African American Anglicans

Curry

In the wake of bishop Michael Curry’s sermon at the recent royal wedding, Grant Shreve offers us a brief introduction, with scholarly links, to the African American experience in the Anglican Church.  Here is a taste of his piece at JSTOR Daily:

Curry’s message was made all the more urgent and vital by the fact that the history of the Anglican Church in America—which came to be called the Protestant Episcopal Church here—is marred by centuries of complicity and neglect on matters of race. Indeed, as historian Robert A. Bennett has argued, black Episcopalians have had to struggle mightily to maintain their “ethnic-racial identity in a larger Church body which has not readily acknowledged [their] presence.”

This lamentable history began in the eighteenth century when the Anglican Church devised one of the first concerted efforts to evangelize to slaves. In 1701, it established the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), an organization whose mission was to spread the Christian gospel to non-Christian peoples across the globe—including American Indians and enslaved Africans. Although the message of its early missionaries did not fully distinguish between spiritual and political freedom, the SPG eventually caved to the demands of slaveholders and preached a theology maintaining that “conversion did not . . . imply manumission.”

Read the entire piece here.

Evangelicals and Bishop Michael Curry’s Sermon at the Royal Wedding

Curry

Chris Gerhz of Pietist Schoolman fame reflects on the evangelical response (or lack thereof) to Curry’s sermon.  Here is a taste of his piece:

Did leading evangelicals pointedly ignore the sermon preached at Saturday’s royal wedding, by Episcopal Church presiding bishop Michael Curry? One religion reporter thought so, at least based on some quick social media research:

Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons

@GuthrieGF

  

I checked a dozen of the most influential evangelicals on Twitter. Not one mentioned Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon-heard-round-the-world. I’m not sure they know how to handle it: can’t criticize b/c everyone loved it, can’t affirm b/c Curry is not an evangelical.

 

Now, that didn’t square with how I read evangelical Twitter over the weekend. First, there was evangelical criticism of Curry’s sermon, mostly from Gospel Coalition and other Reformed types who thought that Curry — given the chance to proclaim the Gospel to billions — may have said too much about love and not enough about sin. Plus conservative Anglicans who simply regard Curry as apostate for his embrace of same-sex marriage.

But actually, I was more struck just how many people I’d regard as both evangelical and influential responded enthusiastically to Curry.

Read the entire piece here.

Randall Balmer on Bishop Michael Curry

Curry

This past weekend we did a quick post on Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon at the royal wedding.  Yesterday at The Washington Post, American religious historian Randall Balmer offers a more extended take on the sermon.  Here is a taste:

Curry, a cradle Episcopalian (his father was an Episcopal priest), is often mistaken for a Baptist. His preaching style draws on the long and venerable tradition of black preachers dating to the days of slavery. At St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday, he opened his sermon in measured tones, beginning with a reading from the Song of Solomon. This was to be a sermon about love, one appropriate to the marrying couple, but also — and here Curry demonstrated his artistic mastery — to the gathered audience and to the world at large. “There is power in love,” he said. “Don’t underestimate it.”

As he developed his argument, Curry drew from both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, pointing out that Jesus summarized all the law and the prophets as love for God and love for your neighbor as yourself. And here, in the classic African American tradition of preaching, the bishop’s pace began to quicken; his tone grew more insistent and his gestures more expansive. Curry quoted King and Jesuit philosopher Teilhard de Chardin, and added his own touches of humor.

Markle, the bride, sat transfixed from the beginning; Harry’s expression suggested skepticism. The cutaways to the other royals suggested that they, too, were not sure why this stem-winding African American preacher had been invited to participate.

Read the entire piece here.

Reverend Michael Curry Stole the Show at Today’s Royal Wedding

I finally got a chance to watch Rev. Michael Curry‘s sermon at this morning’s royal wedding.  Wow!

The message itself was not particularly groundbreaking, but the occasion made it more powerful than it would have been if Curry preached the same sermon at his church in the United States.  I also thought Curry was pretty constrained when compared to what I know of the African-American prophetic preaching tradition. Having said that, an African-American preacher amid the royal family was amazing to watch.  And I am also glad that a billion people around the world got to hear a sermon about the redemptive power of love.

Quick thoughts:

  • Meghan Markle’s face said it all.  The ambassador for the evangelical relief agency World Vision clearly enjoyed Curry’s sermon.
  • Harry also seemed to enjoy the sermon, but his facial expression communicated something like: “I am OK with this, but I’d like it to be over soon.”
  • Many of the royals were clearly squirming as Curry preached.
  • Oprah was fully engaged with Curry’s message.
  • Kate seemed to secretly enjoy the fact that the royal family was squirming.

Curry stole the show with his authenticity in this setting.