Bill Wylie-Kellermann is a retired Methodist pastor, nonviolent community activist, teacher, and author. His next book is forthcoming this summer: Celebrant’s Flame: Daniel Berrigan in Memory and Reflection (Cascade, 2021).

Posts By This Author

Space for Grace

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 07-01-2004
"Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx" by Heidi B. Neumark

This is a book that takes your breath away and at the same time gives it back. I have every suspicion, and say it with a sigh, that Heidi Neumark has written a classic to be.

Breathing Space defies genre, or at least mingles them. Part diary of a city priest, part Bible study, part theological reflection on years of urban ministry with an undercurrent of journalized griefwork, part social analysis with patches of homily - yet always pure prayer and even pure poetry. All these are woven in centered self-awareness by a concrete and thoroughly unaffected wordcraft. This is one way of saying that, as a pastor, Heidi Neumark is the real deal - and, as a writer, she has the gift.

The title is only passing reference to the Louisville Institute sabbatical that occasioned its writing. It certainly names the contemplative process of penning pastorally on the run. But like the biblical notion of Sabbath year itself, "breathing space" reflects worship infused with justice. It is the sanctuary of ministry and community constructed with residents of the South Bronx, whose dumping-ground neighborhood was just surviving beneath the atmosphere of environmental racism and more, air violently stretched, literally toxic, inflicting countless cases of asthma. Which is to say, every pastoral act recounted here is political, an engagement of the powers that be.

Same-sex marriage and sacramental unity

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann, by Ched Myers 05-19-2004


In 1963, William Stringfellow - movement theologian, Sojourners mentor, and gay man - had the following to say about mainline churches who were pondering whether to join the struggle for African-American civil rights:

The issue not some common spiritual values, nor natural law, nor middle axioms. The issue is baptism. The issue is the unity of all humanity wrought by God in the life and work of Christ. Baptism is the sacrament of that unity of all human life in God.

False Gods and the Power of Love

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 11-01-2003

Corporate dominance of world affairs seems almost god-like.

Self-Interest, Solidarity, and Power

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 11-01-2001
For organizers: Theology 101.

A Word of Hope in the Rubble

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 11-01-2001

Our broken hearts are indeed the proper place to begin theological reflection. Wounded hearts, the tears of suffering and death, however, can lead divergent ways.

God Is My Palm Pilot

Is technology the tool of the devil? The primrose path to a better life? Or something in between?

God is My Palm Pilot

Extended content available only online.

The Power of Alliance

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 09-01-1998
Why the church and the labor movement belong together.

Healing People for the Struggle

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 09-01-1998

There is a key spiritual gift that the church may bring to labor struggle: pastoral care.

Exorcising an American Demon

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 03-01-1998
Racism is a principality.

More Than a Coin Toss

Practicing Mutuality

Resisting Death Incarnate

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 03-01-1996
The principalities of urban violence.

Readers Before Profits

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 01-01-1996
Calling corporations and unions to their true vocations in the Detroit newspaper strike.

Jacques Ellul: A Hopeful Pessimist

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 08-01-1994
Ellul remains a witness of resurrection.

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

—Wendell Berry

Jacques Ellul died on May 19. The Washington Post noted his passing in a few scant paragraphs. It went unnoticed here in Detroit. Sojourners could readily devote an issue to him—and did just that in June 1977, acknowledging a debt to his thought and witness. He tutored many of us in theology and social history.

Personally, I was introduced to Ellul’s writing as a seminarian through Dan Berrigan, who was then reading the signs of the time with the Book of Revelation in one hand and Jacques Ellul’s Presence of the Kingdom (1948) in the other. Presence was Ellul’s postwar manifesto—and nearly five decades later it still rings true with an uncanny discerning prescience.

Removed as a professor of law by the Vichy government in 1940, he spent World War II in the French Resistance, spiriting Jews to safety. His postwar take on the times? Hitler won the war. The Nazi spirit triumphed. The atom bomb was emblem of the necessary "fact," the apotheosis of technique—of means overwhelming and supplanting ends.

Faithful to the Word

The Writings of William Stringfellow

The Spirit's Call of Freedom

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 05-01-1994

The remaining gospels of eastertide play out Jesus’ farewell discourse in the latter chapters of John.

An Easter Cliffhanger

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 04-01-1994

There is no more brilliant literary surprise, I think, in all of scripture than the shocking cliffhanger abruptness of Mark’s resurrection account.

God's Downward Mobility

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 02-01-1994

Prior to Constantine, when the church was outlawed and, with some regularity, systematically persecuted, the reception of members was a rigorous and risky proposition.

Called by the Light

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 01-01-1994

This season begins and ends in light.

A Countercultural Season

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 12-01-1993

Advent couldn't be more out of step with the doings of the dominant culture.