Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Armstrong takes to the Air

After nearly three months of public silence, the Rev. Don Armstrong is speaking again -- and pulling no punches.

Armstrong spent two hours on KVOR Radio's Joseph Michelli show Tuesday afternoon, giving his own spin on the furor that has torn apart Grace Episcopal Church. The show was fairly free from fireworks: Subbing host Jeff Crank was clearly supportive of Armstrong, as were most of the callers. But Armstrong did answer a handful of critical questions, most notably about his children's church-provided college scholarships (many Episcopal churches do that sort of thing, Armstrong said). And Armstrong did accuse his former boss (Colorado Episcopal Bishop Rob O'Neill) of "felony slander."

Will he sue? Armstrong says no, because "Christians don't do that sort of thing."

As you recall, Armstrong was suspended by the Episcopal Church for having allegedly misapplied church funds. Armstrong's supporters thought the charges were politically motivated -- an attempt to silence a conservative priest who's been critical of the Episcopal Church and its stance on homosexuality.

The battle took a stunning turn last week, when the vestry voted to take Grace out of the Episcopal Church and reinstate Armstrong. One day later, the Episcopal Church for the first time revealed the charges against Armstrong -- that the priest had essentially pocketed or misused hundreds of thousands of dollars of church funds.

Congregants split over the matter, the majority standing staunchly behind their priest. Armstrong told one supporter in Tuesday's show that "I want to clear my name to prove that I did not betray you."

The diocese is mulling whether to file criminal charges against Armstrong, and the matter of church ownership still must be settled. Technically, the diocese owns all the churches in the state, but it's at least possible that a court could give the property to the congregation that's been using it.

Look for many updates on this matter. Really, the battle at Grace is just beginning.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to know if other Episcopal churches actually give such substantial money to the college education of children of a priest, and I'd like to know what colleges his children attended. It's a lot of money.

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fr Armstrong's daughter just graduated from Vanderbilt University that currently has a price tag of $45,000 a year for tuition and room and board.

12:21 PM  

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