SOUTHWEST FLORIDA: Coadjutor candidate withdraws a week before election

December 4, 2006

The slate of candidates for the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida's bishop coadjutor became smaller by one December 4 when the Rev. Robert Dannals withdrew his name from consideration.

In a letter to Karen Patterson, president of the diocese's Standing Committee, Dannals said he and his wife, Valerie, decided not to continue the process in Southwest Florida after the December 1 meeting of the candidates with the diocese at the Venice, Florida, Community Center.

"Valerie and I came to Venice this past week confident that we would affirm your invitation to be in the election and we went away equally confident that we should not remain in the process," the letter said.

Dannals, 51, continues to be a finalist in the search for a coadjutor in the Diocese of Virginia, which will hold its election January 27 in Richmond.

Six candidates remain in Southwest Florida, which will hold its election December 9 beginning at 9 a.m. at St. Peter's Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

They are:

  • the Rev. John S. Adler, 64, vicar, Iona-Hope Church, Fort Myers, Florida (nominated by petition);
  • the Rev. Michael P. Durning, 55, canon to the ordinary of the diocese (nominated by petition);
  • the Rev. Edward J. Henley Jr., 58, rector, St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Tampa (nominated by petition);
  • the Rev. Sharon L. Lewis, 62, rector, Church of the Holy Spirit, Osprey, Florida (nominated by petition).
  • the Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, 49, rector, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Webster Groves, Missouri; and
  • the Rev. Dabney T. Smith, 52, rector, Trinity Episcopal Church, New Orleans, Louisiana.

The coadjutor will become the fifth bishop when Bishop John Lipscomb, 56, retires in 2009. Lipscomb has been bishop since 1997.

When Lipscomb called for a coadjutor in October 2004, he anticipated an election in January 2006. However, the House of Bishops agreed on March 15, 2005 to withhold consent to any episcopal election until the start of the 75th General Convention in June 2006, thus delaying election processes in Southwest Florida and some other dioceses.

The Diocese of Southwest Florida comprises 37,210 Episcopalians worshipping in 78 congregations.