Yehiel Curry, (2009,TEEM; 2013, MDiv)., began his journey to LSTC in 1996 when he assisted with a potluck for young men at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church on Chicago’s south side. He noticed a banner which read “The Simba (Safe in My Brothers’ Arms) Circle. We are determined to: Rescue their gifts, Release their potential and Restore their promise.”
He had discovered an initiative of the ELCA to respond to youth violence and the need for mentorship among African American males in Chicago.
He also discovered Shekinah Chapel was established to continue to mentor the young men and reach out to the unchurched in the community. The church’s commitment to youth convinced him to become part of this Synodically Authorized Worshiping Community.
“Thinking back on my own childhood experiences, I could easily recall being one of those young men who needed saving. . .Like many of the youth I was now trying to save, I was also bitter and prone to violence. In the process of helping some of the youth who I came into contact with through Simba, I was able to help myself. The ministry of Shekinah Chapel saved my life, my family, and my marriage.”
In 2005, after a change in leadership at Shekinah Chapel, Yehiel began to discern a call to ministry, which he had ignored for a long time. After meeting with the leaders of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod African-American Strategy Team, Shekinah Chapel began the process of becoming an officially recognized congregation of the ELCA.
In 2007, Yehiel was accepted into the Theological Education for Emerging Ministries (TEEM) Program. In 2009, he was ordained and installed as pastor of Shekinah Chapel and continued his master of divinity studies at LSTC.
In 2012, Shekinah Chapel became an organized congregation in the ELCA and called Curry to serve as their pastor. He earned a master of divinity from LSTC in 2013.
While serving at Shekinah Chapel, he also served as board chair and camp director for Rescue, Release and Restore, Inc. NFP (RRR), a mentoring organization with programs in six cities. It houses the Safe in My Brothers Arms (SIMBA) and Safe in My Sisters Arms (SIMSA) camps for African-American youth. It is also a partner in the multicultural leadership MYLA Camp.
Curry is founder and advisor of Riverdale Organized for Change (ROC), in Chicago’s south suburbs.
He also served on the Policy and Organizing board for the Community Renewal Society in Chicago.
Yehiel said of his journey, “My experiences are preparing me for future tasks and calls, which are preparing me to becoming adaptable to serving in various capacities within the Lutheran Church.”
In June 2019 he was elected bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan Chicago Synod.
His journey continues.
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