Category : TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

BibeBeltBlogger: The Bishop of Spokane Votes Yes on Northern Michigan

…the bishop of Spokane, the Right Rev. James E. Waggoner, told me today (5/5/09) he has consented to the election of the Rev. Kevin G. Thew Forrester as bishop of Northern Michigan.

The word that Waggoner used most (about a half-dozen times) to describe Thew Forrester is “integrity.” Bishop Waggoner said he knows Thew Forrester, he’s worked with Thew Forrester, he’s read the bishop-elect’s writings and he’s observed the bishop-elect’s leadership.

“He’s a person of integrity in his proclamation of the Gospel, in his preaching, in his teaching. I think it [Thew Forrester’s message] certainly is orthodox and has integrity to it,” Waggoner said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

Rob Eaton–Bishops-elect: The Consents Process (with comments on Northern Michigan) Updated

Check it out.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

The Bishop of Virginia Votes No on the Northern Michigan Episcopal Election

Check it out.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

The Northern Michigan Standing Committee Comments on the Consent Process

When the Episcopal Ministry Support Team was affirmed and Kevin Thew Forrester was elected bishop of our diocese at the Special Convention in February, it seemed to many to be the end of the process, the culmination of many months of hard work by the Episcopal Ministry Discernment Team, and the joyful beginning of the next phase of life in our diocese. In reality it was only the beginning of a process in the Episcopal Church that surrounds the election of a bishop. Following the election, when all the documentation certifying the election was sent to the national church, along with the reports from the required physical and psychological examinations of the bishop-elect, the “consent” process began. Before the ordination of a bishop-elect can occur, a majority of the bishops with jurisdiction over dioceses and a majority of the Standing Committees of the dioceses of the Episcopal Church must give their consent to the ordination. In past years this was a relatively easy process whose positive outcome was assumed, but not so in recent years. Once the proper documents have been received in the Presiding Bishop’s office the requests for consents are sent out. For the bishops these consents are requested by the Presiding Bishop, and her office receives the responses. For the Standing Committees these requests are sent out by the Standing Committee of the electing diocese, and responses are returned there. Each group, the bishops and the Standing Committees, has 120 days to return the forms, indicating that they give consent to the ordination or that they refuse to give consent.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

Frank Lockwood: Creative bishop elect in Michigan faces veto

What other religious leaders are saying about the teachings of the Rev. Kevin G. Thew Forrester, the bishop-elect of Northern Michigan: “I don’t really see what there is left to say – the unique incarnation, saving death, bodily resurrection and universal lordship of Jesus are basic to Christian faith and to question that means you are disqualified from being an upholder of that faith in any official capacity in the church. That such a man should be considered even a possibility for a bishop is quite simply extraordinary.” – The right Rev. N.T. Wright, lord bishop of Durham, England “I think [Thew Forrester is] solidly a Christian believer, a disciple of Jesus Christ and will be a faithful bishop. … I don’t think he’s outside the tent of acceptable theological thinking and understanding.” – The right Rev. Tom Ely, bishop of Vermont “This gentleman, apparently, doesn’t believe the creeds. … The doctrine of redemption through the incarnation and atoning work and resurrection and heavenly reign at present and future return of the second person of the Godhead: That is Christianity. Take that away and you have destroyed the Christian religion. Period. That’s what Christianity is about.” – Regent College Professor of Theology J.I. Packer

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

South Carolina's Standing Committee says No to the Northern Michigan Election

27 April, 2009

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina is unable to consent to the election of the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester as Bishop of Northern Michigan for the following reasons:

1. Writings and sermons of Fr. Thew Forrester and liturgies composed by him call into serious question his understanding of and commitment to Nicene orthodoxy regarding the nature of the Trinity , the unique revelation of God in Christ , the nature and necessity of the Atonement, and the Virgin Birth.

2. An unauthorized Baptismal rite composed and used by Fr. Thew Forrester calls into serious question his sacramental understanding and judgment. Within the rite itself, the lack of the renunciations ”“ in any remotely recognizable Christian form- represent a cutting loose from the historic moorings of Anglicanism in the catholic Tradition of the Church. We see this as a grave error.

3. The Episcopal office is the teaching office of the Church, therefore the consecration of a bishop is, in effect, a public teaching on behalf of the whole church. Consenting to Fr. Thew Forrester’s election would then be an endorsement of heterodox views with regard to core elements of the Faith, causing confusion and scandal among the flock, and also exacerbating rather than healing divisions within and between the Anglican Communion and the wider Body of Christ.

We recognize the Fr. Thew Forrester is the choice of the people of the Diocese of Northern Michigan and appreciate the esteem in which he is held. His election is a testimony to this esteem and his character. Further, this Diocese is keenly aware of the pain and difficulty, to say nothing of the expense, incurred by a Diocese when a Bishop”“elect is denied consent. As a Standing Committee we pledge to hold Fr. Thew Forrester and Diocese of Northern Michigan in our prayers.

Unanimously Resolved ”“ April 21, 2009


1 Trinity Sunday Sermon ”“ 5/18/08-

2 “ Dar es Salaam – Already One in God” Episcopal Life: The Church in Hiawathaland Vol. 18, No. 7, September 2007

3 Ibid

4 Easter Vigil Liturgy, p. 17 “The fire of your Spirit kindled a love between Mary and Joseph; a fire that became the roaring flame of eternal compassion ”“ the heart of Jesus.”

5 Easter Day Baptismal Liturgy, pgs. 3-4 Note, in particular, the changes in the language of the “Presentation and Examination of the Candidates” and “The Baptismal Covenant.” Cf. 1979 The Book of Common Prayer, pgs. 301-305. Compare the Renunciation and Confessions sections of Fr. Forrester’s liturgy with the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus (215 A.D.) Chpt. 21:9 “When the elder takes hold of each of them who are to receive baptism, he shall tell each of them to renounce, saying, “I renounce you Satan, all your servicea, and all your works.”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

The Bishop of Tennessee Explains his No Vote on Northern Michigan

I voted against consent to his election. Hesitations have been expressed in many quarters on a number of grounds. Decisive for me has been the fact that the Rev’d Thew Forrester has used liturgies not authorized for use in the Episcopal Church, on a regular and ongoing basis. The permission of one’s bishop is beside the point. No bishop of the Episcopal Church is able to authorize liturgies for use in our Church, as alternatives to the regularly appointed services, that have not been approved by the General Convention as supplements to our Prayer Book liturgies. Certainly no individual priest or vestry is able to do so. The clergy of the Episcopal Church are not free to use in church other Anglican liturgical formularies, including those authorized in other provinces of the Communion, or liturgical resources from other traditions, except within the limits set forth in our own Prayer Book. These limits have not been observed by Thew Forrester.

This discipline of the Church may be thought too narrow or unsuitable to our own age. Yet it is the order we have. The theologically inadequate baptismal rite used at St Paul’s Church, Marquette, under the aegis of Thew Forrester, is a reminder of why individuals are not allowed to write their own liturgies.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

Bryan Owen: "Buddhist" Bishop-Elect Revises Liturgy for Baptism

[Thew] Forrester’s writings and sermons are sufficiently distressing to call into question his fitness, not only to be a bishop, but to even be a priest. Add to that the fact that Forrester adds stuff to the liturgy like a reading from the Qur’an in place of the appointed lesson from the apostle Paul, while also taking away from the liturgy the renunciations, and also so thoroughly revising the theological grounding of the act of adherence that it bears little resemblance to anything specifically Christian.

Given what we know from his sermons and liturgical experimentation/revision, I think there is little basis for believing that Mr. Forrester, if consecrated as a bishop, will heed the call “to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church” (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 517). It’s much more reasonable to expect that he would continue doing what he’s already been doing: departing from the core tenets of the Christian faith and revising the liturgical practices of the Episcopal Church accordingly.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Baptism, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Sacramental Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology

Current Information on Consents for Northern Michigan

Check it out and please send in any corrections or additions which can be substantiated–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

The Bishop of San Diego Votes No on Northern Michigan

From an email to the diocese:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I write to share with you my decision to withhold consent to the ordination and consecration of the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester as bishop of the Diocese of Northern Michigan. This decision comes after carefully weighing the matter, considerable prayer, reflection with others including our Standing Committee, and a conversation with the bishop-elect. It is not taken lightly and is with considerable discomfort. Indeed, this is the first time that I have withheld consent in my Episcopate.

Because this is a matter of public conversation, some helpful and some unnecessarily uncharitable, I felt it appropriate to share with you the contours of my decision. The objections that have been raised are:

* That the nominating process and election, which only presented one candidate to the convention was not appropriate
* That the bishop-elect is a practicing Buddhist. Indeed, he has been labeled the “Buddhist Bishop”
* That the bishop-elect has inappropriately altered the baptismal liturgy services conducted in the congregation that he serves
* That he has displayed a less than adequate presentation of sin and redemption through Jesus Christ
As far as the process is concerned, I am convinced that while anomalous, it is in conformity to our canons. However, our processes for electing bishops have normally included an opportunity for the electing convention to consider candidates with a degree of perspective achieved by viewing each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, and theological perspectives in contrast to others. Because a diocese elects a bishop to serve the wider church, this becomes a healthy process of discernment for the whole body. In and of itself, I would not find this a reason to withhold consent. But in light of other issues, it remains a factor.

I do believe that faithful Christians, including bishops, can find spiritual help in examining and exploring practices of other faiths. But Fr. Thew Forrester is an acknowledged “lay ordained” Zen Buddhist who has also accepted and used a name bestowed upon him in ceremony. While I am persuaded that he has not set aside his baptismal identity or ordination vows in this act, I believe that he has sufficiently confused the matter and his identity to make it highly problematic to accept the mantle of bishop.

The crucial issue for me is my understanding of what the bishop vows to do and what the bishop fundamentally represents both to the Church and to the world. In the ordination and consecration service the bishop is called “to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church.” Furthermore, the bishop promises as the chief priest and pastor to “encourage and support all baptized people in their gifts…” Through the Book of Commo n Prayer, we have articulated a common understanding of the faith once delivered and what it means to be a baptized Christian. At the heart of our faith and our baptismal covenant are the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I have come to a disquieting conclusion that Fr. Thew Forrester’s presentation of the faith is an offering devoid of our traditional understanding of the redemptive work of Christ on the cross.

With this said, I want to affirm the wide breadth of theological discourse that is permitted and celebrated in the Episcopal Church. However, our theological inquiry occurs within clear boundaries of creedal faith. Again, returning to the ordinal for a bishop, this is why the bishop leads the people after the examination and before the consecration.

I do not presume to know how the consent process for the bishop-elect will turn out. I know that this is a difficult season for the Diocese of Northern Michigan and for Fr. Thew Forrester. They need our prayers. Nevertheless, the ordination and consecration of a bishop is about more than the diocese. In this time, it is most important that the church have clarity about Jesus Christ, the Cross and the Resurrection.

–(The Rt. Rev.) James R. Mathes is Bishop of San Diego

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology

GetReligion: Faith and the Zen bishop-elect

The headline grabber is that Thew Forrester is both an Episcopal priest and an ordained ”” whatever that means ”” teacher of Zen Buddhism. However, it is also interesting that, when he was elected, Thew Forrester was the only nominee. In an attempt to derail the election, conservatives are asking, “Who anointed him in this manner and why?”

The bishop-elect has avoided mainstream coverage, in part, by declining interviews from publications such as the respected Anglican periodical The Living Church. The lack of info has allowed his supporters to simply say he is being attacked by people who have no interest in understand the complex nature of his approach to these faiths.

However, Frank “Bible Belt Blogger” Lockwood of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has marched into the gap, landing an interview that may be just as hot as his famous ”” on the record, nicely recorded ”” interview with former President Carter in which he called the George W. Bush administration the “worst in history.”

You’ll need to check it out. But here is the top of the story, which is a rare mainstream news report that asks basic doctrinal questions and then prints the answers. Note that Lockwood assumes that this controversy actually centers on religious doctrines and liturgical issues, not simply politics. What a concept.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

Northern Michigan Bishop-elect’s ”˜continually evolving’ faith studied

In a story published Friday, the Democrat-Gazette interviews the Buddhist abbot who helped Thew Forrester take his Buddhist vows. The story also contains interviews with bishops supporting and opposing Thew Forrester and an interview with the bishop-elect.

Among other things, Thew Forrester said he believes in evil, but not a literal Satan. He also rejects the idea that Jesus came to earth to die for the sins of the world:

“God did not send Jesus here to be killed or be crucified by the Romans, which is a brutal murder. But Jesus has become incarnate to reveal to us who God is. He’s a God of love and forgiveness and mercy. ”¦ Jesus’ death itself was not the will of God. God did not desire Jesus to be killed,” Thew Forrester said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

An RNS article on the Northern Michigan Episcopal Controversy

A majority of bishops and elected standing committees in the denomination’s 110 dioceses must approve, or give “consent,” to Thew Forrester’s election or it is tossed out.

But the controversy has done more than jeopardize Thew Forrester’s promotion and stoke already-high tensions in the 2.2 million-member Episcopal Church. It also heralds a new era in church politics that mirrors mainstream culture, when online research and partisan tactics can combine to make or break a career, observers say.

“Thirty years ago, if a person was elected as bishop, it would be almost impossible for the church, broadly speaking, to see his sermons,” said Bishop Edward Little of Northern Indiana. “I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but that’s the way it is.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology

The Bishop of Olympia explains why He Voted no on Northern Michigan

Finally, what troubles me the most about this situation is Thew Forrester’s revision of liturgical texts, most especially the Baptismal Liturgy, the very core vow and liturgy of our faith. In a document circulated for the House of Bishops from Thew Forrester, he states that he and his congregation have “explored” the Baptismal liturgy, removing the reference to “Satan” and “accepting [Christ] as the way of Life and Hope.” This action was to “complement the BCP ”( Liturgy and Community, The Diocese of Northern Michigan , Kevin Thew Forrester, Lent 2009). In the same document, he states that he uses the Book of Common Prayer as a “primary resource.” This brought me full circle. The very basis of Total Common Ministry and our very call to life as a Christian””the baptismal vow and liturgy””was being revised, and this is a concern.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

The Bishop of Arkansas Votes No on Northern Michigan

The Rev. Larry Benfield, the Episcopal Bishop of Little Rock, has voted against the confirmation of Kevin Genpo Thew Forrester as bishop of Northern Michigan.

In an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Benfield said he was concerned that Thew Forrester had altered the denomination’s rite of baptism without the approval of the broader church. The rite is included in the Book of Common Prayer.

Instead, Thew Forrester has used and promoted a “Trial Baptismal Liturgy” which removes any mention of Satan and adds New-Age style language.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

The Bishop of Northern Indiana Votes No on Northern Michigan

In the Christian Church, bishops are not “private citizens”. They are called “to be one with the apostles in proclaiming Christ’s resurrection and interpreting the Gospel, and to testify to Christ’s sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings . . . [and] to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church” (BCP, p. 517). These are solemn obligations, and inherent to the ministry of bishop in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. St. Paul himself lays this charge upon his successor, Timothy: “Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us” (2 Timothy 1:13-14).

A bishop’s teaching ministry must never be idiosyncratic. We have no message other than the one that has been given to us. The task of bishops is to pass on that message as faithfully as we can; to proclaim Jesus Christ ”“ crucified, risen, coming again; clearly and winsomely to present his person and his work; and to offer the world a Gospel that challenges, heals, and restores us to a relationship with the Father. With the information I have at hand, I am not convinced that Fr. Thew Forrester would be able to discharge this essential obligation of episcopal office.

I cast my No vote without joy; indeed, with sorrow in my heart. If the Church denies consent for Fr. Thew Forrester to be consecrated as Bishop of Northern Michigan, it will be a tragic development for the diocese, and for Fr. Thew Forrester himself. He is, from all reports, a beloved and respected priest, passionate about ministry and committed to his people. Please join me in praying for him, and for the diocese, that in the midst of a most difficult time Jesus will be experienced more and more deeply, and ultimately his kingdom extended and his people with encouraged.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology

Bishop Paul Marshall of Bethlehem: My position on the Northern Michigan Episcopate

In the case of the bishop-elect of Northern Michigan, perhaps we can get our ducks in the correct rows. His Buddhist practices are sensational but not the point. In sermons and other writings (including eucharistic prayers which I fear were used outside Rite III settings, giving us a question of discipline as well as doctrine), the bishop-elect makes it clear that the doctrine of the Trinity as confessed in the Creed and explained in the Catechism is not what he holds.

He will use base-three theological language, but never in service to the proposition that in Jesus of Nazareth God became fully human. Similarly, his understanding of the atonement is not conformable with the liturgy or catechism, but appears to be something like gnostic enlightenment. His writings represent a very shaky understanding of the Second Person of the Trinity, God incarnate, severely weakening his gospel.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology

Matt Gunter on Northern Michigan: Why We Should Not Proceed

The Rev. Forrester is also primary author and a signatory of A Response from the Diocese of Northern Michigan’s Standing Committee to the “Dar es Salaam Communiqué,” in which there is the following:

“Baptism confirms this most basic truth which is at once, the Good News: all is of God, without condition and without restriction.”

This is incongruous with each of the Eucharistic Prayers and the Rite of Baptism, particularly the renunciations.

“Because each and every one of us is an only begotten child of God; because we, as the church, are invited by God to see all of creation as having life only insofar as it is in God; because everything, without exception, is the living presence, or incarnation, of God”

Claiming “each and every one of us is an only begotten child of God” and that “everything, without exception, is the living presence, or incarnation of God” is a pantheism incompatible what we say (and pray) we believe about Jesus Christ as the Incarnation of God. It also contradicts the language we use in every rite of the Book of Common Prayer, not to mention the Catechism.

I know these are serious charges. I do not make them lightly. I am not given to finding false teaching under every rock. And it is no small thing to reject a candidate put forward by a diocese to be its bishop. But I also believe, with Charles Gore, that ours is a tradition that is “conspicuously orthodox on the great fundamentals of the Trinity and the Incarnation” (Roman Catholic Claims, p. 173). If we believe the rule of our praying is the rule of our believing, then the prayers of our common worship must guide what we teach and preach. One whose stated beliefs are as at odds with that common worship as are the Rev. Forrester’s can hardly “guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church” (BCP p. 517).

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology

Bishop-Elect Forrester Replaces New Testament Reading with Quran Passage

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Islam, Other Faiths, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology

Robert Munday: Reflections on a Buddhist Bishop-elect

So, presented with an eviscerated version of Christianity on the one hand, and a sincere expression of Buddhism and Islam on the other hand–in the midst of a pluralistically, multiculturally-oriented church where merely being a “spiritual person” is enough to become a priest, and you have what we are seeing in Kevin Thew Forrester and Ann Holmes Redding.

But the ultimate responsibility for these two examples (and, to repeat myself, countless others like them that aren’t in the spotlight) lies with the parishes that raised them up, the clergy who mentored them, the discernment process that sent them toward ordination, the seminaries that trained them, and the Bishops who ordained them. You cannot raise up true leaders in a faith that you yourselves do not possess. And that is the real tragedy of this whole affair.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

Bishop Tom Breidenthal of Southern Ohio Votes No on Northern Michigan

Why is Thew Forrester’s teaching troubling to me? Because it flies in the face of what I take to be the conviction at the heart of our faith tradition, namely, that we are in bondage to sin and cannot get free without the rescue God has offered us in Jesus, who shouldered our sins on the cross. Our tradition certainly declares God’s closeness to us and God’s love for us, but insists that this is solely due to God’s gracious initiative, made known to us in Jesus. In other words, Jesus in his singular closeness to God is as much a reminder of our alienation from God and from God’s ways as he is God’s word to us that we are loved despite our collective wrongdoings.

I would not worry about this so much if Thew Forrester were merely speculating about alternative ways of understanding the Christian faith. I would not even worry so much if it were simply a matter of the content of a number of sermons (although I think we should expect to be accountable for what we preach). But, as his revision of the Baptismal rite makes clear, he appears to be settled in his conviction that our relation to Christ is not about salvation from a condition of objective alienation from God, but about a more realized union with God.

What is encouraging here is not only does the Bishop vote the right way, but he does so for the right reasons. This is about a lot of things, but primarily it is about Christology, the Trinity, salvation and atonement. Read it all–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Atonement, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology)

Thew Forrester's Theology Compared with the Nicene Creed

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology

The Rector of Saint Michael's Charleston on the recent South Carolina Diocesan Convention

Repeatedly I am asked, Al, as Rector of St. Michael’s Church, what is going to happen to us in all these debates and splits in the Episcopal Church? Is St. Michael’s leaving the Episcopal Church? Is the Diocese of South Carolina leaving? What are the options? Why do we care? Can’t we just keep our heads down here in South Carolina, after all, we seem to be doing fine!

The short answer is, we follow the lead of our Bishop as he guides this diocese through icebergs. The reality is that the Episcopal Church continues to make decisions and take actions that are making it look more and more Unitarian than anything Christian. Because of that, over the past 24 months, there has been a veritable exodus out of the Episcopal Church by many individuals, churches and dioceses. So, what about the Diocese of South Carolina? Let me reflect on the above by telling you about the recent convention of the Diocese of South Carolina. I also urge you to read the accompanying article by our Junior Warden, Ann Hester Willis.

As you may know, each year, clergy and lay leaders from all over the Diocese of South Carolina join our Bishop for an annual convention to elect new leadership, address the state of the church and strategize about Kingdom ministry. This took place at Christ Church, Mount Pleasant on March 12-13. I urge you to look at the resolutions that were passed (which can be found on the diocesan website). Let me pause here and say how much I enjoy convention. We have amazing clergy leadership in this diocese and because of our crazy schedules, I find this is one of the only times annually I see all my fellow colleagues!

However, back to the above questions. There were specifically two events that shape my thoughts, the first being the resolution regarding the confirmation of the Bishop of Northern Michigan.

In the Episcopal Church, every diocese elects its own Bishop. However, that election must be confirmed by every other diocese in the United States. In other words, the Diocese of South Carolina has the right to vote against the election of another Bishop for reasons of theology, doctrine or any other concern.

The announcement of the election of the Bishop of Northern Michigan sparked controversy because he (the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester) is also a practicing Buddhist, had received Buddhist “lay ordination” and is “walking the path of Christianity and Zen Buddhism together.” This craziness should not surprise any of us. He simply is the poster child for the continuing Unitarian drift in the Episcopal Church, a commonplace universalism that says among other things, all religions are the same. In fact, in a recorded sermon delivered on Trinity Sunday posted on the St. Paul’s Church, Marquette MI website, the Rev. Kevin Thew Forester preached the following: “One of the amazing insights I have found”¦is that, no matter what you name that source, from which all life comes””you can name that source God, Abba; you may name that source Yahweh; you may name that source Allah; you may name that source “the great emptiness;” you can name that source many things”¦ everything that is comes from the source. And you can name the source what you want to name the source. And our response to that is with hearts of gratitude and thanksgiving, to return everything back to that source, and there’s a spirit who enables that return”¦and you can be a Buddhist, you can be a Muslim, you can be a Jew, and that makes sense.”
While this sounds so palatable and comfortably cultural, it is not Christianity! John 14, in a passage that in many ways defines love, we hear these challenging words of Jesus: “I am the way the Truth and the Life, and no one comes to the Father but by me.” Yet Scripture has predicted these days we find ourselves in. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy chapter 3. Paul writes: In the last days, there will come times of stress. For men will hold the form of religion but deny the power of it. We find a similar word in Titus 1:16”¦they profess to know God, but they deny him by their deeds”¦And so it is in our denomination today. We have all the great vestments and pageantry, but more and more, emptiness with no solid theology.

By the way, the resolution passed which urged the standing committee to vote against the confirmation of this bishop.

The other event I wish to highlight is the Bishop’s Address. Again, you can read this on the website. Bishop Lawrence made an analogy that the Diocese of South Carolina could be compared to a motorcycle. The front wheel being Scripture and our Gospel Ministry. The back wheel is the mission of the diocese. However, as a diocese, we have a sidecar, an appendage and that sidecar is the Episcopal Church. Our denominational affiliation has been sidelined in this diocese because of the Unitarian/non Biblical direction of the Episcopal Church. What does this mean? After all, surely things will get even worse at the General Convention of the United States this summer in Anaheim, California. The answer is that for now, as a church within the Diocese of South Carolina, and as a diocese within the larger denomination, we continue to be part of the Episcopal Church USA, but with a bigger desire to remain part of the world wide Anglican Communion.

The reality is that unlike ever before, our Bishop now has options he will be weighing to guide us as a diocese. Options that include other provinces and partnerships connected with the worldwide Anglican Communion. So, it is back to what I stated earlier”¦the short and long answer to the first questions is that we follow the lead of our faithful Bishop who believes Jesus is who He says He is. Please keep Bishop Lawrence, his wife Allison and their family in your prayers.

–The Rev. Al Zadig is rector of Saint Michael’s, Charleston, South Carolina

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

An Excerpt from the Bishop of Albany's Communication on the recent House of Bishops meeting

Via email:

I returned home from the spring House of Bishops’ Meeting this past Thursday (March 19th). It was held at Kanuga Conference Center in North Carolina. I am very appreciative to all of you who were holding me and the other bishops up in your prayers. Besides for getting stuck in Atlanta and thinking I was never going to get out, all the travel plans went well. Compared to the previous two House of Bishops’ Meetings, this meeting was much less contentious. Fortunately we were not faced with the deposition of any more bishops. Based on the comments of several of the bishops, I missed the best part of the meeting which occurred on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning before I arrived. Guest speakers Bill Bishop and Walter Brueggemann, gave a presentation entitled “A New Era of Engagement: Gospel Alternatives to Polarization.” Apparently it was very well done and thought provoking. While I am sorry I missed the presentation, I was not going to miss seeing my daughter Catie’s Friday evening performance in the school musical, “Cinderella.” (Catie and all the other kids did an outstanding job.)

Besides for the daily Bible Study and worship services, most of each day was spent in meetings dealing with a variety of topics. One of the main events that occurred was the election of the Bishop of Ecuador Central. Due to some internal diocesan difficulties, the Diocese of Ecuador Central asked the House of Bishops to elect their new bishop. Three nominees chosen by the Diocese were presented. The Rev. Luis Fernando Ruiz, a priest from the Diocese of Columbia, and rector of the Cathedral de San Pablo in Bogota, was elected on the first ballot, receiving 102 of the 117 ballots cast.

The most controversial discussion during the HOB meeting centered on the election of the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester, Bishop-Elect of Northern Michigan. A number of bishops spoke both for and against the consent of Bishop-Elect Forrester. Concern was expressed over the election process itself which resulted in Rev. Forrester being the only nominee; the controversy surrounding his connection with Zen Buddhism; several of his liturgical practices to include his rewriting the Baptismal Covenant and Eucharistic prayers; and his teachings on the Trinity. Bishops with jurisdiction and all Standing Committees of The Episcopal Church will be asked to vote for or against the consent of his election. It is too early to know what the final outcome will be. The consent process can last up to 120 days. I voted NO to his consent.

The Mission Funding Initiative was another topic that generated a great deal of debate and expressed concern by several bishops. The stated intent of the MFI is to provide supplemented support of TEC’s mission efforts which have traditionally been funded by assessment income. Large and substantial gifts will be solicited reportedly to support the following five Funds: The Fund for Congregational Development; Leadership in Ministry; Communications; Spiritual Enrichment; and Global Ministry. An additional use of the funds, not formally listed among the five Funds of the Mission Funding Initiative identified above, but verbally mentioned by one of the presenters was the establishment of a legal fund to support future legal actions taken by TEC. I expressed my grave concern to the House of Bishops over all the ongoing law suits dealing with property disputes within The Episcopal Church. I am very much aware of all the arguments and rationale for the law suits, however, I firmly believe that regardless of who wins in court, ultimately everyone loses. There has to be a better, more pastoral and Christ-like way of dealing with these issues than the current actions being taken. The Lord calls the Church to rise above the ways of the world in dealing with disputes. We need to conduct ourselves in such a way that the love and Good News of Jesus Christ shines forth, building up the Kingdom of God, not tearing it down.

Other topics covered at the House of Bishops’ included a briefing on General Convention structure and orientation as well as some of the items that will be addressed at General Convention. Included in that was a discussion on the proposal to enter into full communion with the Moravian Church; a brief discussion on some of the proposed changes to Title IV dealing with issues of clergy discipline; and a presentation on the proposed mandatory Denominational Health Plan (something I have serious questions about).

One of the final acts of the House of Bishops at its spring meeting was the issuance of A Pastoral Letter from the Bishops of the Episcopal Church. A copy of the letter will follow in a separate email. As always, it is good to be back home in the Diocese of Albany.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

One Parish Vestry Speaks out on the Election in Northern Michigan: Just Say No

(With permission–KSH).

405 Glenmar Avenue
Monroe, Louisiana 71201

March 7, 2009

To the Bishop Ordinary and Standing Committee of the Diocese of Western Louisiana

Rt. Reverend Sir, ladies and gentlemen of the Standing Committee:

Following prayerful consideration we write to urge that you vote no, and that you withhold consent, to the confirmation of the Rev’d Kevin Thew Forrester as the next bishop of the Diocese of Northern Michigan. We cite two concerns: the process used in selecting candidates by the Diocese of Northern Michigan and the suitability of the candidate himself.

In regard to the process by which nominations were made, the committee charged with this task presented one candidate for election. On the surface, presenting a single candidate raises immediate issues about the transparency of this process. Why was a single candidate presented? Was no one else seen as qualified to stand for election? Should we be concerned there was a small group of people trying to control the process?

Though we are mindful that search committees for rectors do sometimes distill the result of their search process to a single preferred candidate, we are nonetheless mindful of the fact that had the Diocese of Northern Michigan asked the House of Bishops to elect a bishop for them in lieu of holding a diocesan election, which is provided for in Canon III, paragraph 11, section 1b, the House of Bishops would have been required by national canon to present a minimum of three persons to stand for election. This begs the question, “if it is appropriate for the House of Bishops, why is it not appropriate for the Diocese of Northern Michigan?”

Regarding the Rev’d. Forrester’s suitability, he is on record as being both a practicing Zen Buddhist who received lay Buddhist ordination and a Christian. Whereas these two faith traditions may not be mutually exclusive to one another in the life of a lay person, the vows required of a Bishop in Christ’s one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church exclude a person from being beholden to any other faith tradition save Christianity””no matter how complementary to Christianity other traditions might seem.

In the liturgy for the ordination of a Bishop, the candidate is first required to state their belief that the scriptures of the Old and New Testament contain all things necessary to salvation, and that they will conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church. If one takes this question seriously, does a person holding dual religious allegiances forswear himself or herself upon making this declaration? Later in the service, the candidate is required to affirm, “Christ’s sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings.” Again, is this possible if one holds to two faith traditions simultaneously? Finally, the candidate is asked if they will the guard the faith, unity and discipline of the Church. Can this be done with integrity when one qualifies their response to the affirmation by claiming to also follow another religious tradition?

We hope and pray that you will keep these concerns in mind as you prayerfully consider voting on the question of granting or denying consent to the confirmation of the next bishop of Northern Michigan. We most strongly urge you to decline to give your consent.

Your Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Gregg L. Riley, Rector C. Joseph Roberts, III, Sr. Warden

David Waller, Jr. Warden Jodi Lyle, Treasurer

Cindy Fisher, Secretary Max Cox, Vestry Member

Gerry Emerel, Vestry Member Tom Mason, Vestry Member

Amanda Reeves, Vestry Member Bryan Caldwell, Vestry Member

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology

Muslim Priest and Buddhist Bishop-Elect Are Raising Questions About Syncretism

Jesus saves, the Episcopal Church teaches, but a growing number of its clergy and leaders believe other faiths may lead to salvation as well. Long divided and distracted by questions of sexual ethics, the Episcopal Church (along with most mainline Protestant communities) are facing a cultural and theological shift towards religious pluralism””the belief that there are diverse paths to God.

The debate is not just academic. In two current cases, Episcopal clergy are under scrutiny for practicing and promoting other religions. On February 12 a devotee of Zen Buddhism was elected bishop of the Episcopal Church’s Northern Michigan diocese. Meanwhile, a Seattle-area priest has been given until March 30 to decide whether she is a Muslim or a Christian as her bishop will not permit her to profess both faiths.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology

The Bishop of Olympia votes no on the Northern Michigan Election

The Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel, Episcopal bishop for Western Washington, has said no.
“Each diocesan bishop will vote on consent and each Standing Committee will also be asked for consent,” Rickel said in an e-mail. “Our Standing Committee has not voted on this yet.

“I did vote at the recent House of Bishops and I voted not to consent. I intend to share some of my reasoning in a letter and I promise to send that to you as well so you can see it.”

Forrester would become bishop of the Diocese of Northern Michigan, one of the smallest in the church. Statistics released by the national Episcopal Church show that its membership has declined by 31.7 percent in the past 10 years.

Also known by his Buddhist name, “Genpo,” or “Way of Universal Wisdom,” Forrester was only candidate on the ballot when diocesan convention delegates voted last month.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology

The Rev. Thew Forrester’s Trinity Day Sermon (audio and text) and service leaflet

Take the time to read through it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology

Bishop Glenn Davies: TEC’s first Buddhist bishop?

Kevin Forrester’s election needs to be confirmed by a majority of standing committees and bishops in the TEC before he can be consecrated. It will be an interesting test for the TEC. Will they stand for the uniqueness of Christ? Will they recognise that Buddhism and biblical Christianity are mutually exclusive?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

Religious Intelligence: New questions over 'Buddhist' bishop

On March 13, the annual convention of the Diocese of South Carolina urged Dr Forrester’s election be rejected arguing it was not “confident that this is someone who will preach and uphold the apostolic Trinitarian Faith.”

South Carolina urged the “Bishops and Standing Committees of all other Episcopal Dioceses,” a majority of whom must affirm the Northern Michigan election, “carefully and thoroughly to study especially those writings, statements, and sermons of the Reverend Kevin Thew Forester pertaining to the Doctrine of the Trinity and the nature of God.”

The Executive Board of the Diocese of Dallas on March 10 questioned the legality of the election, saying no valid election had been held.

In planning the election Northern Michigan said its new bishop would not be given the authority of a traditional bishop, but would be part of a 12-person Episcopal Ministry Support Team (EMST). “While the Bishop will carry out the roles designated by the Constitution and Canons such as ordination, confirmation, and attendance at the House of Bishops, other “episcopal/ apostolic/ oversight” roles will be fulfilled by members of the [EMST],” the discernment committee said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology