Chicago bishop with progressive record to speak at royal wedding

Image: The Rev. Michael Bruce Curry prepares for his Installation Ceremony,
The Rev. Michael Bruce Curry prepares for his Installation Ceremony, by Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, at the Washington National Cathedral, in Washington, Nov. 1, 2015. Copyright Mike Theiler
Copyright Mike Theiler
By Daniella Silva and The Associated Press with NBC News World News
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The first African-American to have served as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, he has backed same-sex marriage and racial reconciliation.


The head of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, will speak at the wedding of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle, Kensington Palace said Sunday.

Curry, from Chicago, will give a sermon at the May 19 event in Windsor. He will join the dean of Windsor, the Rt. Rev. David Conner, and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who will officiate at the service.

Curry is the first African-American to have served as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, an offshoot of the Church of England in the United States. It is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. He was elected and confirmed on June 27, 2015.

Curry has been active on social justice issues throughout his ministry, including speaking out on immigration policy and supporting marriage for same-sex couples, according to his biography on the Episcopal Church's website.

In 2016, Curry said the U.S. Episcopal Church would not roll back its acceptance of gay marriage, despite three-year sanctions imposed on it by Anglican leaders. The top Episcopal legislative body had voted overwhelmingly to authorize marriage for same-sex couples in church ceremonies. Anglican leaders then stripped the Episcopal Church of any role in deciding doctrine or determining how the Anglican Communion operates for three years.

"They heard from me directly that that's not something that we're considering," Curry said. "They basically understand we made our decision, and this is who we are, and we're committed to being a house of prayer for all."

During his time as Bishop of North Carolina, he was one of the first bishops to allow same-sex marriages to be performed.

Curry was born in Chicago in 1953 to Dorothy Curry and her husband, Rev. Kenneth Curry.

Curry's father was a Baptist before becoming an Episcopalian priest. The bishop says his father decided to become a part of the church after he and his mother had been allowed to drink from the same chalice being passed among white parishioners in racially segregated Ohio.

"He was dumbfounded," Curry said. "Years later he would say he joined the Episcopal Church because he really hadn't imagined that could happen in America. He said, any church where blacks and whites drink out of the same cup knows something about the Gospel I want to be a part of."

When he was initiated as presiding bishop, Curry spoke of racial reconciliation, calling it "some of the most difficult work possible."

He said racial reconciliation was "just the beginning for the hard and holy work of real reconciliation that realizes justice across all the borders and boundaries that divide the human family of God."

Curry said he would "celebrate and pray for" the royal couple ahead of their wedding next Saturday.

"The love that has brought and will bind Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle together has its source and origin in God, and is the key to life and happiness," Curry said in a statement.

Welby, who baptized Markle ahead of her marriage to Harry, said on Twitter that he was thrilled that the royal couple asked Curry to preach at the wedding, calling the bishop "a brilliant pastor, stunning preacher and someone with a great gift for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ."

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