Forget Bubbles

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sermon Preached By: Dr. William Ritter
Scripture: John 5:1–9 (read by Dr. Wesley Avram)

Meet the Guest Preacher

Dr. William A. Ritter retired on June 30, 2005, after 40 years as a United Methodist minister and 12 years as senior minister of the 3200 member First United Methodist Church of Birmingham, Michigan. Prior pastoral assignments included Nardin Park UMC, Farmington Hills (1980–1993), Newburg UMC in Livonia (1969–1980) and Dearborn, First UMC (1965–1969).

A Detroit native, Bill was a member of Westlawn United Methodist Church. His educational path traveled through Mackenzie High School (1958), Albion College (BA, 1962) and Yale Divinity School (M.Div., 1965). Albion College awarded him an honorary DD in 1981.

Bill is married to Kristine, a Wayne State University graduate, who is a retired corporate trainer. As a couple, they have traveled widely including trips to Europe, China and Africa. A recent trip to Zambia, Botswana and South Africa resulted in the establishment of a scholarship fund for impoverished children in Cape Town in memory of their son. Their daughter, Julie Hopkins, her husband Jared and children Jacob and Georgia now live in Michigan. Their son, Bill Ritter Jr., died in 1994.

Bill preaches widely, has served on a number of denominational boards and community agencies, and has been a Trustee of Albion College for 30 years. In addition to authoring a book of prayers (Prayers for Albion College) and a book of sermons, he has contributed essays to recently–published books on the subjects of marriage and grandparenting. His book,Take the Dimness of My Soul Away: Healing After a Loved One’s Suicide, was released in fall of 2004.

After retirement, Bill held the title of Visiting Faculty in Preaching at Duke Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina. He also taught a course at Duke in stewardship, fundraising and financial management. He was designated Visiting Scholar in the Gerald R. Ford Institute of Public Policy and the Carl Gerstacker Institute of Professional Management at Albion College (winter/spring, 2006) and has taught at Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit, MI. Additional post–retirement responsibilities included a mentoring program linking him with clergy in their first decade of ministry and interim ministerial assignments at Newburg UMC, Fenton UMC and Northville UMC.

He is currently the Executive Director of the United Methodist Union of Greater Detroit, a foundation that provides loans and grants to churches in the Metro Detroit area.