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Who Is Bishop Michael Curry, the Preacher Who Delivered the Sermon at the Royal Wedding?

Meghan and Harry's choice made an inspiring statement about the importance of social justice.
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ishop Michael Curry, the head of the Episcopalian Church in America, gave a riveting sermon at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding, one that transfixed both the elite crowd of guests in the church and the broad television audience. As Dave Holmes put it on Esquire.com, we expected to wake up early for a wedding this morning, "we did not expect to be taken to church."

Here's what you need to know about the royal wedding's special guest star:

HE IS A TRAILBLAZER.

The 65-year-old minister is the first African-American bishop of the Episcopal Church. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, where Markle attended Northwestern University, and graduated from Hobart College and the Yale Divinity School. He has been affiliated with churches in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Lincoln Heights, Ohio, and Baltimore, Maryland, before being elected the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. He's been the presiding bishop for the whole church since 2015.

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HE IS KNOWN FOR HIS SOCIAL JUSTICE WORK.

The official website of the Episcopal Church in America, over which Curry presides, notes that the reverend "has been active in issues of social justice, speaking out on immigration policy and marriage equality." He has worked closely with efforts to help families in inner cities and worked to refocus the church's Millennium Development Goals to a $400,000 campaign to buy malaria nets, which reportedly saved over 100,000 lives.

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HE SPOKE ABOUT SLAVERY AND QUOTED MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. IN HIS ROYAL WEDDING SERMON.

Bishop Curry's sermon was not just a pean to the love between Harry and Meghan—or even love between couples more generally—but a call to action that love must be the answer to the world's ills.

When love is the way, unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive, when love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again. When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook. When love is the way, poverty will become history. When love is the way, the Earth will be a sanctuary. When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields, down by the riverside, to study war no more. When love is the way, there's plenty good room, plenty good room, for all of God's children because when love is the way, we actually treat each other well, like we are actually family.

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He evoked love's ability to heal even the wounds of slavery—and the courage of America's enslaved people in the face of unspeakable horror. "If you don't believe me," he told his wrap audience, "there were some old slaves in America's antebellum south who explained the dynamic power of love and why it has the power, they explained it this way, they sang a spiritual, even in the midst of their captivity, something that can make things right, to make the wounded whole."

Social media took note:

Even supermodel Naomi Campbell is a fan:

HE MADE RACIAL RECONCILIATION A PRIORITY FOR THE EPISCOPALIAN CHURCH.

The Church, he told the New York Times in 2016, has to work at a more fundamental level than a change to laws or policies. "We’ve got to be about the work of changing and transforming hearts. And that happens by deepening real sustained relationships, and listening to and telling and sharing of our life stories."

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CURRY IS A 21ST CENTURY PASTOR.

He read his sermon from an iPad.

HE'S A PASSIONATE SUPPORTER OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE.

His tenure as the head of the Episcopal Church began just months after that institution decided to bless same-sex marriages. The decision was a controversial one as many bishops from Africa vehemently oppose gay marriage. At a meeting in January 2016, Curry spoke to his fellow bishops and made a connection between the exclusion and bigotry experienced by black people and the exclusion of gay people. Reverend Curry told the New York Times:

"What I was attempting to do was to describe the deep pain for L.G.B.T. folk who’ve had to live with not being accepted by the church of Jesus Christ. And sometimes by families and loved ones, and by society. I wanted my brothers to know that our actions would bring them real pain. I said, anytime anybody is excluded, it hurts. I can tell you, in all honesty, my brothers listened. They did listen."

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MEGHAN AND HARRY'S CHOICE OF THE REVEREND CURRY WAS A BREAK FROM ROYAL TRADITION.

Royal weddings are usually presided over by senior members of the Church of England. In this case, the service was conducted by the Dean of Windsor, David Conner, and Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, officially did the honors of marrying the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (as Harry and Meghan are now known). But it was Bishop Curry who delivered the strongest message of love to the audience.


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The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby with Bishop Curry at St George's Chapel, Windsor before the wedding.

HE'S A MARRIED FATHER OF TWO.

He is married to the former Sharon Clement, and they have two daughters, Rachel and Elizabeth.

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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