In recognition of his lifetime dedicated to serving others, Michael B. Curry ’75, the 27th Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, was bestowed the Hobart Medal of Excellence on Nov. 5 during a special ceremony coinciding with a President’s Forum address through which he gave an engaging talk that received a standing ovation. The Medal of Excellence is the highest honor awarded by the Hobart College Alumni Association. A complete audio recording of Curry’s address is available online, a segment featuring the talk will air on WEOS-FM at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 18.
“’We shall learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish together as fools,’” Curry said quoting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Friday. “But be not dismayed. Do not give up. The choice is actually ours. The fates have not determined it. We can choose chaos, or community. And I’m here, and you’re here, because we’ve chosen community.”
Reflecting on Curry’s aim to have “an inclusive, authentic way to Evangelism and a commitment to racial reconciliation in our culture and our world,” President Mark D. Gearan said: “As the first African-American to hold the highest station in the Church, Bishop Curry ministers with an evangelism grounded as much in the Episcopal tradition as in the theological writings of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was the subject of Bishop Curry’s Honors thesis at Hobart College.”
During his talk, Curry said it was at HWS where he was able to more deeply synthesize through his studies and engagement regarding what he had learned as a young man. He shared one of the lessons he learned early on through church regarding the Civil Rights movement and bringing forth nonviolent change. At the intersection of “faith and life,” Curry reflected: “This is about love. This is not about vengeance. This is about how you transform a society and how to change it, and therefore you must comport yourself with great dignity, and treat others the way you want to be treated.”
“If you listen to the religious traditions of the world, many of them have something akin to what we call the ‘Golden Rule,’ do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s there in Judaism; it’s there in Christianity; it’s there in Islam; it’s there in Hinduism. … Those religious traditions are pointing us beyond the self and toward the other,” Curry said. “… The real way of faith is a way of self-sacrificial service, and witness, and giving, and living, and that way, is our hope.”
Curry’s classmate Dr. Kay Payne ’73 sent in a reflection of Curry which Gearan shared with the audience: “He always stood above the crowd. While we studied and dedicated our lives to fight for social change, we always knew that Michael would one day effect social change.”
A former member of the HWS Board of Trustees, Curry is the first African-American to hold the Church’s top office, serving as the Chief Pastor and as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and chair of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church. The event was attended by members of the HWS community, friends of the Colleges and the public, and held in the Vandervort Room of the Scandling Campus Center.
Presenting the Medal of Excellence were HWS Trustee Dr. Jeremy Cushman ’96, immediate Past President of the Hobart Alumni Association; Jared Weeden ’91, assistant vice president for advancement and director of alumni relations; and Hobart Dean Eugen Baer P’95, P’97. In addition, The Rt. Rev. Prince G. Singh, who serves on the HWS Board of Trustees and is Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, also shared remarks.