The Rev. David Anderson, of American Anglican Council and now CANA fame, is no stranger to the use of strong language in defense of what he thinks, nor is he afraid to make pronouncements on matters quite outside his increasingly marginal position in the churches. Still, he has chutzpah.
Readers may remember that under his leadership, the AAC singlehandedly proclaimed that "…the 21 recent Virginia inhibitions are null and void and declared them lifted." That's nice. Of course the AAC has no business making such declarations and anyone who thinks they have such authority is quite mistaken.
He has just weighed in on the difficult and sad case of the Rev. Don Armstrong and Grace Church, Colorado Springs. The Rev. Don Armstrong, you will recall, was being investigated for possible misuse of finances by the Diocese of Colorado. He was inhibited and now it appears that he too has flown the coop to CANA land. The Bishop has determined that the Church is still part of the Diocese, only most of the congregation has left.
It remains to be seen if a priest under inhibition could possibly be said to have "transferred" in any reasonable sense to another province. Such a priest could not make such a move within the Episcopal Church without permission and release from the bishop issuing the inhibition. But no matter, these are not normal times, and CANA has no respect for the canons of this Church.
According to The Free Republic, Here is what Maestro Anderson, master of the strong phrase, has to say about the Bishop of Colorado, the inhibition, and the effort to retain control of Grace Church:
"This is all about terror - the ability of the church and bishops with deep pockets to terrorize mom and pop (members) in their churches."
Just so we are clear: Don Armstrong and Grace Church are no "mom and pop" members or churches, or whatever. Fr. Armstrong has been a central player in the Anglican Communion Institute, and the rector of a large parish. His troubles, which are many, derive not from his being some poor benighted and terrorized local, but from his being a sizable player in various realignment efforts.
The effort to make Fr. Armstrong out to be a victim of harassment, much less terror, is very wide of the mark. However, it matters little now. Fr. Armstrong is reported to already have left for CANA. Now the only way forward in the investigation is to eiher drop the matter or, if the investigation shows malfeasance, to let it work its way through criminal and civil procedures. Fr. Armstrong is mostly subject to accountability for his own behaviors, as are we all. That his may involved financial dealings is now clear. His actions also to include leaving this church without permission to join another whose activity in this Province clearly indicate a profound break in communion with us. That may finally involved the matter of abandonment of the ministry of this church.
REVISED: Today the Colorado Springs Gazette posted the letter from the diocese and the specifics of the charges against Fr. Armstrong. They are considerable. Read them HERE.
These are not matters of harassment or terrorism. These are matters of accountability.
We must also be clear that this is a work in progress: Fr. Armstrong has now been charged. He is reported to have left the building. There seems to be a period of "discernment" going on in the Parish, after which there may be a formal occasion for voting to leave and go to CANA. But the reports out now seem to make it a done deal.
Things in the parish seem to have gotten pretty far along towards separation. There is some indication that this Sunday, The Sunday of the Passion, will involve a confrontation between the Diocese and the Congregation and its Priest. I rather hope not. This is the sort of thing perhaps best put off until Low Sunday, when we were wondering just what we were going to do that would make Church interesting. The confrontation appears likely at some time in the near future, but one would think it could wait two weeks.
What is next in all this? Hard to say. But it will no doubt result in greater clarity on many areas of accountability and perhaps some peace for Fr. Armstrong, the Bishop, and perhaps many more of us. As we sneak up on Good Friday, all our accountabilities find their focus.