According to Bible Belt Blogger Frank Lockwood, the fat lady has sung taps for Kevin Thew Forrester, the Buddhist lay ordinand who had been elected Episcopal bishop of Northern Michigan:
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Bethlehem decided today to withhold consent to the election of the Rev. Kevin G. Thew Forrester as bishop-elect of Northern Michigan.
The vote was confirmed this evening (June 4, 2009) by committee president Canon Robert Wilkins. The committee is preparing a statement explaining the vote and hopes to have it ready tomorrow.
Fifty-six standing committees have now decided to withhold consent, while 29 have given consent, according to a survey by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock. Roughly 16 committees, including seven based outside the United States, are still in the discernment process. Another 10 or so committees have voted, but are currently declining to reveal their vote.
Barring last-minute vote-switching by dioceses across the country, Thew Forrester will not be seated by the House of Bishops. He would be the first bishop-elect to be vetoed by a majority of the Episcopal Church’s 111 standing committees since at least the 1930s.
Forrester was derailed not so much because of his Buddhist-Christian syncretism, but because he mucked around with the Book of Common Prayer. For many of the bishops and standing committees members who have voted against Forrester, the BCP is far more important than the Bible or Christian teaching. Bishops are free to reject the incarnation or resurrection of Christ, or the atoning nature of His death, or even the personal nature of God, but messings around with BCP rubrics or language is verboten. So while Forrester’s defeat is to be welcomed, it doesn’t really signal any kind of turn-around in the Episcopal Church’s slide toward apostasy.