Photo credit: Craine’sDetroit
In Detroit, the constant flash of green lights says: You are being watched.
BY BILL WYLIE-KELLERMANN
Reposted from Sojourners, MARCH 2020
WE GATHERED THIS fall on the steps of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Summoned by the Detroit chapter of Black Youth Project 100, we were preparing to march a mile-long stretch of gentrified Michigan Avenue, which intersects there. I had served the church for 11 years as pastor, and in the last dozen or so this Catholic Worker neighborhood had been invaded by $400,000 condos, plus destination bars and restaurants. Among others, guests at our Manna Meal soup kitchen and Kelly’s Mission, largely black, are stigmatized and made unwelcome. Continue reading
By Bill Wylie-Kellermann, January 25, 2020
This was the closing sermon to the United Methodist Global Water Summit at Cass United Methodist Church in Detroit. His opening sermon was posted on February 12.
In the summer of 2013 as the Water shut-offs spiked under Emergency Management, St Peter’s Episcopal became the first water distribution station of We the People of Detroit. The first contribution was a truckload borne across the Ambassador Bridge by the Council of Canadians. It didn’t have all the necessary paperwork, so the Border Feds had to decide whether to halt it and cause an international press incident or just allow I through irregularly. The latter wisdom prevailed. We received it at St Peter’s with a small ceremony, carried it in brigade-style and stored it along the outside isles of the sanctuary. But mostly we grouped the bulk of it around the baptismal font which is the first thing you see as you enter. At one point we had 1500 gallons of water there. We hung a banner behind the font which said St. Peter’s Water Station, making the very same connection as this summit. Continue reading
Bill Wylie-Kellermann at his granddaughter’s baptism. Photo credit: Tony Eggert
By Bill Wylie-Kellermann, January 24, 2020
In the name of the One who breathed across the face of the waters in creation; the One who is Lord and Servant of all; and the Spirit militant that summons, fills, and holds us together as one, let all of this be.
I am a former pastor of this congregation, so I’ve preached many times from this pulpit; I was married in this sanctuary, my daughter was baptized here, and still I confess to feeling the burden of bringing a Word to this important summit. I’ve been asked to “lay a theological foundation” for these conversations. In that, I’m mindful that the charism we need in this moment is less one of speaking than of listening – especially to our guests from the African continent. Continue reading
By Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann, presented at the inaugural Council on the Way convened by Ruby Sales in Washington D.C. on October 19, 2019
You, White men, Christian and not, sit in darkness, unseeing how you are advantaged by aggression against others. Your humanity suffers a gaping wound you have been taught not to feel. You are justified by a faith that is an idol and a lie. You are in bondage to a system and a spirit, white supremacy, which is nothing less than a form of death itself. Continue reading
By Bill Wylie-Kellermann
June 2, 2019
the day’s measure is more fleshy far,
more soulful even
than circles, however sweet, around our brother sun,
warming the planet this day
toward the end of an aeon. Continue reading
An excerpt from Bill Wylie-Kellermann’s classic Seasons of Faith and Conscience (1991).
The sealing of the tomb is, I believe, notoriously misunderstood. I grew up with a Sunday School notion that to seal the tomb was a matter of hefting the big stone and cementing it tight. The seal, in my mind’s eye, was something like first-century caulking–puttying up the cracks to keep the stink in. Not so. This is a legal seal. Cords would be strung across the rock and anchored at each end with clay. To move the stone would break the seal and indicate tampering. Continue reading
From Bill Wylie-Kellermann’s recent release Principalities in Particular: A Practical Theology of the Powers That Be (Oct 2017):
In the struggle for racial justice the recognition of “institutional racism,” that insidious structural element far beyond personal prejudice, was a huge step toward seeing racism as a principality. Ironically, however, the liberal preoccupation with its institutional character would prove progressively blind to its overpowering spiritual dimension. The African American freedom struggle, founded under SCLC’s early banner, “To Heal the Soul of the Nation,” tended to become more and more a civil rights movement with a largely legislative agenda. In the several decades since Stringfellow’s address, the legal apparatus of our American apartheid has been all but dismantled. End of racism, right? No. We ignore its spiritual reality at the peril of our national soul. And there is no force in our history that has proven more relentless or devastatingly resilient than white racism. It is empirically a demon which again and again rises up transmogrified in ever-more predatory and beguiling forms, truly tempting our despair. The frustration we suffer is not unlike that of the disciples who were gently upbraided by Jesus, “This kind can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.”