There will be no official declaration until next month sometime, but those who follow the matter closely have determined that a sufficient number of Standing Committees (i.e. more than half, which means 56+) have signaled their non-consent to the election of the Revd Kevin Thew Forrester as Bishop of Northern Michigan that the matter is effectively decided in the negative. Votes can always be changed until the 120-day time frame has expired (which, interestingly, will happen during General Convention, though the question will not come under that body's purview), but I haven't encountered any plausible scenarios under which that would take place.
I think it's safe to say that, even while we have seen this verdict emerging inexorably over the last several weeks, it is a development that observers from all ideological vantage points within North American Anglicanism find more than a little bit surprising. On the day the election (or, more accurately, perhaps, "discerned decision") was announced, few would have imagined it. Even when the first headlines about Forrester's "lay ordination" in Buddhism broke, the smart money would have been on eventual consent and consecration, with the usual conservative suspects howling along the path to the cathedral.
At first, it was the bishop-elect's connection to Buddhism that got all the attention. Then there was the unconventional manner in which the election process was carried out that raised a good bit of concern. But if those were the only issues, I think they would be decorating the hall for the post-consecration reception by now. What eventually turned the tide was the widespread realization, obvious for all to see in his own published works, that Father Thew Forrester interprets the fundamental symbols of the Paschal Mystery in ways that rob them of any substance that can be coherently reconciled with what the Church has understood them to mean for the last two millennia. Even thoughtful "progressives" can see that he proclaims "another gospel."
In the world of cyberspace, reaction has been largely muted. From the left, there has certainly been some gnashing of teeth, with cries of "assassination by internet," and dire warnings that future bishop-elect will have to be "vetted like Supreme Court nominees," and that therefore only "safe" candidates who won't do anything to upset the general ecclesiastical equilibrium (as if any such thing even exists) will ever get elected. But this sort of whining has been by way of a solo performance here or there, and never (as far as I can see, at least) a howling ensemble.
But this does not mean that there is open rejoicing on the starboard side of the vessel--well, there's no open rejoicing anywhere that I can tell, actually, but certainly not among what might be called the "hard right" (many or most of whom have already left the Episcopal Church anyway). My hunch is that, privately, there are a bunch of jaws on the floor waiting to be picked up while their owners try to assimilate and make sense of the information that even such dependable liberals as the Bishop and Standing Committee of the Diocese of Los Angeles are lined up in the No column. What could that possibly mean?
No, there is no dancing in the streets with this news, and that is probably as it should be. While I personally concur with the decision reached by a majority of the Standing Committees, Kevin Thew Forrester is by all accounts a gifted leader and the sort of person you would want to have as your friend and neighbor. He's a real human being with real feelings and this has got to hurt big time. His family is also hurting, as are the members of the diocese that chose him.
But if there's no partying, for good reason, there is definitely a huge sigh of relief, and maybe even a little bit of quiet hope. And where this relief and hope exists is among those who, while they stand clearly on one side or the other of the presently-divisive questions centering around sexuality, tend to congregate close enough to the center line that they can maintain relationship with those who are also close to the line, even if on the other side. Their relief and hope are grounded in the possibility that this emerging non-consent means that there are some channels where the mainstream of TEC will still not flow.
That may not at first look like a big deal, but it is. The liberal juggernaut of the last four decades has seemed like it respects no boundaries. So much of what was once unthinkable has become not only permissible but commonplace. The very notion that there is a commonly-respected fence, that it is indeed possible to wander too far afield theologically, is itself a bit of novelty, and feels like refreshing rain on a hot day. One may assert, as I myself would, that the Episcopal Church suffers from a massive case of collective amnesia. But the news from the Standing Committees hints at the possibility--a slim one, perhaps, but a real one nonetheless--that the memory loss is not total, and that a small piece of it has just been recovered. The market, as they say, has "found a bottom."