Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Thursday, January 04, 2007

What's news, what's not

I've gotten some pretty strong reaction to the story on the Rev. Donald Armstrong, the priest suspended from his work at Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church while the state diocese takes a look at the church's finances. Lots of rumors, lots of whispered allegations and counter-allegations. Some wonder why it was worth a story at all: "Why can't you leave these churches alone?"

Fair enough. Each round of allegations requires a fresh look to see whether it's worth a story. The fact that Armstrong had been temporarily removed from his church made this story news from the get-go. He's a prominent pastor with a large flock, and certainly some outside the church would've heard rumors as to why he wasn't there anymore. Allegations that Armstrong may have "misapplied" funds, well, that adds another layer of newsworthiness to the story -- simply because it encompasses such a wide range of potential wrongdoing, from an accounting error to embezzlement.

But, while many people have their theories as to what that misapplication (or lack thereof) might mean, I've not heard definitively from someone who would be in a position to know. The church leadership isn't talking about this. Neither is the diocese. The person (or people) who leveled the allegations haven't come forward publicly. And churches are not under the same guidelines as many other entities, in that they don't have to reveal any financial info to the public at all.

We'll continue to follow this story as it develops, of course. We'll see where it leads us. And, if you have any information, feel free to drop me a line.


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