Curry visit: History meets here Sunday

Published 8:28 pm Friday, June 10, 2016

Vicksburg will see the intersection of two powerful pieces of history Sunday as St. Mary’s Episcopal Church hosts the Most Rev. Michael Curry.

St. Mary’s, established circa 1863, was the first Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Mississippi created to serve African-Americans.

Curry is the first African-American to serve as the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

Curry is scheduled to preach an 11 a.m. worship and Holy Eucharist service Sunday at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

Rita Wyatt, the church’s clerk, said this is the first time a presiding bishop has visited Vicksburg in her lifetime.

“With he being the leader of the Episcopal churches coming to small Vicksburg and to have contacted a congregation the size of ours, that’s what I’m excited about,” she said. “Just his coming, to me, is a wondrous occasion. All the churches being able to participate is such a treat.”

The church currently has just more than 40 members.

Eunice Trisby Lewis agreed she’s never known of a presiding bishop to visit her church. Lewis has been a member of the church for a long, long time and made history as the first vestry member serving as senior warden.

Although St. Mary’s is hosting the presiding bishop, the other three Vicksburg Episcopal churches — Church of the Holy Trinity, Christ Episcopal Church and St. Alban’s Episcopal Church — are each pitching in to help.

Linda Tolliver said it’s a blessing to see everyone coming together to work for this common goal.

“I am so proud that the other three churches have joined with us in one communion, one faith, one mission, which makes this even more beautiful and more special,” she said.

Elva Smith-Tolliver is a cradle Episcopalian, meaning she’s been in the Episcopal Church all of her life, and all her life, she never thought she’d see the history being made.

“I never thought in these 60 years I would live to see a black presiding Bishop of the U.S.,” she said. “I thank the Lord for the opportunity to witness and hear such a man of such reverence and Holy Spirit.”

Smith-Tolliver explained the presiding bishop in the leader for the Episcopal Church in the United States. The Episcopal church is a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Another church member, Hilton Gordon echoed Smith-Tolliver’s sentiments, adding she’s excited about Curry’s visit.

”I never thought I would live to see a black presiding bishop in my lifetime, and I am very proud to be a part of the history and the Episcopal church,” she said.