Presiding bishop of Episcopal Church to visit Lawrence April 26

The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry

LAWRENCE — The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, will visit Lawrence next Friday.

Curry, the leader of about 2.1 million Episcopalians in the United States, is expected to be at Esperanza Academy at 1:30 p.m.  He will spend time with the students and learn more about the  education that the academy offers to middle school girls from Lawrence.

Located at 198 Garden St., Esperanza Academy is led by Head of School Jadihel Taveras. The academy's classes are held in the parish house of Grace Episcopal Church, which is just around the corner at 35 Jackson St.

Curry was elected presiding bishop by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in July 2015. Last May, his message about God's unconditional love went global and viral when he preached at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

The sermon earned him the title of Religious Newsmaker of the Year from the Religion News Association, which said that Curry had "raised his profile as a progressive religious voice."

"Bishop Curry is a dynamic personality and preacher, and we believe his inspiring witness to the transforming power of the 'Way of Love' will be a blessing to the city of Boston and to our commonwealth," the Rt. Rev. Alan Gates, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, said.

The diocese encompasses the eastern third of Massachusetts, including all of the Merrimack Valley.

Esperanza Academy is a privately funded independent, tuition-free middle school in the Episcopal tradition. Founded in 2006, Esperanza offers its 60-plus students, 95 percent of whom are Latina and 91 percent of whom have learned English as a second language, a rigorous curriculum along with  programs in athletics, arts, community service, cultural enrichment, social skills, spirituality and outdoor education.

The school takes a holistic, extended-day/extended-year approach. Graduates attend 23 different secondary schools and boast a 100% high school graduation rate, according to the academy. Eighty percent of eligible Esperanza graduates are also enrolled in college.

Curry is the Episcopal Church's chief pastor and serves as president and chief executive officer. He sometimes quips that CEO stands for "chief evangelism officer."

The descendant of enslaved Africans, Curry was born in Chicago in 1953. His father was an Episcopal priest and his mother was a devout Episcopalian. She died at a young age and Curry, along with his sister, was raised by his father and grandmother. They grounded him in Christian beliefs and practices through their examples and teachings.

He was ordained to the priesthood in 1978 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina by the late Rt. Rev. John Burgess, retired bishop of Massachusetts, and served in parishes in North Carolina, Ohio and Maryland before his election as bishop of North Carolina in 2000. 

Curry maintains a national preaching and teaching ministry. He has authored four books: "The Power of Love," "Following the Way of Jesus: Church's Teachings in a Changing World," "Songs My Grandma Sang" and "Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus." 

He was one of the subjects of "In Conversation: Michael Curry and Barbara Harris," by Fredrica Harris Thompsett.

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