On Wednesday, March 22, the Diocese of Florida Standing Committee issued its official closing argument affirming the validity of its bishop coadjutor election as part of a package of materials sent to bishops and standing committees across the Episcopal Church seeking their consent to the election result.
According to the Episcopal News Service, the closing argument invoked the church's acceptance of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson as the first openly gay Episcopal bishop in 2003.
The Florida standing committee appealed to church leaders to accept the will of most of the Diocese of Florida.
In most cases, granting such consents is considered to be routine; however, the election of Reverend Charlie Holt in November was met with objections from within the diocese as well as from outside of it.
The objections were raised in response to concerns regarding election procedures, Holt's fitness, and anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in the Diocese of Florida.
To justify Holt's selection for the bishop position in the diocese, the standing committee referred to him as "a peacemaker, a collaborator, a reconciler, and a man who has shown a willingness to listen to and learn from others with various viewpoints and backgrounds."
The standing committee continued by saying it was "particularly alarmed" by the Court of Review's implication that the diocese's previous practice would taint any bishop election for granting clergy voice and vote.
It was reportedly in response to the fact that the Court of Review implied that this practice would taint any bishop election.
A criterion like that, which is not based on the actual voting process, would be "catastrophic for our ministry and mission and would substantially exacerbate the divisions that are now being planted among us," according to the author.
In addition, it was asserted that the claims made against Howard had nothing to do with whether the election was legitimate and that the Court of Review "exceeded its canonical mandate by probing things unconnected to the electoral process."
Objections against Rev. Charlie Holt
The Diocese of Florida announced on May 25 that it had received a formal objection signed by 37 clergies and lay delegates to the diocese's special election convention alleging that last-minute changes to the voting process violated diocesan canons and that a technical problem disrupted the vote, invalidating Holt's election.
Thus, the Diocese of Florida conducted the second election for bishop coadjutor.
However, delegates to the Diocese of Florida's bishop coadjutor election on Nov. 19, 2022, have filed an official objection to the election procedures, describing the election as "fundamentally unfair."
Holt was re-elected bishop coadjutor. The most recent objection also charges a significant error, discriminatory treatment of clergy, voter disenfranchisement, and a rules violation. The diocese emailed the five-page letter, dated Nov. 28, on Nov. 30.
Lastly, around a hundred members of the Episcopal LGBTQ+ Caucus opposed the election of the Rev. Charlie Holt as bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Florida by signing a letter.
The criticisms echo the issues made after Holt's initial election in May 2022, when some of his views on racial relations and same-sex marriage received fresh attention.
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Episcopal LGBTQ+ Caucus issues objection letter over Diocese of Florida's bishop coadjutor election