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A Heartfelt Farewell to Ken Wilson


Dr. Ken Wilson has retired after a tenure of 32 years.


By Dorothy Wagener

Music and Worship Committee Chair

Knollwood pulled out all the stops on February 25 to celebrate the music ministry of Ken Wilson, who has retired after a tenure of 32 years—longer than any other ministerial staff member. 

The main events included a morning worship service filled with special music and an afternoon reception featuring humor and memories. Gifts honoring Ken ranged from the notable to the hilarious.

During worship, Ken led the Knollwood Brass, Chancel and Youth Choirs, and High School Bells, jointly and separately, in special music. The Chancel Choir sang the anthem “Let All Creation Dance,” commissioned last year to honor Ken, and the entire congregation sang two hymns written by Mary Louise Bringle for Knollwood during Ken’s tenure. A concluding liturgy of gratitude and blessing, written by Mark Jensen, noted Ken’s leadership at every level.

Near the end of the service, Knollwood representatives recognized Ken and Cathy Wilson with significant gifts: a churchwide love gift of $10,000, a commissioned work of mixed-media art that will hang in the narthex, and a small version of the art for the Wilsons to keep. 

At the festive afternoon reception, guests greeting the Wilsons also enjoyed a slide show by Chuck Hinson of photos from the past 32 years, and background music by jazz musicians Dan Knight, piano; John Ray, bass; and Bill Poole, drums. A large basket collected the thank-you notes and cards contributed by many guests.

A “32-minute” program sponsored by the Music and Worship Committee began with Janet and John Ray demonstrating a humorous retirement survival kit of four special items, including a Suzukinator to simulate the sound of beginning Suzuki guitar students, and the Choral Conductor Power Glove for conducting a virtual choir.

Dozens of current and past choir members came forward to sing, unrehearsed, a special hymn composed by Peggy Haymes called “Ken Wilson, We Have Heard on High” to the tune of the familiar Christmas carol.

Lauren Winkelman, representing the handbells, recognized Cathy Wilson for her participation with a gift bag of small gifts. Susan Edge presented Ken with a framed first page of the commissioned anthem, with signatures on the matting by members of the Chancel and Youth Choirs and Knollwood Brass.

Wrapping up the program was a short video, edited by Stephen Ball, featuring video greetings, gratitude, and best wishes in retirement from 20 friends and colleagues. Bob Setzer offered a closing prayer, followed by everyone singing the choral benediction, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.”