When Bishop Michael Curry was asked to speak at the wedding of the year, he thought it was a joke.
“I got the call from a member of my staff and I was like: ‘Is it April? Is this an April Fool?’”
It did seem unlikely: a charismatic African-American preacher in the pulpit at one of the Royal Family’s most intimate occasions. But the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the soldier prince and the Hollywood star, broke down cultural barriers in a way unprecedented for the House of Windsor.
And the surprise guest star was this 65-year-old from Chicago, raised in the civil rights movement, with a message of love that touched so many in St George’s Chapel and watching on televisions around the world.
“The power of love is demonstrated by the fact that we’re all here,” said Curry, beaming.
“Two young people fell in love and we all showed up.”
The groom laughed when he heard those words and held the hand of his bride, who looked delighted. The Queen and other senior Royals visibly wondered what to make of the Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, who was dressed in familiar Anglican robes but talked with an unusual ease, fluidity and warmth.
This was the biggest single presentation of the gospel in human history
He certainly had the potential to be controversial. The church he leads supports same-sex marriage. And the bishop did not shy away from mentioning slavery, as the descendant of slaves himself.
The pressure was on for him too: with a global audience of 2 billion, this was the biggest single presentation of the gospel in human history. But what a presentation it was: funny, generous, inclusive, human, twice as long as scheduled and unapologetically full-on about the reason everyone was there in church.
“It’s not just for and about a young couple, who we rejoice with. It’s more than that,”
he said, seizing his moment. The source of love is God, who is also the source of life, and he made that love known in Jesus, said the bishop.
But what was it like to be Bishop Curry on that day? What did it do to his life, to become so famous that he was simultaneously spoofed by Lenny Henry in the UK and Saturday Night Live in America? And what does this campaigner for social justice, from a country that rejected the idea of a monarchy long ago, really think Jesus would make of our Royal Family?
Many of us who were touched by his words at the wedding were concerned to hear that he underwent surgery for prostate cancer over the summer, so how is his health now?
Cole Moreton of Premier Christianity caught up with the Bishop at Southwark Cathedral in London, UK and the exuberant preacher who turned the royal wedding upside down talks about politics, the power of love and what it was like to become famous in a day.
Read the full interview here
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