Episcopal diocese rejects Buddhist bishop

By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 19, 2009

Pittsburg, PA (USA) -- Leaders of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh have unanimously voted against permitting a diocese in Michigan to consecrate a bishop who is also a practicing Zen Buddhist.

A spokesman for the diocese said the decision was not based on Bishop-elect Kevin Thew Forrester's Zen practices, but on changes he had made to the liturgy in his parish. It came from the Diocese of Pittsburgh that remains part of the Episcopal Church, not the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) that left the Episcopal Church in October because it believed the Episcopal Church no longer upheld biblical teaching.

In order to be consecrated by the Diocese of Northern Michigan, the bishop-elect must receive "consent" from the bishops and standing committees of a majority of 110 dioceses.

According to an unofficial count kept by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, as of Friday the standing committee vote was 39-15 against the bishop-elect.

The Pittsburgh vote was 8-0. Members said he had stripped the baptismal liturgy of references to divine redemption, emphasizing human action over God's grace.

"To change such a fundamental understanding of the sacrament, in which we share by water in the saving death of Jesus Christ ... makes Father Forrester unacceptable as a bishop," said the Rev. James Simons, president of the standing committee.