Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, installed Sunday as the first black leader of the US Episcopal Church, urged Episcopalians to evangelize by crossing divides of race, education, and wealth. Curry used the example of his own mother being given Communion at a white Episcopal parish before desegregation, and how that act persuaded his father to join the denomination, and eventually become a priest. "God has not given up on the world and God is not finished with the Episcopal Church yet," Curry said, during a joyous ceremony in the Washington National Cathedral. Curry, 62, succeeds Katharine Jefferts Schori, who was the first woman in the job and is ending her nine-year term.
He served about 15 years as leader of the Diocese of North Carolina before he was overwhelmingly elected last summer to the top church post. He grew up in Buffalo, NY, and earned degrees from Hobart College in Geneva, NY, and Yale Divinity School. The New York-based denomination was the church of many Founding Fathers and has about 1.9 million members. Episcopalians now are struggling with shrinking membership and ongoing tensions with fellow Anglicans around the world over the Episcopal support for gay marriage. Curry will represent the US church in January, at a meeting of national Anglican leaders addressing the splits in their fellowship. "It is an understatement to say we live in a deeply complex and difficult time in the life of the world," Curry says. Click for more on the story. (Read more Episcopal Church stories.)