June 2018

Of course, at Holy Trinity we are all used to powerful preaching, so Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon at the wedding won’t have had quite the dramatic effect on us that it had on the BBC, or indeed the rest of the world. Well, something like that. The Bishop has got everyone talking, for all the right reasons. And it’s pretty rare for the church to do that these days, so all credit to him.

Of course, as far as the mainstream media goes, Bishop Michael has burst on the scene from out of nowhere. Before the wedding the fact of him preaching was routinely referenced as “Black American Pastor to preach at royal wedding”. There’s lots wrong with that in all kinds of ways about the assumptions it makes and the language used, but it is also just simply factually incorrect. Michael Curry is the American equivalent of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Anglican Church in the USA. He is the 27th Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church. If you look at pictures of Richard Chartres, ex-Bishop of London preaching at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding, you’ll see that both he and Michael Curry were perfectly attired in the Rochet and Chimere of their Convocation robes. These are the equivalent to the cassock, surplice and academic hood of the general clergy, which have been worn by Anglican bishops since the sixteenth century.

Perhaps this gives us a little insight into what is termed ‘institutional racism’, the casual assumptions that shape our language and our actions. I doubt any BBC or newspaper sub-editors (with the possible exception of the Daily Mail) set out to reduce the Presiding Bishop to a “black American Pastor,” with all the connotations that brings, but they did. I’m also sure that Bishop Michael would rejoice in the association with the Pentecostal heritage that phrase implies, whilst still being alive to those connotations. Michael Curry didn’t come out of nowhere, despite our surprise at meeting him.

All of which brings us back to that sermon. Actually, we should expect something that strong and powerful from a man who been rightly recognised by his peers as a powerful theologian, an experienced pastoral guide, and a man with a Spirit-given gift to tell the world the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ over many years. There was a challenge in his sermon for all who claim to follow Christ: make that powerful love real in your own life. Examine your own attitudes to your neighbours—remembering what Jesus told you about them. Put love at the centre of your lives. Join in with that great and exuberant song of praise that knows no barrier of race or privilege or identity, but is joined with God’s own song of creation in powerful love.

Holy Trinity, Prestwood is an Inclusive Church. We are part of the Church of England.
We are in the Oxford diocese and the Wendover Deanery.

The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of Holy Trinity, Prestwood is a registered charity, no. 1129233.

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