"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Buddhist Bishop-Elect Writes Own Eucharistic Texts

I have made an effort in the recent past to limit my comments on affairs that relate solely to the Episcopal Church, as I am no longer affiliated with that body. But because what goes on within TEC still has an impact on the world-wide Anglican Communion (of which I am emphatically still a part through my diocese's affiliation with the Province of the Southern Cone and--soon--ACNA), the events revolving around last week's episcopal election in the TEC diocese of Northern Michigan merit comment here.

The Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester, recently elected bishop as the only candidate on the ballot in Northern Michigan, has already attracted notice for the fact that he is also a practicing Buddhist who said he had received Buddhist “lay ordination” and was “walking the path of Christianity and Zen Buddhism together.” Now comes word that the bishop-elect also has been composing his own Eucharistic texts, in partnership with his wife. I pass along potions of this story from The Living Church for you consideration.

Fr. Thew Forrester’s parish draws some of its prayers from Enriching Our Worship, which is authorized by General Convention. Many of the eucharistic texts gathered from the congregation’s website were composed or adapted by the bishop-elect or by his wife, the Rev. Rise Thew Forrester.

“No one need go hungry if they eat this bread. No child, no adult, no elder. This bread, broken, is bread for all people,” read a eucharistic prayer for a youth service during Lent 2008. “Jesus broke this bread to remind us that God comes to us in those places where we are broken inside. Where we are lonely, frightened, sick and in sorrow. And God also comes to us in those places where we are joyful, playful and free.”

The same service omitted the Nicene Creed, instead using “An Affirmation of Faith” from A New Zealand Prayer Book.

A eucharistic prayer that the bishop-elect wrote for Easter season 2008 says this: “In the ancient days, at the dawn of time, You leaned over creation[,] scooped it to your breast and breathed the moist breath of life. ... The fire of your Spirit kindled a love between Mary and Joseph; a fire that became the roaring flame of eternal compassion—the heart of Jesus.”
[RWF: N.b., this last sentence appearently constitutes an implied denial of the Virgin Birth right at the heart of the Eucharist. Jesus' origin is the Spirit's action within "the love between Joseph and Mary."]

The lectionary texts are notable for their exclusion of male pronouns, even when the subject of the sentence is a man. A reading from Genesis 2 refers to Adam as “the earth creature” and “it.” Readings from the gospels of John and Mark refer to Jesus as “the Chosen One,” “the Only Begotten One,” “my Beloved, my Own” and “this One.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe your facts are incorrect and a retraction should be made if after reading this you agree.

"My Christian Faith & the Practice of Zen Buddhist Meditation
Kevin Thew Forrester 25 February 2009

As a Christian, I am deeply aware that I live and move and have my being in Christ – as does all creation. I am honored to be the bishop-elect of the Diocese of Northern Michigan with the opportunity to serve and work with the Episcopal Ministry Support Team as well as the people of the diocese for the next 10 to 15 years, committed as we are to the ministry of all the baptized.

Each of us is formed in the image and likeness of God. As a Christian, I owe my life to our Trinitarian faith. Over the years my faith and spiritual practice have been largely shaped and profoundly imprinted by the mystics and the contemplative spiritual tradition.

I have grown in my awareness that the grace of God, which is God’s very Presence, cannot be circumscribed. Because of my faith in the gracious goodness of the Godhead, I am open to receive the wisdom from, and be in dialogue with, other faith traditions; not to mention the sciences and the arts.

I am quite honored, as an Episcopal priest, to have been trained in the art and practice of Zen meditation. I am not an ordained Buddhist priest. I am an Episcopal priest eternally grateful for the truth, beauty and goodness, experienced in meditation.

I am thankful for the pioneering work of Thomas Merton in the Buddhist-Christian dialogue. I am also thankful for the current elders in our Christian tradition, such as Thomas Keating and David Steindl-Rast, whose practice of meditation (like that of Merton) deepened their own contemplative life and led them to explore the sacramental common ground we share through the grace of God. As a Christian I can be receptive to divine truth, beauty and goodness, because I know that “All things come of Thee, O Lord; and of thine own have we given thee.”

I have been blessed to practice Zen meditation for almost a decade. About five years ago a Buddhist community welcomed me as an Episcopal priest in my commitment to a meditation practice—a process known by some Buddhists as "lay ordination."

Literally thousands of Christians have been drawn to Zen Buddhism in particular because, distinct from western religions, it embodies a pragmatic philosophy and a focus on human suffering rather than a unique theology of God. “Lay ordination” has a different meaning in Buddhist practice than in the Christian tradition.

The essence of this welcoming ceremony, which included no oaths, was my resolve to use the practice of meditation as a path to awakening to the truth of the reality of human suffering. Meditation deepens my dwelling in Christ.

My experience continues to be that through the grace of meditation I am drawn ever deeper into the Trinitarian contemplative Christian tradition. I have been able to bring the practice of meditation/contemplation to the wider diocese through the gifts discovery process and through the founding of the Healing Arts Center at St. Paul’s in Marquette.

The Center is devoted to assisting people in their own spiritual journey, which includes the practice of meditation within the sanctuary and the exploration of Christian contemplatives and mystics.

-- Kevin G. Thew Forrester
Ministry Developer
Diocese of Northern Michigan"

10:54 AM  
Blogger TLF+ said...

Smokescreen, Anonymous. Texanglican owes no retraction.

Thew Forrester (or the TEC media folks or whoever wrote the "statement" you posted)never deny ignoring the Canons, the Prayer Book and the General Convention, as TLC documents.

There's plenty of jargon in the statement, and it sounds vaguely Christian, but if you compare it to the Thew Forrester liturgies you see overt avoidance (even denial) of Christ's divinity and sacrificial death.

Thew Forrester may be a very nice guy, but he has no business being a bishop when he can't even use the authorized liturgies of a very "flexible" church.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think most of the writings you describe in your blog about Forrester sound like Eucharistic Prayer C in the BCP 1979. Lots of Episcopal Churches allow the reading of services taken from Anglican Churches in other countries, the New Zealand Service is only one example of such a service. Expecting the worst seems to be a pattern of those leaving the Episcopal Church for more rigid denominations such as the Roman Catholic Church. If you sit down with your own colleagues for a few hours (the ones with whom you assume you agree) I'll bet you find that you don't agree on as many things as you thought you did. Why is it such a threat to know that someone will use his own mind to read the Bible, and that sometimes that means that that person comes to a different conclusion about the meaning of it than you? Isn't it good that at least the person you disagree with is actually READING the Bible? I think diversity of thought is not a bad thing. I am tolerant of those who have differing views. I think the differences enhance worship, not detract from it. If all were singers who would preach? Who would be the acolytes? We do not need to be all alike. That's boring. I hope you are not bored with the one size fits all interpretation of scripture that is the Southern Cone. I hope you can find some way to make your church lively. The Episcopalians in the Diocese of Fort Worth sure are having a good time getting to know each other in the reorganized diocese. There is no hatred or anger expressed at these gatherings. It is as if old friends are joining together for the first time. People from Wichita Falls now know people from Arlington BY NAME. We are no longer just numbers and statistics. We are real people, not just diocesan statistics. We now have names.

10:23 PM  
Blogger The Underground Pewster said...

Anonymous commenters have names?

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Bill in Ottawa said...

The installation of a new bishop is never the sole prerogative of the diocese. As has been said elsewhere, a bishop becomes a bishop of the whole church. Problematic bishops such as Charles Bennison, Gene Robinson or Barry Beisner can cause problems for the whole church.

Through our shared connection via the Southern Cone, the consecration of any problematic Anglican bishop is fair game for comment. I'm glad that you are raising your voice on this matter, because it does affect us in a way that parochial politics in our former organizations don't.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I am not a traditional christian by any means, I really dislike Modern Eucharist services. If nothing else can we just stick to the traditional Mass.

Now I understand Buddhism as not really being a religion as the west often thinks of the term, but a philosophical way of living. In that context one certainly can be a Buddhist and a Christian I wouls suppose.

But seriously, lets get back to a traditional Eucharist, please? And can we turn the altars back around again?? Lets have the priest and the congregation face the same direction.

11:40 PM  

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