Many years! Fr. Al

I read with sadness that Fr. Al Kimel is ending his blog, Pontifications. I would not be writing here except for his gracious invitation several years ago to write occasional pieces on his blog. It was his suggestion as well that I try to do this on my own. These are only two of many kindnesses (and among the smallest) I have received from him over the years. His farewell note goes deep to the heart – and I well understand his words. May God bless him and give him many years and days of peace. I will always count it a blessing to call him my friend.

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.





13 responses to “Many years! Fr. Al”

  1. Peter Avatar

    Please, Lord, have mercy….

  2. Maximus Daniel Greeson Avatar

    I was one of those fortunate to be able to visit with Fr. Al during that conference, he was very encouraging and helpful. I am sad to see his blog go!

  3. mrh Avatar

    I owe Fr. Al a big debt for Pontifications and for personal correspondence, both of which helped me through my own crisis. That he turned west and I turned east does not diminish my personal appreciation for him and his work. I’m sorry he turned off comments so I couldn’t say so publicly on his site.

    I decided some time ago to quit visiting his blog because the Catholic-Orthodox debates and polemics had gotten too painful. So I can’t say he did or didn’t make the right choice. But I do know the character of his blog changed radically, and had to, as he made the transition from troubled Episcopal priest to confident Catholic priest. Styling oneself “the Pontificator” makes a very different impression in those two settings.

    If you’re reading this Fr. Al, thanks again and many years.

  4. fatherstephen Avatar

    I honestly cannot begin to say in such a public place how much I care about this very good man and good friend. We were introduced by Geoffrey Wainwright at Duke, who was chairman of my studies there. Al’s reputation, even while an Anglican stretched much beyond conservative Episcopal circles. I met him while he was editing the volume, Speaking the Christian God: The Holy Trinity and the Challenge of Feminism for Eerdmann’s, still the most definitive volume on the subject in my opinion. He wrote, he worked, he networked, in terms of serious theological work addressing the rising tide of revisionist insanity in Anglicanism, Fr. Al was at the center. The tide rose beyond anyone’s imagining (maybe not anyone) and the grief was and is great. As I have said in other places, Fr. Al was a friend when life in the trenches was tough. If you’ve been through tough times in trenches with folks – the nature of the friendship is, for me, beyond any break. We went in different directions for very similar reasons and I would never consider judging his decision.

    I have to confess that I grieved frequently that conversations with Orthodox on Pontifications became difficult. It’s territory that I don’t got into – for reasons I’ve stated in many places on this blog. I will miss Fr. Al’s postings, and pray that God will sustain him over dark places and that he enjoy the Light as well. As I have said, this is a man I love as a friend and compatriot.

  5. Visibilium Avatar

    I never met Fr. Al, and I am fortunate in not having personal considerations color my view of him. My only occasional acquaintance with him was through his blog after he had chosen the broad path. Through my perusal of his blog and the blogs of his closer colleagues, I concluded that my commentary time would be more profitably spent among Orthodox and Continuing Anglican blogs, rather than Latin blogs. I regret that I didn’t follow his blog during his period of honest Anglican anguish. There’s an martyrish quality to that Anglican anguish, and that quality surely resonates with Orthodox.

  6. Theodora Elizabeth Avatar
    Theodora Elizabeth

    As a former Episcopalian AND a former Roman Catholic (now Orthodox), I spent some time in the comments section of Pontifications. The only way I can describe it is that I “wrangled” with the some of the Catholics over there. Ugh. Those experiences left a bitter taste in my mouth, and I stay away from that sort of thing now – far away. I was there before Fr. Al made the decision which way to go. It was painful to read (I was already Orthodox at this point).

  7. Alice C. Linsley Avatar
    Alice C. Linsley

    I will miss the thoughtful postings and the debate at Pntifications, but I have been weening myself from the blogs slowly. I feel that God is asking me to attend to another work. But what?

    Fr. Al, thanks for sharing your journey. I continue to remember you in my prayers.

  8. D. I. Dalrymple Avatar

    Since comments are turned off at Pontifications, I’ll leave my tribute here as well. I was a regular reader -and very occasional commenter- at Pontifications for a few years. Despite the failures of charity that sometimes plagued the comments section at Pontifications (through no fault of Fr Al’s) and despite the fact that Fr Al took a different path in the end, I learned a lot from Fr Al and his readers and I owe him a great debt of gratitude. God bless and keep him and his family.

  9. Patty in WA Avatar
    Patty in WA

    Father Al did a great job teaching through his blog. His farewell is so laden with a feeling of sadness that the only response possible is prayer for God’s mercy and blessing on him. Father Al, this is what I have been praying for you, and will. There is a great company of saints who have traveled in the “dark night”–may they keep company with you and be encouragement to you. Thank you for the blessing you have been on the web.

  10. dilys Avatar

    I wrote Fr. Al as well that I am so grateful for the forum he maintained at Pontifications that allowed me to discover and be drawn to Orthodoxy. I came to that blog from the Episcopal margins, fretting about(o)rthodoxy, then marinated in the issues and comments there until granted the unutterable grace of Chrismation — when, as I said with perhaps excessive levity, I “woke up married to the Emperor of Byzantium.”

    Bless you, Fr. Al. Sometimes after a long swim, standing on solid ground, one just needs to shiver and head indoors for a bit.

    And blessings on the recently-illumined Alice above too. I feel the same call, pull down the shades on blogdom and scamper out into the sunshine of the new task as by the grace of God it presents itself.

  11. Jason Avatar

    Last year when I seriously considered confessional Lutheranism (instead of Evangelicalism), Pontifications seriously, and convincingly in my mind, challenged their notion of justification as a “theological novelty.” Fr. Kimmel wrote a number of posts on justification to illustrate and prove that justification viewed through the “imputed righteousness and forensic only” lens never expressed the mind of the church as it related to this theological concept. It was only after I realized that I had to give up my (cherished and loved) belief that Luther best understood the apostle Paul, that I could seriously consider “other” options. Shortly after that realization, in a fortuitous manner, I ended up taking an EO catechism class offered to the Twin Cities communities, which unknown to me at the time, put me on the road to Orthodoxy. This past Holy Saturday (2007) my wife and I were received into the Orthodox Church. There’s no doubt in my mind that Fr. Kimmel played a role in this process—thank you Fr. Al, and may God grant you many, many years!

  12. bob Avatar

    It sounds as though he thought more Anglicans would respond? I have a hunch he’s realizing just what a train wreck he left behind. There are *very* few serious minded people in his intended audience of Episcopalians. Everyone who tries to make a point to Episcopalians seems to make the mistake of aiming too high and thinking they’d like to have something clarified, when in fact they’re really quite happy to be where they are. Truth is what Fr. Al wants to offer. They just aren’t interested.

  13. fatherstephen Avatar


    I do not think that Fr. Al had any notions that many people at all would be swayed by his efforts. He has never been like that. I realist indeed. You do the truth because its the truth. He has not aimed too high – trust me- he was aware as many priests are just exactly what their people wanted and was not disappointed in them for he had no hope in them, but in God. i would hesitate to say that his present feelings, etc. are not related so much to circumstance.

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