Florida Bishop-elect Charlie Holt tells diocese he’ll work through objection process despite ‘humiliation’

By Egan Millard
Posted Dec 5, 2022

The Rev. Charlie Holt in a video introducing himself to members of the Diocese of Florida.

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Charlie Holt, whose election as bishop coadjutor in the Diocese of Florida has now been formally challenged for the second time, says that he remains committed to the diocese despite the pain that he and members of the diocese are experiencing.

“I cannot think of anything else in my life that has forced me to my knees to crawl under the altar of Calvary as this process has done,” Holt wrote in an email to the diocese on Dec. 5, referencing a pilgrimage he made to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. “It has been a true humiliation in every sense of that word.”

Holt won the first election in May, but it was later nullified because of procedural objections. Holt was again elected bishop coadjutor on Nov. 19. On Nov. 28, a group of delegates again filed an objection, alleging that a voting discrepancy and changes to delegate qualification made the election “fundamentally unfair.”

Diocesan officials said after receiving the complaint that they would “respond to the objection letter soon” and that they had submitted it to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s office, as required by church canons. They have not yet released any further public statements about the objection.

Holt said that while he is “confident that the leaders who oversaw the election will carefully address the process concerns it raises,” the ordeal has both strained and strengthened his spiritual life.

“Discernment of the calling of God to any ordained office, especially that of bishop, is both a challenging and a humbling teaching process,” he wrote. “While it has shown me the breadth of our love and potential, it has also shown me the depth of hurt and frustration in our diocese’s membership. With that revelation, I can say unequivocally there is no divide in this diocese that God cannot heal, no future where we will not see new life from the dead.”

After Curry receives the objection, he will submit the complaint to the churchwide Court of Review, which then has 30 days to investigate and write a report. Church canons do not specify a time period in which the presiding bishop must submit the complaint to the court after receiving it. Once complete, the Court of Review’s report is sent to all diocesan standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction. If a majority of both groups issue consent within 120 days, the bishop-elect can then be consecrated.

Holt wrote that if his election does receive the required consents – and he eventually succeeds retiring Diocesan Bishop John Howard – he will “strive mightily, as I am striving even now, to reconcile and unify all the people of our diocese without reservation in keeping fully with the wider Episcopal Church.”

– Egan Millard is an assistant editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at emillard@episcopalchurch.org.