Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Armstrong Served

The saga of Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish continues to tick along. The Rev. Donald Armstrong was officially "served" by the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado, according to diocesan sources, notifying him that his case would be tried by an Episcopal Court. Armstrong apparently has until May 10 to respond, but we're still a long way from seeing even this chapter through: According to diocsesan sources, a trial date might not be set for another three months.

Whether Armstrong shows up to such a trial is another matter. Armstrong is now a priest in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America -- an organization connected with the province of Nigeria -- and doesn't consider himself to be under the diocese's authority at all anymore.

Alan Crippen, spokesman for Armstrong and Grace CANA, said Armstrong hasn't actually received any notice from the diocese yet. But, if he had been, Crippen added, "it would be about as relevant as the Presbyterian Church serving him.He's not under their jurisdiction." It seems likely that, if Armstrong speaks in any court, it'll be a secular one, not ecclesiastical.

The diocese alleges Armstrong, the longtime rector for Grace, misused hundreds of thousands of dollars of church funds.

But the diocese could also try Armstrong "in abstentia," according to diocesan spokeswoman Beckett Stokes. If so, it's likely most of the critical details -- at least from the diocesan point of view -- would be made public during the trial. Armstrong's point of view, presumably, would go untold -- at least in this official forum.

But Armstrong and Grace Church's vestry members are examining the books with help from an indpendent firm, and will likely issue their own report -- presumably one that attempts to refute diocesan allegations -- sometime next month. One source says they hope to have it completed and released before the May 20 vote, when Grace parishioners will decide whether to ratify the vestry's decision to leave the Episcopal Church.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul, has anyone asked the county prosecutor's office if theft charges will be filed by them against Armstrong? Or would the church have to file?

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What chances are there of Armstrong being brought to a civil court?

2:15 PM  
Blogger C.B. said...

Paul - Armstrong on Stand Firm said an independent forensic audit was being conducted on behalf of the vestry. Elsewhere, by people who attended Minns' meeting, I heard that the vestry is preparing a report. You seem to say that it is the vestry who is doing the report with Armstrong. Can you clarify?

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The county prosecutor (DA) can't prosecute this case because he sat on the Vestry until less than a week before the vote to withdraw from the Diocese of Colorado. A special prosecutor will have to be assigned if theft charges are filed.

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Theft charges"?

How do you "steal" money from a trust ? It's not Grace Church money at all ... it's money a bank controls in "trust" to be distributed according to a donor's wishes and the only "theft" that could occur is if the trustee misallocated it in opposition to the donor's stated intention. I think that's a State of Colorado issue, not a county prosecutor's perogative.

As to the actual Parish money granted as scholarships, you're going to have to sue the Vestry and/or its Wardens who authorized the funding distributions used for +Armstrong's kids, since every expenditure from Parish money has two signatories. I don't think the County will be too interested in that one either.

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As to "theft charges" and "how do you steal money from a trust" -- Were letters/other communications effected that changed, legally or illegally, how the money could be gotten from the trust?

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Above two posts, please read the presentment from the Diocese. The money supposedly from a scholarship fund was not ever eligible to be used by anyone in Armstrong's family according to the terms of that trust. And money was moved through ACI to launder what was happening with it. Why on earth do you think ACI distanced itself immediately? They could see what he had done was illegal.

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Whether or not Armstrong choses to appear and defend himself, it seems that an ecclesiastical trial is essential. Here are just a few considerations:

1. The excellent questions in the comments above deserve an answer and they may remain unanswered if a public ecclesiastical trial is not held.

2. Donors are not encouraged to make gifts in trust to TEC unless TEC itself polices the uses to which those funds are put and the public is assured that those efforts are effective.

3. Clergy and vestry have spiritual and fiduciary duties to the church and all parishioners that they should not be permitted to abandon by unilaterally declaring they have been drafted by a new team.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I have read the presentment, and that's why I asked about whether the terms of the trust had ever been changed: Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the various defenses we are hearing -- the vestry approved the payout; the Trust Bank is responsible for how the money gets disbursed -- are true, to a point. How would that be possible? One way would be forged documents, letters on official-looking letterhead, that changed the terms of the trust in an official-looking way, but not in an actually official way. Use an official-sounding organization to funnel the money through, and then, when caught, turn around and say, "It's the bank's fault!' or "It's the vestry's fault!" This is pathologically evasive behavior in textbook form: Manipulate various groups and people so that events take place the way you want them to, but always have plausible deniability of fault, as in someone else to blame. Mr. Armstrong (or someone using his name) has been posting on various blogs. On one of them, he claims to be able to ID his enemies by their writing styles. He may wish to remind himself that he can also be ID'd by his, as in right here on this thread.

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how pathetic will this get? Armstrong stating in writing that he spends time tryint to identify his enemies? Very sad.

1:07 PM  
Blogger C.B. said...

As to theft, the presentment states that in 2002 Armstrong made material misrepresentations to the trust officer regarding supposed changes to the trust, including but not limited one of the members of the scholarship Committee (Bowton's Attorney) assigning his role on the committee to the church treasurer.

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


By the tone and content of your responses, I'd say you must be one of those who left Fr Armstrong's church. What say you?
For up to this time you have had:
73 % of the comments
70 % of the words
85 % of the characters
mostly leaning toward the gleeful..

6:37 PM  
Anonymous And Tell Me It's Rain said...

Doesn't the diocese have to go through the step of the ecclesiastical trial before it proceeds with civil or criminal action? That is all I took from this move. Of course Armstrong won't be there or respond. You can't go to steps 2 and or 3 without it.

This whole thing makes the Episcopal, Anglican and Christian community look bad.

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, pursuing charges does not make the Episcopalian Church look bad. Letting him get away with theft -- that would make them look bad.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Captain Queeg's Inquisitor said...

Whoever took that gallon of strawberries from the parish kitchen is going to pay, right?

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Colonel Antonio Tejero (Guardia Civil ret) said...

Now that Mr Armstrong has affiliated with Archbishop Akinola who supports laws against gays.

Will he invite Fred Phelps (God Hates Fags) to preach at Grace?

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a heckuva lot of strawbs!

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Captain Queeg's Inquisitor said...

On the contrary, someone is behaving just like Humphrey Bogart on the witness stand in The Caine Mutiny, rolling his little ball bearings in his hands, vowing to hunt down every last enemy he can find, if he has to trace them, inch by inch of phone line, TO THEIR VERY COMPUTERS! And if Capt Queeg doesn't get them, his cousin will!

6:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Former Archbishop of Canterbury had connections with Grace. Has he commented on the current situation (both Armstrong's presentment and Grace's leaving ECUSA)?

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

George Carey that is!

4:08 PM  

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