Friday, 13 April 2007

Colorado Springs: update

The Colorado Springs Gazette on Friday published this letter from nineteen former vestry members from Grace and St. Stephens Episcopal Church, under the headline Pastor must answer important questions. It begins:

We are 19 former vestry members from Grace and St. Stephens Episcopal Church. Between us, we served almost every year when Father Don Armstrong was rector. Though we represent a variety of views on the moral issues facing our church, those issues are not in question here.

At issue is the commandment: Thou shalt not steal. Armstrong is exploiting theological divisions within the Episcopal Church to avoid a canonical investigation about his alleged financial wrongdoing. He has defied church and civil law by occupying and taking property from the church he and his allies left. We cannot keep silent.

Armstrong dismisses inquiries into his financial activities. He cries “religious persecution.” Consider the facts and ask: Is Armstrong trustworthy? Is he guilty of financial wrongdoing? Do he and his followers have a lawful basis for taking church property?

The background to this was explained Thursday by Paul Asay on his blog in Breaking Ranks:

Tomorrow’s edition of The Gazette will contain a letter from 19 ex-vestry members of Grace who, in essence, are publicly questioning their former rector’s honesty.

“(The Rev. Donald) Armstrong is exploiting theological divisions within the Episcopal Church to avoid a canonical investigation about his alleged financial wrongdoing,” the letter says. “He has defied church and civil law by occupying and taking property from the church he and his allies left. We cannot keep silent.”

I talked with one of these former vestry members a few days ago. Timothy Fuller served on the vestry only a year, and resigned in January after learning, he says, that the vestry was secretly talking with Armstrong (which violated Armstrong’s suspension) and was plotting to break away from The Episcopal Church…

In another Thursday blog entry More Grace Info … Paul Asay writes:

This Saturday, the Rev. Donald Armstrong, longtime rector of Grace Church and St. Stephen’s Parish, will try to explain away allegations that he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his church.

One of the main issues he’ll likely address is how he allegedly used the Anglican Communion Institute, a conservative theological think-tank operated as a ministry of Grace. Armstrong is still listed on its Web site as its executive director.

Timothy Fuller, a former vestry member of Grace, said he served on the ACI’s board for three years. Not once in those three years, Fuller said, did the board formally meet.

In October 2006, according to Fuller, Armstrong told the vestry that the ACI had borrowed about $170,000 from Grace over several years, and the vestry resolved the Institute would pay it back in $10,000 yearly installments, beginning this year.The vestry meeting was the first time Fuller had heard of the $170,000 the ACI allegedly borrowed. He resigned from the Institute’s board two months later.

According to the Rev. Christopher Seitz, president of the ACI and a professor at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, the ACI shouldn’t have been very expensive.

“The only cost of running the Institute is our time, which we give away, and a Web site, which involves nominal costs,” Seitz said in an e-mail. “Travel reimbursements were handled by the executive director, or we paid for these costs ourselves. There are no employees, no overhead in a formal sense, no hard-copy publications and no programs to fund.”

The presentment alleges that Armstrong caused the church to pay $146,316 beginning in March 2003 as “outreach expenses” to the Institute — money it never received. According to the presentment, the checks in question were made payable to “Donald Armstrong College Fund” or “College Fund.”

Armstrong says the ACI actually funded several projects, and acknowledged his children’s education was one of them…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 13 April 2007 at 11:12pm BST | TrackBack
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Comments

It looks like the Nigerians and their "mouthpieces" have landed (maybe they will make it a brief feeding frenzy until the *accounts* are sealed for any upcoming Grand Jury investigation) at Grace and St Stephens in Colorado:

http://www.graceandststephens.org/directory_clergy.htm

Yikes!

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Saturday, 14 April 2007 at 2:23am BST

What a deluge of words and rhetorical devices from Radner! His earlier responses to the House of Bishops' statement fell flat, and the present laborious effort is doomed to irrelevance from the start. Instead of quoting the text and rebutting it point by point he dances around it waspishly. Any text, pored over for so long, can be presented as a tissue of contradictions, especially if an ungenerous hermeneutics of suspicion prevails. The leading interest of Radner's hermeneutics is once again the homosexual question, a "bee in the bonnet". Radner did deplore the Nigerian persecution of gays, but far too late, and only when he saw it was not helping his case. Why this man enjoys such prominence in Episcopalian debates is unclear to me.

Posted by: Fr Joseph O'Leary on Saturday, 14 April 2007 at 4:57am BST

Similarly feeble criticisms from Fr Tony Clavier at titusonenine, which fail to come to grips with the main thrust of the HoB statement. No really cogent counter-riposte to the statement has emerged, and there is a basic reason for this: the HoB simply KO'd the Tanzania communique, and only a strong new turn of the dialectic can give the "Windsor" theme the upper hand again.

"I wish I could take the bishop to the cancer center where I spent two days this week, or to the slums of Hyderabad, where I have been, or to Zimbabwe, where I have been, or the outskirts of most cities in the rural South. We have devalued the word "suffering", and "marginalization" and devalued the really dreadful aspects of poor people here in America by our single-minded agenda."

This seems to mean that reference to the suffering and marginalization of gays is not to be taken seriously?

" It is not that we are fighting for general gay rights. Those have been given."

This seems to mean that gay rights are already assured in the USA so that for churchmen to make much of them is otiose. But the disproportionate outcry against gay-friendly churches may tell a different story. Fr Clavier makes no reference to the gay rights of Africans, which have not been "given" but rather have been "taken away" by the primates most prominent in the Global South.

"TEC's attitude to the poor here is to embrace them as long as they don't join as parishioners. They tend to be right wing and fundamentalist. I call it the Grand Duchess syndrome. Throwing coins to the poor as one drives by."

This is mere caricature, and a sure sign of the feebleness of the critique.

Posted by: Fr Joseph O'Leary on Saturday, 14 April 2007 at 5:53am BST

I think the previous two comments really relate to the Ephraim Radner article just above this one. Sorry I don't have time to move them over.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 14 April 2007 at 9:17am BST

The clergy directory bookmarked above by Leonardo Ricardo lists and depicts assorted Nigerian and CANA bishops, Armstrong, and his assistant as the clergy of Grace and St Stephen's. Elsewhere on the page there is the announcement that the Parish plebiscite [interesting term - thought that expression went out of fashion with A. Hitler] on whether or not to leave the Episcopal Church is scheduled for the morning of May 20th. Bit confusing?

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Saturday, 14 April 2007 at 12:02pm BST

Just checked out the directory --four bishops eh ? Strength in numbers or what !

Nice to see it all laid out, nice-n-ready for when the Congregation vote FOR it. After all, why wait, when the Outcome is assured ! ( one can only assume).

And all because the diocese had some concerns about the Grace finances, and wanted to put its mind at rest ...

The message I get from this veritable cornucopaeia of bishops is ----paradoxically :

I am answerable to no-one.
Let me do my own thing.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Saturday, 14 April 2007 at 12:40pm BST

Lapinbizarre - Confusing yes. But at least they know exactly who they are voting for, but I wonder if anyone will feel that they're being taken for granted and their ability to think for themselves in this matter inconsequential. Perhaps such unbridled arrogance will give them pause.OCOH

Posted by: C.B. on Saturday, 14 April 2007 at 2:00pm BST

The disconnect between the vote coming up at Grace and St. Stephen's on May 20, and the fait acompli of the new line-up of authority and clergy on the website, falls, it seems, in my husband the salesperson's bag of tricks, the "assumptive close". (So, when would you like that car to be in your driveway? Today, or tomorrow?)
revLois Keen

Posted by: Lois Keen on Saturday, 14 April 2007 at 2:29pm BST

As Lois says, and it seems to be a rather alarming trend in Anglicanism these days - initiated by the Primates - seize power, change all the note paper, tell everyone they have to follow the new order and THEN ask everyone to support the coup.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 14 April 2007 at 7:42pm BST

"TEC's attitude to the poor here is to embrace them as long as they don't join as parishioners. They tend to be right wing and fundamentalist. I call it the Grand Duchess syndrome. Throwing coins to the poor as one drives by."

So, where are these rich liberal people? I'm as loony left as they come, yet I'm a struggling artist and I teach at a couple of community colleges. I feel lucky if I make anything over 20 grand a year. Thank God the reasserters aren't calling for the revival of debtor's prison...yet.

Dear Dr. Radner,
I want to offer my services. I will happily play that role of the rich liberal hypocrite described in so much conservative literature.
I will gladly visit the homeless shelters and say, "you poor dears!" while throwing cash at them. I will then get into the limo and head for cocktails at my very exclusive club.
I would only be too happy to go to celebrity fund raising parties ringed with heavy security to keep out the paparazzi and the Great Unwashed.
I will even dress up as the "Grand Duchess"; my experiences with cross-dressing are limited, but I know many experts who would be happy to advise.

Of course, I will need copious funds to make all of this happen. So, I hope Messers Ahmanson and Mellon-Scaife will read this appeal, along with the good folks at the IRD. I hope all the friendly people at Stand Firm, T19, and VirtueOnline will also be generous with their support for this worthy cause.

Make the checks out to "cash" and send them to me care of my email address.

Posted by: counterlight on Saturday, 14 April 2007 at 10:01pm BST

Here is an article in the Colorado Springs Gazette about today's meeting at Grace Church
http://www.gazette.com/articles/armstrong_21250___article.html/church_grace.html
Note at the end that Fr Armstrong threatens that the $2.5 million loan to fund renovations would be called if the majority of the parish votes to stay with TEC. Feel the love!

Corrected URL:
http://www.gazette.com/articles/armstrong_21257___article.html/church_grace.html

Posted by: daibhead on Sunday, 15 April 2007 at 12:11am BST

counterlight
I think there is some confusion: the quote about the Grand Duchess was not from Dr Radner at all, but was part of Fr O'Leary's comment, and the original of what he (O'Leary) was commenting upon can be found here:
http://wvparson.blogspot.com/2007/03/response-to-hofb-statement.html

I knew I should have moved those comments over.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 15 April 2007 at 1:39pm BST

Thank you Simon.

I hope I didn't blow things too far off topic. If I did, I apologize.

My offer still stands.

Posted by: counterlight on Sunday, 15 April 2007 at 5:32pm BST

Tony Clavier was the author of the grand duchess comment. Sorry for the confusion; didn't notice there was another comment box above.

Posted by: Fr Joseph O'Leary on Monday, 16 April 2007 at 3:37am BST
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