First person of color elected presiding bishop, first time a presiding bishop has been elected on the first ballot–the excitement from today’s historic election of Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina is still in the air.
Here are some Massachusetts reactions after the announcement was made:
The Rt. Rev. Barbara C. Harris: “This is a historic day for the Episcopal Church, and I think we can move forward with our mission and ministry under this new dynamic leadership. I never thought I’d live to see the day that Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected presiding bishop, and I never thought I’d live to see the election that this day brought, and on the first ballot at that.”
Vice president of the House of Deputies and Massachusetts deputy Byron Rushing: “This is quite a remarkable election. I’m, first, just so moved to have the Episcopal Church choose the best candidate regardless of race, and I think they did that. The other thing you see right now, and I just hope we can preserve it, is an incredible unity in both houses, incredible unity in the House of Bishops in this election, and you knew the House of Deputies wanted this after all the nominees came before us and spoke to us in that joint session. You could feel it in this house, and of you saw it in our confirmation vote.
“I think the church needs to take a deep breath and figure out how remarkable this is, what God and the Holy Spirit have given us. This is a huge gift, and we have to say, what will we do with this incredible gift? It’s the opportunity both of Michael and the opportunity of the unity he has been able to demonstrate.”
The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates: “I think it’s a great day for the church. In a year when we’ve been so discouraged by signs of continuing brokenness in our church and in our society, it’s a sign of hope and unity. Thanks be to God.
“[The election at St. Mark’s] was extraordinarily spiritual. I’m not sure people realize–I certainly didn’t before being a part of it–the extent to which the bishops really do understand balloting in the context of prayer. We gathered, we had protracted times of silence, of prayer, a lot of singing. We pretty much sang every Holy Spirit hymn in the hymnal. After the election, we sang ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ and we sang it with gusto.”
Massachusetts deputy Edwin Johnson: “This is bananas! It’s amazing because back in 1997 I was part of the Official Youth Presence [at General Convention]. At that time there was also an election and Bishop Thompson came oh so close. I remember as a child at that point being very disappointed and wondering when this was going to happen, and so for me to have the opportunity to be a deputy on the floor when Bishop Curry was elected, that’s awesome. And over and above the fact that it’s great to have a black man for the first time, it’s also exciting just to have such a charismatic presence. He is just so joyful, the Spirit is within him and I feel like having him as our leader is going to breathe a bunch of new life into the church. This is already the highlight of my time in the House of Deputies during this General Convention. I called my dad who was with the Union of Black Episcopalians for a long time and is someone who fought for this day and prayed to be alive for this day, so that I could call him and let him know that this went down was awesome. I’m on cloud nine.”
The Rt. Rev. Gayle E. Harris: “This is a great day. And as the old hymn goes, ‘Great day, the righteous marching, Great day, God’s going to build up Zion’s walls.’”