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Florida bishop-elect pledges to uphold LGBTQ rights, diocese postpones January convention

From left, Diocese of Florida Bishop-Elect Charlie Holt and the current diocesan bishop, Samuel Howard. Photo/Diocese of Florida

Bishop-elect Charlie Holt, in a statement to the Diocese of Florida, said he would, if consecrated, allow parishes and rectors to perform same-gender marriages “in accordance with the parameters of the approved liturgies and canons of the Episcopal Church.” However, due to continuing issues concerning his election, the current diocesan bishop, Samuel Howard, announced on Dec. 20 that the annual diocesan convention would be postponed from Jan. 28, 2023 to a date to be determined later in 2023.

Holt, in his Dec. 20 statement, also pledged that “in keeping with the anti-discrimination canons of the Episcopal Church, potential ordinands and candidates for employment will be welcomed into discernment and calling processes based on their gifts and call to ministry without discrimination.”

Specifically, he added, “ordination will not be dependent on sexual orientation or political perspective but only on the church’s canonical process of discernment of the mystery of God’s call to sacred orders.” For the full statement, click here.

Holt was elected bishop coadjutor (bishop-elect with right of succession) for a second time on Nov. 18 amid an extended controversy over the diocese’s election process, reported Episcopal News Service.

Holt’s election has been challenged on procedural and ideological grounds since the first electing convention in May. That result was nullified after some delegates filed a formal objection; delegates have also filed an objection to the diocese’s second attempt at an election last month. Some Episcopalians inside and outside the diocese also have criticized Holt’s personal stance against same-sex marriage, arguing such a view has no place in an LGBTQ-affirming church, reported ENS.

Due to the objection filed by delegates on Nov. 30, the churchwide Court of Review must investigate the objection and write a report; bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees across the church then review that report and decide to issue consent or not.

Howard, in his announcement of the convention postponement, noted that “it is likely that an opinion of the Episcopal Church Court of Review will be returned to us on
or about the date scheduled for our convention and that the consent process for our Bishop Coadjutor-Elect among Bishops and Standing Committees of the Episcopal Church will be commencing at about that same time.”

Howard said that he had consulted with diocesan leaders and with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. According to Howard, Curry said the decision “makes a lot of sense and gives you a prayerful and thoughtful way to come together as a diocese to discern a healthy and constructive way forward, whatever the result of discernment in the
wider church.”

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