June 22 revival, learning party in Louisville to feature prayer, worship, music and workshops

By Melodie Woerman
Posted May 21, 2024

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry speaks during ReviveATL in Atlanta, Georgia, on Jan. 22, 2020. Photo: Diocese of Atlanta

[Episcopal News Service] Planners of a revival taking place on June 22 in Louisville, Kentucky, say it will be a time of prayer, worship and music, as well as the chance for The Episcopal Church to say thank you to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry for his nine years of leadership.

The KFC Yum! Center, site of the revival, will be configured to seat up to 8,000 people, the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care, told Episcopal News Service.

The center is a place where the church can “make a big statement about the love of God and the welcome that The Episcopal Church extends in the spirit of Christ to all our neighbors, including people who might have thought that the church didn’t want anything to do with them,” she said. Curry is scheduled to preach at what will be the 27th revival since he became presiding bishop in November 2015.

This revival, like all the others, “… invites Episcopalians to reclaim our faith and to dare to live it anew,” Curry said in a statement for ENS. He also said revivals attempt a cultural transformation by giving the Holy Spirit an entrance into people’s lives.

His support for the idea of revivals grew out of reading Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza’s book on Jesus movements, he said. “That core of the early church was life centered on Jesus of Nazareth — making poverty history and creating a community of radical equality and liberation.”

Additionally, the event includes an afternoon “Learning Party,” a series six workshops on evangelism, reconciliation and creation care that will take place at Christ Church Cathedral, three blocks from the Yum! Center.

The Rev. Melanie Mullen, The Episcopal Church’s director of reconciliation, justice and creation care, told ENS they are planned as an extension of the energy generated at last July’s “It’s All About Love Festival” in Baltimore, Maryland.

KFC Yum! Center

The KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville will be the site of a revival on June 22, the day before the first legislative day of the 81st General Convention. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

There will be one introductory and one in-depth offering for each of the three areas that have formed the core of Curry’s time as presiding bishop, she said, to provide best practices but also to nourish people who are engaged in those ministries. Each workshop will include a variety of voices to make clear that the ministry that needs to take place in these three areas belongs to the entire church.

Spellers said that just as with the other revivals, this one will be a time of “preparing Episcopalians to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit and to share and build relationships with their neighbors.”

Other worship leaders include House of Deputies President Julia Ayala Harris and the Rev. Isaiah Shaneequa Brokenleg, the presiding bishop’s staff officer for racial reconciliation.

The revival’s music director is Kory Caudill, a Nashville, Tennessee, recording artist, pianist and composer who was part of the Concert for the Human Family. Song leaders will be Imani-Grace Cooper, a jazz vocalist who was a featured singer at online services during the COVID-19 pandemic at Washington National Cathedral; and the Rev. Yuri Rodriguez,a priest on the staff of Church of the Nativity in Indianapolis, Indiana, who formerly worked as a singer, artist and educator specializing in Latin American music and culture.

The revival, which takes place the day before the first legislative day of the 81st General Convention, is a separate event. Spellers said by email that the total budget for the revival and learning party is $232,000, and more than 60% of that – $142,000 – pays for production, sound and video at the Yum! Center. The cost “is being covered by the Sharing the Way of Love development campaign, along with budget lines for presiding bishop’s office, episcopal revivals and Beloved Community Summit,” she said.

While Spellers said she expects many bishops, deputies and others participating in the convention to attend the evening revival, planners have been working with dioceses in nearby states to invite Episcopalians from across the region. She noted that a toolkit of materials has been provided to them, along with the offer of financial support for special outreach efforts, if desired.

The Diocese of Kentucky is taking advantage of that offer, the Rev. Jason Lewis, canon for congregational vitality, told ENS. He has arranged for a revival-themed billboard on Interstate 65 in the heart of Louisville, and the diocese is sponsoring radio spots on local stations. They also have been sharing information with churches and parishioners via social media using the toolkit.

“This is Presiding Bishop Curry’s last revival,” Lewis said, “and there is a lot of excitement about being with him.”

—Melodie Woerman is a freelance reporter based in Kansas.