"Honor Our Tradition  -  Build for the Future  -  Mercy in Mission"


A Letter From the Search Committee Co-Chairs

August 27, 2021

Dear Friends in Christ, 


Welcome to the search for the Sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Southwest Florida. This website encompasses many months of prayerful work on behalf of our team, the Bishop Coadjutor Search Committee. Most importantly it includes feedback gathered from you, the church, during our diocesan-wide survey and listening sessions. Your responses helped determine the skills and abilities that we seek in our next Chief Pastor.  


Please review our Profile carefully and prayerfully. Then, if you or someone you know is a match for the skills and abilities listed under “The Bishop We Seek” section and feels called to be our next Bishop, please submit an application to our committee.


Please know that throughout this search process, we are here to answer your questions. You can reach us at


We look forward to sharing our piece of the Sunshine State with the priest God brings to be our next shepherd.


In His Service,


The Rev. Dr. Jessica Harris Babcock and Trevor Whitley


Bishop Coadjutor Search Committee


Gracious God, as we walk by faith the shared journey of choosing a bishop for the Diocese of Southwest Florida, nurture within us discerning hearts and minds hopeful for possibilities yet to be revealed. Send to us a caring leader, we pray, who will uniquely delight in the abundant gifts of our diocese, and the beauty of this land, which so richly reflect your unity in diversity. Equip our human eyes and ears with divine recognition for the chief pastor of our diocese whom you have chosen to lead us in the ever-unfolding mission of your Church, through Jesus Christ our Lord.


The Search for the 6th Bishop

The Diocese of Southwest Florida is part of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion and is the diocese in the southwestern portion of Florida.  The Diocese was established in 1969 when the Diocese of South Florida was divided into three: the Dioceses of Central Florida, Southwest Florida and Southeast Florida. The Diocese of Southwest Florida held its formative convention on October 16, 1969, at the Tides Hotel in North Redington Beach where St. Petersburg was selected as the bishop’s seat and The Rt. Rev. William L. Hargrave was elected as our first bishop. Since that time, four more bishops have shepherded our diocese, each making their own imprint on the life of God’s people:  The Rt. Rev. E. Paul Haynes (1975-1988), The Rt. Rev. Rogers S. Harris (1988-1997), The Rt. Rev. John B. Lipscomb (1997-2007) and The Rt. Rev. Dabney T. Smith (2007- present). 


In October 2020, Bishop Smith called for the election of a Bishop Coadjutor and in February 2021 the Standing Committee announced the formation of a Bishop Coadjutor Search Committee and the initiation of the search process.  


The Bishop Coadjutor Search Committee announced in February of 2020 that that the period of receiving applications would begin on September 1, 2021, and close at 5pm EST on September 21, 2021. The current timeline projects that an election of the Bishop Coadjutor will be held on April 2, 2022, with the anticipated Consecration in September of 2022.

At the 52nd Annual Convention of the Diocese of Southwest Florida in October, 2020, Bishop Dabney Smith announced to the gathered lay and clergy delegates that he was calling for the election of a Bishop Coadjutor, or successor bishop. Bishop Smith explained that the process to elect a new bishop, including the process for studying the diocese, screening and selecting candidates, and ultimately electing a Bishop Coadjutor, will take at least 18 months.

Bishop Smith noted that, “Mary and I have not yet determined a retirement date . . . That will depend on the length of time it takes to call a bishop coadjutor, my health and stamina, and the diocesan budget. . . .This diocese has helped shape me and for that I am grateful. I am not leaving yet, but I already want to say thank you. "



Below are the dates for the search process released by the Standing Committee:

October 17, 2020 - Bishop Dabney Smith called for election of a Bishop Coadjutor. In consultation with the  office of the Presiding Bishop, the Standing Committee began to organize the search process, including the selection of a Search Committee, preparation of a diocesan profile and other duties appropriate and necessary to enable the search.

June 2021 - Diocesan Survey available

July/August 2021 - Listening Sessions take place

September 2021 - The Search Committee begins accepting applications. Review of applications, background work and interviews to follow through January 2022

Spring 2022 - “Walkabout” opportunity for delegates to meet final applicants

April 2, 2022 - Election date of Bishop Coadjutor

Sept. 24, 2022 - Pending Presiding Bishop and other Dioceses approval, Bishop Coadjutor will be consecrated and commence ministry with Bishop Dabney Smith.

*For up to date news click HERE