February 24, 2009
To the Bishop Ordinary and Standing Committee of the Diocese of Southern Ohio
Rt. Reverend Sir, ladies and gentlemen of the Standing Committee,
We hope you will prayerful consider voting no to the confirmation of the Rev’d Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester as the next bishop of Northern Michigan. Our reasons for asking you to vote against this confirmation are rooted in 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? And of course the perception of this makes one wonder whether there is a small group of people trying to control the process.
Is there any precedent for requiring more than one candidate? Had the Diocese 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 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 complimentary 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 themselves 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 you keep this information in mind as you prayerfully consider voting no to the confirmation of the next bishop of Northern Michigan.
Your fellow servants,
Rev’d. Jeff Queen, Rector of All Saints’, Portsmouth
Rev’d. Dave Halt, Rector of St. James, Westwood
Rev’d. Dr. David Bailey, Rector of St. Stephen’s, Cincinnati