“A Letter to Bill Wylie Kellermann Upon His Retirement as Pastor of St. Peter’s Detroit” by Ched Myers

Dear Bill:

This occasion on which you close your chapter at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church is such an important milestone in a ministry, one you can be very proud of and grateful for.

Your “last sermon” (I’m thinking you’ll be invited to preach there again!) was a wonderful reflection of who you are and what you believe, and of the treasure you are to our movement.  And Tommy Airey’s little profile of you was delightful to see, though much more ought be said, and will be over time.

For now, just a little note of reminiscence and appreciation.  Above is a picture that Clancy Dunigan dug up from his archives, of your visit to us in Bartimaeus Community in Berkeley back around 1979.  I think that was the time you broke my nose playing basketball in the street.  Or was it the other way around?  I frankly can’t recall.
But that image conjurs my very deep affection for who have been for me along the journey.  As I tried to find my path into radical discipleship, you were consistently there—from the moment we met at Jonah House in 1976—as a friend, mentor and coach.  Your theological and political integration has consistently paved the way for my efforts at the same, indeed have been a kind of North Star.

This moment of turning in your ministry prompts me to call up so many fond memories: your gentle but clear edits of my sophomoric early writing; sitting behind a pillar in the old Tiger stadium; drinking with Dan Berrigan at the Sojourners 20th reunion; the gun show exorcism; basketball games east and west; hospice conversations; time with your family in Detroit and California; and so many Word & World moments, not to mention late night glasses of scotch.  I treasure all the years that we’ve walked together on this Way, despite so much distance (and very occasional differences).  You have been a faithful elder brother.

I commend you for exercising the wisdom to retire formally from St. Peter’s (I know it wasn’t your first choice, and that you had plenty of help to make this decision).  I keep telling my 95 year old mother (who we just transitioned into hospice) that this season of her life carries a particular vocation that is very different from anything she’s done before.  The same is, I’m afraid, true for us as well, as we try to live into the last years of our work.  We aren’t very good at shifting priorities and rhythms; nor do we have many good role models.  But I hope we can support each other, such that as our bodies break down our spirits may remain strong, and our commitment to the gospel and to the movement true.

Thanks for it all, and mazel tov.  Now take some time off already!