathering of bishops in order to complete the election process. 

The House of Deputies was nearly unanimous in its vote to confirm Bishop Curry and a delegation was immediately sent back to the gathering of Bishops. Within 30 minutes, Bishop Curry, his family, and the deputies from North Carolina were ushered to the front of the convention hall, where Bishop Curry was officially welcomed as the Presiding Bishop Elect. In the face of this historic moment, the packed hall could hardly contain the energy and excitement as Bishop Curry took to the platform and made his "acceptance speech," which was short, yet poignant. 

Bishop Curry is a passionate preacher and evangelist. He loves Jesus and cares deeply for the church. In the coming days, months, and years, the Episcopal Church will continue to face many challenges as well many significant opportunities for mission and ministry. I pray that God's Spirit will anoint and empower Bishop Curry to lead our church in this critical time in our history.

Author of "Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus," he has said he prays "for a church passionately committed to making disciples."

In his introductory materials as a candidate, Curry said, "At a deep level I am suggesting a church-wide spiritual revival of the Christian faith in the Episcopal way of being disciples of Jesus!" 

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