By Kirk Petersen
The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer was on his final approach to retirement. He was looking forward to an October 13 landing, 21 years to the day after his consecration as Bishop of West Virginia.
Nothing but clear skies ahead. His successor, Bishop Coadjutor Matthew Cowden, was consecrated in March and cleared for takeoff. Klusmeyer and his wife were looking for houses in the Milwaukee area, where they have family.
Then, Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry offered him a job.
Klusmeyer, 66, who goes by Mike, grew up near Chicago. “Being a Chicago boy and an Anglo-Catholic, when the Church or your boss says something, you say ‘sir yes sir,’” he told TLC.
And so it came to pass that on Monday, October 17 — a whole three-day weekend after his last day as Bishop of West Virginia — Klusmeyer will start his new job as canon to the presiding bishop for ministry within the Episcopal Church. He’ll be one of three senior program officers responsible for pursuing Curry’s vision as presiding bishop. As the Public Affairs Office said in a September 13 announcement, “Klusmeyer will, among other duties, support Curry’s ministry with pastoral assistance and strategic advising, including serving as liaison and representative to bishops within the church and overseeing preparations for gatherings of the House of Bishops.” He’ll also help the presiding bishop plan diocesan visitations and bishop consecrations, as well as preparations for the 2024 General Convention.
“I am thrilled that Bishop Mike has agreed to serve on my staff in this capacity,” Curry said in the announcement. “Both in his diocesan ministry and in his role on the Council of Advice, he has proven himself a wise follower of Jesus, a judicious adviser, and a trusted colleague and friend. Bishop Mike’s vast experience and good humor will be deeply appreciated as we walk together as a church in Jesus’ Way of Love.”
“Three-day weekend” actually overstates the break Klusmeyer will get between jobs. One of his retirement parties is scheduled that weekend, and he’ll need to get on an airplane on October 16. The Executive Council holds its first meeting since General Convention from October 17-20, in Phoenix, and senior staff generally attend the thrice-yearly meetings. It will be the first Executive Council meeting Klusmeyer has ever attended.
Klusmeyer readily acknowledges that he’s doing things backwards. The normal progression is to hold the “ministry within” portfolio first, and then acquire a miter and crozier as a diocesan bishop. That’s the trail blazed by his two predecessors. Canon Michael Buerkel Hunn has been Bishop of the Rio Grande since 2018, and Canon Mark Stevenson was elected Bishop of Virginia in June 2022. He’ll be consecrated in December.
“I’m excited to be doing this, I’m thankful for the presiding bishop’s trust and confidence, and our friendship that we’ve had for a long time,” Klusmeyer said. “And in July of 2024, we will elect the next presiding bishop, and I will gladly and gracefully help to transition myself out of a job.”