Her failing health followed the declining fortunes of the Episcopal Church, which began losing members and money, not to mention precipitating a worldwide split in its parent body, the 70-million-member Anglican Communion.
One of Diane's last journeys was to Ireland in February as Anglican archbishops from around the world mulled how to punish the U.S. Episcopalians for the Robinson election and their Canadian counterparts for allowing same-sex "marriages." Diane and five other Episcopal leaders met with the archbishops, who in turn asked the American and Canadian archbishops to remove themselves from a key Anglican governing council until they decide whether to toe the official line on homosexuality or form a separate church.
Apparently the sextet from America was a bit too effective for Presiding Episcopal Bishop Frank Griswold, who in a speech to fellow Episcopal bishops in March likened the group to the devil. The other five group members shrugged off the insult, but it got to Diane, who struck back with a March 23 essay: "Bishop Griswold should resign." Eulogists at Diane's funeral less than a month later delicately refrained from mentioning the presiding bishop by name. But veiled references abounded regarding attacks from leaders in her own church.
One saving grace in recent months was Time magazine's Feb. 7 ranking of Diane as No. 4 among America's 25 most influential evangelical leaders. There were four women on this list, but two were linked with their husbands. Only Diane and evangelist Joyce Meyer stood on their own merits.
Not that Diane's artist husband, Ed Knippers was a shrinking violet. His striking paintings of Christ and other biblical figures in the nude amazed and infuriated fellow evangelicals. The raw physicality of his work may have earned him an exhibit spot in Union Station a few years ago but it was next to impossible, he would admit wryly, to get his work hanged in most churches.
The Knipperses were definitely not your cookie-cutter evangelical couple. At the reception following the funeral, a number of reporters who had covered Diane found ourselves congregating next to a plate of peanut butter cookies. In a conservative religious group where top women were relatively rare, Diane, we agreed, would be hard to replace.
The funeral for Diane Kippers took place April 23 at Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax, Virginia.