All photos by Gabe Archer.
The dust has settled from Presiding Bishop Curry’s whirlwind trip across the Diocese of Olympia, but the enthusiasm stirred up throughout the Episcopal Church in Western Washington remains. Over four days, the Most Reverend Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, traveled to nearly every corner of the diocese – from Bellingham in the north to Vancouver, WA in the south. He also split his time between larger public events (services and Q&A sessions) and smaller, more intimate gatherings that showed the range of ministries within the diocese.
Over the last few weeks we’ve shared highlights and recaps from the Presiding Bishop’s visit to the diocese. Sunday, June 17, was Presiding Bishop Curry’s final day in the Diocese of Olympia, preaching at the 8:00 A.M. and 10:00 A.M. services of St. Luke’s ~ San Lucas Episcopal Church in Vancouver, Washington.
The 8:00 A.M. service was full and lively at St. Luke ~ San Lucas, with parishioners coming in from other churches across the area. Presiding Bishop Curry opened his sermon with references to the immigration crisis that had been drawing national attention during his visit to the diocese. “Apparently, St. Paul is being quoted this days, so let’s see if we can get him right… It is the love of Christ that urges us on. Oh, there’s power in love – power to life up, liberate, and give life. And when that happens, selfishness passes away. And when that happens, a new world comes into being!” He continued on this theme of love, the congregation with him every step of the way. “When that love of Christ compels us, we no longer live for ourselves alone! There is a new creation – a new world, a new nation, a new creation!”
During the second service at St. Luke ~ San Lucas, Vancouver, the Presiding Bishop continued to build on this theme of love and selfishness. “There’s power in love,” he said throughout the sermon. “Don’t discount it. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t be ashamed of it. Don’t be ashamed to be a Christian who is moved by the power of the love of Jesus Christ.” Addressing again the immigration crisis and Attorney Jeff Sessions’ use of scripture to defend the separation of families, Presiding Bishop Curry said “Love God, love your neighbor… that’s it! There is no higher court! There is no other constitution! If it’s not about love, it’s not about Christ!” He also spoke on the perils of selfishness. “Selfishness is the root of all evil. That’s where I’m the center of the universe and everyone else is on the periphery. Selfishness can destroy lives. Selfishness can destroy churches. Selfishness can destroy our nation. Selfishness can destroy the world!”
In both services, Presiding Bishop Curry spoke about the power of love to help us turn away from selfishness. “God is an equal opportunity lover! Because love is not self-centered… He died to save us all. – not just for Christians, not just for religious folk, not just for Democrats, not just for Republicans, not just for liberals, not just for independents, not just for conservatives. He died to save us all!”
The service over, it was time for the Presiding Bishop to pack up and leave the Diocese of Olympia for the next stop on his itinerary before General Convention began just a few weeks later in Austin, Texas. It was an amazing and inspiring visit to our diocese from Presiding Bishop Curry. It was a visit that challenged and encouraged at every turn, reminding us that we are the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement and exhorting us to turn away from selfishness and to embrace the way of love.
While we’ve finished our day-to-day recap of the Presiding Bishop’s visit, there’s still more to come! Check back next week as we collect some of the Presiding Bishop’s answers to questions from parishioners throughout the diocese and share our video highlights from Presiding Bishop Curry’s four days in the Diocese of Olympia!