Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
The presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, who gained worldwide attention earlier this year when he delivered a sermon at the royal wedding of Britain’s Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle, is in Albuquerque this weekend to ordain the new Episcopal bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande.
The Most Rev. Michael Curry will lead the 30 bishops who are here to witness the ordination and consecration of Michael Hunn.
In the Episcopal and Anglican traditions, three bishops are required to consecrate one new bishop. The presence of 30 bishops is a statement of the importance of Hunn and the Diocese of the Rio Grande, Curry said.
Curry, who is based in New York City, is the author of the just released book, “The Power of Love,” a compilation of his most notable sermons, including the one he delivered at the royal wedding.
He called it a “mystery” how he wound up being selected but believes the invitation, extended by the Archbishop of Canterbury, was made in consultation with the royal couple, their advisers and the dean of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
“In this case, since the Duchess is an American, it made some sense to select an American, and the Episcopal Church is the daughter of the Church of England,” he said.
The wedding, though far bigger than those he has addressed in the past, was at its core the same.
“It was two people before a gathered company of people, who vow their love for each other and take vows to help that love get lived out practically,” he said.
“I have no idea of what we all look like to God, but when he looks at any of us, I don’t think he sees your job, I don’t think he sees your degree, I don’t think he sees your bank account. I think he sees the you that he created. And that’s the same whether you’re a prince or a pauper. You are a child of God.”
Meanwhile, Hunn replaces retiring Bishop Michael Vono, who has headed the diocese of the Rio Grande for last eight years.
Hunn grew up in Los Alamos, where he was an altar boy and was confirmed in the Episcopal Church. His family moved to Austin when he was 13.
In 1996, he was ordained and has since served as a parish priest, a college chaplain and canon to Bishop Curry.
Among his challenges, he said, are meeting the financial obligations of the church in a state that is poor, as well as changing attitudes about church attendance and what people think the church stands for.
Many avoid church because “they have a sense of religion as something that is about judgment and division.” Rather, Hunn said, “the practice of the faith is about liberating us from all of the fear and worries and concerns that plague us in our lives.”
The Episcopal Church “welcomes everyone,” he said. “Roman Catholics would feel right at home in terms of the liturgy – we have the Mass, bishops, priests, deacons, monks and nuns. But our tradition recognizes that priests can marry. We have women priests, and we have gay and lesbian priests and bishops as well. We are an open-hearted and loving church, and part of the challenge is to let people know that in a world where that’s not what they hear.”
Hunn also weighed in on the situation now playing itself out along the U.S./Mexico border, as the caravan of migrants works its way up from Central America through Mexico, hoping to get asylum in the United States.
“We have a very active borderland ministry that ministers to asylum seekers and immigrants in the southern part of this diocese,” Hunn said, noting that the Diocese of the Rio Grande includes the entire state of New Mexico and the far west part of Texas, as well as 40 percent of the United States’ southern border with Mexico.
“I believe we need a safe and secure border, and I’m grateful for our Border Patrol and the folks who make sure our country is safe from drug trafficking and human trafficking. And I believe that the values that are written on the Statue of Liberty matter to us – ‘send us your tired, send us your poor.’ Asylum seekers have come to this country literally for centuries, and this country has welcomed them and we have become a nation of immigrants because of that.”
America is part of the problem, Hunn said.
“The weapons being sold into Central America and fueling the drug war are produced here, and the drugs that are being purchased are being consumed here,” Hunn said.
Curry added: “It’s important for us to debate but never to hate.”
While border security is necessary, he said, so is humanity and decency.
“They are not mutually exclusive,” he said.