Remembering Bishop Jim Kelsey

Updated continuously

News of a tragic accident and a great loss to the Episcopal Church and for the Diocese of Northern Michigan:

“Bishop James Kelsey of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan was killed in a road accident at around 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 3, while returning to Marquette from a parish visitation, Jane Cisluycis, diocesan operations coordinator confirmed.

…’The Episcopal Church has today lost one of its bright lights,’ Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said. ‘We will be less without the easy grace of Bishop James Kelsey — Jim to most of us — and we shall miss his humor, insight, and passion for the ministry of all. He gave us much. We pray for the repose of his soul, and for his family. We pray also for the Diocese of Northern Michigan. All of us have lost a friend. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.'”

Read the rest here: Episcopal Life Online – NEWS

Coverage from The Mining Journal on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is here.

The bishop’s daughter Lydia was to have been married this Saturday.

All of us here at Episcopal Cafe join others around the Church giving thanks for +Jim’s life and praying for God’ loving presence right now for the family he leaves behind.

EpiScope provides this biography courtesy of Nancy Davidge at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts:

James Arthur Kelsey

Biographical Information


Jim Kelsey was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1952 and attended schools in New York City and Burlington, Vermont. He graduated from Ithaca College in New York in 1974 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy. In 1977, he graduated from General Theological Seminary and was called to be Deanery Curate for four congregations in southwestern Vermont. Following his ordination to the priesthood in 1978, he was called to be the rector of Holy Trinity Church in Swanton and priest-in-charge of three missions which gradually evolved into an eight-point cluster over the next seven years. During his year at Holy Trinity his interest in collaborative ministry deepened. A non-hierarchical form of leadership emerged there which included a locally ordained priest and a team of persons who shared ministry support responsibilities. Holy Trinity was recognized by the national church as one of ten effective congregations highlighted in the publication Against All Odds, prepared for the 1982 General Convention.

In 1985 he was called by the Diocese of Oklahoma to help establish a diocesan-wide strategy for cluster ministries. His work there was focused especially with eight congregations in a six-county area in east-central Oklahoma. He began an extensive consulting role on collaborative ministry throughout the U.S. and Canada.

He was called to be the Ministry Development Coordinator in the Diocese of Northern Michigan in 1989, a position he held until his election as Bishop in 1999. Since coming to the diocese, over half of the diocese’s 27 congregations have embraced Mutual Ministry, as collaborative ministry is known in Northern Michigan. It is characterized by the commissioning of local Ministry Support Teams supported by seminary-trained regional missioners.

Interest in Mutual Ministry by other diocese in the U.S. and abroad led Northern Michigan in 1994 to begin offering Spring and Fall Visitors Weekends for a first-hand look at this model for ministry.

His consulting work during these years expanded overseas to include New Zealand and the United Kingdom and has touched over thirty-five diocese in the United States. He participated in a number of national and international networks and training programs including the Leadership Academy in New Directions (LAND), Sindicators, Synagogy, Coalition 14, Living Stones and an International Symposium on Local Collaborative Ministry.

Jim and Mary Kelsey were married in 1976 and have three adult children, Nathan, Lydia and Amos and a new puppy Juniper.

If you weren’t familiar with Bishop Jim, his 2006 address to his diocesan convention provides a sense of the man and his ministry. So, too, does the citation read when he received an honorary degree last month from Episcopal Divinity School.

Tributes to Bishop Jim have already begun appearing on the Web. Jared Cramer’s is among the most eloquent. Brother Christopher, who knew the bishop through Kelsey’s involvement with the Third Order of the Society of St. Francis writes:

He cherished a radical notion of common ministry and refused the adulation bishops tend to attract. This meant that when he did speak with authority, people listened with unusual attention and respect.

Brother Jacob, S.S.F offers a remembrance and some fine pictures of Jim.

Ann Fontaine, one of the contributors here at Episcopal Cafe has her own tribute posted on her blog.

“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.”

If you’d like to share a story about Bishop Jim, leave it as a comment, or send it to

From the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan:


We will gather to celebrate the life of Jim Kelsey

this Friday, June 8, in Marquette.

Visitation will be at 9am to 1pm at St. Paul’s Church, 201 East Ridge St.

Memorial Eucharist will be at 4pm at St. Michael Roman Catholic Church, on the corner of College St. and Presque Isle Ave.

Reception to follow at the church.

Please help us share hospitality with one another by bringing a finger-food type dish to the reception.

The family has requested that memorials be given to Page Center

All media inquiries are being referred to the Episcopal News Service

Gloria Price, Office Administrator

gloria (at)

Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan

131 E Ridge Street

Marquette MI 49855

More details on the Celebration of the Life of Jim Kelsey and other reports are at Episcopal Life OnLine

And a new blog dedicated to his memory is now online.

Earth Bishop mourned: A video tribute to Jim Kelsey Here

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