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Top Episcopal cleric celebrates King’s legacy, the power of love at LA’s Good Shepherd church

In an address celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in advance of Monday’s holiday that bears his name, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, leader of the U.S. Episcopal Church, spread the word about the “power of love” at Los Angeles’ Good Shepherd Episcopal Church on Sunday, Jan. 15.

The Most Rev. Michael Curry greets Mayor Karen Bass on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

The Rt. Rev. John Harvey Taylor, left, and The Most Rev. Michael Curry enter the sanctuary on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

The Rt. Rev. John Harvey Taylor, Bishop Diocesan of Los Angeles, addresses parishioners on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

Mayor Karen Bass and The Most Rev. Michael Curry attend a service, ahead of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

The Most Rev. Michael Curry addresses parishioners on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

The Most Rev. Michael Curry addresses parishioners on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

Mayor Karen Bass addresses parishioners on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

Mayor Karen Bass addresses parishioners on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

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Invoking Dr. King’s legacy, Curry said “the power of love overcomes the love of power,” when coping with such contemporary issues as homelessness, LGBTQ discrimination and the war in Ukraine.

“Love urges us on so that we no longer live for ourselves alone. The old creation leads to the new creation and we shall overcome,” Curry told the gathering.

“You hear more about love on ‘The Young and the Restless’ than you hear in church,” he said. “We need to preach goodness in the world, the kind of love when you feed people who are hungry…when you take people without homes and give them homes. Christ’s love compels us.”

Elected in 2015, Curry is the 27th and current presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church. He is the first African American to serve in the post.

A resident of Raleigh, North Carolina, Curry was ordained a priest in 1978 and served parishes in North Carolina, Ohio and Maryland. In 2000, he was elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.

The topic of homelessness recurred throughout the event, with Curry joining others in encouraging compassion for the unhoused.

Bishop John Harvey Taylor, leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, said his flock and Episcopalians across the nation would play a major role to help the unhoused.

“We’re committed to building affordable, permanent supportive housing on 25% of our church campuses,” Taylor vowed.

Newly elected L.A. Mayor Karen Bass, who also spoke at the service, committed to giving the church leaders any help they need to assure that housing gets built.

Bass, who has been in office for about a month, has been busy implementing the initial waves of her strategy to ease homelessness.

“We have to continue our moral crusade so we can say never again,” she said.

The mayor has taken such steps as issuing an executive directive to fast-track the construction of affordable housing projects and has launched an initiative, Inside Safe, to move homeless people off the streets and into temporary housing in hotels and motels.

“There’s a generation of folks and young people who think this is the way it always was,” said Bass. “A couple of decades ago we didn’t even use the word homelessness.”

Also last week, Bass declared a local state of emergency in response to the recent storms and anticipated rain in the week ahead.

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Also speaking during Sunday’s service were L.A. City Council members Heather Hutt, District 10, and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, District 8.

All speakers vowed to tackle the region’s current issues while echoing the teachings of Dr. King, embracing humanitarian change via peaceful means.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed nationally on the third Monday of January each year. The holiday is on Monday, Jan. 16, this year.

King, who was born on Jan. 15, 1929, was killed at age 39. He helped drive passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 and became an international icon for equality, justice and compassion.

King remains an inspiration for today’s generation, nearly six decades years after he delivered his beloved “I Have a Dream” speech.

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