SALT LAKE CITY, UT: Episcopal Church elects Bishop Michael Curry in landslide vote as new Presiding Bishop
By David W. Virtue in Salt Lake City
June 27, 2015
The Episcopal Church today elected Bishop Michael Curry, 62, its first Black Presiding Bishop, to be the new national leader of the Church at their triennial Convention in a landslide vote held at St. Mark's Episcopal cathedral in Salt Lake City.
He garnered 121 votes out of 174 voting bishops.The number of votes needed for election was 89. He won on the first ballot. Curry’s election was confirmed an hour later by the House of Deputies, as outlined in the church’s canons, by a vote of 800 to 12. He is currently the Bishop of North Carolina. He is considered a moderate bishop.
The other nominees were Bishop Ian Douglas of the Diocese of Connecticut, (13 votes) Bishop Dabney Smith of the Diocese of Southwest Florida (21 votes) and Bishop Thomas Breidenthal of the Diocese of Southern Ohio (19 votes).
The new leader succeeds the first woman Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who will complete her nine-year term on Nov. 1. The Episcopal Church claims 2,009,084 baptized members with an Average Sunday Attendance of 657,102.
The Episcopal Church is a member of the 77-million strong Anglican Communion a global body of churches led by the archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby with roots in the Church of England.
The Episcopal Church, has its headquarters in New York City and is known for its history as the spiritual home of many of the Founding Fathers and U.S. presidents.
This triennial Episcopal General Convention has drawn about 9,000 people and runs through next Friday.
Throughout the two weeks delegates to the 78th General Convention have considered a vast array of resolutions chief among them is the marriage canons of the Church and the Church's efforts to eliminate gender-specific language from church laws on marriage so religious weddings can also be performed for same-sex couples.
Individual bishops have said they would not coerce or demand that clergy who for conscience sake could not perform such ceremonies, but traditionalists remain skeptical because of what they saw happen over the ordination of women, which is now mandated in every diocese.
The spiritual leader of nearly 50,000 Episcopalians in North Carolina gave his formal ok to churches in his diocese to bless same-sex unions in 2004. In a letter to clergy, Bishop Curry said "the blessing of the committed life-long unions of persons of the same gender is one way our community can live the Gospel through faithful and loving pastoral care and spiritual support for each other." No priest is obligated to perform same sex weddings.
As the Church's top legislative body, delegates have been wrestling with an array of issues that reviewing church policies on alcohol and addiction as part of a soul-searching over a Maryland assistant bishop Heather Cook who has been charged in the drunken-driving death of a bicyclist. Other issues include Peace and justice in the Holy Land high, and TREC -- Reimagining the Episcopal Church in the light of stagnant growth and the failure of the 20/20 campaign to double the Church by 2020.
Bishop Curry will have his work cut out for him. The denomination has lost 200,000 active members since 2003 when an openly homosexual man living in a partnered was consecrated a bishop in the Episcopal Church. Decline seems likely to continue with no real way or agenda to entice Millennials into
the Church. Nones now rule.
The Episcopal Church's departure from the received teachings of Scripture on faith and morals resulted in the formation of The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) an orthodox body of Anglicans that has been recognized by the majority of the Global South Primates even though not formally recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Next week, delegates to General Convention will consider restructuring church bodies and redirecting spending to more effectively reach out to an apathetic public.
The election met privately in the city's Episcopal cathedral to vote and was approved by both the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies.
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