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Former Montgomery Campus President becomes first woman Episcopal bishop in Alabama

July 2, 2020

Former Montgomery Campus President becomes first woman bishop in Alabama

The Rev. Dr. Glenda Curry, former President of Troy University’s Montgomery Campus, recently became the first woman to hold the position of bishop in the Episcopal Diocese in Alabama.

Curry, who served as Montgomery Campus President from 1991 until 1999, will serve as head of a diocese that includes about 30,000 parishioners in north and central Alabama.

“I feel honored and blessed at the same time,” Curry said. “I did not ever see this in my future. I certainly see it now that it’s happened and I received the call. I believe that God takes everything we’ve ever done and attempts to use it to change us but also to involve us in God’s work in the world. I don’t feel like anything is wasted.”

Curry is accustomed to breaking down barriers.

At the Montgomery Campus, she was the first woman to lead a four-year university in the state.

During her tenure as president, she led the creation, planning, development and establishment of the University’s Rosa Parks Museum and Library, which is located on the Montgomery Campus at the site of Parks’ historic 1955 arrest.

“In this role, I’ll be using a lot of the gifts that I used when I worked for Troy University so many years ago,” Curry said. “We had budget challenges. We had projects where there were lots of moving parts that had to come together, and so I’m used to thinking on a number of levels at once — having to build teams of people to work on our responses. If you’ve ever worked in higher education for very long, you get used to the fact that every year is a little different from the last year. There are a lot of highly educated, highly skilled people involved, and the church is like that as well.”

Today, Curry’s legacy is felt throughout the Montgomery Campus, and there’s even an area of campus called Curry Commons in her honor.

She also played a key role in securing funding for the buildings that now comprise the campus.

“The General Services Administration was doing an imminent domain on our property that housed our university library and our radio and television studios at the time,” said Ray White, current Campus Vice Chancellor. “They wanted the property to build a new federal courthouse, which sits there to this day. They were wanting to give Troy University the market value of that property, which would’ve only been about $1.6 million. Dr. Curry and Chancellor [Jack] Hawkins didn’t think that was fair, so Dr. Curry went to Washington and met with Alabama senators and congressmen, then came back with the replacement value of $6.3 million. That money was then used to be able to purchase more property for our campus.”

White said Curry oversaw a complete transformation of the campus.

“When Dr. Curry took over as president, this campus consisted of gravel parking lots and old closed down and dilapidated buildings,” he said. “At that time, there was not even a blade of grass on this campus. Now we have tall trees and landscaping and all sorts of things around Curry Commons.”

Curry knows she’s become bishop at a time of great unrest throughout the country, and she looks at that as both a challenge and a responsibility of the church.

“There’s a lot going on in the world that will impact the church, so I feel like it’s a special time for the church and I want us to come out of it strong and healthy,” she said. “It’s pretty obvious the world needs the church now more than ever. We need love, and we need a place where we can go and learn about love, how to love people that are different from ourselves. Obviously, all of that is being called on more than ever, not only with healthcare but also social challenges that we see.”

Curry attended last week’s Unity Prayer Breakfast at TROY, and she left the experience feeling enlightened.

“What I felt there was there are a lot of good people who want to make the world a better place, who do not want racial division to define us,” she said. “It was a grace-filled morning. I heard my friend Lamar Higgins talk about what it was like for him to grow up in Alabama, and I don’t want young African American men to grow up feeling like Lamar felt. I was enlightened to hear him and see how much pain he’s in.”

Curry said that while the challenges facing her diocese are real, she is excited for the future.

“Everything I’ve ever done, it now transfers to the church in one way or another,” she said. “I’m grateful to be able to draw on that and use it in service of the church.”