Saturday, June 09, 2007

Celebration of the life of Jim Kelsey

The heart of ministry: the death and life of Jim Kelsey
By Herb Gunn June 09, 2007 (Episcopal News Service) Ecclesiastical orders melted at the church door in Marquette, Michigan, on Friday, June 8, as 600 people touched by the life and stunned by the death of Jim Kelsey, an Episcopalian in the Diocese of Northern Michigan, gathered for his funeral. Concurrent services were celebrated at his former parish of Holy Trinity in Swanton, Vermont, and at the cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Also celebrated on the same day was a funeral mass at St. Joseph Church in Lake Linden, Michigan, for Michael Charles Wiita, the second man killed in the June 3 auto accident. The father of Wiita's fiancée, Jessica Slavik who was injured in the crash, came to Marquette to sign Kelsey's guest book and extend the family's respects.

At Kelsey's funeral, there was no liturgical procession for the nearly three-dozen bishops who traveled from across the Episcopal Church and sat with family or friends in St. Michael Roman Catholic Church. Save the presider, Bruce Caldwell, bishop of the Diocese of Wyoming and Kelsey's close friend, and the deacon, Teena Maki of Northern Michigan, no one wore vestments and there was no special seating. Some priests wore neckties with others in street clothes.

Gene Robinson and Fredrica Harris Thompsett spoke:

Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire also spoke of Kelsey's work at the margins of the Church and his passion for justice.

"How did Jim come to have such a passion for justice?" Robinson asked. "Jesus listened with his heart, and in doing so, he touched the untouchables, he drew in the outcast, he raised up the downcasts, and he loved those not unloved by society but those unloved by themselves.

"Jesus and Jim listened with their hearts and then believed the truth that was spoken and then reached out," Robinson said.

Fredrica Harris Thompsett, faculty member at Episcopal Divinity School, rose to speak to "a powerful legacy, the abundance of grace in our midst at this tender [time of] heartbreak and celebration."

Speaking directly to Kelsey, Thompsett said, "You incarnated among us an unpretentious grace."

She credited Kelsey, who has a twin brother Steve, for learning to share space even before birth, and said, "We were reminded by your presence, Jim, that flexibility, making room for another, inviting other ways and sharing space are connected to ministerial vitality.

"I know of nobody who is better, Jim, than you at playing in the fully inclusive waters of baptism," said Thompsett. "Your legacy paradoxically reminds us that one person can make a huge difference, especially when that person insists on working along side and valuing others."

In days and years ahead, she said, many others will extend and pass on Jim Kelsey's legacy, "a shared mission of vitality among the baptized. What an abundant legacy of grace. What a truly amazing grace has been revealed for each of us to carry forward in days ahead."


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

WIDOWS - 2 Pentecost, Proper 5
Sunday Readings HERE

The Son of Life meets a son of death --
there is something about Jesus that sucks the death out of people.

For a widow, the death of an only son is a tragedy beyond just the loss of a beloved child. Women without a husband or son were the lowest of the low in society - forced to return to their families' homes - they would live a life beholden to anyone who would take them in. The gift of life given by Elijah and Jesus was life for the entire community. Widows in the Bible symbolize all who have lost everything and are forced to rely on others for support and nurture. Our care of the "widow" shows our true discipleship.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

EARTH BISHOP MOURNED: A tribute to Jim Kelsey

Jim Kelsey: A video tribute by Earth Keepers.
Click HERE

The world has lost its Earth Bishop.

Episcopal Bishop James Kelsey of the Diocese of Northern Michigan was killed in a traffic accident on Sunday June the third 2007 while on one of his many journeys to spread the word of God.

Bishop Kelsey was returning from the far eastern Upper Peninsula when his life was cut short.

No person was dedicated to environment and interfaith causes like Bishop Kelsey.

This video was taken a day before his death as the Episcopal Bishop met with Lutheran and Presbyterian pastors to discuss a new interfaith environment endeavor called the Turtle Island Project.

Bishop Kelsey was always the first faith leader to volunteer to help with numerous interfaith environment projects sponsored by two Marquette, Michigan non-profits - the Superior Watershed Partnership and the Cedar Tree Institute.

For the past three years, Bishop Kelsey had been a strong supporter of the Earth Keeper Initiative that involves 9 faith traditions with 140 churches and temples across northern Michigan.

Bishop Kelsey was with the Earth Keepers from the beginning - and was one of the original nine faith leaders to sign the Earth Keeper Covenant in 2004 - pledging to protect the environment and reach out to American Indian Tribes.

On Earth Day 2005, Bishop Kelsey helped collect over 45 tons of household poisons like insecticides and drainer cleaner plus tons of car batteries.

Following that first clean sweep, Bishop Kelsey said "we are delighted with the results of the Clean Sweep project throughout the Upper Peninsula."

Bishop Kelsey said the first clean sweep was "a sign of the commitment shared across our faith traditions to be faithful stewards of the Creation into which we have been born, and which sustains our lives."

Bishop Kelsey said "I think it's a really remarkable thing that this particular initiative has crossed boundaries that usually don't get cross in terms of different faith traditions."

More about Jim Kelsey at HERE

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sunday, the world suffered the loss of one who loved extravagantly. Jim Kelsey, bishop of Upper Michigan or "the U.P." as it is often called died in a car wreck. I could not take it in when the news came across my computer screen. Someone who was so alive in this world is now not.
Many tributes are gathering around the Episcopal Church. You can add yours HERE.
The hard thing for me at times like these is the distance of cyberspace. Although far flung friends stay in touch with email and blogs, there are times when I need to gather with other friends and just hold each other and weep. Nearby family and friends care but if they did not know the person it is not the same as those who have memories of the person to share.
Jim was someone who radiated the love of God to all around him. He was quick to laugh at nonsense (of which there is a lot in the Episcopal Church) and to mourn the waste of time and talent when we get so involved in our own importance over others. Although a bishop - he only saw that as a role to support others, it was never his intrinsic identity. His baptism was the most important rite for him.
Episcopal Cafe has many links to read more about this most amazing person.
For me I am thinking about a time when Jim was a Trainer for the Education for Ministry Program and we were at a training of trainers. We were doing a "futuring" workshop, thinking about what the future would be like by starting at a date in the future and "remembering" how we got there. Our group was playing with the idea of a world where no one could speak and people who where highly intuitive and knew other ways of listening were teaching the world how to communicate.
Our talked about how "could you believe it" in those old days they had contests to pick out the most beautiful - whatever that means! "Now" we could hear what all beings were saying - rocks, trees, bread, tables, animals. And how we were not really speaking but hearing each other on a deeper level. The discussion got wilder and wilder. We were laughing so hard - but somehow it was so memorable to me.
One part that I remember to this day was when one of us talked about how the BREAD gave the sermon last week in church. It told of its birth as seeds, gathered, milled, baked, and broken -- sharing its life with us. The willingness to give itself to us for strength and to satisfy our hunger.
I guess that reminds me of how willing Jim was to welcome people to the Diocese of Upper Michigan to learn about Baptismal Ministry and to go on the road to share a way of being church that encourages all to become the people they were created to be in the church and the world. He was a person who offered his experience to both pique and satisfy our hunger - our yearning for a meaningful life in the Spirit.
We will miss his lightness of being and I will miss a friend.

From Linda Fleming of Baggs, Wyoming
Life is short and precious
And we do not have too much time
To gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us.
So be swift to love
and make haste to be kind.