Episcopal Church Nullifies Election of Priest with Buddhist Ties

By Lillian Kwon, Christian, Jul. 28 2009

Michigan, USA -- An Episcopal priest who practices Zen Buddhist meditation was not approved to lead the Diocese of Northern Michigan.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said on Monday that the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester did not receive the required consents from bishops and standing committees to be consecrated. His election was thus "null and void."

"I have been extraordinarily blessed and honored to walk with my friends from the Diocese of Northern Michigan over these past months as their bishop-elect," Thew Forrester said in a statement, according to the Episcopal News Service.

Thew Forrester was elected in February to succeed James Kelsey, who died in June 2007, as bishop of the Diocese of Northern Michigan. He was the lone candidate presented by the search committee.

But his ties with Buddhism and views on core Christian doctrines raised concerns among many in The Episcopal Church.

His revisions to the denomination's Book of Common Prayer were also questioned.

While some diocesan leaders and retired bishops supported Thew Forrester's election, he needed the consent of a majority of bishops and standing committees. The 120-day consent period ended last week.

"I treasure the support they have extended me and my family, as well as that I have received from Hong Kong to Holland and from Great Britain to New Zealand, and indeed from so many throughout The Episcopal Church," Thew Forrester stated. "As we live and move and have our being in Christ, there is truly a Holy Wisdom in all that is unfolding, and as St. John of the Cross affirms, a grace in 'all that happens.'"