Diocese of Florida moves ahead with plans for second bishop election

From left, the Rev. Teresa Seagle and Arthur Crofton, members of the Diocese of Florida’s Standing Committee, address members of the diocese in a video.

The Diocese of Florida Standing Committee posted a video on Oct. 18 with the message that it is moving forward with plans to hold a second episcopal election on Nov. 19. The video was posted after a group of delegates and diocesan members issued a call, dated Oct. 14, that the election be postponed, citing what the group said were irregularities in the process.

Standing Committee members Arthur Crofton and the Rev. Teresa Seagle, in the video, addressed issues of lay delegates eligible to vote, a meet-and-greet event featuring the three candidates standing for election and the structure of election day. The election is intended to choose a bishop coadjutor who will succeed diocesan bishop Samuel Howard upon his retirement next year.

The number of delegates eligible to vote is two per parish with 1-150 average Sunday attendance (ASA), plus an additional delegate for each 150 after that. The committee is using ASA numbers reported in the 2021 parochial reports.

Crofton said the committee realizes that for many churches still recovering from the pandemic, ASA has not returned to pre-2021 levels. “It isn’t our intention to take delegates from a congregation, but follow the canons at every turn so we have a clean and valid election,” he said.

The meet-and-greet with the Rev. Charlie Holt, the Rev. Miguel Rosada and the Rev. Beth Tjoflat, to be held in person and online, is scheduled for Nov. 12 at the diocesan-owned Camp Weed in Live Oak. All three were candidates in the previous episcopal election, held on May 14, that was voided after a churchwide Court of Review ruled that the election procedures were improper.

After the court’s report, the Rev. Charlie Holt, the election winner, withdrew his acceptance of the results.

Crofton and Seagle said that delegates who need transportation to the Nov. 19 election, also to be held at Camp Weed, may access diocesan-hired buses at three locations – Gainesville, Jacksonville and Tallahassee. Election day will be held at a slower pace, Seagle said, to allow “time for prayer, reflection and conversation.

The standing committee’s video did not directly mention the Oct. 14 letter, nor address some of its concerns, one of which was that the diocese put Holt on staff while his election was under review. It also cited an atmosphere of mistrust in the diocese.

Howard and Holt’s stances on LGBTQ issues have been cited by opponents to Holt’s candidacy. At the 2018 General Convention, Howard opposed a resolution that allowed Episcopalians access to same-sex marriage liturgies. Holt addressed the issue in a video posted during this year’s election process, saying that, “While my traditional beliefs on marriage are known, I’m committed to leading faithfully according to our church’s enacted canons. Parishes and rectors in the Diocese of Florida who choose to offer same-sex marriages will have them.”

For more details on this story, see Episcopal Journal and Café’s previous article here and Episcopal News Service’s article here.

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