I have been attending an annual conference for religious this week. The conference was scheduled to be in Cincinnati, but was moved online to Zoom, like so many other things these days. Our key note speaker was the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, The Most Rev. Michael Curry. He and his staff meet virtually with the leaders of the associations organizing the conference and had a discussion about religious life and the current state of the Episcopal church which was shared with the conference attendees Thursday morning.
If you haven’t seen or heard Michael Curry– you should look him up on YouTube (go ahead, I’ll wait). He’s a very charismatic speaker, perhaps more globally known for the homily he delivered at the royal wedding of HRH Prince Harry. This conversation for the conference was another example of his energizing and stirring elocutionary skills.
While I watched this conversation unfold I was struck by the fearlessness with which Bishop Curry approaches his role as the “head” of the Episcopal Church USA. He views his position as an kind of ambassador– a true evangelist, sharing Jesus’ love with the world and speaking from the perspective of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. He is brimming over with joy! He doesn’t fear parochial reports and the numbers declining in churches. While he acknowledges there are things we can learn from that, he stated unequivocally, “the Church has changed, the Church is changing, the Church will change.” Our job is to step right into the midst of that change, take the hand of of God, and walk on boldly into the Churches next chapter together. It was exhilarating. He said that “he believes that a Church where the people really are praying and living in that Living relationship with God … who we know in Jesus, that kind of Church is a movement that Pilot could’t stop in the first century and the coronavirus will not stop in the 21st, no matter how secular a society may be.”
Personally I have seen this Church do things in one month that I hadn’t thought were possible. Churches with no staff, few parishioners, scarce resources pulling together virtual worship experience all over the world. Small groups of morning prayer, bible studies, pastoral messages, group fellowship, forming seemingly out of thin air! Now believe me, I know full well how much work it takes to organize and produce this type of content– and it was almost comical how clumsy some of the roll out was for some communities, with poor lighting, out of focus cameras, inaudible voices, but it’s come together in miraculous ways, and brothers and sisters– people are being CHANGED! A few weeks ago, many churches didn’t even know how they would pull of Holy Week. Yet, I would dare say that more people attended Easter services at Episcopal churches this year than in recent memory.
What better example of the power of resurrection than this!? The disciples and followers, in their distress and dismay, couldn’t have imagined what was waiting them, and Jesus showed them that the power of God’s love has no holds, that death and disease cannot stop the miracle of resurrection! and they were forever CHANGED.
Even while I weep for those who are suffering and those who have died in this chaotic time, I will REJOICE. For I know that God’s love is more powerful still, and the change we have felt is but a foretaste of the glorious and hope-filled change that is to come.
Be safe and be well.