we shall this day light
such a candle,
by God’s grace … as I trust
shall never be put out.
Oct. 16, 1555
For the first time, we here at the Cafe wish to honor one of the living saints of God on this All Saints Day with what we are calling The Bishop Ridley Award. Bishop Ridley is one of our heroes, who played the man as Latimer encouraged him to do when the flames got hot – and they got hot indeed. As long as the Cafe is serving up the chai and butterbeer, we will honor each year on All Saints Day one person who stands out boldly and firmly, but without fanfare in serving the Lord under sometimes the most difficult circumstances. There are so many – men and women – who come to mind that deserve this award. And many more known only to God.
But this year we wish to present it to The Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman.
What does this mean? Alas, no trip to Disney World, no star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, no Oscar to tape to your amp, no induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (or even the Baseball Hall of Fame) no – we don’t have much, but what we do have is special.
Open up your Cafe Menus.
In honor of this year’s recipient and knowing how much he loves
baseball (note: please go back click on the word baseball or click here and then continue reading – thank you), the Cafe is pleased to announce that “The Bishop Ackerman” is now on the new Cafe Menu. “The Bishop Ackerman” includes two hot dogs or two hamburgers with your choice of everything on them, two drinks of your choice (including Old Ogden’s Firewater if it’s a tough day), two packages of original cracker jacks or peanuts (no, not these peanuts), and two highly collectible baseball cards out of the Dylan Vault from one of the following teams: the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Texas Rangers, the St. Louis Cardinals, or the Peoria Chiefs. No other teams will be available. Of course.
The Rt. Rev’d Dr. Keith Lynn Ackerman was born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania August 3, 1946. On August 19, 1967 he married Joann Bevacqua. They have three married children: Keith (and his wife Donna), Renée (and her husband Ethan), and Lynne Mary (and her husband Rob), and three grandchildren. Bishop Ackerman is the author of several articles and books including his most recent publication To God be the Glory which he cowrote with Joann.
Bishop Ackerman earned a B.S. in Psychology from Marymount College in Salina, KS in 1971 while working at the St. Francis Boys Home. In 1974 he received his M.Div. from Nashotah House Seminary, Wisconsin followed by a D.D. from Nashotah House in 1994.
In 1974, he was ordained to the diaconate and then to the priesthood in Long Island and served as a Curate at the Church of the Transfiguration in Freeport, New York from 1974-1976.
In 1976 was called to be rector of St. Mary’s Church, Charleroi, Pennsylvania in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. There he established five outreach ministries for the unemployed and a Christian Counseling Service. He served as President of the Charleroi Clergy Association and was awarded the distinguished “Christian Associates Ecumenical Award” of Western Pennsylvania as a result of his involvement in union labor and management negotiations which resulted in saving a steel-related business.
He founded St. Elizabeth Chapel in Bentleyville, and was presented the Bishop of Pittsburgh’s award. Active in Diocesan life, he served as President of the Standing Committee and as Deputy to General Convention. An active leader of retreats, he taught in several institutions including Chichester Theological College in Chichester, England and Duquesne University in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania.
In 1989 Keith Ackerman was called to be rector of St. Mark’s Church in Arlington, Texas in the Diocese of Forth Worth. There he served as president of the Ministerial Association and was presented the “Minister of the Year” award. In the Diocese of Forth Worth he served as a member of a number of committees, including president of the Standing Committee.
He retired today.
There are many other things we could say about Bishop Ackerman, including his irrepressible cheerfulness, his hopefulness, his thoughtfulness, his ability to seize teaching moments, his heart for pastoral care, his willingness to serve in season and out, his sincere kindness with those with whom he disagrees – both colleagues and opponents, his devotion to his family and to his people, and most of all, his selflessness in sacrificing so much to protect the ones God has put in his care.