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US Episcopal Church elects first black presiding bishop

MAKING HISTORY: Michael Curry (centre) was elected to replace outgoing Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

THE US Episcopal Church made history Saturday by electing its first black presiding bishop at its general conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina was elected by a landslide in a vote at the Episcopal General Convention.

"It really is a blessing and privilege to serve our church and to serve our Lord in this way," Curry said after he was elected to replace outgoing Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori - the first woman to lead the denomination.

"I treasure this church, this house, the House of Bishops, all of us. We are God's children," added Curry, who will officially take office on November 1, according to Episcopal News Service.

He will now lead a nearly 1.9 million-member denomination known for its history as the faith home of many of the US presidents.

The New York-based Episcopal Church is the US. body of the Anglican Communion, an 80-million member worldwide fellowship of churches with roots in the Church of England.

Curry was elected in a vote by bishops at the Episcopal General Convention, the top legislative body of the church. Curry won in a landslide, earning 121 votes out of 174. The other three candidates had 21 votes or less.

Curry's election also made history as it was the first time a presiding bishop was chosen on the first ballot, reported the Christian Post.

The presiding bishop is primate and chief pastor of the church, chair of the Executive Council, and president of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.

"We are overwhelmed, excited – and I had one colleague say that we never thought in our lifetime that we'd live to see a black president of the United States and a black presiding bishop," Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) President Annette Buchanan said. "Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry is a longtime UBE member.

Curry has been North Carolina's 11th diocesan bishop since he was ordained and consecrated in June 2000.

Curry said The Episcopal Church is "the church where I learned about Jesus."

"This is a good and wonderful church and we are good and wonderful people and I thank God to be one of the baptized among you. My heart is really full," he said.

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