Category : TEC Conflicts: Colorado

(Living Church) One AMIA Parish’s Journey to PEAR

After spending the past nine months debating questions of affiliation, members of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, a congregation in the northern suburbs of Colorado Springs, affirmed the recommendations of its pastor and leadership team, voting 82-6 to end their affiliation with the Anglican Mission in the Americas and to become part of PEAR USA (the North American Missionary District of Province de L’Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda).

The July 22 vote followed a lively, hour-long discussion involving dozens of parishioners. The discussion reflected the parishioners’ backgrounds in the Episcopal Church (about half), evangelical, and Protestant churches. One member supported his arguments with references to apostolic succession and the restoration of Charles I to the English throne, while another plainly said, “I didn’t grow up Episcopalian, or Anglican, so I don’t have a background in church hierarchy.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Adult Education, Anglican Provinces, Church of Rwanda, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, Theology

In Colorado an Anglican Church rises from the 'ashes' of old Syn nightclub

They sat in plastic chairs amid the sawdust and unfinished floorboards, chipped paint and bare plaster. All were in their Sunday best, about 200 people listening to the first prayer said in the new home of St. George’s Anglican Church.

“Drive from this place those demons that have possessed its inhabitants,” boomed the voice of the Rev. Don Armstrong. “Restore this place to its former sanctity and purpose.”

There was a bit of irony to Armstrong’s prayer, a double-meaning to both building and man.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, CANA, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado

(Colorado Springs Gazette) Don Armstrong sentenced to probation, $99,247 restitution

A judge Friday sentenced the Rev. Donald Armstrong to four years probation for his no-contest plea to one count of misdemeanor theft of funds from the Colorado Springs church where he once served as rector.

Fourth Judicial District Judge Gregory R. Werner also ordered Armstrong to pay restitution in the amount of $99,247 that was diverted to pay for his son’s and daughter’s college education. The money came from a trust fund originally set up to pay for the education of seminary students.
Werner refused to order an apology, citing his practice of not wanting to get involved in how such a letter would be worded. He also agreed with [Armstrong lawyer Dennis] Hartley that jail time would serve no purpose.

“There is a huge divide between these two churches,” he added.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, TEC Departing Parishes, TEC Parishes, Theology

Colorado Springs-Gazette: Attorneys from both sides satisfied with Don Armstrong plea agreement

Attorneys for the Rev. Donald Armstrong and the Pueblo District Attorney’s office were pleased Monday with the plea agreement in the criminal case involving the former rector of Grace and St. Stephen’s Church in Colorado Springs.

A Fourth Judicial District grand jury indicted Armstrong in May 2009 on 20 felony counts of embezzling $392,000 from Grace Church. Armstrong on Friday pled no contest to one felony count, according to El Paso County court files. Though Armstrong in his plea doesn’t admit guilt, the court views it in a legal sense as a guilty plea.

As part of the agreement, Armstrong admitted guilt to a new charge, misdemeanor theft, said Pueblo District Attorney Bill Thiebaut. A sentencing hearing on this charge will happen before the end of the year.

Armstrong’s sentence could include a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 18 months in the El Paso County Jail. Misdemeanor charges are brought for thefts between $500 and $1,000.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, Theology

A Diocese of Colorado Press Release on the Don Armstrong Plea Agreement

The leadership of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado was recently advised by Special Prosecutor, Stephen Jones that he had entered into a plea bargain with Donald Armstrong, a former priest of the diocese….

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, Theology

Colorado Episcopal Church might transform into apartments

St. Andrew’s Church, 300 Whedbee St., once served hundreds of parishioners. Now it might serve a much smaller congregation.

The city has scheduled a neighborhood meeting at 6 p.m. June 24 at the church on the corner of East Olive and Whedbee streets to discuss a proposal from Boulder developer Robert King to convert the church into four semi-high-end apartments.

St. Andrew’s disbanded in late 2008 when the congregation divided on theological differences, and a portion of the congregation left the church.

The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado decided to sell, putting the 7,434-square-foot property on the market about 18 months ago for $520,000.

The church is now listed on the Sperry VanNess website at $465,000, and Realtor Jared Goodman said it is under contract for about 7 percent less.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, TEC Departing Parishes

Colorado Springs Gazette: Grace Church trial took financial toll on both parties in lawsuit

St. George’s rector, the Rev. Donald Armstrong, said Tuesday he’s optimistic that the church will pay off its debts within the next 60 days.

“We are developing a (long-range) plan to once again have the sort of ministry and outreach for which we have long been known,” said Armstrong, whose church lost the bid for the $17 million Tejon Street property and now meets in the Mountain Shadows area.

On the other side, the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado spent $2.9 million to defend against the Anglican parish’s lawsuit to take possession of downtown property, diocese financial records show.

The legal expenses and a decline in the stock market resulted in a colossal loss in the diocese’s investment income, dropping from $4.9 million in January 2006 to $750,000 in August, records show. It will take years to recover the funds, said Chuck Thompson, assistant treasurer for the diocese.

“We had to sell stocks and bonds to pay the fees,” Thompson said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado

In Colorado 'Everyone just agreed to walk away' from Grace Church dispute

Attending the all-day meeting in a neutral downtown location were four representatives of the Episcopal Church and 20 people on the other side, including representatives of the CANA parish, some of the members being sued by the diocese and the members’ attorneys. Overseeing the settlement conference was Bill Neighbors, a mediator with the Judicial Arbiter Group in Denver for more than 20 years and a former state Supreme Court justice.

Judge Larry Schwartz recommended mediation to resolve the outstanding lawsuits in his March 24 order, but the quick resolution came as a welcome surprise, both sides say.

“We are pleased with the settlement,” CANA parish spokesperson Kelly Oliver said in a statement, “especially since it relieved our staff and vestry members of the burden of the expense of defending against $5 million in unjustified claims brought against them.”

Diocese chancellor Larry R. Hitt II said the settlement conference was successful because the CANA members being sued and the CANA parish seeking an appeal realized their cases were flimsy.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado

Denver Post: Pastor charged in parish theft

The conservative Colorado Springs pastor who broke away from the Episcopal Church to form a new Anglican congregation in May 2007 now is accused of stealing $291,000 from Grace Church and St. Stephen’s Parish.

The Rev. Don Armstrong was indicted on 20 counts of felony theft by an El Paso County grand jury Wednesday. He surrendered to authorities Thursday but was soon free on bond, according to the Colorado Springs Police Department.

Armstrong’s spokesman did not return calls Friday.

Police and a special prosecutor conducted a two-year investigation into allegations of Armstrong’s financial wrongdoings at the church.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado

In Colorado Springs For two churches, a new beginning

On March 26, 2007, the Episcopal congregation that met at 631 N. Tejon St. split when its vestry voted to leave the national body and align with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, or CANA. The CANA parish continued to worship in Grace Church, while the Episcopal group met at First Christian Church downtown.

A lawsuit was filed to decide ownership of the church property, leading to a 4 1/2 week trial, the longest church trial in Colorado history. Last month, a Fourth District Court judge ruled in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and the Episcopal Church, ordering the CANA parish to vacate the Tejon St. church, which it did by April 3.

Over the past several days, Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal parish moved back into Grace Church, while St. George’s signed a 6-month lease to worship in a nondescript building in the Mountain Shadows area that formerly housed the Renaissance Academy, a private school.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, CANA, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, TEC Departing Parishes

A.S. Haley on the Colorado Court Decision

Judge Schwartz actually gets what is wrong with the whole process of creating a trust on individual parish property through a top-down imposition of the Dennis Canon! (But don’t get your hopes entirely up. As we shall later see, he comes to the Church’s rescue—-or rather, in a classic punting of responsibility to those judges higher up on the pay scale, he reads the Supreme Court as having done the rescuing for him.) Can you be proud of a Church that treats all of its contributors in such a cavalier manner? The Church (at the national level, at least) regards you not as someone whom it must inform, or treat with any courtesy or respect, but as just another source of funds for as long as you are ignorant enough to allow it to control local property matters without your knowledge. For it knows that, should you find out about its ultimate control, you might stop giving money to a church over which you really have no say. And why on earth would you ever give any money for its further expansion?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado

Legal Ruling in the Episcopal Church Dispute in Colorado Springs

There is much recent material on this: A press release from the TEC affiliated parish, a press release from the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado, the text of the court ruling itself, and a statement from the Anglican parish is there.

Also, an ENS article is here, a Colorado Springs Gazette article is there and a Denver Post article is here.

Further, a local TV station reported the story this way.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado

Central New York Episcopal Diocese sues former parish again

Back in 2003, the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York consecrated a gay bishop and allowed others to perform same-sex blessings.

The Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, an Episcopal parish at the time, disagreed with this move and severed ties. Last year, the Diocese sued for Good Shepherd to leave the church building on Conklin Avenue, and in December, a state Supreme Court judge ruled in their favor.

On Friday, both sides were back in court.

“We’ve kind of moved on as a congregation and this is almost looking backwards now. So we were dreading it but here it is,” said Father Matthew Kennedy, Good Shepherd’s head pastor.

This time, the feud centers around a will by former Good Shepherd member Robert Brannan. He died in 1986 and left behind money in a trust fund for his parish.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Central Florida, TEC Conflicts: Central New York, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Conflicts: Florida, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, TEC Conflicts: Ohio, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, TEC Conflicts: Rio Grande, TEC Conflicts: San Diego, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Conflicts: Virginia, TEC Data, TEC Departing Parishes, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, TEC House of Deputies

Theron Walker: The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado Unrestrained I

My purpose in this essay is to briefly sketch the policies and practices of diocese of Colorado since the advent of bishop O’Neill, culminating in this policy change that came into effect on January 10, 2009, with the ordination of an individual living in a non-chaste same-sex partnership.

In 2003, the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado elected Robert O’Neill as its bishop. During his campaign, he was very clear about his commitments to the gay cause. In Massachusetts, besides spearheading the new diocesan camp, he led his parish into accepting his associate rector’s new lesbian “partnership.” Since there is no provision in the Episcopal Church for these things, her ceremony happened in another denomination.

A lot has happened between his election and now. O’Neill convened a task force in 2004 to examine the issues. “How will we choose to live together given our differences? What is our common ground? What are the limits? What is the highest degree of communion possible?” The end result was a recommendation from the Task Force for restraint, which has been followed till this new turn of events.

In Colorado, there already were partnered homosexuals and lesbians in orders. Also, provision had been made for some sort of thanksgiving in a liturgical context, but it wasn’t supposed to look like a wedding: no vows, no rings, no invitations, etc”¦ According to O’Neill, great license had been taken with his predecessor’s pastoral permissiveness. The modest thanksgivings looked like weddings.

So, upon his election, O’Neill suspended the pastoral provisions for liturgical recognition of homosexual relationships. He also suspended the ordination process of at least one partnered lesbian. He did not let partnered clergy into the diocese, even though certain parishes wanted it. There were three basic reasons: 1) O’Neill hoped to find some way to keep the diocese together. 2) The Anglican Communion’s value to us was of utmost importance. 3) The Episcopal Church had not yet authorized same sex blessings through its General Convention, being the proper, ordered place, where such changes happened. We in Colorado were called, on the left and the right, to restraint for the sake of unity.

That was then, this is now. What changed?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado

Ephraim Radner: An Open letter to the Covenant Design Group

[I see] particular evidences arise every day that demonstrate not only a lack of mitigation, but further retrenchment of polarization and division.

For example, yesterday my bishop in Colorado (where I remain canonically resident), the Rt. Rev. Robert O’Neill, ordained to the transitional diaconate a publicly known partnered homosexual. As we know, such an ordination in itself is no longer news in parts of North America. Why should anyone care? What made this news in Colorado (and this is where I heard about it first, in the newspaper) was that Bp. O’Neill has, since becoming bishop in 2003, made a public commitment to refuse such ordinations. He did this, not on the basis of his personal views, but ”“ frequently referring to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s own distinction between personal and episcopal teaching roles ”“ on the basis of his desire to abide by the Communion’s stated teaching and discipline for the sake of common life. He frequently emphasized his affirmation of the Windsor Report, both in its underlying theology and in upholding its specific recommendations. To be sure, he did not vow any time-frame for these commitments; but the purposes were clear enough.

Yet yesterday, he changed course. The issue here is not to lodge a complaint. Furthermore, we know there are no legally binding Communion policies that somehow limit his choices on this or any matter. Bishop O’Neill has made his decision, he has done so on the basis of convictions that were long-known, and he does so in concert with many of his American colleagues. Nonetheless, he does so in the known context of TEC’s and the Communion’s own difficult grappling with what has now turned into a horrendously destructive matter, and he does so deliberately. This is the issue worth pondering.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, Theology

Press Release from the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado on Yesterday's Action

On Saturday, Jan. 10, The Right Rev. Robert O’Neill ordained Mary Catherine Volland to the sacred order of priests, along with Heather Leigh Payton, Michael David Scott Demmon and Bret Bowie Hayes. All four ordinands will be serving congregations in Colorado.

Volland, a long-time resident of Colorado, was a candidate for ordination from the Diocese of Minnesota where she was ordained to the transitional diaconate this summer. She has been called to serve as an assistant priest at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Denver, and was ordained here by Bishop O’Neill on behalf of the Bishop of Minnesota, the Right Rev. James Jelinek. (Hayes, a candidate for ordination from the Diocese of Connecticut, is serving as a curate at St. John’s Cathedral, and was also ordained here by Bishop O’Neill on behalf of the Bishop of Connecticut, the Right Rev. Andrew Smith.)

Volland is a partnered lesbian. The Episcopal Church does ordain partnered gay and lesbian persons. Several Colorado congregations have been and are served faithfully by gay and lesbian clergy. Although there is a clearly range of opinion among clergy and lay people of the diocese about the ministry of partnered gay and lesbian clergy, one of the gifts of Anglican Christianity is its tradition of holding widely divergent points of view in a context of orthodox Christian faith.

“The Diocese of Colorado is perhaps the most politically and theologically diverse diocese in The Episcopal Church,” says Bishop O’Neill. “Our faithful walking together as sisters and brothers in Christ is at once challenging and a great gift that we have to offer to a broken and divided world. I am grateful to all in this diocese who faithfully come to the table to offer their many gifts to God’s service, including the gay and lesbian Christians among us who so generously contribute to our common life and ministry.”

I tried in vain to find this on the Diocesan Wesbite, if anyone else can help with this please let me know–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, Windsor Report / Process

Religious Intelligence: Colorado poses new crisis for Anglican Communion

The Anglican world is about to be plunged into a new crisis over sexuality as the American Diocese of Colorado ordained an openly gay and partnered priest yesterday.

Under terms agreed between member Churches of the Anglican Communion, there is a moratorium on ordaining further openly gay people, but Bishop Robert O’Neill (pictured) ordained Mary Catherine Volland, along with three others, to the priesthood at St. John’s Cathedral on Saturday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, Windsor Report / Process

Denver Post: Episcopal Diocese ordains Partnered Lesbian to serve Denver church

Mary Catherine Volland, a longtime resident of Colorado and a partnered lesbian, was ordained Saturday at St. John’s Cathedral in Denver, as the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado ended its moratorium on ordaining gay priests.

Volland had been a candidate for ordination by the Diocese of Minnesota. She will serve as an assistant priest at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Denver.

Nationally, the issue of ordaining gay priests has caused division within the church.

Read it all.

Update: There is also a Rocky Mountain News story here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, Windsor Report / Process

Matt Burnett: Why I Left the Episcopal Church to Remain an Anglican

But in July of 2003, the Episcopal Church, including Colorado’s bishop, Jerry Winterrowd, knowingly and happily elected to consecrate as bishop an openly homosexual priest living in a same-sex relationship.

At this point, the Episcopal Church in America””which, frankly, had been crumbling””was broken.

It had been under stress for two reasons: the gradual crackup of the authority of Scripture (and hence the Lord of the Scriptures) and the role of bishops. In our tradition and polity, the Scriptures are the lifeblood of the church, and bishops are the foundation extending from the cornerstone, Jesus Christ. Episcopal bishops exercise spiritual authority because of a godly life and their commitment to perpetuate, guard, and defend the Biblical faith.

The role of bishop””one who “guard[s] the faith,” obedient to the Lord in the Scriptures and the power of the Holy Spirit””is foundational to Anglican identity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Anglican Provinces, Church of Rwanda, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado

Police raid Grace Church & St. Stephen's in Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs police detectives raided Grace Church & St. Stephen’s on Wednesday morning to seize paper financial records and computers as part of a theft investigation launched more than a year ago.

More than 20 officers cordoned off the blocklong church complex at 601 N. Tejon St., evicting its controversial pastor, the Rev. Donald Armstrong, who wandered the sidewalk in clerical garb, a copy of the warrant in his right hand.

The raid focused on records tied to allegations from the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado that Armstrong embezzled $400,000 from Grace Church & St. Stephen’s Parish, the congregation he headed before he and his followers broke away in early 2007 to affiliate with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

Colorado Springs police Lt. David Whitlock said officers were searching for evidence of theft and fraud. Police also searched Armstrong’s Colorado Springs home Wednesday.

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, CANA, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado

Colorado Bishop Seeks to Remove Previously Transferred Priests

The Rt. Rev. Robert O’Neill, Bishop of Colorado, is seeking to remove from the ministry more than a dozen priests that his predecessor lawfully transferred to another Anglican province after they joined the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) more than seven years ago.

The initial list included at least one priest, the Rev. Robert John Bryan, who claims not to have received any communication on the matter. He expressed surprise at the news of his inhibition when contacted by The Living Church, and said he had not received any communication from anyone in the Diocese of Colorado since receiving a copy of his letter of transfer nearly eight years ago.

The Rev. Canon Colin Kelly, president of the Diocese of the Rio Grande’s standing committee, confirmed that Fr. Bryan has been a canonically resident priest in good standing of that diocese since 2002. According to several priests in the Rio Grande who spoke with The Living Church, he served with distinction and loyalty as priest-in-charge at St. Matthew’s, Las Lunas, M.M., for about five years. He decided to retire from the active ministry and moved back to Colorado to be nearer to family last year.

In 2000, 17 priests from the Diocese of Colorado, including Fr. Bryan, sought to leave The Episcopal Church after the formation of the AMiA that year. The Rt. Rev. Jerry Winterrowd, who was Bishop of Colorado from 1991-2004, signed and sent letters dimissory for all the priests to the “Ecclesiastical Authority of the Church of the Province of Southeast Asia.”

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado

Press Release: Colorado Church Property Dispute Unresolved

(From the Anglican parish of Grace and Saint Stephen’s Church).

(Colorado Springs, Colorado) Judge Larry E. Schwartz of the El Paso County District Court issued a decision today that the property dispute between Grace Church and St. Stephen’s and the Episcopal Bishop and Diocese of Colorado cannot be resolved by summary judgment and must go to trial court. Yet, significantly and critical to Grace Church and St. Stephen’s legal argument for ownership of the property in question, Judge Swartz concluded that the parish is a valid, non-profit corporation recognized by the State of Colorado since 1973.

Judge Schwartz’s decision was in response to a hearing held on May 2, 2008 at the El Paso County Courthouse in which 18 members of Grace Church and St. Stephen’s requested that personal lawsuits brought against them by the Episcopal Bishop of Colorado be dismissed.

In May of 2007 Grace Church and St. Stephen’s voted to affiliate with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) in a congregational election. Of the 370 votes cast, an overwhelming 342, or 93%, voted for Grace Church and St. Stephen’s, one of the oldest Episcopal Churches in Colorado, to leave the Episcopal Church over its departure from traditional Christian beliefs and practice.

Since that time the Episcopal Bishop and Diocese of Colorado have sued the corporation of Grace Church and St. Stephen’s, 18 individual members and lay-leaders of the congregation, and an affiliated elementary school, St. Stephen’s Classical School, for the 17 million dollar historic landmark church building in downtown Colorado Springs.

In today’s decision Judge Schwartz wrote that “over six volumes of affidavits, correspondence and documents have been filed over the last year in support of various issues that will ultimately need to be addressed.” As a consequence, “Neither party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law under summary judgment analysis”¦.Material facts ”¦ are clearly in dispute.”

In response to Judge Schwartz’s decision, Jon Wroblewski, senior warden of Grace Church as St. Stephen’s, said, “We are grateful for the careful and deliberate seriousness with which Judge Swartz has considered our case. Furthermore, we are pleased that the judge recognized the fact that the parish’s 1973 corporation has been doing business as a legal entity unchallenged by the Episcopal Church for 35 years, that our corporation is recognized by the Secretary of State, that this property case is very different from previous cases involving church property disputes, and that neutral principles of law prevail over and against sectarian arguments about ecclesiastical hierarchy. Sadly, I think that this case is proving to be an embarrassment to Christian witness in this community and beyond. The vicious actions of the Bishop and Diocese of Colorado to attack a congregation’s right of self-determination, to personally sue 18 upstanding members of a community in their capacity as volunteer non-profit directors, and to sue an elementary school are unconscionable. Surely there is a better way for Christian people to behave in the public eye. We hold out hope, however forlorn, that the Bishop will repent and come to some reasonable mediated settlement; but if not, justice must prevail.”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado

In Colorado, Irreconcilable differences: Episcopal split remains bitter

The parish is also growing. Seventy-six members have been added this year, sources say, and ministry programs are being founded.

Armstrong said the turmoil has made him a better spiritual counselor to others, and his parishioners support the decision to leave the national body.

“It was sad to have to leave the Episcopal Church, but theologically we had to make that move,” said Shirley Waddill, 72, who has attended the North Tejon Street church for 18 years.

Phil Kilgore, 46, said even if Grace CANA loses the church property, the parish will continue. “Our clarity of purpose and sense of mission will translate to growth,” he said.

Meanwhile, Grace Episcopal has a weekly attendance of 250 and membership of more than 500, sources say. The 2008 budget is $400,000.

The congregation is a mix of liberal, moderate and conservative Episcopalians. O’Donnell, who is conservative, finds that a blessing.

Read it all.

I will consider posting comments on this article submitted first by email to Kendall’s E-mail: KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado

Deb Tenney's CLC Resignation Letter

Those of you who know me well know that I have been struggling with this wrenching decision for the past six months since that HOB meeting. In November, Dr. Kendall Harmon visited with us at our last CLC conference. He told us that any hope of Communion discipline of TEC was dead, and he challenged us that we no longer have the luxury of not deciding about how we will practice our faith as orthodox Anglicans. We have only two choices before us; stay in a differentiated way that sets us apart from the liberal diocese, or leave. I have many friends and parish family members who feel called to stay and be the faithful remnant in TEC. I know they are making this decision faithfully and sacrificially, and I pray that God gives them strength to persevere. But I have reached a crossroad of conscience that takes me in a different direction. I can no longer be part of a church that presents a distorted hollow Christian witness to a culture crying out for salvation found only by laying down sin at the foot of the Cross. The passing of time will have to tell us which was the better path, but for now I trust the leading of the Holy Spirit, knowing that whatever decision we make, in faith, about leaving or staying will be used for good.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, Theology

Colorado Diocese turns up heat in lawsuit over schism

The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado moved Friday to sue individual parishioners who support the breakaway congregation at Grace Church and St. Stephen’s Parish in Colorado Springs, according to documents filed in El Paso District Court.

The petition asks the court to add 18 people to the diocese’s existing countersuit, which is seeking monetary damages as well as repossession of the church.

The targeted members include everyone on the parish’s governing board as well as the church’s main spokesman, Alan Crippen, and its rector of 20 years, the Rev. Don Armstrong.

The diocese’s action is part of a lawsuit already under way to determine the rightful owner of the historic, multimillion-dollar church property located in the central part of the city.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado

Documentation of the Audit in the Don Armstrong matter in Colorado

Following the links.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado

Reading the fine print in the Diocese of Colorado 2008 Proposed Budget

In fine print at the bottom of page 1 of the Diocese of Colorado proposed budget for 2008 is this interesting caveat:

This budget includes only normal legal expenses and no provision for extraordinary investigations and litigation. The Diocese expects that
there will be additional, significant amounts to be approved by the Standing Committee for such expenses in 2008.

Inquiring minds would just love to have a ball park figure. Oh well.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Jean Torkelson: Episcopal past, future tied to marriage issue

Sunday was the flock’s first chance to hear more about the recent decision by the Episcopal bishops , including Colorado’s Rob O’Neill, to hold off at least until 2009 on encouraging same-sex unions and openly gay bishops.

Schism looms anyway, a troubling prospect to churches like St. Philip’s, where the Rev. Theron Walker got applause Sunday when worshipper Tom Cook called out from his pew, “Thank you, Father, for being faithful (to traditional Christianity).”

Later, Walker put his head in his hands and said, only half-kidding, “The stress is driving my wife (Denise) crazy.”

First, why dwell on this story?

I think there’s a historical poetry and power connected to the Episcopal Church, whose roots are steeped in the Church of England and the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation. The denomination began with the marriage issue – Henry VIII’s marriages, to be exact – and five centuries later the marriage issue, in the form of same-sex unions, may shatter it.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado

Another Colorado flock leaves the Episcopal Church fold

The exodus from the Episcopal Church continued last week as leaders of another Colorado congregation prepared to split with the increasingly liberal denomination.

The Rev. Charles Reeder is scheduled to preach his last sermon today as rector of the Church of the Holy Comforter here. Then, “Father Chuck” and the church’s leadership ”” including the 10-member vestry and youth ministers ”” plan to join the growing number of traditional Episcopalians fleeing the embattled denomination.

In this case, the trigger was money. Donations have dropped precipitously since 2003, when the church consecrated its first openly homosexual bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, and agreed to perform same-sex blessings.

John Bosio, Holy Comforter’s senior warden, said the 49-year-old parish is now basically insolvent.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, TEC Departing Parishes

In Colorado Church breakup civil but still hurts

In many sweet ways – little notes on the refrigerator, photos of kids on the walls – Holy Comforter parish in Broomfield resembles a happy family.
But next Sunday, this 49-year-old family faces something like a divorce.

That’s when the Rev. Chuck Reeder and an unspecified number of parishioners join the national conservative flight out of the Episcopal Church because of its departure from traditional teachings on marriage and Scriptural authority.

“Very soon, this is not going to be the congregation it has been,” Reeder told Sunday’s Bible study crowd over pastries and coffee. He confessed to typos in this week’s study outline and added, “Go easy on me. This has been a tough week.”

Unlike the bloody war of lawsuits elsewhere, this parish breakup is civil and polite – gentle, even. Nobody’s trying to take the property. Reeder won’t even discuss who’s staying or going, lest it seem like a bitter “us” versus “them” issue.

But everything still hurts.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado