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Buffalo-raised Bishop to become first African American leader of Episcopal Church


An Episcopal Bishop with roots in Buffalo will soon become the next worldwide leader for his faith, and the first African American to fill the role.

The Rt. Reverend Michael Bruce Curry is the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, but was chosen this weekend to become the Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church.

Curry grew up in Buffalo, where his father, Reverend Kenneth Curry, was rector of Saint Phillips Episcopal Church. Reverend Vicki Zust of Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Clarence says the younger Curry is a leader who people want to follow anywhere. 

“Bishop Curry is an inspirational leader. Anyone who has heard him preach never forgets it,” said Zust.

As the first African American to lead the Episcopal Church, Zust says Curry brings something special to the table in a time when race is a predominant issue in the eyes of society.

“I think at this time in the history of the United States, to have an African American man leading a predominantly white denomination speaks profoundly of the reconciliation that is possible in our country,” Zust said.

Curry was chosen from among four candidates at a meeting of all Episcopal Bishops in Salt Lake City, Utah. In a closed-door session, he received 121 of 174 votes.

Zust says that with the Church’s headquarters in New York City, and its national cathedral in Washington, D.C., she’s not sure when Curry might plan on returning to his hometown, but said “I do know that Bishop [R. William] Franklin has issued him and open invitation whenever he wants to come. So I’m sure we’ll be having a huge party in Buffalo soon.”

Curry will take office on November 1st for a nine year term.