Category : TEC Conflicts: Colorado

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.

Read it all.

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

The Bishop of Colorado Writes the Church of the Holy Comforter

Church of the Holy Comforter

Dear Friends,

This past Monday I was sorry to learn that your rector, The Reverend Chuck Reeder, has tendered his resignation effective October 1 and that simultaneously the members of your vestry have also resigned effective October 1. These actions follow soon after a meeting I had with your rector, wardens, and treasurer on August 8 during which I was informed that The Church of the Holy Comforter is currently facing significant financial challenges. These difficulties, I am told, stem from the fact that 42% of pledge income to the parish is currently being withheld by members of the parish who are unhappy with The Episcopal Church””members who, as it was explained to me, have no intention of contributing to ministry of The Church of the Holy Comforter so long as it remains a member of The Episcopal Church.

During that same meeting, I explained to your parish leadership that our Diocesan Canons have a provision by which my office will work with the leadership of any parish that is so “imperiled” to thoroughly assess the situation and to develop a viable plan for the future of the congregation. Over the past several weeks, my office, working with your Senior Warden, John Bosio, began taking steps to put that process in place. Subsequently your rector and vestry decided to resign. Even so, you should know that this process of assessing the life of the parish and developing a plan for recovery will continue to move forward under the direction of my office. For those of you that have concerns about the buildings and property, they belong as always to the Episcopal Church, and I am committed to seeing that the Episcopal Church continues to exercise its ministry in that location in the days and years to come. Moreover, your parish leadership has graciously expressed their intent to work with my office to that end without engaging in any disputes over the ownership of property. For their thoughtfulness and good will, I am indeed grateful.

You should know too, that although they have already tendered their resignations, your wardens and vestry have stated their desire and commitment to cooperate with my office to provide for a smooth transition as we identify the steps that will be necessary to provide The Church of the Holy Comforter with new pastoral leadership and guidance in the days ahead.

Over the next week, I will be in conversation with your rector and wardens to identify the specific steps and the timetable for the upcoming transition. Just as soon as that work has been done, you can expect to hear directly from me. To that end, I have scheduled a parish meeting for Thursday, September 6, at 7:30 p.m. at The Church of the Holy Comforter to update you on the situation and to outline the next steps that will be taken to reorganize and redevelop The Church of the Holy Comforter.

Although I am indeed saddened to know that some members of your congregation have expressed a desire to leave The Episcopal Church, I trust that they do so in good faith and out of a heartfelt desire to respond faithfully to the call of God in their lives. I want you to know that I continue to hold those individuals in my prayers and to ask God’s blessing on them in the same way I hold all of you in my prayers during these difficult days.

Just as The Church of the Holy Comforter has had a wonderful and vibrant history of ministry in the Broomfield area and in The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado in the past, I am confident that it will continue to do so in the days ahead. I am committed to working with you to that end, and, as always, I am confident in the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit working within us and among us to bear the fruit of God’s purpose in our lives. For now, God’s peace and blessing be with you. I will look forward to speaking with you soon.

Yours faithfully in Christ,

–(The Rt. Rev) Robert O’Neill is Bishop of Colorado

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

In Colorado The Church of the Holy Comforter Announces Resignation of Church Leadership

BROOMFIELD, COLORADO ”“ August 27, 2007”“ The Church of the Holy Comforter today announced the resignation of its leader, The Reverend Dr. Charles Reeder and his departure from The Episcopal Church effective October 1, 2007. Holy Comforter also announces that Vestry, the Children’s Minister, Youth Minister and Treasurer will resign and follow Father Reeder’s move within the greater worldwide Anglican Communion Network (ACN).

“We are saddened by the current state of The Episcopal Church in the US which we believe has strayed from the orthodox, scriptural beliefs of the worldwide Anglican Communion,” said Reeder. “Many church members have demonstrated their dissatisfaction with the Episcopal Church’s actions and words through the withholding of contributions. This has led us to examine the best possible future for Holy Comforter and our desire to remain part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.”

Near term, Reeder, Vestry, the core ministry team and members of Holy Comforter continue in a period of prayer and fasting as they look for guidance around the future of the congregation. Reeder has not yet determined his future place within the Anglican Communion.

About The Church of the Holy Comforter
Located in Broomfield, Colorado, Holy Comforter is a traditional, biblically-based community which provides spiritual leadership and outreach locally and globally. The church, founded in 1958, believes the Scripture is the foundation and authority for The Episcopal Church USA and the greater Anglican Communion of which it is a member. For more information, visit

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

16-year-old takes over as congregation’s organist

Forget, for the moment, that Zachary Crippen’s church has been in the news because of a nasty, high-profile divorce from its mother denomination.

And let’s sidestep the fact that there’s a dispute over who owns the towering stone church building and its belongings, including the 80-year-old organ.

This story is about the young man who brought music back into the lives of the congregation of Grace CANA Church, a group that broke away in March from the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado. The timing wasn’t the best. It was right before Easter, a highly attended service that begs for a church organist. But the organist and most of the choir did not join the breakaway.

Enter Crippen, a master of the keyboard with about eight years of piano lessons to his credit. That’s piano, not organ. He had never touched an organ, but he wasn’t deterred. He stepped into the vacuum and up to the organ ”” and it took him 10 minutes to figure out how to open it up.

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

Cops investigate theft report

Armstrong’s attorney, Dennis Hartley, said the Episcopal court no longer has jurisdiction over Armstrong now that he is a member of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a mission of the Nigerian diocese.

A spokesman for the breakaway Grace Church, Alan Crippen, said that he learned of the criminal complaint Friday, and he welcomed it.

“We view this as a positive development,” Crippen said. “We are utterly confident of a fair process with the Colorado justice system, unlike the witch hunt conducted by the Episcopal Diocese.”

Both Armstrong and Colorado Episcopal Bishop Robert O’Neill have 30 days to respond to the ecclesiastical court’s preliminary ruling. The court will then issue a final judgment along with recommendations for a sentence.

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

Richard Kew on the Don Armstrong Ruling in Colorado

I want to plead with folks always to be more thoughtful before they rush to judgment. It may be natural to want to smear the motivation of those who oppose us, or whose ideology and beliefs are at odds with our own, but is this a worthy way of proceeding? Just because we believe people are deeply in error in one area, it is illogical to assume that they are going to be incapable of seeing facts clearly in other areas.

While I have experienced misrepresentation and have seen much misrepresentation in the church, I have never in 30+ years as a priest of the Episcopal Church seen anything on the scale that is being implied by respondents here. From all I know it appears that the Diocese of Colorado is seeking to get to the bottom of this apparent mishandling of money because it has grave fiduciary responsibilities.

What those making the accusations seem unwilling to accept is that the outcome of the court makes it increasingly likely that the priest actually did commit what he is accused of doing. Just because his theology is sound when compared to the belief systems of those adjudicating the business does not mean that he is not prone like all of the rest of us to give way to temptation and fall into sin.

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

Episcopal Church court: Don Armstrong guilty

An ecclesiastical court on Wednesday convicted the Rev. Donald Armstrong of stealing nearly $400,000 from his Colorado Springs parish, though it cannot legally punish the breakaway pastor.

The court of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado will decide in about a month, however, whether to recommend that Bishop Robert O’Neill defrock Armstrong, a largely symbolic action that would end all ties between the church and him.

Armstrong left the diocese with a majority of the Grace Church & St. Stephen’s vestry board in March and now oversees the congregation of the Grace CANA Church that is affiliated with the more conservative Convocation of Anglicans in North America. His spokesman, Alan Crippen, said the Episcopal Diocese does not have authority over Armstrong.

“Our relationship with the diocese has been one of adversity over the last couple of months, so this decision is no surprise,” Crippen said Wednesday.

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

Episcopal lawyer slams Armstrong at hearing

The Rev. Don Armstrong used his pulpit to “throw out a smokescreen to conceal his grave offenses and crimes,” a lawyer for the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado told an ecclesiastical court today.

Parishioners past and present from Grace Church and St. Stephens in Colorado Springs, “deserve to know the evidence of his wrong doing,” attorney Ty Gee told the independent panel which heard nearly three hours of testimony at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral.

Armstrong, who has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, ignored the hearing, saying it has no jurisdiction over him.

Read it all.

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

Episcopal priest's case goes to church court

An Episcopal Church court meets in Denver today to weigh the case against the Rev. Don Armstrong, who has been accused by the diocese of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his Colorado Springs parish.

The public is invited, but Armstrong will be among the missing when the five-member judicial body of clergy and laity convenes at 9 a.m. in Dagwell Hall of St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, 1350 Washington St.

“I think he’s going mountain biking (today), which shows you what he thinks of it,” said his spokesman, Alan Crippen.

Read it alll.

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

Theology battle rocks Springs Episcopal church, world

The Gothic Revival tower of Grace Church and St. Stephen’s Parish stands as a monument to staid tradition – but this sanctuary has turned into a battleground.

Rebellious parishioners left the American Episcopal Church this spring, protesting its acceptance of gay unions and other departures from orthodoxy, to join a Nigerian Anglican diocese.

Now, the congregation is locked in a legal battle with the Colorado Diocese over ownership of the church, valued at $17 million.

The congregation also is trying to keep its conservative priest of 20 years, the Rev. Don Armstrong, in his pulpit, despite allegations of theft and fraud.

Tuesday, an Episcopal ecclesiastical court will weigh charges against Armstrong, who is accused by the diocese of stealing or misusing more than $500,000.

The battle for Grace Church is part of a global theological conflict within the worldwide 77-million-member Anglican Communion.

Liberal church members are pitted against conservative Anglicans in Africa, Asia and South America.

In Colorado, 14 congregations have moved to affiliate with African-led dioceses rather than the Episcopal Diocese in Denver.

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

In Colorado, Grace's paper chase

Nearly 80 years ago, leaders at Grace Church joined and, in writing, invoked “the name of God.”

With a few pen strokes, Grace’s rector, wardens and vestry ”” its board ”” signed away their grand, young church, placing it under the “spiritual jurisdiction and authority” of Bishop Irving P. Johnson, then the highest Episcopal authority in Colorado.

The leaders relinquished “all claim to any right of disposing” the building at 601 N. Tejon St. in Colorado Springs without Johnson’s consent or that of his successors, according to the “instrument of donation,” signed on Nov. 15, 1929.

The one-page form could be a Holy Grail for a diocese eager to return to the building now being used by hundreds of entrenched Episcopal secessionists and their embattled patriarch, the Rev. Don Armstrong.

Martin Nussbaum, an attorney for the diocese, says the form, which surfaced as part of the legal battle for the building, bodes well for hundreds of exiled Episcopal loyalists hoping to return to the gray building described when it opened in 1926 as perhaps the most beautiful church west of the Mississippi River.

Alan Crippen, a spokesman for the secessionists, downplayed the document’s significance, saying only that it “looks ceremonial, but not legal.”

Read it all.

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

Colorado lawyers discuss Los Angeles ruling

The Colorado Springs Gazette decided to find out how the recent Los Angeles court case could affect pending litigation in Colorado. Here’s what the lawyers had to say.

Attorneys on both sides of the case disagree about how the California decision dovetails with their legal arguments.

L. Martin Nussbaum, attorney for the Colorado diocese and local parish, says the ruling reinforces a similar one ”” Diocese of Colorado v. Mote ”” upheld by the Colorado Supreme Court in 1986. In that case, a breakaway parish tried to keep church property, but the court ruled the property belonged to the diocese.

“It (the California decision) is a very scholarly explanation of the law that affirms the freedom of a national church to determine its own rules and governance, and in the case of the Episcopal church, prevents a portion of a local congregation to leave the church and take the property,” Nussbaum says.

But Grace CANA’s attorney, Greg Walta, says Colorado v. Mote isn’t as clear-cut when it comes to the local case. The 1986 ruling turned on the fact that the parish had been a mission church under control of the diocese for 20 years, and its organizing document ceded control over its property to the diocese, he says. In contrast, Walta contends that Grace’s articles of incorporation do not mention the diocese, it has title to the local church property and a long history of acting independently from the diocese and at times in defiance of the diocese.

“Our case is more like Dickey v. Snodgrass, a Colorado case that ruled for a local church,” Walta said. “So the outcome will depend on the facts in the case.”

In the California case, diocese officials were pleased by the decision.
“Now we can get about the business of healing and about the business of being a church,” said the Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the diocese.

But Eric Sohlgren, lead lawyer for the three parishes, said the decision ran counter to 30 years of legal precedent in California. The parishes will decide soon whether to appeal to the California Supreme Court.

The full article is here

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

The Communion Laity and Clergy of Colorado Group Releases a Letter to Bishop O'Neill

We know you have asked the Diocesan Task Force “to find some ways to maintain the essential unity of the body by identifying practical means by which different groups can hold and exercise their convictions with integrity without needing either to act out or to split off completely and to identify some way in which the two polarizing elements of the diocese can continue to work together.” While the goal of the Task Force is noble, we do not see any solution to the dilemma facing either group, short of a miracle. The dilemma is not based on issues of sexuality. Rather, the primary source of our differences is two interpretations of scripture and of the Gospel itself.

CLC stands committed to the primates’ Communiqué and to whatever Primate endorsed alternate national pastoral scheme may be developed””with or without the cooperation of the House of Bishops. Further, we are committed to work cooperatively with you through any practical matters if such a scheme is determined in a manner that reflects a Christian witness.

Read it all.

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

CANA Welcomes New Congregations

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, CANA, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Conflicts: Florida, TEC Conflicts: Virginia, TEC Departing Parishes

Colorado Springs Parish votes to break from Episcopal Church

A majority of voting members at Grace Church and St. Stephens Parish in Colorado Springs have declared their willingness to break away from the Episcopal Church to join a conservative Anglican network more in line with their beliefs, according to spokesman Alan Crippen.
The vote, tallied Saturday, showed 93 percent of 370 voting members approved of the plan to leave the Episcopal Church, Crippen said. It capped an ongoing period of uncertainty that began March 26 when parish rector, The Rev. Don Armstrong, and a majority of the church’s governing board, declared they were each individually leaving the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Colorado.

Because the schismatic act was so unusual, the breakaway parish leaders said they would set up a vote to determine what parishioners wanted to do.

Armstrong has been under an ongoing investigation by the diocese of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars in parish funds. He denies the charge and says is an act of revenge by the diocese and Bishop Rob O’Neill because of his conservative beliefs.

In a second ballot question, 78 percent of the voters declared they wanted the breakaway leadership of Grace Church to continue fighting to hold on to the church property at 601 N. Tejon St. The 135-year-old property, which occupies a city block, is now embroiled in a legal dispute with the Episcopal Church in El Paso County District Court.

Crippen said he believed the “no” votes on both ballot questions came from Grace Church members loyal to the diocese and to Bishop Rob O’Neill, even though the Episcopal loyalists had said all along that they would refuse to legitimize Armstrong’s cause by participating in the vote.

Crippen said the will of the voting majority was indisputable, “and showed clearly a very strong mandate to affirm the vestry decision of March 26 (to leave the Episcopal Church).”

Read it all.

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

The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado's Statement on Yesterday's Parish Vote

The “vote” being taken this week by the secessionist group that now illegally occupies Grace and Saint Stephen’s Church in Colorado Springs has no legal validity or bearing on the current efforts by The Diocese of Colorado to regain rightful control of its property.

Because The Episcopal Church is a hierarchical church, parishes are not established by the vote of a congregation but only by actions taken by a diocesan convention and ecclesiastical authority. Conversely, no vote taken by a congregation or by its vestry can dissolve a parish or change its affiliation to another religious body. For that reason, neither the “vote” taken by the secessionist vestry on March 26 nor the “vote” currently being taken this secessionist group has any legal grounding or effect.

In fact, the secessionist group has not been clear or consistent about what the actions of May 20 and the coming days actually represent. On March 26, the secessionist vestry voted that “Grace Church and St. Stephen’s Parish will leave the Episcopal Church” effective immediately. In a press release that same day, they stated that members of the parish had no choice with regard to this action but would merely “be given the opportunity to affirm” their decision to affiliate with the Church of Nigeria.

The seizing of property rightfully belonging to the Episcopal Church is nothing more than a sadly misguided effort to restore to a position of public trust a priest who is currently under ecclesiastical indictment for the misappropriation of church funds. The diocese has been investigating allegations against the Rev. Donald Armstrong involving serious financial misconduct for more than a year, and in March, the Diocesan Review Committee issued a Presentment of charges ”“ similar to an indictment ”“ against Armstrong on the same day the former vestry of Grace and St. Stephen’s announced their decision to secede.

Last week, the Bishop and Diocese of Colorado filed an answer and counterclaim in response to the complaint filed in El Paso County by a secessionist congregation on Good Friday (April 6). The response asserts that the real property of Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church belongs to the loyalist Episcopal congregation, and that the secessionist congregation has “wrongfully taken steps to take possession of and exercise control over the Property.” It cites the long history of the parish in the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Colorado, and the established legal precedent that Grace Church and St. Stephen’s holds legal title of record to the property for the mission of, and in trust for the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and The Episcopal Church.

The parish of Grace and St. Stephen’s is one of 114 congregations in the Diocese of Colorado. Currently, at least 200 ”“ 400 members of that congregation who wish to remain part of the Episcopal Church are worshiping at nearby First Christian Church until they can be restored to their property. The vestry of the Episcopal congregation has encouraged members not to take part in the invalid vote organized by the secessionist group. Prior to the move to secede from the Episcopal Church, Grace and St. Stephen’s had a reported average Sunday attendance of 800 people. St. John’s Cathedral in Denver reports a similar average Sunday attendance.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, TEC Departing Parishes

Colorado Congregation Votes to Leave the Episcopal Church

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

Last March the vestry, or governing board of the Parish, had voted to join CANA in a provisional affiliation that was ratified by the congregation today. The Parish’s new affiliation with CANA, an American missionary diocese of the Church of Nigeria and the largest Anglican Church in the world, allows Grace Church and St. Stephen’s the freedom to continue its Gospel ministry unmolested by theological innovators and revisionists in the Episcopal Church.

Jon Wroblewski, senior warden of the parish’s vestry said, “The congregation’s decision to join CANA is the most important decision in Grace Church and St. Stephen’s 135 year history. We have decided to remain true to the faith of our ancestors and the founders of this parish even as the Episcopal Church departs from the faith and the Anglican Communion.”

Founded in 1872, Grace Church and St. Stephen’s was the first Anglican Church in Colorado Springs and helped to establish all the other Episcopal Churches in the city including: The Chapel of our Savior, St. Michael’s, and Holy Spirit (now defunct), St. Francis (now defunct), and St. Andrew’s in Manitou Springs. Grace Church and St. Stephen’s pre-dates the existence of the Diocese of Colorado (1887).

According to the parish’s rector, Fr. Donald Armstrong, “The plight of the Episcopal Church truly grieves me. What was once a great church of Gospel proclamation and social influence has now become an irrelevant and insignificant denomination characterized by theological drift and demographic decay. The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado is dying and has lost 60% of its market share of Colorado’s population during the last 60 years. The decision for Grace Church and St. Stephen’s was a simple choice between death with the Episcopal Church or spiritual life and vitality with CANA.”

The significance of Pentecost Sunday is not lost on the leadership of Grace Church and St. Stephen’s and neither is the month of May, 2007. Armstrong said, “Tomorrow is the Feast of Pentecost, the birthday of the Christian church — the day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit empowering his people to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Similarly, this month marks the 400th year since the founding of Anglicanism in America with the Jamestown settlers in Virginia. On these two anniversaries we are celebrating our heritage as Christians and Anglicans in a re-birth, renewal, realignment, and recommitment to Gospel proclamation in Colorado.”

The flag of the Episcopal Church will no longer be carried in worship services of Grace Church and St. Stephen’s. Instead, a new flag and banner will be carried ”“ The Anglican Communion’s Compass Rose flag symbolizing the parish’s continuing constituent membership in the worldwide Anglican Communion and the CANA Banner as the standard for proclaiming the transforming Gospel to all peoples in North America and beyond.

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