Thinking Anglicans

mediation ends dispute in Colorado

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports ‘Everyone just agreed to walk away’ from Grace Church dispute.

Litigation over the Grace Church property downtown seemed destined to drag on for years.

But all that changed Tuesday.

In a marathon mediation session, the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado agreed to drop its lawsuit against 18 Anglican parish members being sued for damages. Also several motions, including an appeal of the March 24 court decision upholding the diocese’s ownership of the Tejon Street church property, were quashed…

And there is this earlier report, Dispute over Grace church property settled.

A press release found at the website of the CANA congregation says:

June 3, 2009

St. George’s Responds to Settlement with the Diocese of Colorado

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – St. George’s Anglican Church issued the following statement in response to the settlement agreement reached with the Diocese of Colorado:

“We are pleased with the settlement, particularly since it relieved our staff and vestry members of the burden and expense of defending against $5 million in unjustified claims brought against them personally by the Diocese of Colorado and The Episcopal Church.

“The settlement reached also means that all the costs associated with maintaining the property of Grace Church and St. Stephens, including payment of the $2,500,000 mortgage, belong to the Episcopal congregation and the Diocese of Colorado.

“Our only remaining obligation is to pay final operational expenses we had incurred during our possession of the property, but were unauthorized to pay until this settled agreement was reached.

“We look forward to fulfilling God’s call to us for mission and ministry.”


  • drdanfee says:

    Nice that things settled so quickly.

    The jousting explanations? Not so much.

    Suddenly CANA discovers that paying their local church costs is too high? But they allegedly allowed Don Armstrong to use trust funds to send his kids to school? Maybe new, current monies are worse now for the CANA church folks than before when they were plotting to take over the parish?

    The critical legal mass of accumulating court rulings in favor of the TEC diocese/church is going to result in a swift change of strategy for many realignment groups which claimed they could take it all with them. That push is coming to shove in San Joaquin, and elsewhere.

    But why joust with the realignment explanations? The important thing is that settling separates the disagreeing parties, and allows each to get on with their vision of being church in the world. No reason both cannot thrive, given the diversity of thriving religious communities in USA. Especially in Colorado.

  • “We are pleased with the settlement, particularly since it relieved our staff and vestry members of the burden and expense of defending against $5 million in unjustified claims brought against them personally by the Diocese of Colorado and The Episcopal Church”

    But really, what was the point if these claims were not Justified?

  • Cynthia Gilliatt says:

    Maybe the CANA folks are also anticipating further expense in defending Armstrong in his legal battles and decided to cut their losses. And they, too, are affected by the recession.

    I wish this would mean they would abandon the Virginia case, but am not hopeful, since we have that post-Civil War law on the books that theu are hanging their hopes on

  • Rob Leduc says:


    Not sure what your point is really. One legal tactic is to load up a complaint with lots of claims to make something stick. The burden is, of course, on the complainant to justify the claims in court. Even so, defendants incur expenses in defending themselves against such claims. It is a tactic that can be used by a party with the deeper pockets to push the other party into settlement. Not saying that is what happened here, but that would appear to be the separatists stated reasoning.

    More to the point is that the separatists could have relieved themselves of this burden at any time by simply leaving in the first place.

    I do think that if the separatists lose these court battles in large numbers and are left having to acquire their own facilities, etc., then they will end up being no larger than the preexisting ‘continuing Anglican’ community in the U.S. They are counting on a fair amount of loyalty to place to attract people who don’t pay that much attention to doctrine.

  • Robert Ian Williams says:

    At the time of the judgement they said they were going to appeal!

  • Ford Elms says:

    “We look forward to fulfilling God’s call to us for mission and ministry.”

    And here I thought they were following what they believed WAS God’s call to them for mission and ministry. Are they saying that they have done all this on their own, with no discernment of God’s will, and are now, in the wilderness, hoping that God will be so pleased with their striving for purity He will NOW call them to something? Justification by works in another form? Wasn’t the fullness of their churches evidence of their obedience to God’s call? Interesting as well that something they were willing to go to court to obtain has been recast as a financial “burden” now that the court has said they can’t have it. It’s all pompous, self-justifying talk, as we’d say here “mouth speech”, words with no real value.

  • bookguybaltmd says:

    I am alarmed that the cases against the irresponsible secessionists have been dropped.

    They adopted a clearly untenable legal position in hopes of essentially blackmailing the church into acquiescence in the theft of church’s property.

    They demonstrated abundantly that they would stop at nothing to get their own way; they even went so far as to sabotage the church’s message, bear false witness as to the church’s true position, and malign the reputation of good honest servants of the church.

    They deliberately attempted to overthrow the legitimate democratic government of the church as voiced through general convention.

    They have deliberately attempted to break up the communion around the world.

    All this, in a deliberate attempt to persecute and exclude a small and relatively helpless minority from the pastoral care of the church. All of this just because they had what amounts to a political disagreement with some of the church’s leadership.

    I, for one, am very concerned that this kind of irresponsible behavior should essentially be encouraged by not holding these people to personal account for their deliberate maliciousness.

    It’s fine to be merciful, particularly when there is repentance (which, from the quote above does not seem to be the case). But where is the justice of letting these people get away with their unscrupulous behavior? Are those in authority for the Episcopal church wisely administering the church’s patrimony when they allow these people to act so irresponsibly? I find myself skeptical.

  • susan hedges says:

    Well, we will see what happens in the Rev. Armstrong’s case. I don’t think there will be mediation there.

    Bookguy, mediation and forgiveness are called for in these cases. Jesus did not say that one must be asked for forgiveness in order for forgiveness to be given. The remaining Episcopalians have the church, which was the main sticking point, and hopefully nasty name calling will cease.

  • drdanfee says:

    A hard judgment call, pressing the case forward full tilt, or accepting the mediated settlement. Fighting these doctrinal wars on the poorly framed realignment terms and presuppositions can only go so far in bearing real true witness to the kingdom. That is what is wrong with the penal legacy business we have inherited in the first place. Even if mean and scheming folks were prosecuted, ostracized, and put in stocks in the town squares – we would still not really be all that far ahead in bearing witness to Jesus of Nazareth, to the kingdom feast, to the surprise invitation to the kingdom feast.

    We resist those who tear down through pressing this nasty realignment campaign; yet we cannot let that realignment campaign or its resistance consume us? – our worship, witness, care, service – are centered elsewhere.

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    “Where Charity and Love are – there is God”
    – Antiphon from the Liturgy of Maundy Thursday.

  • EmilyH says:

    This settlement is very generous to St. George’s. What concerns me is that the vestry of Grace/St. Stephen’s, while under Armstrong’s leadership obtained a loan from the state bank of Barkley Nebraska of 2+ million dollars. Canon law requires that they obtain the aporoval of the diocese before encumbering property. This they did not do. One of the vestrymen owned the bank. Again an inapropriate financial transaction. It is unclear how the funds were used. Around this time, the John Jay institute, a nursery for the conservative Christian right received free rent at Grace in brand new “state-of-the-art” classroom space providec by Grace. The head of the “Institute”, previously with the nearly identical Witherspoon fellowships of the Dobson enterprises {Focus on the Family} Alan Crippen, quickly became Armstrong’s spokesman, a CANA deacon and then priest at Grace. It is not uncommon for a church to host and assist an educational or social service organization in the US. A pre-school program, soup kitchen, food bank etc., but to host a graduate fellowship of “theological education” and networking development for those entering law school or politics is virtually unheard of. A look at the John Jay website now makes no reference to its sweetheart deal with Grace. Seeing that it realized its days were numbered, it may have moved, but given the debt Grace acquired, and the brand new state-of-the-art classroom space for John Jay, I hope that the settlement did not preclude any further possible litigation against a Vestry whose actions in incurring the debt were inappropriate. I can not imagine that the diocese would have agreed to this financial transaction, and, if the funds were used to renovate space for John Jay (Armstrong servec on its board), that raises further questions on the church’s mission, religious, or political, specifically, right wing religious conservative agenda.

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    EmilyH, perhaps Mr Armstrong’s case will be taken up by the newly-forming (still ghostly) North American Province of the Once Anglicans. After all, they are still backing him on Mr Virtue’s web-site at so-called ‘Virtue-on-line’. His presumed innocence is tighly alligned to their *orthodoxy*.

  • bookguybaltmd says:

    To Susan Hedges – I wasn’t trying to limit GOD’s forgiveness to those who repent; You have correctly pointed out that this would be at least error that borders on the heretical. I was just saying that forgiveness is easier for us humans when repentance is present. The secessionists are not making this or anything else easy and they are certainly not repentant.

    Nonetheless, I think I, personally, could forgive them (especially if they just go their own way to God’s word and leave orthodox christians to preach the word of god).

    My concern is more immediately practical and has nothing particularly to do with forgiveness. It involves the apparent irresponsibility of not holding administrators/vestrymen etc to account for their actions while in office. Taking responsibility for ourselves and our actions seems central to the duties associated with holding office of this sort. As a public figure on my local council I would expect to be held to account for my actions if they deliberately damaged the city, just as I would expect any citizen to be so held to account.

    I am concerned that if we do not hold those former Anglicans responsible for this deliberate mal-administration of the church’s patrimony, we are joining them in denigrating the office(s) that these people have abused.

    Forgiveness is one thing. Responsibility is another. I am forgiven for my sins, but, like anyone else, I am still responsible for them; we must all of us deal with the consequences. Forgiveness does not repair the damage/consequences in this world, it removes the sin. The same is true for those holding offices in the church.

    Responsible administration of the churches patrimony seems to me to require that we deal with the consequences of these conspiracies responsibly by holding office holders to account for the consequences of their crimes.

    Forgiven? Yes, ABSOLUTELY! Responsible for the consequences? Yes. Responsible governance demands it.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “hopefully nasty name calling will cease.”

    As we say round these parts, “Live in hopes, die in despair.”

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