Category : TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

Resolution 4 Passed at the South Carolina Convention Today

This resolution just passed by majority vote–KSH.

Resolution R-4

Subject: A Resolution Requesting Withholding of Consent from the Episcopal Election in Northern Michigan

Offered by: the Very Rev. Craige Borrett, the Rev. Dr. Kendall Harmon, Christ Saint Paul’s, Yonges Island

That this Diocesan Convention believes significant questions have been raised regarding the Rev. Kevin Thew Forester’s faithfulness to the Doctrine of the Trinity as this Church has received it and as it is defined and articulated in the Nicene Creed; and

That on the basis of these questions Convention recommends that the Bishop and Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina withhold its consent to the consecration of the Reverend Kevin Thew Forrester to the office of Bishop in the Episcopal Church; and

That this Convention strongly encourage the Bishops and Standing Committees of all other Episcopal Dioceses 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 Rev. Kevin Thew Forester has been nominated and elected to serve in the office of bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan.

We are well to be reminded that a bishop in the Church of God is “to be a guardian of the Church’s faith, to lead us in confessing that faith…”(BCP pp. 519 from “The Consecration of a Bishop”)

However, 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 in the interfaith dialogue 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, but what all the faiths in their wisdom have acknowledged in the interfaith dialogue is that, you and I, we’re not the source. We receive from the source, and what we are asked to do is give back to the source. In other words, what the interfaith dialogue has recognized is that there is a Trinitarian structure to life. That’s what I’m driving at this morning. We make the Trinity much too complex. The Trinitarian structure of life is this: is that 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. Everything comes from God. We give it back to God. And the spirit gives us the heart of gratitude. That is the Trinitarian nature of life. And you can be a Buddhist, you can be a Muslim, you can be a Jew, and that makes sense. And we all develop more elaborate theologies, but the truth is we live and have our being in a God who asks only one thing of us: to grow into people who give thanks that God is our center, God is our life, that we are one with God. And as we grow into realization, that we are one with this God who lives in us, and the only thing God asks us is to give back everything in thanksgiving, we live. It’s what the Syrians said, “we will know what redemption truly is, we will come alive, we will be made to live,” because we will know””not because someone told us””because we know that God gives us life. And all God asks of us is “give it back to Me in return.”

There are simply too many theological questions raised here to be confident that this is someone who will preach and uphold the apostolic Trinitarian Faith.

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

RNS: One Episcopal Priest, Two Faiths, and Lots of Questions

The only candidate on the ballot [in Northern Michigan], Thew Forrester, 51, has practiced Zen meditation for a decade and received lay ordination from a Buddhist community.

Conservatives are outraged at the election of this “openly Buddhist bishop,” as they call him, charging Thew Forrester with syncretism — blending two faiths, and dishonoring both.

The bishop-elect and the Lake Superior Zendo that ordained him say the angst is misplaced. The ordination simply honors his commitment to Zen meditation, they say. He took no Buddhist vows and professed no beliefs that contradict Christianity….

The Rev. Kendall Harmon, an Episcopal theologian from South Carolina, argues that Thew Forrester is a greater threat to his church than the openly gay bishop whose 2003 election has led four dioceses to secede.

“It’s the leadership of this church giving up the unique claims of Christianity,” Harmon said. “They act like it’s Baskin-Robbins. You just choose a different flavor and everyone gets in the store.”

Read it all.

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

A Mind of the House Resolution from the Executive Council of the Diocese of Dallas

Passed unanmiously–KSH.

10 March 2009

The Executive Council of the Diocese of Dallas wishes to express its grave concern at the election of the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester as the bishop of the Diocese of Northern Michigan and encourage the Standing Committee of this Diocese to withhold consent to his election to the episcopate for the following reasons:

1. The process by which Fr Forrester was elected raises significant concerns. There was no election in that diocese as Fr Forrester was the only candidate put forward. This Diocese consented to an election in the Diocese of Northern Michigan, not the appointment of the bishop by a small committee. In addition, Fr Forrester was a member of the search committee which selected him as the only candidate to lead an episcopal ministry team.

2. Fr Forrester has, by his own admission, received “lay ordination” within Zen Buddhism and has stated publically that he has “walk[ed] the path of Christianity and Zen Buddhism.” While Fr Forest has stated that “there is one faith and it is Christianity,” this connection raises grave concerns as to whether Fr Forrester would be able, as bishop, to guard and protect the Catholic Faith as this church has received it.

3. Resolution B033 of General Convention 2006 (The Election of Bishops) calls upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees “to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.” We understand “manner of life” to entail the public theological witness of a Christian bishop that hinders the proclamation and articulation of the Christian Gospel. It is clear that consent to Fr Forrester’s election would present a challenge to the wider church ”“ both within the Anglican Communion and with our ecumenical partners ”“ and also increase the strains on the communion.

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

ENS: Northern Michigan Bishop-elect, election process scrutinized

[The Rev. Rayford] Ray told ENS that while Thew Forrester has served the diocese since 2001, names of potential candidates for bishop were received from “throughout the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion.” A diocesan report said that names of 28 people had been received, 11 of those people completed the paperwork, and one person eventually dropped out.

He said there is “precedent” for putting forth only one name as candidate. In the most recent instance, in 2007, Mark Lawrence was the only candidate to be bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina. Lawrence was first elected from among several candidates on September 16, 2006, but Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori later declared that election “null and void” because of defects in six of the needed 56 affirmative responses from diocesan standing committees. Required to hold a second election, the diocese nominated only Lawrence.

Ray noted that it is standard operating procedure in congregations looking for a rector, where a call committee typically discerns a number of candidates and, in the end, submits one name for the vestry’s final approval.

Oh please. The parallels with the South Carolina process are almost nil. Mark Lawrence was originally elected out of a slate of a number of finalists, as everyone knows. He was then rejected by the Standing Committees for the first time in a huge amount of time in the history of the Episcopal Church. It was only because of that rejection that South Carolina met again in Convention and voted on one nominee. There was no original process in Northern Michigan with several nominees, and there was no rejection of the election subsequently. If in the first South Carolina election on the bishop to succeed Edward Salmon there has been only one nominee, there would have been a hue and cry down here, and there should have been had that been the case.

In any event, read it all–KSH.

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

Northern Michigan Episcopal bishop-elect brings diversity

If the dual roles put too much stress on Forrester, he has a good way to relieve it. He has been instructed in Zen Buddhist meditation and incorporates what he’s learned into his duties.

“It’s not a matter of holding two faiths. There’s one faith and it’s Christianity,” Forrester said. “The gift is that that faith is deepened by my meditative practice and I’m eternally grateful to Zen Buddhism for teaching me that practice and receiving me as an Episcopal priest.”

Not everyone sees it that way. Jeff Walton, a member of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute on Religion and Democracy, said Forrester’s Zen Buddhist theology conflicts with traditional Anglican belief.

“Buddhist theology emphasizes the accumulation of experiential knowledge. Adherents work to gain awareness of the universe, by which they attain a synthesis with nirvana,” he said. “Christianity emphasizes the importance of grace, that which God gives freely but is neither earned nor deserved. You cannot with integrity resolve a system in which salvation is earned, and one in which it is freely given.”

Read it all.

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

Controversial Northern Michigan Episcopal Bishop-Elect Composes Own Eucharistic Texts

A eucharistic prayer that the bishop-elect wrote for Easter season 2008 says this: “In the ancient days, at the dawn of time, You leaned over creation[,] scooped it to your breast and breathed the moist breath of life. … 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.”

The lectionary texts are notable for their exclusion of male pronouns, even when the subject of the sentence is a man. A reading from Genesis 2 refers to Adam as “the earth creature” and “it.” Readings from the gospels of John and Mark refer to Jesus as “the Chosen One,” “the Only Begotten One,” “my Beloved, my Own” and “this One.”

The Rev. Canon Ralph McMichael, canon for ministry formation in the Diocese of Missouri, expressed concern about the texts.

“We are stewards of the church’s liturgy,” he said. “Liturgy does not exist for our self-expression, whatever form it might take.”

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, Theology

A.S. Haley on the Episcopal Process in Northern Michigan

The most interesting answer they gave to a question, though, was this:

12. How was it decided to present one name for Bishop/Ministry Developer?
In the traditional search process anyone can throw his or her hat into the ring. Someone decides that they want to be a bishop. It is self-selection. We chose to use the discernment process that has served us well in the local congregations for the past twenty plus years. At the congregational level there is often more than one person discerned for the same ministry. The team after much discussion and struggle came to the conclusion that we would try to focus or stay true to what the congregational conversations had revealed. Because there is only one bishop/ministry developer we would try and discern one person that best fit the criteria outlined by the people of this diocese, the person who would most fully encompass these gifts. This person would be able to function as part of a team and truly be able to share the Episcopal leadership in this diocese.

In a traditional election model three or four names are presented for the vote. Usually one person will stand out as a better fit and the others would be “ok.” People don’t know the candidates well when they come to convention. Our intention is to present one name based on prayerful consideration that is the very best fit for the ministry in this unique diocese. It is our hope that because of the careful, prayerful discernment of the team, one person will become the obvious choice. This one person will be presented to the diocese as the team’s best recommendation.

It is in this one answer that we see all of the “new age” elements of the process beginning to coalesce. It begins with a small circle of those “in the know”, who bring in trusted colleagues from the “outside” to lend a sheen of objectivity, and to help bring others into the middle of the circle. By meeting together in confidence twice a month for six months, the circle gains both unanimity and a conviction that it is on the right path. What the circle loses, however, is any sense of accountability to those outside of it….
Anyone who has troubled to read this far should appreciate the magnitude of the uphill battle that lies ahead. It should be obvious from all the connections spelled out earlier that a number of bishops, beginning with the Presiding Bishop, will want to see this election confirmed—not for the benefit, necessarily, of the parishioners in Northern Michigan, but for its precedential value as a method to control the selection of bishops in other dioceses.

Take a look around the Church. The movement for “Mutual Ministry” is already flourishing in many other dioceses (albeit the more sparsely populated ones)—Eastern Tennessee, for example, parts of New England, and even the Church of England. As finances become critical with declining membership, the model of the “Bishop/Ministry Developer” pioneered in Northern Michigan will become attractive to more dioceses. Because Mutual Ministry is virtually content-free (it has to be in order to be all-inclusive), it combines well with any other set of spiritual beliefs, not the least of which is Buddhism.

This is where the changes of 1979 have brought us. The future of our Church lies before us as we watch what is happening in the Diocese of Northern Michigan.

Read it carefully and read it all.

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

Sarah Hey: What Can Episcopal Laypeople Do About the Troubling Bishop-Elect of Northern Michigan?

Read it carefully and read it all.

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

Kevin Martin on the Northern Michigan Episcopal Election Process: The End of Reasoned Faith

Even with this information, I hesitated about speak up further. I still believed that any change would need the local people to voice what was happening. Finally, realizing that I was now something of a voice for the voiceless, I shared what I had learned with the [Episcopal Church House of Bishop and Deputies] Listserv. I was quickly accused of “Triangling.” I pointed out that I was merely being an advocate for those who because of pressure might not have a voice. Having had my say, having found no interest, having not heard from the Presiding Bishop in response to my letter, I said the serenity prayer and let it go.

So, a flawed process, run by a small group of people, has resulted in a questionable candidate elected to the Episcopate. This will result in some conservatives focusing on the person and his non-orthodox views which will result in an immediate endorsement by the progressive members of our church who will close rank to defend one of their own. The whole affair will be reduced to a conservative/liberal argument. The result will be one more Unitarian in our House of Bishops This is not what will trouble me the most.What will trouble me is three-fold. First, the dissenters in Northern Michigan have informed me that their only real alternative is to just leave the Church. Second, the Church will be pushed further by its most extreme members in silencing any true moderate voices. Lastly, it is one more sign to me that the Church, made up of a thoughtful middle of caring and gracious centrist folks who honor our rules and procedures as a way of honoring a truly embracive and inclusive community, has sadly become something else. What we have most seen in the Episcopal Church in the past 10 years is the end of reasoned faith.

Read it all.

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

ENS on Northern Michigan: Bishop elected; Episcopal Ministry Support Team created

Delegates to a special convention of the Diocese of Northern Michigan held February 21 at St. Stephen’s Church, Escanaba, elected a new bishop and created a support team that will share in episcopal oversight, something unique in the Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester, who was announced in January as the single candidate for bishop, was elected on the first ballot. In Northern Michigan voting is not carried out by lay and clergy orders, but rather by individual delegate votes and a congregational vote that represents the combined majority vote of a congregation’s delegates. Thew Forrester received 67 of 76 total delegate votes cast. Of the 23 congregations represented, 21 voted for Thew Forrester.

Read it all.

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

Religious Intelligence: Anglican-Buddhist is elected Bishop in Northern Michigan

The Anglican Communion’s first Anglican-Buddhist Bishop was elected this week at a special convention of the Diocese of Northern Michigan. The sole candidate on the ballot, the Rev Kevin Thew Forrester received the support of 88 per cent of the delegates and 91 per cent of congregations, according to a diocesan news release.

The nomination of Fr Forrester sparked controversy last month, when the diocese announced that he was the sole candidate for election. Critics charged it was unseemly that a single candidate was chosen by the search committee — which included Fr Forrester among its members — to stand for election. Concerns were also raised about the suitability of a professed Buddhist who said he had received Buddhist “lay ordination” and was “walking the path of Christianity and Zen Buddhism together” being consecrated a bishop.

Known also by his Buddhist name, “Genpo” which means “Way of Universal Wisdom”, Fr Forrester holds progressive views on a number of traditional Christian doctrines. Writing in the diocese’s news letter he stated: “Sin has little, if anything, to do with being bad. It has everything to do, as far as I can tell, with being blind to our own goodness.”

Read it all.

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

Northern Michigan Bishop Nominee Has Background in Buddhism

The Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester, rector of St. Paul’s, Marquette, and St. John’s, Negaunee, was put forward by the diocesan search team to stand for election as bishop/ministry developer under the “mutual ministry model” used by the small, rural diocese on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A priest of the diocese since 2001, Fr. Forrester also serves as ministry development coordinator and newspaper editor for Northern Michigan.

In recent years, he also was a practicing Buddhist, according to the former Bishop of Northern Michigan, the late Rt. Rev. James Kelsey.

In his Oct 15, 2004 address to the diocese’s annual convention, Bishop Kelsey took note of some of the milestones among the lives of members of the diocese. After recognizing recent university graduations, the bishop said Fr. Forrester “received Buddhist ”˜lay ordination’,” and was “walking the path of Christianity and Zen Buddhism together.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Buddhism, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Faiths, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, Theology

The Diocese of Northern Michigan responds to the Primates, a/k/a the implications of TEC's Theology

The following is an excerpt of the lead article in the Diocese of Northern Michigan’s September 2007 newspaper, entitled “Dar es Salaam, Already One in God.” The intro to the article states On the 19th of February, 2007, the Primates of the Anglican Communion, meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, released a Communiqué. We, as the Diocese of Northern Michigan, offer our response.” It is not clear who exactly within the diocese drafted this response. Please read it all carefully. It is noteworthy not so much for what it says specifically in response to the Primates’ demands, but its articulation of the theological convictions accepted within the diocese. This is where TEC’s Baptismal Ecclesiology can lead individuals or an entire diocese.

(emphasis added)

We invite all to God’s table. What we expect, in turn, is that those who come to the table likewise recognize the right, by being children of God, of everyone else to be at the table.


We proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ that everyone and everything belongs. We are continually being created in the image of God, in whom we live and move and have our being. Baptism confirms this most basic truth which is at once, the Good News: all is of God, without condition and without restriction.

We seek and serve Christ in all persons because all persons are the living Christ. Each and every human being, as a human being, is knit together in God’s Spirit, and thus an anointed one ”“ Christ. Jesus of Nazareth reveals this as the basic truth of the human condition:

God is more in me
than if the whole sea
could in a little sponge
wholly contained be.

~Angelus Silesius

We strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being, because each person embodies the living God. Life is inherently and thoroughly sacramental, which is why we love one another without condition.

We stand with Meister Eckhart who, when he gazed deep within himself, as well as all about him, saw that “the entire created order is sacred” as it is grounded
in God. We do harmful and evil things to ourselves and one another, not because we are bad, but because we are blind to the beauty of creation and ourselves. In other words, we are ignorant of who we truly are: “there is no Greek or Hebrew; no Jew or Gentile; no barbarian or Scythian; no slave or citizen. There is only Christ, who is all in all.” (Colossians 3:11).

Everyone is the sacred word of God, in whom Christ lives. This baptismal vision of a thoroughly blessed creation leads us to understand the reason for the incarnation in a new way:

People think God has only become a human being there ”“ in his historical incarnation ”“ but that is not so; for God is here ”“ in this very place ”“ just as much incarnate as in a human being long ago. And this is why he has become a human being: that he might give birth to you as his only begotten Son, and as no less. ~Meister Eckhart


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; as the Diocese of Northern Michigan,

We affirm Christ present in every human being and reject any attempt to restructure The Episcopal Church’s polity in a manner contrary to the principles of the baptismal covenant;

We affirm the full dignity and autonomy and interdependence of every Church in the Anglican Communion and reject any attempt of the Primates to assume an authority they do not have nor have ever possessed;

We affirm the sacramental gift of all persons, their Christ-ness, especially those who are gay and lesbian, and reject any moratorium on the blessing of samesex unions and consents of gay bishops, as it would compromise their basic dignity.

The full article is here (pp. 1-2)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Organizations, Anglican Primates, Baptism, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Sacramental Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology