Bishop Michael Curry to be keynote speaker at Crisis Control Ministry’s 50th anniversary celebration

Bishop Michael Curry to be keynote speaker at Crisis Control Ministry’s 50th anniversary celebration The post Bishop Michael Curry to be keynote speaker at Crisis Control Ministry’s 50th anniversary celebration appeared first on WS Chronicle.

Bishop Michael Curry to be keynote speaker at Crisis Control Ministry’s 50th anniversary celebration

Former board chair shares stories of nonprofit’s early years 

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

In 1978 a recently ordained priest drove his car filled with all his worldly possessions to Winston-Salem for his first full-time position as rector of St. Stevens Episcopal Church. 

As a young priest in his mid-20s, he was guided by the bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina who knew that he would need the support of an older clergy as he was learning his duties. He told the newly ordained Rev. Michael Curry that he needed what we would today call a “mentor.” But as Rev. Curry tells the story, “I don’t think the term ‘mentor’ was around in the 1970s, so he told me I needed a godfather. And Rev. John Campbell of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church became my godfather.”

The bishop also offered this advice: get to know your community, get involved with local organizations, meet people. 

And so he did. 

One of the first organizations Rev. Curry heard good things about was Crisis Control Ministry (CCM). He stopped by for a tour and saw what they were doing in the community. What first got his attention was “… the work. They were actually helping people … It was an ecumenical endeavor.”

Rev. Curry became a regular volunteer at Crisis Control, which in the late 1970s was located in a small building on Patterson Avenue that had been donated to Crisis Control. He described those early years as a “mom and pop” operation. Everyone was crammed into that small building and had to share space – interviewers, clothing closet and food pantry volunteers. It wasn’t long after he became a volunteer that he was asked to serve on the board and then became board chair in the early 1980s.

As a newly-ordained priest, Bishop Curry said, “I came out of seminary with a commitment, you know, you gotta feed the soul and you gotta feed the body. And Jesus said, ‘I am the bread of life’ in John 6. And He had just finished feeding folk with real bread and fish. … It’s not either-or. You either devote (yourself) … or you’re playing games.” Bishop Curry said Thursdays were his day to serve at CCM and his staff knew that was where he would be. He commented that if necessary, he could work in a funeral, and then go back to his volunteer duty.

“I saw it as a way to get people at St. Stevens connected in deeper ways and service and we had some retired folk who could volunteer during the day and some of them did.”

Bishop Curry remembered seeing the retired pastor of First Baptist Church on Highland coming on his volunteer day each week, donning an apron and stocking shelves and organizing the food pantry. “It (CCM) brought together people from all over who just wanted to serve and be of some help.”

Looking back, he has had quite a faith journey, from being a newly ordained priest in 1978, to being elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina in 2000, and then being elected the Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church in 2015. And that journey had its humble beginnings right here in Winston-Salem.

In a Zoom interview with Bishop Curry on March 16, he shared memories of those early days serving at Crisis Control Ministry. “In those early days,” recounted Bishop Curry, “people were hungry and needed food … The social safety net was there, but it wasn’t as deep and as wide and broad as it could be.

“People were falling through the cracks in a place like Winston-Salem, where that shouldn’t be the case.”

Bishop Curry continued, “The other thing that was intriguing – remember, this was in the 1970s, now this wouldn’t be a big deal – but this was profound. This was an ecumenical endeavor, everybody was in.”

Bishop Curry said, “If I can help someone along the way, then my living will not be in vain. There were some folk who believed that and they were at Crisis Control; they were there.”

Last year CCM served over 18,000 people. When asked if he ever thought the need would be that great, Bishop Curry replied, “I think there was a sense that the need was even greater, even then, there was a need greater than we were able to respond to. There was a sense of that, but that Crisis Control would get that large, that it would grow … I guess you just don’t think about (the future). You just keep feeding folk and trying to balance the budget the best that you can.”

As CCM continued its work, Bishop Curry described the gradual growth. “You just keep doing what you do and then people pay attention and it becomes a trusted means of providing support. For the churches, part of the logic was … individual congregations can help someone who needs food, money, or something else like that, but if you band together, come together, you can do it a little more systematic. Checking backgrounds, even in those days we were good about checking the stories … and the volunteers all did case work. The local congregations couldn’t do that … but if you bring all those resources together, it became a trusted vehicle for that and the churches supported it.”

Talking about the services that sprang up during this time, such as the Food Bank and Samaritan soup kitchen, Bishop Curry said, “All those services were church driven, all of them, they were communities of faith, and that ecumenical became interfaith and it became the faith community and then the community embraced it. And then, good golly Miss Molly, it took off and it’s just amazing to me.”

A few years ago when Bishop Curry toured the new building on Tenth Street, he was surprised at the expansion. He said, “Wow! This is a long way from where it began.”

At the end of the interview, Bishop Curry was asked about his latest book, “Love Is The Way.” He said, “The truth is, if love is not a verb, then it’s not love.  … If it doesn’t do something to help somebody, then it’s not love you’re talking about. “

He continued, “There is no justice that is truly justice without love motivating it. … Crisis Control is one of these places where love gets incarnated, where love gets lived. And you almost don’t have to say the word, because when you see it, you know it.

“Crisis Control was and has been one of the most important things I’ve ever done.”

Bishop Michael Curry will deliver the keynote address at Crisis Control Ministry’s 50th anniversary celebration and church service on Monday, April 3, at 7 p.m. The celebration and worship service will be at First Baptist Church on Fifth Street, one of the nonprofit’s founding churches.

For more information or to register to attend, go to

The post Bishop Michael Curry to be keynote speaker at Crisis Control Ministry’s 50th anniversary celebration appeared first on WS Chronicle.