From royal wedding to Pittsfield, Episcopal bishop preaches 'power of love'

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PITTSFIELD — The Episcopalian priest who left spellbound nobles, royals, celebrities and millions of television viewers during the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May also captivated a large Berkshire gathering Sunday afternoon with the same message: Love thy neighbor.

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, spoke to the power of love during a revival service staged by the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts. The service was held at the First United Methodist Church on Fenn Street to accommodate the more than 1,000 people in attendance.

Curry relied on a mix of biblical passages, humor and the words of Jimi Hendrix to get his point across that love is all you need to start making the world a better place.

"God is love. We were made by love, made to love, made to be loved," said the man dubbed "Royal wedding Preacher." "Dr. Phil would charge you five commercials for [this advice.]"

Curry became an overnight celebrity on May 19 when he delivered his 13-minute sermon at Windsor Castle outside London. His homily livened up a staid marital ceremony, bringing instant fame to the American reverend who later went on the U.S. talk-show circuit.

Curry was making his second visit to the Berkshires as head of the Episcopal Church, welcomed by the diocese bishop Right Rev. Douglas J. Fisher.

Whether Curry's celebrity status or the revival itself, Fisher was pleased to see a standing-room only crowd at the height of the NFL season.

"We gather at the same time the [New England] Patriots are playing," he said.

Curry, himself a long-suffering Buffalo Bills fan, appreciated the turnout.

"Turn around and look at the miracle around you," he told the faithful. "The mayor is here, her wonderful police force is here — we're safe in Jesus' arms."

The miracle was musically led by the Williams College Gospel Choir with guests from the St. John's Children's Choir.

Sunday's services in Pittsfield and later in Worcester is part of a two-year renewal taking place in the Episcopal diocese titled "Rekindling Hope, Sharing Light, Loving Jesus." Additional local events include, "A World of Love" on Wednesday at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Pittsfield and Nov. 4 at Grace Church the Southern Berkshires in Great Barrington.

"Revival is a holy opportunity to revive our souls and our communities," Fisher said in a statement prior to Sunday's service.

He also finds Curry very genuine, someone who practices what he preaches.

During Sunday's sermon, Curry drew from scripture, but also from other celebrities as well as his own insight on the power of love.

He noted how 1960s rock legend Jimi Hendrix once said, "When the power of love overcomes the love of power, then we will know peace." The quote, possibly unbeknownst to Hendrix according to Curry, was similar to one made by a 19th-century British prime minister, William Gladstone.

As for Curry, had you asked him five years ago what the opposite of love is, he would have said hate.

Given the political and social unrest in America today, he has a different perspective.

"Hate is related to the opposite of love. The real opposite — stay with me — is selfishness," Curry said.


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