Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s address yesterday to the Global Mission Conference organized by Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN) in Puerto Rico was vintage Curry in his joyful and passionate call to the church to revision itself as what he calls “the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement.” He insisted that church institutions must serve the movement and that, if they fail to do so, the movement will leave the institutions behind.
“Evangelism and reconciliation are two sides of the same coin,” Curry said. “We wouldn’t be here without evangelism,” he continued, referring to the fact that Christian profession depends on knowledge of the gospel story, which in turn depends on someone telling the story. “Reconciliation is with God and with each other.”
Fulfilling Curry’s linkage of evangelism and reconciliation, one of his recent major appointments was of Stephanie Spellers as Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Evangelism and Reconciliation. During the afternoon Q&A period, Spellers noted that in a church where many Episcopalians feel at a loss about how to share their faith, the church’s global missionaries can help from their extensive experience of sharing their faith in word and deed around the world.
One of Curry’s main missional reflections centered on the vision of Clarence Jordan and the founding of the Koinonia community in rural Georgia in 1942. He described Jordan as realizing that his initial emphasis on agricultural techniques to eradicate rural poverty needed a companion effort to address spiritual poverty. This led to the gathering of a community of Christians to live out the life of Jesus in rural Georgia through three major commitments: equality of all people, rejection of all violence, and ecological stewardship – all of which were especially radical in 1942 in that setting.