The journey to elect a bishop in the Jacksonville-based Diocese of Florida has hit another road bump. The Standing Committee notified the diocese that it has received a formal objection to the election which has already been run twice (with the same result) after previous objections were found to be merited.
The lay and clergy delegates who have initiated this action have named five objections in their letter have offered supporting evidence for each. There objections are:
- There was a material error in voting not disclosed nor discovered until after the election.
- Clergy with Cure Not Granted Residency; Disparate Treatment of Similarly Situated Clergy.
- Duly Elected Lay Delegates Denied Seat, Voice, and Vote.
- The Diocese’s own rules were not followed.
- The election process was fundamentally unfair.
The Rev. Charlie Holt was elected with the minimum number of clergy votes required but the objectors allege that at least one clergy member was recorded as voting who was not physically present, and that the convention did not identification measures in place to ensure that all voters were who they claimed to be.
They further allege that the current bishop, Samuel Johnson Howard, has not accepted letter dimissory in the timeframe required by canon for clergy serving in the diocese and that he did this to limit the number of voting clergy who do not support the bishop’s conservative views.
In their other objections they claim that the rules were changed inappropriately and sometimes confusingly, and that the diocese has not been a neutral arbiter but has worked to promote the favored candidate, Charlie Holt.
The letter was signed by 28 delegates, which is three more than the minimum number requited under diocesan canon to raise an objection. The Standing Committee has promised a response as soon as they have had an opportunity to review the objections.
image: The Rev Charles Holt (left), with the Rt Rev Samuel Johnson Howard, Bishop of Florida. Image from the Diocese of Florida