Comments: Judgement in Colorado Springs

"As to the future of our congregation, it’s the people and not the building..."

Well, well...

Why did they sue for the property in the first place?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 24 March 2009 at 8:19pm GMT

Would someone with legal training comment on my speculation that if the CANA congregation vacates the pro\operty and Armstrong leaves the rectory, that will will considerably weaken any appeal they might consider?

I hope that those CANA groups in Virginia will take a cue and drop their suits and vacate TEC's property.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 24 March 2009 at 8:28pm GMT

The Episcopal Church Welcomes EVERYONE (at all levels of Churchlife and Realife)!

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Tuesday, 24 March 2009 at 8:34pm GMT

It may be a "new beginning" for Armstrong and his followers, but it will not be a happy one. They have not just lost their buildings and bank accounts. Armstrong has lost all remaining credibility. He led his flock down a path to disaster, and he has been un-masked as untrustworthy. Judge Schwartz stated in his decision that Armstrong made false statements to Bishop O'Neil about a mortgage on the building; and that Armstrong's testimony during the trial was "unconvincing."

Posted by Robert at Tuesday, 24 March 2009 at 8:37pm GMT

"As to the future of our congregation, it’s the people and not the building that is at the heart of our life in Christ..."

So why did they fight so hard to hold on to something that wasn't theirs?

Posted by Pat ONeill at Tuesday, 24 March 2009 at 8:40pm GMT

" '[...]it’s the people and not the building that is at the heart of our life in Christ,' Armstrong said." -- excerpt
Oh, that's rich, that's really rich. The breakaway congregation tries to break away from its charter agreement as well, fights like Hell to hold on to the property even though the property rightfully belongs to the Diocese, tries to eat its cake and have it too, and when it loses, the breakaway pastor says "it's the people and not the congregation."
It's always easiest to play the humility card after one loses.

Posted by peterpi at Tuesday, 24 March 2009 at 9:42pm GMT

I share in the gratitude and joy of the Episcopal Parish of Grace & St. Stephen's. I hope that EVERYONE who has ever been a member of this parish, realizes they are welcome to continue to worship there (with the oversight of the bishop of the Diocese of Colorado, of the Episcopal Church).

TBTG!

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 25 March 2009 at 12:55am GMT

Joyous SEASON!

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Wednesday, 25 March 2009 at 4:00am GMT

There remains many unanswered questions relating to the Anglican Communion Institute, founded and funded by Armstrong. An obvious failure in due diligence is in itself a serious cause for concern

I hope that with this decision the couple of priests still brazenly hyping their rather spittle filled opinions under the name of that "Institute" will offer to fully reimburse the parish all monies diverted to their use.

Sadly these gentlemen are falsely encouraging others to view TEC as not hierarchical and thereby furthering the bitterness of the legal disputes - perhaps this new legal judgment might help them to cease fostering these misappropriations of parishes and diocese.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 25 March 2009 at 10:09am GMT

There is the parallel story of Don Armstrong's personal IRS problems regarding use of Church scholarship funds earmarked for seminarian education that instead were used to pay for his children's educational expenses. The details elude me but certainly there is more here in this significant "back story". I wonder if anyone has an update on his personal legal/financial problems?

Posted by ettu at Wednesday, 25 March 2009 at 11:19am GMT

Justice prevails. Being the lenten season I will not shout, Alleluia!

Posted by John at Wednesday, 25 March 2009 at 12:23pm GMT

If they are ordered to leave (as they have) and the order isn't stayed pending appeal (as it hasn't), they must leave or be in contempt of the judge's order.

I don't think their chances of success on appeal are likely. I think the chances of the order being stayed are miniscule (and the CANA group isn't apparently asking for that). There can be tactical reasons not to ask for a stay. For example, they might have been required to post a large bond to get a stay (depending on Colorado law).

Posted by Paul Davison at Wednesday, 25 March 2009 at 1:42pm GMT

Cynthia:

I had an interesting conversation last night about this news. It seems part of the Colorado decision cited earlier decisions in California. My guess is evntually Virginia will do the same and the CANA parishes will have to relocate. As to if you leave the building does that weaken your appeal.
I would say yes especially in light of the judges comments about Armstrong's testimony.

With out a place to call home and the damage done to their leader (like any cult following), they'll either stick with him, go back to their former churches (my guess is that a good number are from other denominations) or run off to the more evangelical churches (or the RC Church).
Some will want to stay in their pew and remain (there are those who are married to the building)
no matter who's in charge.

Just my humble assessment.

Posted by BobinSwPA at Wednesday, 25 March 2009 at 1:47pm GMT

I certainly don't rejoice at the pain the people Armstrong has (mis-)led must be going through. My thoughts and prayers are with them and hope that some sort of reconciliation may yet be possible.

Meanwhile, Armstrong really should not only be behind bars, but defrocked for his astonishingly bad leadership and morals. I've long said and strongly believed that the rank and file of ACNA and CANA have been sold a pack of lies, and this is just one good example of it. The drumbeat of losses in court only add to it. Virginia thus far has been the only bright spot for them, and I bet you my prayer beads that the ADV parishes will ultimately end up on the losing end there as well.

The textbook sour grapes attitude amongst the so-called reasserter blogs is quite a thing to behold. Many of the very same people who insisted that the property was rightfully the congregation's are toeing the same bizarre line that Armstrong is: that it's not about the property after all. Well gee, folks, why didn't you just leave like your predecessors in the so-called Continuum? At least *they* had some semblance of honor.

Posted by Walsingham at Wednesday, 25 March 2009 at 2:15pm GMT

Armstrong certainly doesn't look too good in that ruling, in which the judge accuses him of making false and self-serving testimony.

It's not pretty.

Posted by JPM at Wednesday, 25 March 2009 at 3:22pm GMT

"I certainly don't rejoice at the pain the people Armstrong has (mis-)led must be going through."

I have some compassion for them, I know what it's like to feel the Church you were raised in has abandoned the faith it taught you. But, if they're like Anglicans anywhere else, Armstrong hasn't led them anywhere they didn't want to go. And you're right about CANA et al being fed a pack of lies. But this isn't about gay people, really. This is about conservatives being stricken with terror at the idea that the status quo is changing. For them, God is a cold, vindictive, angry being who will grudgingly accept you into his kingdom if you are suitably obedient and grovel properly. He underwent the death by torture we deserve to prove He loves us and to provide himself with a suitably pure victim to punish so he could not be angry with us any more. But, that wasn't enough. You have to believe the right things, any deviation will result in eternal punishment. And your actions aren't about spreading the Good News, they are about making sure you are properly obedient. If you have to lie to yourself, to those around you, and to God Himself in order to be obedient, and that's what they are asking of gay people, then that's fine, just as long as you don't break the law.

Now we are saying that in some areas the Church got it wrong. That means that, first of all, they've been doing the wrong thing, so how can they make up for that? God'll roast 'em for sure. Also, this means that anything can change. Since 'Get Out of Hell Free' requires obedience, they can never be sure of playing in God's sandbox when they die. So, for them, being nice to gay people brings a great risk of Hell's Flames. Not so much because they would have been nice to one of those subhuman queers, but because of the implications for the rest of the faith. I imagine the Evangelicals are worried they'll have to pray to Mary, the Anglicatholics are worried they'll have to start waving their arms in the air, and the BCP fundamentalists that didn't leave 30 years ago are scared to death they'll have to call God 'you'. But, of course, only the last one is a mortal sin:-)

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 25 March 2009 at 3:45pm GMT

I would be curious to see how many of the Armstrong congregation actually break with him.

I suspect that some number of those people didn't so much choose to join the schism as they simply kept going to church - and will simply keep going to church as the property reverts to its rightful owners.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Wednesday, 25 March 2009 at 5:50pm GMT

Something that truly needs to be addressed is the issue of educating the laity. Duncan like Armstrong and Minns are cult figures. People don't seem to want or aren't able to assess situations and problem solve. In one of Bart Erhman's presentations he talks about a situation involving his students. He ask his students "how many of you have read the bible?" Maybe 1/4 of the students raise their hand. Then he ask, "how many of you have read the Da Vinci Code?" and 3/4 of the students raise their hand. You'd think that if their faith were that important they'd read the book that it was based on/explains it.

Another situation that the church could address the idea that "I can only be around people who get me!" We are becoming a very polarized society. Tolerance and understanding seem to be going by the wayside.

Posted by bobinswpa at Wednesday, 25 March 2009 at 6:21pm GMT

As to the future of our congregation, it’s the people and not the building that is at the heart of our life in Christ..."

Could have fooled me. It is a bit late for such statments of piety after so much angst and expenditure.

Why did they ever imagine they could withdraw from a denomination AND keep the buildings ?

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Wednesday, 25 March 2009 at 6:39pm GMT

I believe Malcolm+ is on to something. A longtime parishioner at my church can't abide the current rector, but will not leave "her" church over his putative sins, which are legion. "I'll be here long after _he's_ gone," she declares. That the incumbent has been in place for 22 years has diminished her dogged dedication not a whit.

Posted by Bill at Wednesday, 25 March 2009 at 6:47pm GMT

I see the CANA group have posted the judge's order on their website and have called a parish meeting at the Church for this evening. A bit cheeky given that the order requires that they "cease all use and relinquish all posession, control and dominion over the disputed property" immediately. And the list of property cited by the judge is very complete! He includes the buildings, and the contents of those buildings that belong to the parish, and all bank accounts or investments, and the web domain, and the name! He left nothing out.

The burning question now is whether this will put an end to the other lawsuits.

Posted by Nom de Plume at Wednesday, 25 March 2009 at 10:16pm GMT

"Judgement in Colorado Springs.".sounds like a rather good title for a cowboy movie where the crooks and the outlaws are dealt with by a good sherrif. Just read his judgement , what a balanced and thorogh Judge.

Please note the Church in Nigeria get off scot free. And the outlaws, Schofield, Iker and Duncan are still on the run.


Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Thursday, 26 March 2009 at 6:22am GMT

Well, in view of what has happened here, it may be that the former Rector may have to take up Saint Paul's trade - tentmaking - to house his congregation.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 26 March 2009 at 9:40am GMT

"That the incumbent has been in place for 22 years has diminished her dogged dedication not a whit."

Good for her! As 'tis said "On the unworthiness of ministers, which hindereth not the effect of a sacrament." It's not him, it's the office God called him to. I might not have much use for former Canadian Anglican bishop Don Harvey, but I respected him AS A BISHOP when God decided to lead this diocese through the spiritual wilderness of Harvey's episcopate.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 26 March 2009 at 1:37pm GMT

"Would someone with legal training comment on my speculation that if the CANA congregation vacates the property and Armstrong leaves the rectory, that will will considerably weaken any appeal they might consider?"

No. Not at all. Any appeal would be decided on the facts of the case in the record and the applicable law. It is expected that all parties will comply with the orders of the judge and doing so does not prejudice their case in the least.

Posted by ruidh at Thursday, 26 March 2009 at 3:37pm GMT

Please, oh Please. This lawsuit had nothing to do with ¨it´s only a building¨...it had to do with punishing generations of Christians who believe that we ought love one another...all of us one anothers and they wanted to kick our inclusive, yet God loving, but*s OUT of Church!

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Thursday, 26 March 2009 at 5:53pm GMT

This kind of angst is what happens when people "play church". I left ECUSA years ago because of the lack of peace in that denomination. I am clapping my hands, however, that the reactionary bigots from Nigeria are leaving. It is long overdue. Now, can we all please get back to the business of ministering honestly to one another and move on in peace?

Posted by Mack Genter at Thursday, 26 March 2009 at 5:59pm GMT

I, too, rejoice and also feel some anguish for Armstrong's followers.

That aside, Armstrong has been already been defrocked by the Bishop of Colorado, and that's the least of his worries. The grand jury is still out, but I think we can anticipate an indictment soon on the embezzlement charges. In addition, there is the IRS matter of back taxes, fines and interest. For him, the rest of his journey is going to be long, painful and very expensive.

Posted by old verger at Friday, 27 March 2009 at 6:39pm GMT

On reviewing the actual judgement made by the court in this case, one can only presume that other, similar, cases, where parishes in the US Episcopal Church have made efforts to alienate the property from the ownership by the TEC Dioceses concerned, must also be determined on the same basis - that property belonging to any parish within TEC, under the canons of that Church are unable to be alienated by any clergy person or parishioner who decides to defy the authority of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of TEC on matters of property ownership.

What a great outcome for Grace and St. Stephen's Parish in Colorado Springs. What a wonderful opportunity for the re-dedication of the loyalty of the Faithful Remnant - to accompany our Lord into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday 2009. Deo Gratias!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 27 March 2009 at 10:04pm GMT

Armstrong, the leader of the schismatics has said upkeep of the Church is expensive,...but not half as expensive as keeping him, over the past 21 years!

Whether they be TEC or breakaways the clergy in America are grossly overpaid and pampered.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Saturday, 28 March 2009 at 7:49pm GMT

"Whether they be TEC or breakaways the clergy in America are grossly overpaid and pampered."

Tell that to the majority of priests in Dio of Va, who serve small churches in small towns. Tell that to the priests who care for multiple churches in rural areas. Tell that to the priests who take part-timie pay to serve small rural congregations and make up the difference with part-time secular work. Tell that to priests who serve struggliing inner city parishes.

Pish tush!

I'm sure there are instances of overpay and pampering, but not in my neighborhood!


Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Saturday, 28 March 2009 at 8:51pm GMT
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