By The Rev. Tom Sramek, Jr., June 27, 2015
In an historic vote at General Convention, The Right Reverend Michael Curry, Bishop of North Carolina, has been elected as the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. As the first African-American to lead our denomination, Bishop Curry’s election marks yet another milestone for The Episcopal Church in this area–the previous milestone having been set when current Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori was elected as the first woman bishop. Lest anyone think that Bishop Curry was elected specifically because he is African-American, he has also demonstrated that he is a very capable leader, preacher, and administrator in his 15 years as Bishop of North Carolina. Our deputation was extremely impressed with him during the candidate’s presentation.
In an interesting twist, the House of Deputies balked at President Jennings’ plan to recess for lunch while the House of Bishops was sequestered pending the report of the committee on the Confirmation of the Presiding Bishop and then the House of Deputies’ concurrence. For that reason, the House of Deputies remained in session for more than an hour beyond the time scheduled until receiving word of the election by the House of Bishops and subsequently approving his election and then welcoming him as Presiding Bishop-elect.
This election is historic in another sense–it is the first time in memory that the person elected was elected on the first ballot. Bishop Curry was elected by 70% of the House of Bishops and confirmed by 99% of the House of Deputies. As one commentator put it “the overwhelming approval is a clear sign of the Holy Spirit at work.” The Presiding Bishop-elect will begin his ministry as Presiding Bishop on November 1 when he is instituted at Washington National Cathedral.