Election of Holt as Bishop of Florida Fails Consent Process

[July 21] The election of the Rev. Charlie Holt to be bishop of the Diocese of Florida, has not garnered the necessary consents from a majority of bishops and diocesan standing committees within the mandated period.

The Rev. Charlie Holt

Holt, who rescinded the acceptance of his first election to the episcopate after because of charges of process irregularities, was subsequently elected by the diocese a second time. This election has been dogged by charges of election irregularities, but more significantly by Holt’s past statements that were perceived by some to be as insulting to Black and LGBTQ+ people.

In a written statement, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry addressed the issue today

Yesterday the 120-day canonically mandated period for gathering consents to the ordination and consecration of the Rev. Charlie Holt as the bishop coadjutor of Florida came to a close. A majority of the bishops exercising jurisdiction in The Episcopal Church did not consent to the ordination and consecration. The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Florida has reported that a majority of the standing committees of the dioceses of The Episcopal Church also did not consent.

In the coming days, I will be in consultation with leaders in the Diocese of Florida, and with others around The Episcopal Church, as we look for the best next steps.

A bishop election is a process that involves the whole church, and we acknowledge that many have been and will continue to be affected by the process. Please hold the whole church in prayer as we move forward.

Also, please continue to pray for the people, clergy, and other leadership of the Diocese of Florida—and for the Rev. Charlie Holt and his family—as they discern their ways forward.

Dear Lord, hear our prayer for our brothers and sisters of the Diocese of Florida, for Fr. Charlie Holt and his family, and for us throughout the church. Help us all to hear anew the promises of Jesus that the Holy Spirit will lead us and guide us in difficult and painful times, and that you will be with us always. Lead us all, and guide us into your will and way of love meant for us and all of your children. This we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever. Amen.

The Diocese of Florida’s Standing Committee addressed the issue on its web site:

. . . 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.

Holt also released a statement through the Diocese of Florida website, saying in part:

Please join me as I pray in hope for the future of the Diocese of Florida. Our hope is that these current struggles will not lead you to abandon it. Over thirty years ago, I joined the Episcopal Church with a missionary mindset and heart, which remains my passion. We are a wonderful denomination with a rich history of leadership in the United States and the world. The church faces many challenges, but it is worth fighting for. Brokenness unto repentance leads to spiritual renewal and reform because resurrection always follows the cross for those who believe. 

Let us become more devoted disciples of Jesus Christ by persevering through these difficulties with deep humility and firm resolve. I am grateful for the 20-year service of Bishop Samuel Johnson Howard to the Diocese of Florida. Let us now support the Standing Committee as they will soon assume the role of Ecclesiastical Authority of the diocese. They deserve our gratitude, prayers, and support.