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remembering longtime
st. stephen's member
bill mackaye

Memorial service for bill

Recording of the livestream of the memorial service on Sept. 30, 2023

View/download the bulletin that was used at the service

View/download the text of the sermon at the service by Rev. Kathy Grieb

Bill's recipe for communion bread
Bill was a regular communion bread baker for St. Stephen's Sunday services. Before Bill's usual summer trip to Connecticut, he left communion bread in his freezer in his home in D.C. to cover his absence from his first-Sundays bread-baking role. By sheer chance, his last loaves of bread were available to use at his service, supplemented by additional bread made by Lely Constantinople. When Bill made bread, which became the body of Christ in the eucharist, it was a "foretaste of the feast to come" in heaven. So it was a delight for those at his service to experience that foretaste of the heavenly feast with bread made by Bill's own hands while knowing he is enjoying the full heavenly feast himself now at Christ's table.

Memorial gifts

According to Bill's wishes, in lieu of flowers, you may make a memorial gift to St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church and/or its feeding program, Loaves and Fishes

William ("Bill") MacKaye was a decades-long member of St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church. Up to the day of his death, Aug. 21, 2023, Bill was serving as an active member of the vestry (board) of St. Stephen's and a member of the management board of the parish's feeding program, Loaves and Fishes. At the time, he was also a member of the finance and liturgy committees. In all his years at St. Stephen's, Bill served in many parish leadership and volunteer positions. As a result, he was the keeper of the institutional knowledge and history of the parish and its various ministries since the 1960s. His longevity with the parish, as well as his dedication to and passion for it, makes his own history intimately connected to many decades of the history of St. Stephen's. Bill was an advocate for what was just, right and proper, from the way St. Stephen's responded to hunger and the need for affordable housing in the neighborhood to what was done in the liturgy on Sunday mornings. In the many groups he was part of, he regularly asserted his wisdom and experience gained from many years of nonprofit management experience. On a personal level, he was curious about people from all walks of life and also a mentor and friend to many people. Most importantly, he was a devoted follower of Jesus and a faithful Christian. He attended worship almost evey Sunday and was a fixture at services.

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Bill MacKaye and his wife, Ginger, came to St. Stephen's in 1960-61 at the encouragement of the new rector, Bill Wendt. The MacKayes were then in their late 20s and had three young children at the time. By April 1964, Bill had been elected to the vestry for what would be the first of many terms of service. In his six decades as a parishioner, there were few leadership roles he did not have at one time or another.


Bill deeply loved the liturgy of the church, mentoring many in the joys and demands of crafting liturgy, i.e., “the work of the people.” One work of his hands in the 1970s was a long litany, still sung every year for All Saints Day by the whole 10:30am congregation while processing around the nave amid clouds of incense. Full-organ verses of “For All the Saints” (Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Sine Nomine, Episcopal Hymnal #287) alternate with a capella voices naming and invoking—Stand here beside us!—some hundred “saints,” that is, those whose lives had been deeply engaged in the work of God, of justice and peace, of beauty and truth—from Johnny Appleseed to Mahatma Gandhi. At the church’s celebration of Bill’s 80th birthday, the choir wrote and sang a high-spirited adaptation of this All Saints Day litany in his honor, and it was sung again at his memorial service at the church on Sept. 30, 2023, with changes in tense in a few places (see the text of the birthday adaptation of this litany for Bill on page 20 of the bulletin for his memorial service).

Death notices for Bill

Washington Post obituary:

William MacKaye, a Washington Post editor, dies at 89 (Aug. 28, 2023)

Washington Post death notice (submitted by MacKaye family):

William Ross MacKaye (1934-2023) (Sept. 8, 2023)

Remembrances of Bill from current and former members

A compilation of memories, stories and tributes

Bill as educator, advocate and historian

Videos of Bill leading and sharing with others about ministries of St. Stephen's

In October 2009, Bill led a walking tour of affordable housing in a section of Columbia Heights in Washington as part of the 2009 Fannie Mae Help the Homeless Walk. St. Stephen's has been active in the fight for affordable housing in the Columbia Heights neighborhood for more than 50 years. Urban Village, a housing complex for working-class families, was built on land donated by St. Stephen's, and church members hold several seats on the Urban Village board.

In 2018, Loaves and Fishes, the feeding program of St. Stephen's, celebrated its 50th anniversary. To mark the occasion, brief oral histories were gathered, and Bill appeared in two videos along with another longtime St. Stephen's member, Ellen Baynard. In these videos, they speak about the founding of Loaves and Fishes and getting to know one of the program's guests.

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