Presiding Bishop at Nashotah House praises seminary for making ministers for Jesus Movement

By David Paulsen
Posted Sep 29, 2017
Michael Curry at Nashotah

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, speaking Sept. 28 at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin, gets a laugh from the crowd, including Acting Dean Garwood Anderson, center, and Bishop Daniel Martins, right. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Nashotah, Wisconsin] “It is good to be here.”

A throwaway cliché in most speeches, but spoken Sept. 28 by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry as the fall sun was setting at Nashotah House Theological Seminary, there was reason enough for his audience of 150 or so people to believe he was being sincere.

For starters, Curry was in Nashotah to receive the seminary’s Ramsey Award, named after Arthur Michael Ramsey, the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1961 to 1974. Bishop Daniel Martins of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, who serves as Nashotah House’s board chairman, presented the award to Curry for “his eloquent, inspiring preaching to refocus church discourse in a Christo-centric manner.”

Martins also noted Curry’s “tireless efforts seeking reconciliation in Christ’s broken body from his first days of ordained ministry all the way to his service now as presiding bishop,” adding that Curry’s “work to promote growth in racial equality, educational development, social justice and humanitarian outreach are equally noteworthy.”

Curry’s trip to the tranquil rural countryside west of Milwaukee also served as a reprieve between big church events. He had just attended the six-day House of Bishops meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska, and was on his way to London to attend the Anglican Communion’s primates meeting.

The pleasure of being in Nashotah, Curry indicated, also stemmed from an appreciation of the seminary’s mission: training leaders for what Curry regularly describes as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.

“We are making ministers in this mission moment, to claim and provide leadership for a movement, a movement that began long ago … a movement whose purpose is to change this world from the nightmare our sinful, selfish selves make of it to the dream, the vision of the kingdom, the reign that God has intended,” he said.

After joining the crowd in applauding the matriculation of 21 seminary students and then receiving his award, Curry began his 30-minute convocation address by thanking the seminary for the honor and quoting the words of Ramsey that are reproduced on the plaques now given to every newly consecrated bishop in the Episcopal Church.

As he proceeded, he began developing the theme of movement, citing the “active verbs” and commands that Jesus uses in the gospels.

“Follow me.”

“Come and see.”

“Go and proclaim the good news.”

“This is action,” Curry said. “This is movement. These are verbs of movement. This is a movement.”

Jesus called on his disciples to “be my witnesses, in Judea, in Samaria and unto the utmost parts of the Earth, and in the first century Palestine and in 21st-century America,” he said.

Curry followed up that thread with a nod to seminary history.

“I’m at Nashotah House. … You got here because somebody named Jackson was part of a movement,” Curry said in summarizing the 175-year-old seminary’s origin story – the founding role of Bishop Jackson Kemper, the influence of what was known as the Oxford Movement and the desire to bring the church back to its roots in the Anglo-Catholic tradition.

“That’s what catalyzed and woke up this wonderful old church of ours,” Curry said. “You know, the power of movement to change institutions and change the world.”

Curry, always a ready storyteller, also took time to engage the students, faculty and family members with tales of childhood winters spent up in Buffalo, New York, of his grandmother’s deep Christian faith, of an inspiring visit to Howard University. He injected notes of humor that several times had the crowd erupting in hearty laughter.

While incorporating a favorite refrain of his sermons, that God is love, he returned throughout the speech Sept. 28 to the theme of movement and the calling of spreading Jesus’ message of love.

“That high calling is worth claiming. That high calling is worth giving your life for,” he said.

As Nashotah House gears up for Experiencing Nashotah on Nov. 9 and 10, a twice-annual event for prospective students, Curry praised the seminary for its work in educating not just future priests but also a new generation of deacons and laypeople who will carry out Jesus’ mission.

“We need this seminary to form leaders of a movement,” Curry said, “a movement that will bring folks Christ and send them out in his name to change the world.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at


Comments (9)

  1. Grace Cangialosi says:

    I hope while he was there, Curry challenged their stance against women’s ordination!

    1. The very Rev dr. Cn. Patrick P. augustine says:

      You have a wrong information. Women are admitted at Nashotah House Seminary.

      1. Fr. Robert M. Lewis says:

        Indeed. Nashotah is still fighting to overcome the perceptions of 30 years ago. There was a time not long ago where nearly 50% of the student body was female.

      2. Ed Tourangeau says:

        Are women priests allowed to preside at the Eucharist at the seminary?

      3. Lindsey Hardegree says:

        I am currently a female student at Nashotah House, and while I personally have not perceived a call to ordained ministry, many of my fellow female classmates at Nashotah are seeking ordination to the priesthood.

      4. Jason Terhune says:

        Thank you for the good word Patrick. All of the women that I was studying with at Nashotah House(’15) that were seeking ordination were ordained. Faculty members often preached their ordinations. Some of the ordinations took place on campus. The women in my classes received the same training for preaching, celebrating, ministering, etc. that the men received. We had many ages, races, genders, married, unmarried. It was quite diverse and very welcoming. It was not perfect, but it was great. My wife and I greatly enjoyed our studies and are both proud graduates. I truly grateful for Presiding Bishop Curry’s visit and the gracious welcome that all visitors receive at Nashotah House. If you listen to the worship on SoundCloud, it is a blessing to hear so many folks worshipping together. As PB Curry noted, may they each go make disciples for God’s Kingdom.

  2. Keith Gardner says:

    I feel that our Church is well served by our Presiding Bishop, God Bless him and his ministry.

  3. Catherine Cummings says:

    I am unclear about what all this means. Back in the 19th century the “Oxford Movement” split the church into two factions that could not stand each other. I understand that is why Missouri split into two dioceses. It was a pretty sad story and included at least one suicide. I thought the Episcopal Church then embraced in more recent times the “via media” course. Surely we don’t want a return to the old “High Church”/Low Church fractionalism??

  4. Jason Samuel says:

    I am glad he was at Nashotah House. As a graduate of the House, it needs some positive leadership modeled in a real transparent way that does not try to hide around certain crafted phrases about women and others as well. Yes, Nashotah House will train women, I had two in my class. They are happy to take almost any persons money who wants to study there. However, that does not mean that they support them being ordained as priests or bishops in the Episcopal Church. Also, they like to keep it quiet, but yes, women are still not allowed to celebrate the Mass on the campus of the seminary. They are on a campaign to regain support within the Episcopal Church; however, many of their students are from break away splinter groups from the Episcopal Church. I guess this is fine if they will also accept women and gay men in the closet. Another telling sign to me, that may be minor to some, but speaks volumes to me. When I was I student, we took students from other churches, but on all stationary, under the name of the seminary it stated, “A seminary of the Episcopal Church since 1842”. That saying quietly disappeared to, “Forming leaders in the Anglican tradition since 1842”. This small change says a lot about what the seminary does not want to say too loudly. I pray daily for its health; not the way I want it, but the way the Holy Spirit may lead them into the future of serving the church and all of God’s beloved children. I only know one of my fellow graduates out of over 20 who gives any financial support to the House. They still don’t get the message why some, I would say many, graduates of the Nashotah House do not financially support the seminary. I will give to Nashotah House, not when it becomes perfect, but when it at least begins supporting the church I serve, where all persons are available to all the sacraments and sacrmental rites of the Episcopal Church. Know I shall get prepared for the onslaught of emails that I will receive in the spirit is which they were given.

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