BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s faith formed in Buffalo. He moved here as a 3-year-old in the mid 1950’s, settling into the city, and embracing the culture and customs of Western New York, likely never realizing he would make history.
Curry became the Episcopal Church’s first African-American Presiding Bishop when he was elected during a landslide vote in June of 2015.
“Well, It’s funny. I have no idea what my brother and sister bishops were thinking when they elected me. I have no idea. They didn’t tell me, but I suspect that their real desire was to find who was the right person and personality and voice for the church in this day,” Curry said with a smile.
He offered his only Buffalo television interview to News 4 during a recent visit to WNY.
“To be able to come back and to see a rennessaince, an economic renaissance, and a sense of hope in the community again, it’s wonderful,” Curry said.
Curry graduated from Hobart College and Yale Divinity School. He became a deacon in June 1978, being ordained at Buffalo’s St. Paul’s Cathedral; his priestly ordination followed in North Carolina. Curry was serving as Bishop of North Carolina before being elected to the church’s highest post.
“The Episcopal Church is a wonderful church of good folk, a good faith. The problem with the Episcopal Church is very few people know we’re actually here. Actually we may be one of Christianity’s best kept secrets,” he suggested.
Curry hopes his enthusiasm can be an agent of change for the church. “My goal is to help this church wake up and come alive in some different ways, and to join hands with out Christians, other peoples of faith and good will, and really help to make a tangible difference in this world.”
Making a difference will require renewal for the mainline denomination. The church counts nearly 1.9 million Americans as its members. The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide 80 million strong Anglican Communion.
“I think a lot of it has to do with, any renaissance, is actually a looking back and digging deep in the past and figuring out what is good, and then retrofitting it, in creative ways, for the new future that’s emerging,”
He admits, figuring out that future can be challenging — for a church in the 21st century. Curry believes it starts with building bridges, across cultural and racial lines. “When all of that begins to happen, and when religious leaders take a lead in that, then a community can begin to follow and move forward,” Curry said.
Judging from our interview, humor may play a part in that future.
“I know that one day the Buffalo Bills are going to go to the Super Bowl, and they’re going to win!”