Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Monday, March 19, 2007

Percolating Grace

I went to Grace Episcopal Church this weekend. On the surface, it felt like a pretty typical church service. People sang, prayed and greeted one another with "peace be with you." Announcements were about a high school mission trip. The Rev. Eric Zolner spoke about the need to surrender to God during difficult times.

Truth is, Grace has been through some very difficult times the past 10 weeks, and Zolner and the entire congregation knew it. Though the Rev. Don Armstrong -- Grace's rector suspended for allegedly misapplying funds -- was nowhere to be seen, his presence is everywhere these days. Zolner talked about how Armstrong picked him and his buddies up when they went on an ill-advised bike ride in the snow -- a foul-weather savior, as it were. The church's Web site is loaded up with news, including information on how to donate to Armstrong's legal defense fund and an announcement for a parish meeting March 25.

The meeting, oddly enough, wasn't mentioned during the service I went to.

Armstrong's suspension is supposedly due to expire before the month is out, though Colorado's Episcopal Bishop Rob O'Neill could extend it. The Diocesan Review Committee -- the body tasked with deciding whether to pursue charges against Armstrong -- is expected to meet sometime this week, according to the diocese. The Review Committee still has 30 days to review the matter in confidence, but it appears that this struggle is nearing a boiling point.


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