Episcopal bishop to speak on justice and evangelism

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, is visiting Charleston this weekend as part of a conference that will focus on reconciliation and justice.

The conference, called “Spirituality, Justice, and Evangelism” starts at 10 a.m. today at Church of the Holy Communion, 218 Ashley Ave., with Curry giving the keynote address.

When Curry was installed in November as the 27th presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, he spoke of racial reconciliation and finding new ways to spread the teachings of Jesus. His appointment as the first African-American leader of a predominantly white Protestant church that has long been associated with the American elite elevated the voice of a preacher who had focused his ministry on racial justice, a topic that is in the hearts and minds of local residents.

Bishop Curry’s nine-year tenure began just months after the Episcopal Church decided to bless same-sex marriages, and in January he defended that decision in a meeting with archbishops of the Anglican Communion, many of them from Africa, who vehemently oppose gay marriage.

He told The New York Times in March that “I was attempting ... to describe the deep pain for LGBT folk who’ve had to live with not being accepted by the church of Jesus Christ. And sometimes by families and loved ones, and by society. I wanted my brothers to know that our actions would bring them real pain. I said, anytime anybody is excluded, it hurts. I can tell you in all honesty my brothers listened. They did listen.”

The issue is also one that has divided the local Episcopal community.

About 300 people are expected to attend the conference. Registration is available at the door for $35.

Another highlight of the visit is that both the presiding bishop, and the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, will be ministering at 11 a.m. Sunday at Grace Church Cathedral, 98 Wentworth St., Charleston, to celebrate the church being the newest cathedral in the Anglican Communion. The service is open to the public.