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Buffalo native elected to head Episcopal Church

The Rev. Michael B. Curry, an Episcopal bishop who grew up in Buffalo, was elected Saturday to be the presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church.

Curry, 62, who has served as bishop of Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina since 2000, will become the first African-American in the church’s top leadership office when he takes office on Nov. 1.

“Michael is a gifted bishop, an inspirational leader and a wonderful example of the Christian life,” said the Right Rev. R. William Franklin, Episcopal Bishop of Western New York, in a statement. “The Episcopal Church is blessed that he will be our leader. I look forward to welcoming him home to Buffalo in the near future.”

The election took place at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathederal in Salt Lake City.

Curry was elected to a nine-year term by the House of Bishops from a slate of four nominees on the first ballot, receiving 121 votes of 174 cast.

A 1971 graduate of Hutchinson-Central Technical High School, Curry was the son of the late Rev. Kenneth S. Curry, who served as rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church. He also was a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva and Yale Divinity School.

Curry was ordained a deacon in 1978 in St. Paul’s Cathedral in Buffalo, and was ordained to the priesthood six months later in St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Winston-Salem, N.C. He served as rector there until 1982.

From 1982 to 1988, he was rector of St. Simon of Cyrene Episcopal Church, Lincoln Heights, Ohio. He was rector of St. James Church in Baltimore from 1988 until his election as the eleventh bishop of Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.

Curry’s father, who was rector of St. Philip’s for 17 years, later served as Buffalo human relations commissioner and executive director of the Buffalo Human Relations Department.

“When I met Michael at the age of 10, his chapel in the attic was set and fully equipped for Mass,” Josephine Robbins, a longtime member of St. Philip’s, said in a statement released by the Western New York diocese. “The congregation (his sister Sharon’s dolls) was always in place, and he was always prepared to conduct service to perfection. Michael has continued to be an excellent priest and bishop. He is totally committed to give his all to the church.”

Curry and his wife, Sharon, have two adult daughters, Rachel and Elizabeth.

A liturgy marking the beginning of Curry’s ministry as presiding bishop and primate will be celebrated Nov. 1, All Saints Day, at Washington National Cathedral, according to the Episcopal News Service.