The Rev. John Kettlewell, longtime chaplain of Blue Ridge School and founder of its outdoors program, died October 23 at his home in Schuylerville, N.Y., aged 89.

A native of Chicago, Kettlewell studied English literature at Harvard, where he was also active in campus theater and developed strong ties with the Society of St. John the Evangelist. He trained for the ministry at General Seminary, and served at Bethesda Church, Saratoga Springs, N.Y. and St. Mark’s, Geneva, Ill. He became chaplain and English teacher at Blue Ridge School in St. George, Va., in 1965. There he directed plays and musicals, led countless students on hiking and camping trips, and served as rector of nearby Grace Church in Stanardsville. He moved to upstate New York in 1991, and was rector of St. Stephen’s Schuylerville for fifteen years.

Kettlewell’s friends remembered, “he was at his happiest hiking in the woods, climbing a cliff, sailing a boat, exploring an underground cavern, paddling his kayak on the Hudson or sleeping in a tent. Despite any evidence to the contrary, he continued to believe he was still a teenager until well into his ninth decade, retaining a teenager’s delight in high adventure — if an escapade didn’t end in near-disaster, well where was the fun in that?”

 

The Rev. Dr. Robert Baldwin “B” Lloyd, 93, a longtime social justice activist, died October 11 in Blacksburg, Va., surrounded by his loving family.

He was born in Japan to an Episcopal missionary family, and spent summers during his youth at Camp Red Rock in Southwestern Virginia, developing a deep love of the Appalachian region. He served in the Army military intelligence service during World War II, and then studied history at the University of Virginia. Like his grandfather, father, three brothers and a sister, he answered a call to the Episcopal priesthood. He attended Virginia Theological Seminary, and then graduated, was ordained and married, all in a single weekend, June 3-5, 1954.

Lloyd began his ministry by serving as rector of two rural Virginia churches, St. James in Louisa and Church of the Incarnation in Mineral. He was a passionate early supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. He served as Episcopal chaplain at Virginia Tech, and then as a leader of the Appalachian People’s Service Organization, working for the passage of federal laws regulating surface mining. In retirement, he served for two decades at St. Paul’s Mission, a ministry to the Monacan Indian Nation of Bear Mountain, Va., and he was made an honorary member of the nation in 1994.

He was also deeply involved in ministry to nursing home residents, urban Appalachians, and prisoners. His family remembered, “He was a warrior for social and environmental justice and a staunch believer in the power of writing, phoning, and visiting elected representatives to implement policy changes.” His wife of 58 years, Mary Ellen West Lloyd, predeceased him, and he is survived by two daughters and a son, as well as three granddaughters.

 

The Rev. Prof. John Mbiti, a pioneering scholar of traditional African religions and a Kenyan Anglican priest, died in Bergdorf, Switzerland on October 5, aged 87.

Born in Mulango Kenya, the child of farmers, Mbiti studied in Uganda and at Barrington College in Rhode Island before earning a doctorate in theology from Cambridge University in 1962. He was ordained as a priest of the Church of England, and served in parish ministry there. While teaching theology at Uganda’s Makerere University, he published African Religions and Philosophy (1964), a seminal work, based on extensive field research throughout the continent.

He then wrote a series of successor volumes on specific topics in the field, as well an anthology of traditional African poetry. He also translated the New Testament into the Kamba language of central Kenya, his native language.

Mbiti argued strongly for the dignity and conceptual integrity of traditional religion, while maintaining an acknowledged — and sometimes controversial — perspective as a committed Christian. “The God described in the Bible is none other than the God who is already known in the framework of our traditional African religiosity,” he wrote in 1980. “The missionaries who introduced the gospel to Africa in the past 200 years did not bring God to our continent. Instead, God brought them.”

He became director of the World Council of Churches’ Bossey Ecumenical Institute in Bogis-Bossey, Switzerland in 1974, and organized a series of international theological conferences. He later taught theology at the University of Bern and served as a Reformed Church parish minister in the village of Burgdorf. Mbiti is survived by his wife, Verena, and by four children.

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