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  • Writer's pictureRev. CJ Meaders

Bishop Curry Rocks the House (of Deputies)

The House Opens

The gavel came down this afternoon and the 81st General Convention of the Episcopal Church was officially in session, and our time began with remarks from the leaders of both Houses.

The President of the House of Deputies, Julia Ayala-Harris, opened up by thanking all the many people who do work in between General Conventions including the Executive Council, the office of General Convention, and all the Interim Bodies. She also described her work to create a safer, more inclusive House of Deputies which respect the dignity of all involved. She praised the deputies for having signed a Community Covenant, a pledge to remain respectful and loving during our work together.

Then came our Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry. As you may know, Bishop Curry has been through a gauntlet of medical issues and has spent almost two of his final years as PB in a limited role. The seriousness of his condition made me wonder if I'd ever get to see him do his thing... which is to preach the walls off the building... ever again. Looking at him, I could tell he had lost weight and I thought maybe his energy would be diminished as well.

I could not have been more wrong.

"I give you a new commandment" (John 13:34)

Bishop Curry started by thanking everyone for picking up the slack in his time away. He charmed us with some self-deprecating humor, and then he brought the Word. Drawing from Jesus' "Last Discourse" in the Gospel of John where he washes his disciples feet and gives them the new commandment, Bishop Curry likened his experience of retiring from the role of PB to that of Jesus' last night with his disciples. Jesus knew they faced an uncertain future, but he assured them the Advocate would come who would draw them into all truth. Then, he told them to keep the course he had set in motion, loving one another as he loved them.

Bishop Curry emphasized that the Episcopal Church faces the same uncertainty in the future of the church, and yet we are called to hear Jesus words renewed. We have an Advocate with the Spirit which calls us to the way of love set forth in Christ's commandments. Bishop Curry pointed to the "sweet Spirit" known in the Episcopal church even as some of its structures undergo radical change. That sweet Spirit will show us the way forward into a future we do not fully understand.

And the Spirit will keep surprising us with joy. Bishop Curry spoke of a small congregation that by all accounts should be dying. It has 15 people meeting for worship on Sunday and cannot afford a full-time clergy person. Yet, the Spirit has lead this small congregation host a feeding ministry that serves over 2000 people a month! Most of our older markers for church vitality would suggest this isn't possible. How do we change our understanding of church vitality to empower other small congregations to follow this example?

From Wringing Hands to Rolling Sleeves

Bishop Curry then drove home the message, like he does so well. Most importantly, we can't let the changing world and uncertain future tempt us to worry. Instead of ringing our hands we should be rolling up our sleeves. Yes, there is much work to do, but we do our work walking in the way of love and ever guided by the Holy Spirit.

I'm here to confess that, looking from the outside, I've been worried about Bishop Curry. I know I'm not alone. I also worry about the future of the church and where we'll be in 20 years.

And yet, seeing Bishop Curry again so full of life, passionately preaching the word and pointing the way forward, CJ+

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