Comments: Colorado: presentment issued

It's risky to pre-judge, but it's possible that we're looking at a "Gottcha!" moment here.

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 12:23pm BST

The Reverend Armstrong preached deflecting/grandstanding herobuilding/poor me nonsense on Easter...speaking of the "Elephant" in the nave!

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 12:50pm BST

These are very serious charges. The sheer specificity of them is going to put a great deal of pressure on Armstrong to come up with a defense. Tap dancing isn't going to distract from these charges.

Posted by ruidh at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 1:03pm BST

I would like to repost a comment I found while surfing Standfirm:

I believe these charges to be very serious and very well informed. Sheri Betzer is a Certified Fraud Examiner who has a good deal of experience in this area as well as having been an IRS Revenue Agent. She also trains lawyers in how to use the information obtained in a forensic review. She would not allow her name to be used in a professional capacity unless she was sure of the information she was presenting. See her bio at http://bccllp-cpa.com/deux.jsp?content=502&decider=betzerc

Father Armstrong can turn his tax returns over the IRS and state with a very clean conscience that he has properly reported all income as it was reported to him by the church. That does not mean that the “extra” payments were proper or properly reported. The church may be in a little trouble for not properly reporting compensation similar to the trouble that it may be in for making officer loans under Colorado law.

As an auditor, I would be highly suspicious of any payments made to an officer of a corporation which are not included on their W-2/1099 and for which there was not an invoice or receipt attached to the payment request voucher. I have taken myself off of several audits after having started the audit because I found questionable disbursements such as the checks written to Father Armstrong. General auditors are not trained to be forensic investigators and not trained to find intentional misrepresentations (i.e. fraud and abuse). They are trained to report their findings to management when they do find fraud and/or abuse.

Just my 2 cents -Joseph CPA

Posted by Weiwen Ng at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 2:00pm BST

These presentments are so often a laundry list of complaints sometimes including ridiculous charges - one has to wait and see if there's anything to them before judging.

Posted by Davis d'Ambly at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 2:04pm BST

I look at the huge debt incurred without permission and think back about 7 or 8 years ago when our church went with fear and trembling before the Standing Committee of the Diocese to ask permission to borrrow about a million for an overdue major renovation of our church. We have paid off most of it, and will try and retire the remaining debt with a matching campaign this year.

I agree that the level of specifity makes it hard to pooh pooh them. I gather the vestries that were involved also may have some 'splainin' to do.

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 2:05pm BST

The question of $146,000 in "outreach expenses" to the Anglican Communion Institute is an interesting one, since, according to its web page, the Institute's directors include Christopher Seitz and Ephraim Radner. Please note that I am emphatically NOT implying guilt by association in noting the connection, but I will be curious to see what public response, if any, the gentleman have to the charge.

Posted by lapinbizarre at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 2:16pm BST

ruldh - You can see how Armstrong has tried to spin the accusations already.

In a March 29 Rocky Mountain News article Armstrong described the allegations against him as including the fact that "He didn’t pay taxes on the home provided by the diocese" and "He didn’t report funeral and wedding stipends as income." Both he claimed were "Not true." Turns out neither allegation was in the presentment.

There is also Fr. Armstrong’s letter of March 30 or 31st. In it he stated:

"For example, what is known as the Betzer Report [the forensic audit] suggests that I did not declare the value of my church provided housing and fees for weddings and funerals on my taxes." Again no mention of this in the presentment.

Obviously, Armstrong is setting up strawmen to knock them down to give himself the patina of innocence while avoiding the nature and extent of the real charges. Here's hoping someone calls him on it when he goes before the congregation on April 14th.

Posted by C.B. at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 2:18pm BST

Simon- There appears to be some contradiction as to whether the ACI named in the presentment is really ACI as such, but rather the Anglican Institute a different entity.

On T19 this morning, Chris Seitz, pres. of ACI made the following comment regarding the reference to ACI in the presentment.

"This is confusing to us at ACI. ACI was formed at the January 2004 conference in Charleston, with the dissolving of SEAD, so as to assist several Primates and the work of the AC. Prior to this, there was an ‘Anglican Institute’ at Grace Church. Many of the dates in the Presentment pre-date ACI but could pertain to AI. It is unclear where the confusion is being introduced. Then again, in one newspaper account, it is made to appear that ACI was a victim of this ‘bad book-keeping.’ So until there is more public airing, things remain unclear. The way this has unfolded, the potential for confusion and hurt is maximised in a way that is tragic. C Seitz, President, ACI."

Posted by C.B. at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 2:39pm BST

- innocent until proven guilty........but if proven guilty, not fit to be in office (if you accept the standards of scripture with regard to leaders, that is)

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 2:39pm BST

Serious charges indeed. However, since corruption tends to be an equal opportunity employer, and the temptation to help one's self to the cookie jar cuts across lines of doctinal and ideological differencce, this may not make much of an effect on the current troubles in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion.
On the other hand, a penchant for financial secrecy and closed accounts always runs a risk of chicanery.

Posted by counterlight at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 2:47pm BST

CB
Thanks for bringing this to my attention, I have added it to the main article.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 3:04pm BST

Lapinbizarre is careful not to ascribe guilt by association to the other members of ACI, and I think that's an important point. There is NO indication in the presentment that any member of ACI, other than Fr. Armstrong, was aware that Grace Church maintained an ACI checking account and used it in the ways alleged. If there was wider ACI involvement, that will certainly come out in due course.

Fr. Armstrong obviously deserves the opportunity to answer these charges before we assume his guilt. That said, it also must be clear now to everyone that the charges are both very serious and very specific.

Posted by Doug Simonsen at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 4:21pm BST

On the AI (ACI) issue... For those of you who have read the presentment and the references to the discretionary fund, you will note the $1,222.58 paid to attending an "AI" conference 5/14/99. For about 5 years, the AI (Anglican Institute) did sponsor such an annual conference. Interestingly, Rev. Frederick Barbee, who received a "grant" from the disputed "Bowton" Scholarship Trust in Jan 1997, was the Editor of the Anglican Digest between 1995-2001. The Digest was apparently part of the Anglican Institute. How the AI and the ACI relate is unclear to me. The Digest has its own website. Maybe someone can enlighten me? EPfizH

Posted by EPfizH at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 4:41pm BST

"innocent until proven guilty........but if proven guilty, not fit to be in office"

Well, I think it's still a question whether there will ever be a trial. Armstrong believes that he has "realigned" and is now a member of CANA. In his statement on Titusonenine, he says it will be settled "in the courts". http://titusonenine.classicalanglican.net/?p=18753#comment-2033358

Posted by ruidh at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 5:16pm BST

Note that Seitz says that SEAD ceased to exist in 2004. He does not say AI ceased to exist.

According to an article in the AC News Service at the time, the conference in South Carolina that Seitz refers to "was sponsored by the Anglican Communion Institute, recently formed from the merger of the Colorado-based Anglican Institute and SEAD (Scholarly Engagement with Anglican Doctrine), headquartered in Charleston.

Perhaps, the church auditors do not find enough evidence to suggest that AI ceased to exist, but rather that as of 2004 it merely expanded under the name ACI.

I presume this will be fleshed out further at some later date.

Posted by C.B. at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 6:13pm BST

...no matter, it appears the Nigerian buzzards are still circling at Grace Church and St. Stephen’s Parish at The Body of Christ!

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 7:03pm BST

I have one more thing to add. Armstrong also violated the canons by ignoring his suspension and returning to the pulpit. That charge, at least, seems indefensible.

Posted by ruidh at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 8:32pm BST

Simon - There is now a rather lengthy exchange on T19 between myself and C. Seitz, with Martin Reynolds help, which culminates with this statement from Seitz:

I have tried to say this several times. ACI is effectively the work of six or so unpaid, overworked, overtravelled colleagues. ACI is the writing and thinking from university and parish academics that goes up on a web-site [paid for by Grace Church] or in publications of various kinds. There are no salaries. Conferences in the past years (since 2004) were handled as at SEAD (fees), or as guests of a host (Diocese of West Texas and Diocese of Albany). Unlike at SEAD, we do not even have a hard-copy publication to produce. We all have busy day jobs. As for what is now available via a Presentment — we are as in the dark about that as anyone. ACI is not an incorporated entity, like SEAD. Someone once put it nicely, ’six guys and a web-site.’ We counted on donations to support travel and subsistence, and this was handled by the Executive Director. How the costing was entangled with Grace Church, and also with a prior history with AI, is not clear. But I presume in the light of the Presentment, this is going to have to be addressed.

Evidently, ACI basically has been operated by Don Armstrong through Grace Church.

Posted by C.B. at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 11:36pm BST

One defense that has been floated is that "church accounting is sloppy in general" or that not many churches know how to prepare a W2/1099.

I find such argument utterly disingenuous.

First, having been a priest that has served over 30 years mostly in small mission congregations, I can vouch that using volunteer accountants and other well-intentioned folk is always a challenge. However, I managed to attend seminars by Canon Geisler on tax issues for clergy. I have read the materials prepared by the CPF, and I have bought with my own scarce bucks the handbooks produced by other churches. I had my volunteer treasurer attend diocesan training events. I found that the Handbook "Business Method in Church Affairs" produced by the Church Center was of great help to us, as well as the support from our diocesan treasurer's office. And I have even asked the IRS! And I never had any problem.

And I am sure that this has been the same experience for all clergy, whether in small or large congregations, except for those who either think they know better and that ends (Kingdom of God) justify means (deception), or just the plain crooked.

Second, how is it possible that Grace never got around to hire and/or train people to do the things right from the very beginning? It is difficult to accept that they didn't have the money to pay for a top professional!

I am not saying that there may have been mistakes made in good faith. Or that sometimes it is difficult to fire church employees, even when they are not up to par. Nor that someone needs to prove his or her innocence.

But, please... One can discuss until the end of times about predestination or baptismal regeneration. But accounting, and good stewardship transcends theological or political convictions.

Posted by Thomas+ at Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 11:59pm BST

According to the Diocese of South Carolina, "Sead and the Anglican Institute merged to form the Anglican Communion Institute" which was working on "behalf of Archbishops Drexel Gomez, Peter Akinola and Greg Venebles" by October of 2003. The South Carolina Diocese website reference for that claim is here: http://www.dioceseofsc.org/news/future_of_church.htm
The South Carolina Diocese background explanation regarding the formation of the ACI contradicts the Seitz claim on Titus One Nine. It gets curiouser and curiouser.

Posted by Robert at Wednesday, 11 April 2007 at 12:55am BST

Rev. Armstrong on the T19 thread stated in defense of his actions:

"Firstly, to be clear, the diocesan investigators understand very little about the church as a financial entity. I hardly think they understand anything about trusts, clergy taxes and housing allowances, let alone the workings of parish ministries either–so anything you get from the presentment charges is difficult for even us at Grace Church to understand."

Apparently, Armstrong thinks that the expert forensic auditor and the elite outside law firm engaged by the diocese are a couple of know-nothings when it comes to trusts and clergy taxes. I guess its possible, but likely? Not. And he keeps bringing up housing allowances, but I can't find it specifically referenced in the Presentment, unless he's referring to the housing allowance for kids while they were are college. Whatever. More will be revealed on Saturday. Unfortunately.

Posted by C.B. at Wednesday, 11 April 2007 at 3:09am BST

If 'ACI' is just a website and a handful of people, should it really be calling itself 'Anglican Communion Institute' at all? Does not this title itself tend towards misleading, if not down right deception? Blazoning its fancy coat of arms and the name of the previous Archbishop of Canterbury one is meant to to take it for something prestigious, big, impressive -- and perhaps (almost) offical. Not to mention the references to other big cheeses of the anglican firmament (Gomez, Akinola etc).....

So we have just another website hyped-up to mislead. All ready to replace the real AC website, in due course perhaps ? And perhaps this arrogant approach has affected or infected their financial systems too ?

As implied above, doctrine can be discussed until the cows come home, but financial accounting and auditing are not -- unless accidentally or deliberately hidden away in the accounts. How the money was spent and where it went, are historical facts --- whether or not demonstrable. Responsible book keeping should make it all as simple and clear as can be. 'Creative accounting' is designed to mislead and obfuscate.

'Have no dealings with a knave.'

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 11 April 2007 at 11:01am BST

This is so often the problem with websites - they hype up and appear to be a large institution behind them.

In this case it does seem that accounting and financial statements should reveal the truth - the charges appear grave. It will also become clear whether the books were written for clarity or to be obscure.

Posted by Awdry Ely at Wednesday, 11 April 2007 at 11:44am BST

The point that Lawrence Roberts makes in his first paragraph ("If 'ACI' is just a website and a handful of people, should it really be calling itself 'Anglican Communion Institute' at all?") is a good one. The ACI page listing its board of directors (http://www.anglicancommunioninstitute.org/collegium.htm) is crammed with recognizable names, but it seems clear that the names - Carey et al - are mainly, if not completely, window dressing. Toto has pulled aside the curtain to reveal Oz, the Great and Terrible, and he bears a more-than-passing resemblance to Don Armstrong.

C.B. was an exceedingly busy person yesterday. Thanks C.B. His interchanges with Christopher Seitz and others on the T19 page bookmarked above by ruidh (http://titusonenine.classicalanglican.net/?p=18753#comment-2033358) are essential reading.

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Wednesday, 11 April 2007 at 1:28pm BST

Based upon Seitz's and Armstrong's comments on T19 and those on Stand Firm by people more familiar with ACI, my impression is that Seitz, while president, really was not handling any of the financial matters or administrative workings. All that was being done out of Grace Church, by Armstrong and his wife. Seitz was not even aware of some of the representations on the website concerning ACI's vast membership. These are talented think tank men, with strong convictions, but seeming little worldly know how. My guess is that Armstrong was orchestrating its public face. Grace Church funded the website. It will be interesting to find out what the church's loan $170,000 (that a church member disclosed on one site) to ACI was for, and when it was made.

Posted by C.B. at Wednesday, 11 April 2007 at 1:31pm BST

Quite apart from any action in ecclesiastical court, have fraud or other charges been filed in civil court?
Meanwhile, did anyone at the diocese review the parochial reports and audits all congregations are required to file annually?
Columba Gilliss

Posted by Columba Gilliss at Wednesday, 11 April 2007 at 1:43pm BST

Sounds to me like truly serious charges of financial impropriety have been filed. One does not make such charges lightly, without grounds.

One sign of the gravity of these charges is the almost comically desperate efforts now underway by Seitz on T19 to distance himself and the so-called "ACI" from Armstrong and Grace Church.

Given the substantial sums involved, I would think that secular authorities would want to investigate as well, for the possible filing of criminal charges.

As the congregation of Grace Church considers its future, I strongly suggest they consider the moral character of the leadership that is trying to take them out of the Episcopal Church.

Posted by John N Wall at Wednesday, 11 April 2007 at 2:50pm BST

What to make of the following statement by Don Armstrong on T19:

"The ACI/AI has granted scholarships for a number of theological and educational ventures over the years, but those funds are separate from the working money given for ACI. In other words I raised money specifically for the purpose of supporting these other various educational ventures–which included clergy and lay continuing education, seminary education expenses for third world students, writing projects and the like."

Apparently, from Seitz's comments, he was not aware of such activities in the name of ACI. One can only wonder what "third world" Anglican province(s) benefited from these donations.

Posted by C.B. at Wednesday, 11 April 2007 at 3:21pm BST

"One defense that has been floated is that "church accounting is sloppy in general" or that not many churches know how to prepare a W2/1099."

There's bad accounting and then there's accounting to disguise fraud. I might expect some bad accounting from a small parish, but not one the size of Grace, Colorado Springs. A parish with that kind of budget should have no accounting issues. I don't expect fraud from neither small nor large parishes.

Posted by ruidh at Wednesday, 11 April 2007 at 3:21pm BST

I am sorry I see that I was quite misinformed about this, as item 74 of the t19 correspondence makes abundantly clear:-

'Judging by the terrible way that Ephraim Radner was received at the HOB — verified by the reports of various fulminating bishops — and judging by the angry comments about the ACI from various progressive activists and blogs, it will be interesting to see what progressives are not the “enemies” of the ACI.

Prior to some progressives’ startled recognition that the ACI appears to have influence, they could afford to ignore the organization or, at best, condescend to it. But once they realized that the communion as a whole listens to the ACI and recognizes its scholarship — so much so that Ephraim Radner was invited to be on the Covenant Design Committee — the rants began and the long knives came out.'

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 11 April 2007 at 5:00pm BST

'One thing that I find interesting is that the Episcopal Church actually punishes success, perhaps because success points out mediocrity. I have always wondered why people do not ask successful rectors how they do it, as opposed to suspecting they have done something wrong–but then the Episcopal Church is dying, isn’t it?'
(Don Armstrong)

Speaking as a (complete) failure myself, "how do you do it Don Armstrong ?"

Having posted my question on t19 I await an answer with interest. Though I fear I shall never be able to master his methods.(However, I DO have considerable experience of Snakes & Ladders.) Would it be possible for George Carey to set up a UK franchise of the theology and methodology ? At least we could try our hand at it.

I pity Don Armstrong working in a diocese that knows nothing about church finances and trusts, is ignorant of true theology, unorthodox and whose every act is inimical to orthodox stalwarts like himself. His willingness to suffer for the sake of the truth does him credit.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 11 April 2007 at 5:19pm BST

The CLC, a group of conservative clergy in Colorado has issued a statement supporting going forward with a church trial. It is interesting to note that Fr Armstrong is one of the founders of the CLC and Fr Radner signed the statement.
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_5462448,00.hef="http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_5462448,00.html

Posted by daibhead at Wednesday, 11 April 2007 at 6:58pm BST

Laurence Roberts - That commenter on T19 was Sarah Hey, a regular contributor to Stand Firm. She quickly jumped in in order to reframe the issue so that reasserters don't become distracted by the details and get disillusioned. She is relentless (in a good way) and quite talented.

Posted by C.B. at Wednesday, 11 April 2007 at 7:29pm BST

The issue of the 'flow of money' in and out of, for example, Dromantine and Dar Es Salaam has been perennially mysterious. There has been much secrecy and the question is frequently asked about the degree of disclosure required since the foundations and trusts that have been doing the disbursing are, in fact, charities and one ought to be able to 'follow the money'. Notwithstanding the heartache of all of this for the principals (and I fear that the very loyal vestry of Grace Church may find themselves in some rather warm water and not just their rector) it will be interesting to see how this all pans out.

RR

Posted by Raspberry Rabbit at Thursday, 12 April 2007 at 12:40am BST

interesting that the StandFirm types are now all in a fuss because an anonymous priest from some southern diocese has reported that his bishop states that the HOB is considering RICO lawsuits against the breakaway types. With what looks like an organized conspiracy to break up the Episcopal Church finally being seen by the bishops it could be that David Booth Beers has decided that RICO could shut these folks down the way it was used to pull down the radical antiabortion campaigners in the mid-90s.
Now, if all that is behind the breakaway types who are trying to pull TEC apart is groups of 6 or 8 men behind a website, then I think the first filings of the first civil action under RICO will shut down the attempts to break up TEC very fast. The federal and the various state versions of RICO are serious business. They were written to round up groups of mobsters via guilt by association.
This could be the most effective version of hardball the Episcopal Church has. We could see the attempt to destroy the church come to a crashing halt very, very soon. Too bad it took this long.

Posted by Dennis at Thursday, 12 April 2007 at 1:50am BST

Don Armstrong's April 10 letter to members of Grace Church and St. Stephens is here: http://www.graceandststephens.org/news/articles/Fr%20Armstrong%20letter%20to%20parish%2004_10_07.pdf

Posted by Doug Simonsen at Thursday, 12 April 2007 at 2:19am BST

Did anyone else notice the consistently incorrect usage of "Rev." without a definite article in the presentment? In official church writing produced by the Diocese of Colorado, this is sloppy.

Posted by R at Thursday, 12 April 2007 at 4:33am BST

Re the allegation repeatedly made above that the church does not have good accounting systems, I wonder how that stacks up with the following information.

"It is important for you all to know that even the bishop’s own audit found no money missing, and a preliminary review by the vestry’s audit committee found that all checks were signed by the wardens and recorded in our accounting system according to practices and procedures in place at the time. In addition to having been subjected to our annual outside audit, our annual financial reports to the congregation have also reflected accurately our income and expenses."

and

"Of particular importance at Grace Church is that, unlike most churches where the discretionary fund is a checking account managed by the rector, our discretionary fund is managed by the church bookkeeper, all checks require two signatures, and the account is audited annually."

Doesn't sound like a church with lax accounting methods, so could those who have made that allegation above (and there are quite a number of you) please supply the evidence to support those accusations.

Posted by Margaret at Thursday, 12 April 2007 at 5:54am BST

Seems like some here have already got all the facts and feel able to come to judgment on the vicar in question.

Even if the man is guilty of fraud and is dismissed from CANA etc, please do not be too pleased about one man's sin and the damage it may cause to his reputation because it will not derail the determination of those many faithful Anglicans working for the continuation of a church in the US fully in communion and agreement with the AC, upholding its creeds and resolutions.

One man may be a sinner - this will not in any way discredit the biblical case of the Network and the Primates for genuine repentance from TEC should it wish to remain part of the AC after Sept 30.

Posted by NP at Thursday, 12 April 2007 at 7:48am BST

'Sin is behovely'. 'Love was his meaning.'

'I saw that the wrath was not in God, but in ourselves'.

(Loving widsom of the heart -- from Mother Julian of Norwich.)


'O Felix Culpa !' 'O Happy Sin !'

(Holy Saturday liturgy)

Sin and unskill 'occur' in the historical dimension (isn't that what 'Good Friday' 'says' ?).

In the Ultimate dimension, there can 'be' no Sin (isn't this what 'Easter' 'says'.... )

As far as I know, the phrase 'Good Friday' is a special gift of the English and the English language. Welsh for instance has 'Friday of the Crucifixion' - 'Dydd Gwener Y Groglith' --no messing about there ! On the day, it is indeed Crucifixion Friday --- with hindsight we m a y be able to ' call that Friday good'. Is that not our own experience sometimes ?

May it be so for Rowan, and Don,Darfur, and an old woman and her daughters,in the north of England, as she takes her final breaths ...

'And yet they call that Friday good'

(is this Auden ?)

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 12 April 2007 at 9:36am BST

In reply to Margaret above re. lax accounting methods, no annual independent audits were performed for the years 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Below from 'Grace Tidings', the church newsletter and signed by the senior warden.

"An independent audit is performed by a local auditing firm each year and reported to the Diocese. This year, the audit will cover
the years 2006, 2005, and 2004 to catch us up on years where it was difficult or impossible to do the audits."

He does not state why it was 'difficult or impossible to do the audits.'

If the books are in good shape an audit should be a breeze. If they are not in good shape, it may well be quite impossible to complete an audit.

Posted by Frank at Thursday, 12 April 2007 at 12:05pm BST

'And yet they call that Friday good'

(is this Auden ?)

T.S. Eliot

I don't have my Collected Poems handy - I think from the Four Quartets.

Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 12 April 2007 at 1:06pm BST

"this will not in any way discredit the biblical case of the Network and the Primates for genuine repentance from TEC should it wish to remain part of the AC after Sept 30."

NP,
Innocent until proven guilty. Yet, if proven guilty, a big if, why would this not cast doubt in your mind as to the propriety of his actions WRT TEC? I ask because my thinking of "the gay issue" is guided by the actions of the various players. I do indeed see a kind of arrogance in the left, but nothing to compare with the actions of the right. "By their fruits shall ye know them" says Jesus. Well, I don't think that conniving, reviling, scheming, deriding others, rejoicing in others' grief, or imprisoning innocent people are the fruits of the Gospel, much less comfortable Middle Class Westerners claiming persecution because they aren't allowed to insult whomever they wish. Anyone can talk the talk, but I'm more interested in who walks the walk, and, frankly, I see little of that on the right. I'm intrigued as to why you seem to think that opposition to what you see as sexual sin trumps any other wrongdoing. But really, it's just about who obeys the rules, right? Or at least the rules you think are important. And don't go claiming God thinks they're important too, God made you in His image, not the other way around.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 12 April 2007 at 1:56pm BST

C.B.
"writing projects and the like"
interested me more!

What authors or similar such people have received "scholarships" from Grace?

Perhaps we will find out ......

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 12 April 2007 at 2:12pm BST

Thanks Cynthia. Must be getting old(er) !

Evocative phrase.

my thanks

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 12 April 2007 at 3:37pm BST

Hi Ford

If the man is guilty, it would not change my view because I had not heard of this chap until this week! Most importantly, my views are not really based on following any vicar or bishop's views but are based on what scripture says and what its intended meaning was, applied to our situations today. We are to weigh what anybody says to see if it is true or not in the light of scripture, as you know.

You see bad behaviour on both sides. So do I! This is not a surprise given people are involved! But the point is on the presenting issue in the AC, what does the bible say? What would St Paul say re VGR? What did he intend us to understand when he taught about who should and should not be church leaders?

I am not putting any sin above another: I have said he should not be in a leadership position if he is guilty of fraud. If he was a drunk, I would say the same. If he had an affair with a woman, the same. Sin is sin - even if some want to make exceptions. I do not feel I have authority to make those exceptions.

Posted by NP at Thursday, 12 April 2007 at 3:38pm BST

But NP, not everybody shares your Bibliolatry. As to what Paul would say WRT VGR, you don't really know either. You ARE basing your opinion on what certain vicars and bishops tell you, in opposition to what other vicars and bishops tell you. Your criterion for the truth of their statements is "it's in the Bible." But you know that Christianity is not based on the Bible, but on Christ, that ours is a Tradition, and the Bible explains, but does not define that Tradition. Tell me, NP, do you need to have a clear Law to follow because obedience to it reassures you of God's love, or because that obedience makes you feel better than other people? From the things you say, i rather suspect it's the latter. Odd that you do not demand obedience to laws that you yourself do not follow.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 12 April 2007 at 4:37pm BST

The claim that the Anglican Communion Institute is "six guys and a website" seems to have become "five guys and a blog".

The statement on Don Armstrong leaving TEC and Ephraim Radner's recent fierce attack on the American House of Bishops have been posted on Titus 1.9 but have not appeared on the (former?) website operated by Grace Church.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 12 April 2007 at 7:25pm BST

"Bibliolatry"-you've got me in stitches, Ford Elms!

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Thursday, 12 April 2007 at 11:18pm BST

Simon, I found this at Jim Naughton/Daily Episcopalian:

Breaking News/Breaking Ranks in Colorado!

http://gazettereligion.blogspot.com/2007/04/breaking-ranks.html

and

http://gazettereligion.blogspot.com/2007/04/more-grace-info.html

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Friday, 13 April 2007 at 5:16am BST

come on Ford - St Paul's comments on leaders are very clear - you really don't have a clue what he would say re VGR?

(I don't think you subscribe to the silly view that whatever one does not like in St Paul's writings can be written off as later additions and so we can make St Paul in our own image - I don't think you go in for that kind of uncovincing nonsense so I ask you again, is it not obvious what St Paul would say re VGR?)

Posted by NP at Friday, 13 April 2007 at 9:13am BST

NP asked "is it not obvious what St Paul would say re VGR?"

Much the same as he would say about a woman in the pulpit, I guess.

Posted by Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Friday, 13 April 2007 at 11:57am BST

Paul lived in a world of temple prostitutes and fertility cults. He had no knowledge of faithful monogamous gay relationships, he didn't even know that people were gay. He made some very inclusive statements, many that, were you an observant Jew in his day, would no doubt lead you to very loud condemnation of him. Paul wrote Divinely inspired words, but he was not himself Divine.
We've been down this path a million times. Scripture is the Church's book, given to Her by God. He leads the Church, the Community of the Baptised, to understand it. Scripture is not some sort of Divine dictation to be read and accepted as is. To suggest Paul wouldn't have considered our increased knowledge in biology and psychology seems to me to be saying he had some kind of Divine knowledge far beyond what is meant by Divine inspiration. But then again, you and I use the same words, but mean very different things by them. Divine inspiration is one of those things. At base, we have a fundamental disagreement about the nature of authority in the Church and the role of Scripture. This is not mere disputation here. I am not a fundamentalist, and I believe it to be a gross misuse of the Word of God. The trouble is that for you, anyone who doesn't believe as you do doesn't believe at all.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 13 April 2007 at 12:47pm BST

The blog Leonardo sites above states that there will be a letter in the Colorado Springs Gazette today by 19 former vestry members indicating that they do not support Armstrong.

Further, it sites a former vesty member who resigned in February because Armstrong had broken his inhibition and was plotting to break with TEC starting in January.

Same former vestry member says he was on the board of ACI and that in three years it never met formerly once.

Seitz, as president, can only blame himself for this mess.

Posted by C.B. at Friday, 13 April 2007 at 3:42pm BST

Here is a blog based in Colorado Springs that has been tracking this story
http://gazettereligion.blogspot.com/
Also, 19 former members of the Grace Church vestry have issued a letter calling Fr Armstrong onto the carpet
http://daily.gazette.com/Repository/ml.asp?Ref=VGhlR2F6ZXR0ZS8yMDA3LzA0LzEzI0FyMDE5MDE=&Mode=HTML&Locale=english-skin-custom

Posted by daibhead at Friday, 13 April 2007 at 5:05pm BST

For those waiting to hear what the letter from the previous vestry members has to say, it has been posted here: http://daily.gazette.com/Repository/ml.asp?Ref=VGhlR2F6ZXR0ZS8yMDA3LzA0LzEzI0FyMDE5MDE=&Mode=HTML&Locale=english-skin-custom
There is also a link at Daily Episcopalian

Posted by EPfizH at Friday, 13 April 2007 at 9:43pm BST

Ford - I accept we have a difference on the authority of scripture but we seem to agree on what scripture says and means. I respect your integrity (given some try to pretend it means the opposite to what it says)

You're not quite right on your judgment on me but you are right that I retain more faith in scripture than recent innovators.

I believe scrpitures restrictions for you and me are the will of a loving Father who wants our best - so he disciplines us in various ways but always for our good, however hard the discipline may be for us.

Posted by NP at Monday, 16 April 2007 at 7:31am BST

Oh, NP,
If only you were willing to listen to a LOVING Father, rather than the prescriptive tyrant you worship!

What people like Ford and I are saying is that God has created us as we are, that he loves us as we are, and that there is NOTHING in the Bible that suggests that he hates our stable, faithful and long term relationships.

I keep repeating myself because it's worth repeating - to paraphrase drdanfee again, we do not want a new morality, we just hope and pray that all of you recognise that we are part of the old one - if only you could see it and would let us.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 16 April 2007 at 10:29pm BST

Well, Erika, sorry, but you and I don't exactly agree. I am agnostic on the situation. I know what Scripture says, and I am not at all comfortable with the hoops people jump through to explain the clobber verses. At the same time I am aware of, grateful for, and will not deny, that I have found a great deal of healing in a gay relationship that I sincerely believe God has brought about. I have never experienced God's rejection, despite having rejected Him myself in the past. So, I look to the behaviour of both sides. Where is the fruit of the Gospel? Who practices "love thy neighbour as thyself? Who takes seriously "bear ye one another's burdens"? Neither side is blameless, but I think it's pretty obvious to anyone who would see that, whatever Paul would have thought about me, he wouldn't have had much use for the pharisaic legalism of the right. Their insistence on obedience to some law as justification for God's love is the opposite of Christianity. Obedience comes from love of the one obeyed, it is not the currency by which that love is bought. We have no need to buy God's love, indeed, we can't.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 1:38pm BST

NP, your faith is not that of modern innovators, but why disparage their faith, given that yours is the faith of innovators 500 years ago? If modern Protestantism is so true to the tradition, why is it such a radical break from that tradition? As to my judgement on you, it isn't judgement, but observation. You repeatedly imply, or state outright, that those who disagree with you on the issue of homosexuality are picking and choosing the bits of Scripture they like, are merely seeking the approval of society, and are faithless. You are insufferably smug about what you see as the decline in popularity of "liberal" congregation, boasting about how much the world flocks to Evangelical churches while accusing liberals of seeking worldly popularity. How does this constitute loving one another, much less bearing one another's burdens, things about which the Scriptures are indisputably clear? Such statements are false witness, and profoundly disrespectful of the faith of those who disagree with you. You have bought into the fundamentalist persecution myth, and are so afraid of the evil liberal hordes you fantasize to be plotting the takeover of the Church that you cannot perceive reality. I really wish you could find a way into the "glorious liberty of the children of God" instead of the fearful legalism you seem, for some reason, to enjoy.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 1:56pm BST

Erika - it would be much easier for me to agree with you but I am sorry to say that I cannot see the positive case for your side in Scripture.

The liberal case is hurt by those (not you or Ford) who just reject scripture, those who ignore or try to discredit the verses they find inconvenient and those who talk about everything but scripture.

What liberals need to do to persuade the majority of the AC is to make a positive case for what you want to be accepted from scripture - i.e. to show what you want is good and holy.

I am afraid that Scripture clearly does not say we are welcome without repentance and a striving for holiness (eg Romans 6)

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 4:46pm BST

Ford, I don't think we disagree as much as it looks. I confess I come from a very liberal Lutheran protestant church that took Scripture very seriously but did not take it literally. I have never been left in any doubt that the anti gay pronouncements arose from within a specific culture that is so alien to ours that it cannot be compared. The relationships we wish to be accepted into the church are more akin to what can be found in the Song of Songs and have nothing to do with the unequal, calculating or abusive relationships I believe the Bible rightly condemns. I was astonished when I first joined the Anglican church how hotly this is being debated here, and I still can't quite understand it.

But my understanding was confirmed when God led me into the most fulfilling, most complete and most Christian relationship I have ever known. So apart from your more agnostic and my more positive view of Scripture in this case, I can agree with every single word you wrote. Thank you for writing it.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 6:57pm BST

"The liberal case is hurt by those (not you or Ford) who just reject scripture, those who ignore or try to discredit the verses they find inconvenient and those who talk about everything but scripture."

And who in the real world does this, NP? I know, if you read the conservative stuff, you hear of all the evil liberals who have no respect for anything other than the praise of society, but that simply isn't true. So. Who does this? Not the HOB of either Canada or the US. Who? You can't cite the musings of the occasional academic, no matter how loudly they talk. I used to feel like this over the issue of women's ordination. I still think our bishops in the West need to grow a spine and make the theological arguments that can be made. I still doubt the intellect of some of them. But to characterize them as faithless ignorers of Scripture is just untrue.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 8:02pm BST
Post a comment









Remember personal info?






Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.