By David Paulsen
The Diocese of Florida has just crossed the halfway mark of the canonical 120-day period for its campaign to secure churchwide consents for the Rev. Charlie Holt to become its next bishop. In other bishop elections, The Episcopal Church’s consent process nearly always ends in the ordination of the bishop, but Florida faces unusually strong opposition, due to questions about the election’s fairness and Holt’s fitness to serve.
The Jacksonville-based diocese has until July 20 to persuade a majority of the church’s 106 bishops with jurisdiction and a majority of the church’s 110 diocesan standing committees to give their consent to Holt’s ordination as bishop coadjutor, or his election will be negated. And though the current vote tallies are not publicly available, Florida leaders say they still have work to do in achieving majorities.
So far, “there’s definitely more ‘nos’ than ‘yeses,’” the Rev. Joe Gibbes, Florida Standing Committee president, said on May 23 in an interview with Episcopal News Service. He declined to provide specific numbers.
Last week, the Florida Standing Committee appealed via letter directly to bishops and other standing committees to allow the ordination of Holt, who would succeed Florida Bishop John Howard when he retires later this year. The Florida committee’s May 16 letter seeks to persuade not only bishops and standing committees who haven’t voted yet, but also those who already decided to withhold their consent to Holt’s ordination.
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