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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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….

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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.

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