SOUTHWEST FLORIDA: Bishop Lipscomb announces retirement plans[Episcopal News Service] Bishop John Lipscomb of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida sent a letter to the clergy and people of the diocese May 16 announcing that he would be retiring on or before November 1.
Lipscomb, 56, has been on medical leave since December 12, 2006 because of a continued decline in his health due to Parkinson's disease and malaria. At that time, he said that if his health permits a return to work in the next six to 12 months he would attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference and "affect the transition of jurisdiction to the Fifth Bishop of Southwest Florida in 2009."
Lipscomb was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2002 and contracted malaria in Africa in 2004.
The diocese elected the Rev. Dr. Dabney Smith as bishop coadjutor on December 9. Smith was consecrated on March 10.
Church canons (Article II.1) require Lipscomb to retire by 36 months after Smith's consecration, which was planned for this month.
The May 16 letter said that he and Smith "will continue the conversation about when will be the best time to make the official transfer of authority."
A news release that accompanied the letter said that the diocese would notify Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of Lipscomb's decision and the process will begin to gather the required consents from bishops throughout the Episcopal Church. A bishop cannot officially step down from office without the consent of a majority of the House of Bishops (Constitution Article III, Sec. 6).
Since this notice will be given more than three months before the start of the next meeting of the House of Bishops (set for September), bishops will contact the presiding bishop's office, which will then inform the diocese when the necessary consents have been received, the news release said.
The two bishops announced Lipscomb's decision to the diocesan Standing Committee on May 16 and the committee gave its approval.
Lipscomb has been bishop since 1997. When he called for a bishop 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 about 37,210 Episcopalians worshipping in 78 congregations.» Respond to this article