10/24/2007

The Armstrong Matter Continued....

Not much has been heard from the Rev. Don Armstrong, sometime rector in the Diocese of Colorado, now accused of various offenses by the Diocese and under investigation by the State. He claims no longer to be under the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado but part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA).

This week, however, new matters have come to light. On October 23rd, Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish posted the result of a "forensic audit"
which basically exonerates him of the charges against him and places the primary blame on the former treasurer of the parish. Nothing is said of the charges of the violation of temporary inhibition (a church matter) and of Armstrong's rather creative connection to the Anglican Communion Institute.

The Audit was requested by Bishop Minns and the parish engaged Robert Johnson, CPA, to do the investigation.

So now we have three strands of material: The record of the trial court of the Diocese of Colorado, the investigation (not yet reported out) of the State, and the audit conducted by Mr. Johnson on behalf of the Congregation.


All of these concern the matters of thief and fraud. The Audit may or may not set the matter to rest but does underline the fact that his innocence in these matters is still a live question. I have said on several occasions that Fr. Armstrong's guilt or innocence is a matter best determined by the State, not by the congregation or the diocese.

But what is also clear is that Fr. Armstrong claims to have left the Episcopal Church for the Province of Nigeria, by way of CANA in the middle of the ecclesiastical proceedings, claiming thereby that the ecclesiastical court had no jurisdiction over him. He also claimed, and it was said on his behalf, that he was being hounded and persecuted for his theological beliefs and his considerable influence in the struggles of the day.

All of that is again raised by Fr. Armstrong. He said, among other things, the following:

“I am grateful for this report, for its clarity and completeness in addressing the false accusations against me and our vestry by the Diocese of Colorado, its Bishop, and their representatives.

“I am sorry that this theological conflict in the larger Episcopal Church has reached its hand down into our own parish and played itself out to such a destructive and divisive end.

“As far as my own commitment to
collegial decision-making within the whole of the Worldwide Anglican Communion on matters of faith and practice has been a cause for this, I am sorry for its effect, but I do not regret nor deny the principles for which we as a congregation have stood, and the life in Christ which we will always, God being our strength, uphold.

“For the suffering, embarrassment, and division my own missteps and faulty decisions have caused those committed to my own priestly pastoral care, I humbly apologize.

“But I also join with others who have been publicly ridiculed and humiliated to witness to God’s most sustaining presence and power in difficult times. ... To my adversaries, I also continue my prayers to God for each of you.”

The charge of public ridicule, humiliation, adversarial relations to the diocese and Episcopal Church, and the destructive and divisive hand of the wider church remains part of the Armstrong version of the story.

We should all be pleased when information is brought forward that supports the innocence of any person. Fr. Armstrong deserves the very best efforts available on his behalf. It remains for the State to work its investigation into these allegations.

Meanwhile, Fr. Armstrong is off to CANA without any effort to transfer from one Province to another and claiming that he is no longer in the jurisdiction of this church. So, whatever else is going on he has abandoned the communion of this church and for that is on the verge of being deposed.

Nothing in the report released by the congregation of Grace and St. Stephen's noted that the Diocese of Colorado on September 28th issued a final report on the trial in which they gave a two week response period for information to moderate the recommendations of the court. This audit would seem to relate to the matters before the court.

It comes, however, after the two week period, indeed only shortly before the month waiting period is over. It does not apparently have anything to do with the Court's charges or concerns.

What now will the Diocese of Colorado do? If the information is not given to the court they cannot respond. On the other hand Fr. Armstrong has refused to have anything to do with the Diocese or the Court in this process and claims to no longer be a part of the Episcopal Church.

No matter the other reasons for deposition, the final count remains: Fr. Armstrong has abandoned the communion of this church, including any acknowledgment that the trial court has jurisdiction.

His deposition, which I believe will indeed be made final, is not finally about the other issues, but about going to CANA.

3 comments:

  1. For those interested in such matters, I commend reading the whole report, which is posted on the Grace website (follow Mark's link, go to "Home" and follow the link for scanned images)

    Far from a complete exoneration, it concludes: "The Vestry and Treasurer over the years failed to carry out their responsibilities fully and completely as to the internal control and accounting functions of the Church" (page 18).

    In other words, the vestry simply gave Fr. Armstrong carte blanche over money, and rubber stamped whatever he did.

    The report also notes that the loans were illegal under Colorado law, and were never approved by the vestry. (pages 10 and 15-16).

    Mark, you are right, this needs a full investigation by the state or by the IRS before Fr. Armstrong can be declared guilty (or before the cloud over him can be lifted).

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm sure that Fr. Armstrong is losing sleep over his eventually and useless deposition from the diocese.
    Our new Anglican start-up church is led by a faithful and wonderful priest, who was likewise deposed by an Episcopal bishop, and it means zip, zero, nada to those of us who worship with him.
    Your continued obsession with those who have left is unbecoming.
    Let your people go! Seriously, the National Episcopal church is beginning to resemble the Pharoahs of the Bible.
    Instead of fighting and suing each other, how about a peaceful and amicable split, one that would raise Jesus up rather than reducing him to tears.
    I don't agree with continuing Anglicans who fight over property and I certainly condemn those in the national leadership who do it on their side.
    Shame, shame.

    John from Lansing

    ReplyDelete
  3. That Kaeton Woman25/10/07 8:29 AM

    It's very clear that the sole purpose of this "independent audit", called for by none other than Martyn Minns, bishop in the church of CANA, is to clean enough of the muck off Armstrong's face so as to make him more pleasing in the site of "Akinola and the Alphabet Soup Gang."

    Indeed, it is wise and prudent to await word from the State of CO and/or the IRS before rushing to final judgment on either side of this issue.

    Until then, we do have enough information to justify the decision of the diocesan ecclesiastical court.

    Prayers ascend for all.

    ReplyDelete

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