On May 19, the world watched as Prince Harry wed his American princess, former Suits actress Meghan Markle. But the breakout star of their big day was Bishop Michael Curry, who received international praise for his electrifying sermon about the redemptive power of love inside St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
In the month that’s passed, Curry’s life has taken a 180-degree turn. Now, the religious figure — who is the first African-American to serve as the presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church — finds himself frequently fielding invitations from entertainment industry execs, who are eager for the Chicago native to spread his good word both on TV and at celebrity events.
Most recently, Curry accepted an invite to the fifth annual VH1 Trailblazer Honors, held Thursday night at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Before the event kicked off, Curry opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about how his unexpected participation in the royal wedding came to be.
“Originally, members of my staff received a phone call from the office of the archbishop of Canterbury calling on behalf of the couple. I thought somebody was playing a joke on me!” Curry recalled. “At first, when my staff member told me, I said, ‘Come on, what do you want? What are you guys up to?’ I just figured they were pulling my leg. And then when I realized that it was for real, I said, ‘OK, I’d be honored. Let’s do it, for sure!'”
Of the 3.4 million #RoyalWedding tweets that were sent around the globe on the day of Prince Harry and Markle’s nuptials, Curry’s touching, 14-minute reflection on the Song of Solomon from the Bible’s Old Testament quickly became one of the most buzzed-about moments.
“Harry and Meghan actually selected the text, and it’s a text that’s a series of love poems right there in Hebrew scriptures. In the last chapter where the text came from, the woman stops and realizes that the love she shares with her partner is part of a greater love, which is clearly pointing in the direction of God, the source of all love,” he said of his scene-stealing sermon. “I realized that was the message. God is the source of all love, which means this world is meant to be lived and worked on love. And it will work that way. It doesn’t work the other way!”
Curry went on to say that the royal couple’s display of love was “incredibly meaningful.” He elaborated, “Their love for each other brought America and Great Britain together. Their love for each other brought people of different races and ethnicities together. Their love brought people of different political persuasions together. Their love brought people in the church of different sexual persuasions together. Their love brought people of different nationalities together.”
Curry said that he believes a love like Prince Harry and Markle’s “can change the world,” adding that the duo share “immense compassion not only for each other, but for everyone they come in contact with.”
Now, the bishop hopes to see more of that compassion on this side of the pond as migrant families remain separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. At Thursday night’s Trailblazer event, the American Civil Liberties Union was honored for its efforts to help those affected by President Trump’s controversial “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which has forced thousands of children to be separated from their parents and detained in what critics have likened to concentration camp-style facilities.
“My deep prayer is that we will ground our law in this country on what it means to love your neighbor as you love yourself and that we will ground public policy on the principle of loving your neighbor as yourself, to be a truly just, humane, kind and decent society,” Curry told THR. “That means reforming our immigration system. Obviously, you have to have secure borders. Everybody knows that. That’s a given, but security and humanity are not contradictory. You can have compassion and also be responsible in terms of your borders.”
He concluded: “But more importantly, this must not be a country where children are separated from their parents. This must not be a country where people seeking asylum because they’re literally fleeing for their lives are just turned away. We can do better than that. We must reform our immigration system and we must reform our policies so that they reflect human decency and kindness.”
Aside from the ACLU, other Trailblazer award recipients included writer-producer Ryan Murphy; DACA activist Cristina Jimenez; Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, social activists and parents of the late Trayvon Martin; and Opal Tometi, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter, among others.
The 2018 Trailblazer Honors will air on June 28 at 9:30 p.m. on VH1 and Logo.