February 17, 2023
To our Beloved Diocese,
The Bishop, Chancellor, Standing Committee, and Secretary of the Diocese of Florida received the opinion of the Court of Review relating to the objection to the November 19, 2022 election on the evening of Wednesday, February 15, 2023. The English and Spanish versions of the very lengthy report can be found below.
Last night, Thursday, February 16, 2023, the President of the Court of Review chose to disseminate the Court of Review’s opinion to the wider church. This was a clear violation of the canon law that outlines the process which she oversees. It is this action which leads us to release the opinion to you before we provide for you a full response. We will release our response to you in the coming days as we seek the consent of Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to the election of the Rev. Charlie Holt as our Bishop Coadjutor.
Canonically, the scope of the Court’s work is to investigate alleged irregularities occurring during episcopal election processes (III.11.8.a). The Court found no irregularity in the voting conducted on November 19, 2022. But, ranging far beyond its mandate, it speculated—based on a faulty grasp of diocesan policies and practices—on how a number of anonymous allegations—reported so vaguely they cannot be independently verified—might have affected the outcome of the balloting.
Along with the diocese’s legal team, we must state that we believe the Court has grossly overstepped its charge, committed a number of significant factual errors, shown canonical disregard throughout the objection processes, and operated in a way that intentionally attacks and disenfranchises the will of the majority of the Diocese of Florida.
As we respond in the coming week, the goal of the Standing Committee will be to tell the truth to the glory of God, as has been our aim all along. All of your diocesan leaders have sought to comply with the requests of the Court at every step. Yet the Court appears to have sought to ensure the failure of our legitimate election by soliciting anonymous witnesses and unfounded and undated allegations, and showing a persistent lack of regard for due process. In our full response, we will detail for you our concerns about the process, and why it presents a danger to every bishop and diocese in the Episcopal Church.
This is a critical time in the life of our cherished diocese, and your Standing Committee will continue fighting to uphold your right to choose our next bishop. As we do so, please keep us, and especially your Bishop and Bishop Coadjutor-Elect, in prayer.
In Christ Alone,
Your Standing Committee
The Rev. Joe Gibbes, President
Mr. Ben Hill
The Rev. Teresa Seagle
Mr. Arthur Crofton
The Rev. Sarah Minton
Ms. Jackie Jones
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