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Michigan: new doubts

23 April 2009

THE BISHOP of Olympia in Washington, the Rt Revd Greg Rickel, is the latest to withhold his consent from the election of the Revd Kevin Thew Forrester as Bishop of Northern Michigan, writes Pat Ashworth. Mr Forrester took a Buddhist vow in a welcoming ceremony (News, 6 March, 17 April).

Bishop Rickel named three issues in his refusal to give consent to Mr Forrester’s election: his sole candidacy; his practice of Buddhism and especially “lay ordination” in that belief system; and his “rewriting of approved liturgies from the Book of Common Prayer, including the Baptismal Liturgy”, which Bishop Rickel goes on to describe as “the very core vow and liturgy of our faith”.

He describes the decision to withhold consent as “one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in my time as bishop”, and tells his diocese: “This is my burden to carry. I do it on your behalf and I do not do it lightly, even when we disagree.”

Bishop Rickel was also in the news this week for allowing the deposed cleric Ann Holmes Redding to take part in a vesting ceremony for two Episcopal deacons in St Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle, last week, despite her having become a Muslim (News, 10 April).

A diocesan communications spokesman is quoted as saying that a vester could be lay or ordained and from any faith tradition, and that Ms Redding was taking part as a friend and mentor of one of the ordinands.

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