11/26/2008

What goes around, comes around: Colorado Springs version.

We tend to get caught up in the most recent of Anglican-Land doings, and sometimes forget that long term battles are being fought having to do with people leaving the Episcopal Church and taking the silver with them, claiming that ever parish dances a solo dance and the majority of the parish consumers dictate the terms. Well, lest we forget, out there in Colorado Springs such doings continue.

Grace and St. Stephen's Church had a rector, The Rev. Don Armstrong, who left with some of the parishioners and yet strangely did not leave, but only changed the locks.  The Diocese was not pleased, but determined that the best course of action was not to storm the gates, but rather to take the matter to court. 

On the way they also determined that The Rev. Don Armstrong in addition to having bolted was involved in financially questionable activity, to the tune of $400,000.  Fr. Armstrong is now in CANA land where The Convocation of Anglicans in North America gave him a clean bill of health.

It seems the State of Colorado was informed that the Diocese believed he embezzled the money and the state has been on the case. According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, today they came around.  Police tape in hand, they cordoned off the Church and took out information believed to be useful to the investigation. According to the Gazette, the taping off of the Church was accompanied by "evicting its controversial pastor, the Rev. Donald Armstrong, who wandered the sidewalk in clerical garb, a copy of the warrant clutched in his right hand."

Fr. Armstrong is no longer a priest of The Episcopal Church. He resides in the CANA world.  It would appear from the sign that Bishop Alpha Mohammed is in town and was to preach there on Thanksgiving Day.  I am sorry for that. Bishop Mohammed is a powerful and good speaker. I heard him once when spoke some years ago in Delaware and he is a solid witness for the work of the Church and for the faith. This cannot have happened at a worse time.
But the problem is that what goes around, comes around. Fr. Armstrong has dug a very deep hole and getting out of it will not be easy.  It is not easy for anyone. No one likes to see police tape across the notice board. 

Fr. Armstrong has lived on reality's edge for some time. This is getting very real indeed. 


Meanwhile the continuing congregation of Grace & St. Stephen's meets elsewhere and the suit to recover the property is wending its way through the courts. The two - the charge of embezzlement against Fr. Armstrong and the recovery of the Church - are two different concerns, related by the fact that the one who laid claim to the property is also the one who is subject to the accusation of embezzlement. 


In the past Fr. Armstrong has claimed that he was being persecuted by the Church.  The State of Colorado has no truck with church persecutions, so its prosecution of the investigation is less easily a matter of persecution. 

8 comments:

  1. Fear not, Mark--in the comments on that news piece you linked to the so-called "orthodox" are already busily spinning this event as yet another chapter in the saga of their brutal persecution at the hands of TEC.

    Apparently the local police and D.A. are actually agents of the local bishop, if not directly controlled by Satan himself.

    What martyrs these people are! I tell you, Joan of Arc had it easy next to the "orthodox"!

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  2. I believe, and I truly believe that is being honorable AND spiritually healthy to say NO to crime...dishonesty, deceit, or any form of fear/hate-mongering at Church is deadly...it´s deadly to the spirit of those who would selfrighteously commit crimes against their brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, friends and coworkers...PERIOD! As for the Rt. Reverend, perhaps he ought ask the RIGHTFUL Bishop of Colorado if he CAN preach at one of the other Episcopal Churches/Anglican Communion...now, that seems appropriate, healthy spirited and law abiding!

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  3. Allegations of financial impropriety against Armstrong include the question of the use of the Bowton Fund, a fund set up to provide scholarships for needy ordinands, whose committee hasn’t met since 1992, to fund his own children’s education, provide an $8,800 grant for a former associate and for other unknown uses. Alleged theft: $115,387.

    The “outreach expenses” on the books that Grace Church made to the Anglican Communion Institute, Grace’s conservative think tank, never reached the institute. Instead, those payments were made to accounts called “Donald Armstrong — College Fund” or “College Fund.” Alleged theft: $146,316.

    The church paid for cell phones, personal computers and car expenses for his wife and children. Alleged theft: $130,707.

    [Much of the above from a piece by Paul Assay, published in the Colorado Springs Gazette in April of last year.]

    The presentment was based on a report by Sheri Betzer, a highly respected Certified Fraud Examiner and former IRS Revenue Agent, who also trains lawyers in the use of information obtained in forensic reviews.

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  4. Isn't this the same Don Armstrong that was tried by public opinion and innuendo before? And investigated before? And was proven innocent to the embarrassment (but not shame) of his loud accusers?

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  5. Found innocent?

    I don't think so.

    The IRS and criminal investigations have not concluded. The events referred to here suggest that investigations are ongoing.

    Hardly supports your contention that he was "found innocent."

    Except by some yahoo cowboy archibishop from Abuja, whose opinion really doesn't count much with me. And who has a conflict of interest.

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  6. Mark, Thanks for the Don Armstrong update. For a further elaboration of his bizarre thinking, google his name and scroll to "court case #2007cv1971", his affadavit given in District Court in Colorado. In his deposition, Armstrong states more than once that Grace and St. Stephen's is not a parisch, but its own diocese. It illustrates the thinking of so much of the GAFCON folks---the law does not matter because we can just re-define our terms. And they think liberals are relativists! Hilarious.

    Cheers,
    Susan Klein

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  7. The comment about the D.A. beign agents of the local Bishop is laughable because the recent outgoing (voted-out) D.A. is a member of Armstrong's congregation, as are several other local officials.

    Also, the so-called independent audit clearing Armstrong of wrong-doing was hired and paid for by Armstrongs attorney. His report doesn't say he didn't spend the money, but that the church authorized the expenditures and it was thier fault (paraphrasing, of course..)

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  8. I had not realized, Kirk, that "Armstrong's" DA - he was, I believe, the church's Senior Warden, not just a member of the congregation - has been voted out of office. Which would explain why the long arm of the Law has only now swung into action.

    In May a Colorado Springs television station documented and videotaped the DA's (and the Assistant DA's) ongoing pattern of drinking and driving (official vehicle, naturally) while on the job. I guess this may have been too much for the voters of Colorado Springs.

    http://colorado.mediamatters.org/items/200805070002

    Stick with it, Allen - "Four legs good ........."

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