He is the first African-American to hold the position and was elected in a landslide: The House of Bishops voted him in with 121 votes (out of 174 cast) and the House of Deputies awarded him 800 votes (out of 812 cast). He was elected on the first ballot.
Bishop Curry has served as the bishop of North Carolina since 2000.
He is renowned as one of the best preachers in The Episcopal Church and his passion for Jesus is well-known. His ministry has focused on inclusion, reconciliation, and social justice.
Bishop Curry served as the Commencement speaker for the Class of 2011 at The Virginia Theological Seminary (my class), and I am excited for his tenure.
He comes to us at a time of intense change. The Episcopal Church is looking intently at itself and recognizing that we must be faithful to our call as gospel proclaimers in the 21st Century. We are an ancient church called to modern (and postmodern) evangelism. Further, being the first black Presiding Bishop, he comes to us at an crucial time in regards to race in The Church. Following the deaths of the Martyrs of Charleston—which itself brings to head a year or so of tragic and intense realities concerning the status of race in America—the next Presiding Bishop will undoubtedly be called to carry a prophetic voice in how The Church can be a reconciling voice in continuing racism and violence.
To have one of the most important American churches elect a person of color to its highest office is a watershed moment in American Christian history. It, of course, does not demonstrate an end to racism in our pews—Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour in America for much of The Church—but it does demonstrate an important step. Further, it provides an outside voice to speak to a still very-white Episcopal Church about our own short-comings and what we need to do in order to better live out our Baptismal Covenant declaration of striving “for justice and peace among all people, and respect[ing] the dignity of every human being” (BCP p. 305).
Presiding Bishop Elect Curry himself put it best, during the press conference announcing his new office: “We are part of the Jesus movement, and nothing can stop the movement of God's love in this world.”