Dear Friends of MHSA:
With great sadness, we at MHSA acknowledge the death of a great leader and advocate to end homelessness, the Rev. Canon Brian Scott Kelley.
On April 6, Canon Kelley died after a long illness. But when one thinks of Brian, one does not think of death, but instead thinks of life. He manifested a deep commitment to the value of the lives of all people. Throughout his career as a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, Brian stood up for the dignity of the lives of thousands of the poor and disenfranchised who often had no other voice. In the 1980s, he was the one who sounded the alarm about the growing problem of homelessness in Boston. Those experiencing homelessness during this time had found their way to the churches across Boston, and Canon Kelley summoned the clergy and members of these various faith communities to take action. It was not sufficient for Canon Kelley to hand out a sandwich or a kind word in response to homelessness, although he did all of those things. Instead, Canon Kelley was willing to ask the hard questions as to what was causing this epidemic of homelessness. He challenged faith communities, service providers and government to seek solutions to end homelessness.
Many of us from those early days remember Social Action Ministries and the role it played organizing faith communities, nonprofit organizations and activists to come up with solutions and resources for this growing problem. Canon Kelley also played a key role in creating the Greater Boston Adult Shelter Alliance, which would later become MHSA, and he made it a point to make certain that everyone’s voice was heard, including those experiencing homelessness themselves. He was also involved in the early days of Family to Family, creating a unique way for people in the community to help each other. For those of us in the Christian tradition and community, which Canon Kelley reached far beyond in his appeal for justice, one cannot but think – when considering his kindness, his mercy, his willingness to speak up unafraid for justice, and even his patience and kindness as he struggled with these last few years of illness – of the scriptural passage from the Gospel of Matthew: “Well done good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Lord.” I hope that Canon Kelley experiences the fullness of that joy which he readily radiated and shared throughout his life.
We invite you to take a moment to read about Canon Kelley’s extraordinary life and example.
President & Executive Director