Kevin Thew-Forrester was elected the Bishop of Northern Michigan a week ago in a somewhat unusual manner. The search committee went through the process and narrowed the field to 5 finalists, 2 of whom had served together in the Diocese of Eastern Oregon. Both left the Diocese following the election of Bill Gregg as the new Bishop of Eastern Oregon. Both were active in what we called Mutual Ministry wherein the laity were enfranchised in worship teams using what were then called Canon 9 deacons and priests along with lay leaders in many of the positions formerly occupied by church rectors. This way of doing ministry was copied after Jim Kelsey's Green Country Ministry and his later work in Northern Michigan. The election of Bishop Gregg put a crimp in the ministry of all the baptized, partly I think, because he felt the lay people weren't well enough trained and especially so in the case of Canon 9 folks.
Kevin left soon after Bill's election and went to Northern Michigan to work with then Bishop Kelsey. To those of us who were familiar with both Jim and Kevin felt it was a match made in heaven. Bishop Kelsey's tragic death left a large void among those committed to Mutual Ministry and most of us felt that Kevin was the right person to fill that void. Consequently, it was no surprise that the Search Committee presented only one name for the election, Kevin Thew-Forrester. Those of us who followed the process thought the election was a normal, for Northern Michigan, thing to do.
We were surprised at the negative response to Kevin's election. I can only assume that folks outside the diocese felt that the election was rigged somehow by Kevin. In truth, the election was held to satisfy national canons. My impression is that the laity felt the election was done just the way they wanted and that Kevin was Jim's anointed one. The hew and cry has just about disappeared, so I'm hoping that the consent process will go smoothly.