Presiding Bishop celebrates Feast of Absalom Jones in Detroit

By Rick Schulte
Posted Feb 22, 2016

[Diocese of Michigan] Celebrating the Feast of Absalom Jones on Feb. 20, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry touched on his ongoing theme of the “Jesus Movement,” a message enthusiastically received at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Detroit.

“We were baptized not just into a membership of the church,” he said. “We were baptized into a movement. We’ve been baptized into the Jesus Movement, and we are the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, meant to change the world. That’s who we are.”

This was Curry’s first visit to the Diocese of Michigan as presiding bishop. His Absalom Jones message was that of prayer and action – and that prayer means more when backed by effort.

“In the Last Supper, notice what Jesus says over and over again,” Curry said. “By this, everyone will know you are my disciples. How will they know this? That you will love one another.”

It’s Curry’s insistence on being recognized by our actions that resonated with the audience.

“That you love one another, Episcopal Church,” he said. “That you love one another, Diocese of Michigan. That you love one another, Anglican Communion. That you love one another.”

“It was really powerful, really stirring,” said Kevin McLogan, a member of St. John’s in Royal Oak. “The presiding bishop really sent home that message of love and what it really means. I was so impressed, I took notes, actually. “It’s something that’s going to stay with me for quite a while.”

A contingent from St. Matthew’s & St. Joseph’s in Detroit – a church with a notable history of promoting civil rights and social justice – was highly visible with matching “I’m part of the Jesus Movement” T-shirts – which Curry noticed and pointed out during his sermon.

Brenda Cann, proudly wearing that shirt, came away moved by Curry’s message.

“It was absolutely excellent, inspiring and motivating,” she said. “When it was over, I actually felt uplifted.”

Curry explained there was a bit of wisdom in John being baptized in the Jordan River, rather than in a body of water like a lake, which exists but doesn’t display much visible movement.

“He was baptized because John was baptizing into a movement, like the river that was moving,” he said. “John was baptizing him into the movement of God’s love, a movement that created this world in the very beginning, not because He had to, but because God is love, and that’s what love does.”

The Rev. Laurel Dahill, rector of St. Mary’s-in-the-Hills in Lake Orion, said the message of a Jesus movement comes at the right time in our history.

“I think that’s the message we need in the world. We can’t live in the world without Jesus,” she said. “We’ve tried, and it doesn’t work. We need Jesus.

“We’ve had amazing people lead us in social justice movements, but without Jesus, it doesn’t work. We need more Jesus in the world.”

The Rt. Rev. Wendell N. Gibbs Jr., bishop for the Diocese of Michigan, presided over the celebration. The following morning, Curry also delivered a sermon Christ Church Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills.

— Rick Schulte is director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan.