WORCESTER — Even if you have never set foot inside an Episcopal Church, you may recognize Bishop Michael B. Curry when he leads the procession from Fuller Park to the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts for an Oct. 21 Episcopal Revival event, which is expected to fill the theater to capacity and bring a whole lot of energy and joy into attendees’ spiritual lives.
Bishop Curry, presiding bishop and primate of the American Episcopal Church, came into global fame when he preached at the May 2018 wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. The royal nuptials were seen on television by millions all over the world and offered a glimpse of what many call Bishop Curry’s “infectious” preaching style that is, indeed, reviving a church that has not had such a dynamic and evangelical leader in some time.
“The Episcopal traditions are often indistinguishable from those of the Roman Catholic Church, based in liturgy and a deep historical commitment to the Bible,” said the Rev. David H. Woessner, rector at St. Michael’s-on-the-Heights Episcopal Church in Worcester. “And The presiding bishop comes from a rich black preaching tradition in the South, bringing an incredible new life to the same ideas and words.”
Born in Chicago, son of an Episcopal priest father and devout Episcopalian mother, Bishop Curry attended public schools and undergraduate school in upstate, New York. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Yale University Divinity School in New Haven, and began his ministry in 1978 as deacon-in-charge at a parish in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. After later serving as rector there and over the years as rector at churches in Ohio and Maryland, he was elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina in 2000, according to the Episcopal Church.
The revival event is one of many Bishop Curry has scheduled in the time since he took the helm three years ago, the first African-American to lead the church of more than 3 million followers.
“A Revival in our time is an invitation to claim anew a commitment to God, and the way of Jesus of Nazareth which is nothing less than the way of unselfish, sacrificial love. That way of love is the foundation for human relationships and for a just and compassionate social order and world,” Bishop Curry said in a statement.
According to the Rev. Victoria Ix, communications director for the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, the theme of the revival – an event in Episcopal tradition that encourages and inspires spiritual renewal and transformation – is “rekindling hope, sharing light, and loving Jesus.”
By all accounts, Bishop Curry’s infectious and charismatic style is not to be missed. According to Steering Committee member the Rev. Jose Reyes, who also serves as the diocesan missioner for Latino/Hispanic Ministries through the Diocese of Western Massachusetts, nearly all of the tickets to the event have been reserved and a few hundred have been set aside for reservation in the coming week.
A “block party” style event will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at Fuller Family Park behind the Central Branch YMCA, featuring activities for children and families and free pizza. That event is free and open to the public, and the procession will begin from there and continue to the Hanover Theatre.
“We consider this to be a very symbolic act” Rev. Woessner said. “Marching from Main South to the beautiful theater downtown – it is a way to express that everybody is welcome.”
Rev. Reyes added that the program for the revival is very exciting and rich. With doors opening at 3:30 p.m., the first hour and a half will be spent with various musical groups and performances, including hymns performed by a collective choir and the stylings of the local Crocodile River African Drumming group.
Bishop Douglas Fisher, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, will give remarks beginning at 5 p.m., and Presiding Bishop Curry’s preaching will follow.
“It will be an ecumenical message about love,” Rev. Reyes said. “Bishop Curry is one of those people who embodies and lives this message, and he is able to deliver it to people in an incredible way.”
To secure free tickets to the revival event at Hanover Theatre, visit wmarevival.org. The Fuller Park event does not require registration.