Love, self-care and healing relationships were the focus of a live virtual discussion with Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry ’75 on Nov. 17. In conversation with Rev. Owen Thompson ’93 of the Grace Episcopal Church in Nyack, N.Y., and Chaplain and Dean for Spiritual Engagement Nita Byrd, Curry discussed his new book, Love Is the Way: Holding onto Hope in Troubling Times, and answered questions from participants.
Curry shared that people have been asking him if love is really the way through the “perfect storm of pandemics” the country is experiencing — the COVID-19 pandemic, what a friend of his describes as the pandemic of 1619 (the rise of white supremacy, the doctrines of discovery, the institution of chattel slavery and the forced removal of indigenous people from what is now the United States) and the “reality of the deeply divided country, where the election is the lighting rod,” he said.
Curry assured viewers that the answer is yes. “Love is an equal opportunity employer,” he said. “It is not the province of any one religion. It’s the province of Almighty God and the truth of the matter is, it can show us the way to stop living these nightmares.” Acknowledging that operating from a place of love is difficult, Curry reminded viewers that love “is the inspiration, the motivation and the moral guide for how to save human society and how to save this planet itself.”
Reflecting on the influence of his Hobart and William Smith education, Curry shared several key moments in his life when he had to learn to serve congregations as diverse as the small southern city of Winston-Salem, N.C., to the impoverished Black community of Lincoln Heights, Ohio, to the inner city of Baltimore, Md. — and eventually the entire Episcopal Church. “That liberal education helped me figure out how you pivot when the situation changes dramatically on you,” he explained. “That liberal education helped me to learn how to think, how to learn.”
During the Q&A portion of the event, Curry was asked what role reconciliation and honest conversation play in the healing of the country at this time of great division along racial and social lines. He suggested intentionally seeking out and cultivating relationships with people who have differing views. “Get to know that person as a human being,” he said. “I really do think that relationships are the key to making a democracy work.”
Thompson thanked Curry for “your prophetic witness, your courage, for being that voice that cries out in the wilderness, reminding, calling, inviting and challenging us to walk with you and each other along the way of love.”
To view the complete discussion, click here.
Love Is the Way: Holding onto Hope in Troubling Times, released in September by Penguin Random House, explores social and economic inequality, ideological division, faith and how love can offer a redemptive path forward. The book expands on the sermon Curry delivered at the British royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Curry earned a degree in religious studies from Hobart, where he completed Honors and was a member of the Hobart Student Association. He earned a master’s of divinity degree from Yale Divinity School. He served as a member of the Hobart and William Smith Board of Trustees from 1988 until 1992. In 2016, he returned to HWS to participate in the President’s Forum and receive the Hobart Medal of Excellence, the Hobart College Alumni Association’s highest honor. He was selected as the 2020 Commencement speaker and, after the graduation ceremony was postponed due to the pandemic, will deliver the Commencement address to the Classes of 2020 on June 6, 2021, where he will receive an honorary degree.