Who is Michael Curry? That’s the question royal wedding watchers have after the American preacher “stole the show,” according to British newspaper The Sun.
The American preacher, 65, was invited by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to give an address at the wedding, according to an official statement from Kensington Palace issued last week. And give an address he did; so filled with passion, emotion, multiple references to fire, and even some humor that the uptight and shocked crowd had a hard time staying in character. Even none other than the future king of England himself, Prince William, was seen cracking a smirk.
So Who Is This Guy?
He was born in Chicago and, according to his autobiography, descended from slaves and sharecroppers. His family moved around for a while during his childhood. By adulthood, he’d felt his calling to the ministry, joining the Episcopal Church and working his way through the ranks.
Curry now he holds the honor of being the 27th and current presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church. If you’re not clear what any of that means, here’s a layman’s explanation (which will, for the sake of brevity, leave out some historical and ecclesiastical nuance in favor of simplicity). Think of the Church of England, or Anglican Church – that is, the Christian denomination that is the state religion of the United Kingdom and thus, the religion of the royal family (and now Meghan) – as having franchises, for lack of a better choice of words, across all nations where the Church of England exists (the collective is called the “Anglican Communion”). Here in the states, that “franchise” is called the Episcopal Church (which has about 2 million believers in the U.S.).
So long story short, and again, leaving out some nuance, Curry is essentially the highest-ranking cleric in the American “franchise” of the Church of England – that is, the Episcopal Church.
He’s Not Your Typical Anglican Preacher
The Church of England goes back centuries, and like Roman Catholicism and other, similar Christian denominations, relies on tradition, liturgy, and ceremony. That means that your typical Anglican church service may be, to outside observers, on the quiet and dry side – especially if the outside observer comes from a more “exuberant” church tradition.
Not so with Michael Curry. His homilies are animated and, indeed, sometimes downright fiery, as the crowd at the royal wedding learned today.
And when he’s not behind the pulpit, he’s an advocate for social justice, having spoken out in favor of marriage equality and immigration policy, among other issues.
He Went Over Pretty Well
If social media is any indication, Curry may well have been the star of the show (after Harry and Meghan, of course).
And while Curry may not have been exactly what the guests of the royal wedding were expecting, stealing the show from what may be the biggest royal event in years is quite an accomplishment.