All Saints Church lost a beloved longtime pastor Friday when the Rev. Zelda Kennedy died of cancer, surrounded by family and friends in Durham, North Carolina. Kennedy, 70, had served at All Saints as its Senior Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care, Healing and Health since 2003.
Kennedy’s role at the influential Episcopal Church involved coordinating pastoral care and counseling, as well as spiritual direction to the members of the All Saints community. She had been hired at All Saints by its rector emeritus the Rev. Ed Bacon, who recalled being impressed by her questions as a student when he guest lectured at Yale Divinity School.
“Her questions were so profound and insightful that I wanted to get to know her, and over many conversations, in time she came and worked for us at All Saints,” recalled Bacon, who was among those at her bedside at the Hock Family Pavilion hospice when she died. “She was a consummate pastor. I’ve never known anyone who had such presence in pastoral circumstances. She was very spiritually attuned to where people needed healing, and I think to a person, people felt on the journey toward wholeness when they were with her.”
Kennedy had been receiving cancer treatments at City of Hope in Duarte until recently, when a downturn in her health inspired her to return to be near her daughter and other family members in Durham. Kennedy had worked as an assistant rector at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Mission in Mooresville, North Carolina, prior to working at All Saints.
In honor of Kennedy, the chapel at All Saints had extended hours until 10 p.m. throughout the weekend for those wishing to pray for and sign a book of remembrance. Memorial services were not finalized at press time, but will be held at both All Saints Church and in Durham.
“Zelda was a powerful presence in the All Saints community in just about every way imaginable,” said the current All Saints rector, the Rev. Mike Kinman. “She radiated God’s love, she spoke truth courageously. She just showed up and loved equally at the most important and difficult times in people’s lives. Her lasting legacy is going to be how she taught us to love and care for each other.”