Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preaches about love during Louisville revival

By Shireen Korkzan and Logan Crews
Posted Jun 23, 2024

About 2,000 people gathered at the KFC Yum! Center June 22, 2024, in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, for a pre-General Convention revival. The 81st General Convention is taking place June 23-28 at the Kentucky International Convention Center. Photo: Randall A. Gornowich

[Episcopal News Service – Louisville, Kentucky] When Presiding Bishop Michael Curry headlined and preached at his last revival as primate of The Episcopal Church on June 22, his sermon focused on the word he’s emphasized throughout his episcopacy: Love.

“Choose love because love can save us. Love comes from the heart of God,” Curry told the crowd of approximately 2,000 people who gathered at the KFC Yum! Center on the bank of the Ohio River for the revival.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry headlined and preached at his last revival as primate of The Episcopal Church on June 22, 2024, at the KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Photo: Randall A. Gornowich

The revival took place the night before the official start of the 81st General Convention, where as many as 10,000 Episcopalians from all nine of The Episcopal Church’s provinces, including staff, exhibitors, church-affiliated groups and other visitors, are gathering June 23-28 at the Kentucky International Convention Center. Registered attendees include 167 bishops, two bishops-elect, 829 deputies and 239 alternate deputies. This General Convention marks a return to the full gathering that wasn’t possible at the last meeting, in 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland.

The revival was an opportunity for Episcopalians to network and thank Curry, who leaves office on Oct. 31, for his nine years of service as General Convention prepares to elect and confirm his successor. It was his 27th revival since he became presiding bishop in November 2015. The event was livestreamed here. The text of Curry’s sermon is here.

“I’m feeling replenished in my spirit. Our presiding bishop has been on a really long walk with us and … it’s such a blessing,” Northern California Bishop Megan Traquair told Episcopal News Service. “To see him so well – that he is back to his old form – nothing could make me more happy.”

Curry has presided at many large public revivals in dioceses around the church as part of the church’s call to evangelism. The revivals are gatherings that combine prayer, worship and live music that give participants a chance to renew their faith and share it with others.

“This revival is not about what church you go to. It’s not about whether you are liberal or conservative. It’s not about whether you are Republican, independent or Democrat,” Curry said during his sermon. “Love is an equal opportunity employer. Love is bipartisan. Love is interreligious because love comes from God and love knows no bounds.”

Curry told ENS in a statement last month that his support for the idea of revivals grew out of reading feminist theologian Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza’s writing on Jesus movements.

The presiding bishop’s focus on the Jesus Movement has inspired Christian Ventura, a brother in the Order of Christ the Saviour,

“I feel commissioned as a disciple. I feel inspired by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and all the love he has given to our church,” he told ENS. “The work has just begun, and we have a lot to go from here, recognizing the fruits of the spirit that we’ve already received and to multiply them.”

House of Deputies President Julia Ayala Harris and the Rev. Isaiah Shaneequa Brokenleg, the presiding bishop’s staff officer for racial reconciliation, were co-worship leaders at the June 22, 2024, revival at the KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Photo: Randall Gornowich

Other worship leaders included House of Deputies President Julia Ayala Harris and the Rev. Isaiah Shaneequa Brokenleg, the presiding bishop’s staff officer for racial reconciliation. Dinorah Padro provided Spanish interpretation.

Rio Grande Bishop Michael Hunn embraces the Rev. Lauren Stanley, canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of South Dakota, during the June 22, 2024, revival at the KFC Yum! Center. Photo: Randall A. Gornowich

The revival’s music director was Kory Caudill, a Nashville, Tennessee, recording artist, pianist and composer who was part of the Concert for the Human Family. Song leaders included Imani-Grace Cooper, a jazz vocalist who was a featured singer at online services during the COVID-19 pandemic at Washington National Cathedral; 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; and Royce Mosley. Idaho Episcopalian Ronald Braman, a member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, also sang with the ensemble.

Maimie Thomas of the Diocese of South Dakota is one of two Official Youth Presence members representing Province VI at this year’s General Convention. Inspired by Curry, she also spoke about the importance of love.

“Thinking back to the time I finally accepted God’s love, it was not in the many times I was told I was loved, but how I was shown by the diverse group of people with different stories that showed me that if they could see God’s love … I could see it, too,” she said.

The revival also kickstarted a mission trip for youth in the Diocese of Western Michigan. Lincoln Schnaare, whose mother, the Rev. Anne Schnaare, is rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids, told ENS that the revival was much different than he expected.

“It’s an energy that isn’t really found very often. I do appreciate that,” he said. “Having interpreters who sign, language in Spanish and having the ability to have three other languages being represented – I think that’s really important, and I’m glad they’re doing that work.”

The June 23, 2024, revival was an opportunity for Episcopalians to network and thank Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who leaves office on Oct. 31, for his nine years of service as General Convention prepares to elect and confirm his successor. It was his 27th revival since he became presiding bishop in November 2015. Photo: Randall Gornowich

Earlier in the day, nearby Christ Church Cathedral hosted an afternoon “Learning Party” featuring six workshops on evangelismracial reconciliation and creation care, which have been priorities for The Episcopal Church throughout Curry’s nine-year term as presiding bishop. The themes are also the core tenets of Curry’s vision of the Jesus Movement. The workshops were created as an extension of last July’s “It’s All About Love” festival.

“I liked [Curry’s] messaging throughout that love is the point, because God is love and we’re here for God and are not here for pushing our message on other people,” Schnaare said. “We’re here specifically to love each other and love others that aren’t like us. I think that’s an important point that some people have sadly missed, but it’s a form that needs to be driven home.”

-Shireen Korkzan is a reporter and assistant editor for Episcopal News Service based in northern Indiana. She can be reached at skorkzan@episcopalchurch.org. Logan Crews, a former Episcopal Church Ecojustice Fellow, is a seminarian at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale who serves on the student leadership team of the World Student Christian Federation-United States.


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