All eyes were on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as they married Saturday, but the priest who delivered the sermon at the royal wedding left his mark on the millions watching around the world.
The Rev. Michael Curry, who is the head of the Episcopal Church, delivered a fiery sermon at the British royal wedding Saturday in Windsor, comparing love to fire and drawing on American history, quoting Martin Luther King Jr. and Southern slaves.
Bishop Curry has longtime ties to North Carolina. He was a priest in Winston-Salem for several years in the late ’70s and early ’80s before returning to the state as head of the North Carolina Episcopal Church between 2000 and 2015.
He is the first African-American to serve as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, which is an offshoot of the Anglican Church in the United States.
He began and ended his sermon citing King, the late American civil rights activist.
“The late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, and I quote: ‘We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world. Love is the only way.’”
The crux of his sermon was about the power of love. Curry referenced the French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who suggested that the discovery and harnessing of fire was one of the best technological advances in history.
“I flew here from the U.S. due to controlled burn of fire,” Curry said. “Fire is involved in broadcasting this wedding around the world. And we can text, tweet, email, and otherwise socially engage one another due to fire. Fire was one of the great technological discoveries of humanity.
“In light of this, de Chardin said that if human beings ever harness the energies of love, then for the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered fire. Love is the very fire and energy of real life!”
Curry drew on slavery during the antebellum South to explain his message of love.
"If you don’t believe me, well, there were some old slaves in America’s antebellum South who explained the dynamic power of love and why it has the power to transform," he said.
"They explained it this way," he said. "They sang a spiritual, even in the midst of their captivity. It’s one that says there is a balm in Gilead, a healing balm, something that can make things right. There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole. There is a balm in Gilead, to heal the sin sick soul.
"One of the stanzas actually explains why. They said if you cannot preach like Peter and you cannot pray like Paul, you just tell the love of Jesus, how he died to save us all. Oh that's the balm in Gilead! This way of love, it is the way of life. They got it."
Twitter users were quick to comment on Curry’s impassioned sermon, an anomaly for a royal wedding among normally staid British guests.
Curry began his ministry in Winston-Salem in 1978 as deacon-in-charge at St. Stephen's. He served as from 1979-82. Curry is originally from Chicago and now lives in New York.
On of Curry's daughters, Elizabeth Curry, is a fourth-grade teacher in Wake County, ABC 11 reported.