Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The late Bishop Jim Kelsey - a personal reflection

I first met Jim when I attended a Diocese of Northern Michigan "Visitors Weekend" one chilly April morning in 1999 - his warm smile and firm handshake signaling an authenticity that was transparent from the very beginning.

Our conversation was very quickly intimate - that's Jim, I came to see - and he took me back to his office to show me a picture of his family. We were chatting about the upcoming consecration, and he told a very funny story about wanting to have nearly 30 bishops participate in the service. "815 told me I could only have five bishops", he said. "I asked them why the limit and they replied 'well, there's only room for five signatures on the certificate'!" And then he said the words I'll never forget: "Doesn't matter about the certificate anyway, it'll just go in a drawer somewhere. The only certificate I have on my wall is my baptismal certificate."

In that moment I grasped what Jim - and, I believe, the Church - was (and should be) all about. I had never put any certificates on my office wall, least of all ordination certificates. But the first thing I did on returning home was to dig out my baptismal certificate and have it framed with the most expensive frame I could find.

Somewhere on the back I wrote this note: "Thanks, Jim."

Sadness and joy are bound together for me now - he is gone. And yet he will continue to live in my memory - as he will, I'm sure for anyone who knew him. I will always remember him with that same easy grin and quick chuckle that greeted me on that April day now eight years ago.

And I have this vision of him at the Pearly Gates reminding St. Peter not to get too carried away by the way some of the Church has come to view the First Apostle, which is so much less important - Jim is saying to him - than the ministry that Peter's baptism authored!

Rest in peace and rise in glory you dear, dear man.

How could he DO that?!

Those of you who have followed the somewhat amusing story of the Anglican Communion Institute on the House of Bishops and Deputies list (HoB/D) will recall that, as a result of the Grace and St. Stephen's debacle in the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado, the A.C.I. was revealed as "three guys and a computer"!

So much for "Senior Fellow" and all the other fancy titles.

You will also remember the 'tongue-in-cheek' competition I ran for the name of a new "Institute" that was to consist of but one member (yours truly) who would be President, Vice-President, Senior Fellow, Junior Fellow, Chief-cook-and-bottle-washer, and Janitor Emeritus! I am, after all, "one guy with three computers", so this grandiose scheme seemed entirely appropriate - mirroring, in fact, the same grandiosity of the "Anglican Communion Institute".

The result was (of course!) that I had to adopt a name that I came up with, rejecting all the many wonderful suggestions, because - well - "its all about me"!

"THe Institute" was the result. "TH" for "Taber-Hamilton" and simply add an "e": "Taber-Hamilton Institute" or "THe Institute" for short. No doubt many conservative pixies immediately ran out to grab the domain-name to prevent such a whimsical creation from ever seeing the light of day! This would be, of course, to miss the point that there is real humor in satire (While nitpickers might note that the name should really be "The THe Institute" it would be inconsistent of me to listen because - well - "its all about me").

Then I had to register with "blogger" to post a note about that wonderful man, Bishop Jim Kelsey, may he rest in peace and rise in glory, whose life was so tragically cut short in an auto accident on Sunday in the UP of Michigan. The result of registering was an immediate invitation from "Blogger" to create a blog and, well, "the rest is history"!

So then I had to select a name! What better than to use the same principle: "TH" for "Taber-Hamilton" and simply add an "e" and call it "THe Blog"?!

All of which is, no doubt, self-justification for an inflated ego (no doubt those same conservative pixies are now rushing off in glee to quote me - "permission denied"!). I can already hear the cries: "How could he DO that?!" The answer is, of course, quite simple - its always "all about me"!

So here it is - a new blog presented for your amusement - enjoy!