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June 5, 2009

Episcopal Diocese Elects Ex-Catholic turned Buddhist as Bishop?

Here's one take on this very odd happenstance of a Catholic-turned-Episcopalian-turned-Buddhist "practicioner"-turned Episcopal "bishop." Then, here's the odd-as-a-three-dollar-bill background info, and then here's the "official" version:

EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF NORTHERN MICHIGAN
2-21-09 — For Immediate Release

(Escanaba, MI) --The Diocese of Northern Michigan created an Episcopal Ministry Support Team and elected Kevin Thew Forrester as bishop at a Special Diocesan Convention on Saturday, February 21, 2009 at St.Stephen’s Church, Escanaba. Thew Forrester was elected on the first ballot and satisfying the Diocesan Constitution and canons, received 88% of the delegate votes and 91% of the congregational votes. Thew Forrester has been serving the diocese since 2001, first as MinistryDevelopment Coordinator and later in 2007 as Rector/Ministry Developerof St. Paul’s Church in Marquette and St. John’s Church in Negaunee.

Following the death of Bishop Jim Kelsey in an automobile accident inJune 2007, an extended time of reflection and discernment ensued. As result, and after 27 years of living into “baptismal ministry,” theDiocese decided to apply its extensive experience of developing local,shared leadership to the ministry of episcopal oversight. Bishop Kelsey’s initial experiment with a “Core Team” paved the way for the concept of an Episcopal Ministry Support Team (EMST), in which the bishop will focus on pastoral, relational and canonical tasks while serving as one of twelve members, which also includes compensated ministry developers, a diocesan staff person and regional representatives.

The Discernment Team, composed of twenty-one members (representing 70%of the congregations of the diocese) worked closely with Jo Gantzer(Diocese of Michigan) as its Companion and three Reflectors from the wider church: Bishops Bruce Caldwell (Wyoming) and Tom Ely (Vermont) and Fredrica Harris Thompsett, recently retired professor at the Episcopal Divinity School. They worked for nearly a year before presenting a single name for bishop as well as identifying EMST members who where affirmed during the Special Convention.

Prior to the naming of the EMST and bishop-nominee, the Discernment Team presented its work-to-date and its proposed process to the Annual Diocesan Convention last October. It received an overwhelming vote of confidence, with 94% of the delegates voting to affirm. 
Upon the successful completion of the consent process, the Episcopal Ministry Support Team will be commissioned and the bishop ordained on October 17, 2009 in Marquette, Michigan.

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