By Kirk Petersen
One day after the Diocese of Ohio Standing Committee made an unusual announcement that it had voted to withhold consent to the election of Charlie Holt as bishop coadjutor of Florida, the Bishop of Texas has issued a ringing endorsement of Holt, the former associate rector of Houston’s Church of St. John the Divine.
“He and I have some theological views that differ,” said the Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, who had authority over Holt for six years before Holt joined the diocesan staff in Florida. “But the Episcopal Church has declared itself to be a church where all people are welcomed, and a church that does not hold to a purity culture enforced by either the right or the left. I am satisfied that Charlie truly intends to promote healing in the Diocese of Florida, and I have seen many bishops grow and change as they have done that healing work in other dioceses.”
Holt adheres to the traditional view that marriage is between a man and a woman, and LGBTQ activists and allies have organized campaigns to persuade bishops and standing committees to withhold consent.
Holt has pledged to adhere to the “spirit and intent” of Resolution B012, which mandates that same-sex marriage rites must be available in any diocese where such marriages are legal under civil law.
Doyle’s 2,300-word blog post does not mention the Ohio announcement, but it rebuts some of Ohio’s major points.
“At the meet and greet sessions in Florida, Charlie made some clumsy and unexamined comments that revealed his need to work on understanding the experiences of people who are different from him. Those comments were circulated in videos edited for maximum effect by people who did not wish him well,” Doyle wrote. “Since then, Charlie has apologized publicly and privately to individuals he knows were harmed by his words,” and has pledged to work to “resolve issues regarding the disparate treatment of LGBTQ+ clergy and lay people.”
He added, “Charlie has a history of public ministry against racism, and many Black clergy who worked with him in Sanford, Florida, have written to support his election as bishop” because of Holt’s efforts in the wake of the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
In one of the videos Doyle mentioned, Holt said he would not invite an unknown white priest to speak at an event, “much less, you know, a Black pastor I didn’t know. Who knows what he would say, right?”
Any bishop-elect must gain the consent of a majority of diocesan standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction. In nearly all cases, this happens routinely and without publicity, and the church center issues a routine announcement, as it did most recently for Maryland’s Bishop-Elect Carrie Schofield-Broadbent.
The Ohio Standing Committee president said the committee’s announcement was a communication with that diocese, and not intended to sway other parties in the consent process. Doyle, on the other hand, explicitly lobbied on behalf of his former priest. “It is not too late to change your consent and allow the good faithful work of all the people in Florida to be recognized,” he wrote. The consent period ends July 20.
Public Affairs Officer Amanda Skofstad said the Church Center, following its standard practice, would not make any announcement about the consents process until Holt either receives, or fails to receive, the necessary consents.
As of this writing, no other consent decisions have been announced publicly. But Doyle’s blog post indicates the Ohio Standing Committee is not alone in withholding consent.
“Recently people have told me that their ‘no’ vote was a vote for inclusion. But I believe that a ‘no’ vote in this consent process is a vote to exclude people we are okay with excluding,” Doyle wrote. “I know what exclusion from that table looks like, and I fear that in this situation, I am seeing it dressed up in the same clothes it has worn for centuries. You will find me a difficult ally if in the end you only want me to be an ally for some.”