VOTING is taking place across the Episcopal Church in the United States on the confirmation of the Revd Charlie Holt as the next Bishop of Florida. Early indications suggest high opposition to his re-election.
Fr Holt has twice topped the ballot for the election as Bishop Coadjutor of Florida, but has faced repeated objections and claims of discrimination against LGBTQ+ clergy. Formal objections to his first election in May 2022 over procedural issues resulted in a second ballot last November, from which Fr Holt again emerged as the choice (News, 25 November 2022).
New objections were raised to the process. The Church’s Court of Review investigated, partly ruling in favour of the objectors, again owing to reports of discrimination (News, 31 March).
The diocese has 120 days to secure Church-wide consent to his consecration. Now, halfway through that period, the diocese of Florida’s standing-committee president, the Revd Joe Gibbes, told the Episcopal News Service that there were “more nos than yeses” to his re-election.
Bishops and diocesan standing committees have until 20 July to vote, and to change their vote if they wish. Most of the 106 Episcopalian bishops with jurisdiction and 110 standing committees need to confirm his election, or it will be negated.
Fr Gibbs said that the vote had “dramatic consequences” for the diocese. “We believe that our election process was valid, and that the will of the majority spoke clearly twice.”
The standing committee told Episcopalians in Florida to be “patient, difficult as that may be”. In a letter to the bishops and standing committees across the Church, it urged against “hasty” voting.
The letter read: “The matter entrusted to you is too important to make a hasty vote, and if you voted without reviewing our materials, we urge you to reconsider. . . The consensus of the wider Church will have dramatic consequences for the life and vitality of our beloved diocese.”
In a visit to a church in Tallahassee last week, Fr Holt acknowledged that he might not get consent. In a question-and-answer session, he said: “We are actually a long way away from getting consents. I may not be consented to, and that’s a reality.”