July 21, 2023
Dear People of God in the Diocese of Florida,
Today marks the conclusion of the 120-day period during which the Episcopal Church’s standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction were asked to consent to the election of the Rev. Charlie Holt as bishop coadjutor of our diocese. With regret, we are writing to tell you that the election did not receive the required majority of consents from either standing committees or bishops and, as required by Canon III.11.4, Presiding Bishop Curry has declared the election null and void.
We know this news will evoke many responses, especially among the delegates who voted for Charlie Holt, those who have worked hard to obtain consent to the election and those who objected to it. Certainly, this is a crucial moment in our life together as a diocese, and yet we are assured every week as we gather at the Lord’s Table that we are living members of the Body of Jesus Christ. We are then sent out into the world to love God and love each other. In keeping with these beliefs, we are asking that you please join us in praying for our diocese and for one another. We also ask that you pray for the Holt family as they find a way forward that looks very different from the one they had planned.
Many of you have questions about what will happen next. In the immediate future, nothing will change. Bishop Howard remains Bishop of Florida until his retirement, which by canon must take place no later than three months after his 72nd birthday on September 8. In the coming months, plans will be made to celebrate Bishop Howard’s 20-year episcopacy in the Diocese of Florida.
Upon Bishop Howard’s retirement, the Standing Committee will be the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese, as prescribed in Article IV of the Constitution of The Episcopal Church. In keeping with Canon 13.2, we will, as needed, invite bishops to serve our diocese by presiding at confirmations, ordinations and other pastoral offices. Over time, we will discern how our path forward might be best served by an assisting bishop with unique gifts that would be helpful to us, by a new bishop search process, or by asking the diocesan convention to elect a bishop provisional for a limited period.
Beloved, although our path forward is not yet clear, our hope is in knowing who holds our future. While our current circumstances are difficult and uncertain, we can rest this day knowing God is with us and will not desert us. Because Jesus Christ is Lord, we have a hope that can and will see us through these challenging times. In this hope, we continue to pray for each of you, for our diocese, and for the one Church.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13
In hope and faith,
Your Standing Committee