Episcopal Life, the online public relations publication from the Presiding Bishop's office in New York, for the first time publicly admits that "The process used to elect a bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan and the bishop-elect's meditation practice have come under scrutiny as diocesan bishops and standing committees are being asked to consent to the election."
"Blogs, emails, open letters and news articles -- including one in the London Times -- are taking issue with the fact that the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester, Northern Michigan's bishop-elect, was the single candidate presented to a special diocesan convention and that he devoutly practices Zen Buddhist meditation," reports Episcopal Life.
The Episcopal Church report goes on to defend the techniques used to "elect" Thew Forrester as being the same process used in three other dioceses, including the Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's own original diocese of Nevada. Questions are being raised on how a free election can be held when the leading member of the actual search committee charged with putting forward candidates for election by the diocesan council ends up being the only candidate put on the slate.
The report also goes on to defend Thew Forrester's devout Buddhist beliefs and practices by calling on John Cowan, formerly an Episcopal priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota, to explain that there is difference between being a Buddhist and practicing Zen Buddhist meditation, which aims to "study the self, to know the self, and to forget the self." He says that in losing a focus on one's self through Zen, it is easier to accept and carry out Jesus' call to focus on others. Mr. Cowan has been teaching Buddhist meditation for fifteen years and is the author of Taking Jesus Seriously: Buddhist Meditation for Christians.