(WXXI News & AP) There is a Finger Lakes connection to Saturday’s royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, the first black leader of the Episcopal Church in the United States, was hand-picked by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to address their 600 wedding guests.
It turns out Curry is a 1975 graduate of Hobart College.
According to his bio on the Episcopal Church website, Presiding Bishop Curry was born in Chicago, IL, on March 13, 1953, Curry attended public schools in Buffalo, NY, and was graduated with high honors from Hobart College in Geneva, NY, in 1975. He received a Master of Divinity degree in 1978 from Yale University Divinity School in New Haven, CT
Hobart & William Smith Colleges say that Curry, a former member of the HWS Board of Trustees, received the Hobart Medal of Excellence in 2016. The Medal of Excellence is the highest honor awarded by the Hobart College Alumni Association.
The bishop's passionate sermon on the theme of love, studded with quotes from the bible, Martin Luther King Jr. and African-American spirituals, was a contrast to the more solemn and muted Anglican style the royal family is used to.
Quoting civil rights icon King on the "redemptive power of love," Curry told the bride and groom "it's not just for, and about, a young couple who we rejoice with, it's more than that."
Curry, who like Markle's mother has African ancestors who were slaves in the U.S., said that even during their time of bondage, love helped those in captivity persevere.
"When love is the way, we actually treat each other, well, like we are actual family," he said in a sermon that touched on poverty, inequality and the healing power of love.
"When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all and we are brothers and sisters, children of God and brothers and sisters," he said. "That's a new heaven, a new earth a new world, a new human family."
Harry and Markle exchanged a quick glance at one point as Curry drifted from his prepared remarks and ad-libbed. Camilla and Kate — the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge — traded sidelong glances.
Curry, 65, who is married and has two grown daughters, was born in Chicago and raised in Buffalo. He began his ministry in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and served as rector in Lincoln Heights, Ohio and Baltimore, Maryland.
Selecting him to give the sermon was one of several personal touches Harry and Meghan put on the service, held in the 15th century St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) May 19, 2018
WXXI's Helene Biandudi Hofer interviewed Bishop Curry for 'Need to Know' when he made a visit to Rochester in November 2016:
Markle, who attended a Roman Catholic school, was baptized in March into the Church of England in preparation for the wedding and joining the royal family.
The ceremony was based on Common Worship — the most modern of several Church of England service options — and included prayers and hymns, as well as readings and musical selections chosen by the couple and their families.
That included a fusion of American and British elements, including the London-based gospel ensemble the Kingdom Choir's stirring renditions of Ben. E. King's "Stand By Me" and Etta James' "Amen/This Little Light of Mine."
Teenage cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason wowed the 600 guests with works including Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria." The cellist won the BBC's Young Musician of the Year contest in 2016, the first black musician to do so.
For all the individual touches, the service was dominated by tradition.
The pair read the Church of England wedding vows, promising to have and to hold, "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part."
Then the archbishop pronounced them husband and wife.
"Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder," he said.