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Police Raid Grace Church & St. Stephen’s

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 • 3:05 pm


Can’t wait ‘til all this is over with:

Colorado Springs police detectives raided Grace Church and St. Stephen’s Wednesday morning to seize paper financial records and computers as part of a theft investigation launched more than a year ago.

More than 20 officers cordoned off the block-long church complex at 601 N. Tejon St., evicting its controversial pastor, the Rev. Donald Armstrong, who wandered the sidewalk in clerical garb, a copy of the warrant clutched in his right hand.

The raid focused on records tied to allegations from the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado that Armstrong embezzled $400,000 from Grace & St. Stephens Episcopal Church, the congregation he headed before he and his followers broke away in early 2007 to affiliate with the Convocation of Anglicans in North American.

Colorado Springs Police Lt. David Whitlock said officers were searching for evidence of theft and fraud.

Armstrong greeted onlookers with a smile, but declined to comment. One of his parishioners nearby said the police action has long been expected.


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Comments:

Our prayers go out to Don+ and his congregation. May the truth be known and justice be done.

[1] Posted by Don Curran on 11-26-2008 at 04:34 PM • top

Members who left Armstrong’s flock in the split stood near the police tape to watch the raid.

If it was a surprise raid, how did they know it was going on?

[2] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 11-26-2008 at 04:43 PM • top

Their bitterness and desire to exact vengence is sinful. I’ll be praying for Rev. Armstrong and his flock. I believe when this is through, he should file suit based on defamation, false charges and harassment.

[3] Posted by mari on 11-26-2008 at 04:54 PM • top

Bad sign if the police have enough probable cause for a search warrant.  I don’t believe the police are tools of the Diocese.  They will simply follow the evidence.  And so should we.

carl

[4] Posted by carl on 11-26-2008 at 04:59 PM • top

#4 carl - I agree… I’m just curious about how the dissenters were able to show up for the raid.
It just seemed odd in the article.  Maybe some of them live or work right down the street, or maybe the police actually brought some along to describe the layout of the church offices. 
But in the article it just seemed like some folks showing up to gloat.

[5] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 11-26-2008 at 05:07 PM • top

So full of grace!  Look how those Episcopalians luv!

[6] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 11-26-2008 at 05:13 PM • top

There’s just one thing wrong with the lead-in for this article:  Those parishioners are not Father Armstrong’s “followers;” they’re his parishioners, and he and they follow Jesus Christ.

[7] Posted by Cennydd on 11-26-2008 at 05:19 PM • top

I wonder what would happen if someone sent the cops to pull a sneak raid on 815 2nd Avenue, in New York City?

[8] Posted by Cennydd on 11-26-2008 at 05:21 PM • top

This story gets stranger and stranger. Normally I’d completely agree with Carl’s assessment, if there is enough for a judge to sign his name to a warrant, it does not look good, except CANA had an independent auditor go over the books and gave a report. SO it appears professional license v. professional license. Any auditor should know what would be probable cause and never sign the report, less risk the accreditation, but also a judge and police the same, for if found without basis, than Grace & St. Stephens would found a way to pay all legal expenses against DioCO as well as a few new properties, merely suing the city. This is just very odd!

[9] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 11-26-2008 at 05:25 PM • top

Yes, let’s pray for Don Armstrong+ and this big, anchor church (if you will) in the realignment. 

Bottom line: There is plenty of evidence to support the general integrity of Fr. Armstrong, and equal amounts of evidence to show that +“Rob” O’Neil has no integrity at all.  My bet is that +“Rob” the real thief, trying to rob his opponents of their good reputations. 

Admittedly, I don’t know Don personally, nor do I know Bp, O’Neill personally.  But from everything that I’ve heard and read over the last couple of years, I’d love to know Fr. Armstrong, and I think personal knowledge of +O’Neill would only confirm my tendency to regard the infamously anti-conservative bishop with utter disdain and outright contempt.

Still, carl’s cautionary remark is prudent.  After all, Colorado Springs was also the place where the horrendous Ted Haggard scandal took place.  Who would ever have believed that the president of the National Association of Evangelicals and the much-esteemed senior pastor of one of the most influential megachurches in the country was guilty of such a perverse private life?  The fact is that ANY of us can fall into terrible depths of sin IF we don’t build in some systematic safeguards into our lives in terms of accountability, and fleeing the areas where we are most vulnerable to temptation.

But so far, Fr. Armstrong has been exonerated by previous investiagations into this prolonged dispute.  I’ll bet he comes through just fine.

David Handy+

[10] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 11-26-2008 at 05:26 PM • top

This is simply incredible. How does this keep going? Let me see if I remember it correctly.

The diocese held a trial for Fr. Armstrong where he was not given a defence. He was then found guilty, even though those who defended him (outside the court) made obvious that the evidence against him did not relate to the charges against him.

Fr. Armstrong submitted to an independant audit, results published, which cleared him of all charges.

Both the IRS and it seems the CO Springs Police have been involved since the beginning, and neither has decided to charge, or even collect evidence until a year later, giving the church 365 days to move or destroy and incriminating evidence.

Business as usual?

Yours in Christ,
jacob

[11] Posted by Jacobsladder on 11-26-2008 at 05:44 PM • top

Another possible angle -
If I remember correctly the District Attorney was or had been on the vestry at G&SS;. Maybe there is a new DA who is out to put a mark on the old DA’s record.
May God’s light shine on the innocent.

[12] Posted by Marie Blocher on 11-26-2008 at 06:04 PM • top

This has strong political undertones.  While, under normal circumstances, Carl’s statement about having enough evidence to issue a warrant would seem true;however, Colorado has a great deal of liberalism.  If by chance the judge is a liberal, then it may be that the evidence is very thin as we have seen that liberals tend to disregard the law in favor of what is “fair”.  Orthodox Christianity is not considered “fair” to many liberals as it is anti-abortion and against libertine sexuality.  I wouldn’t put it past the Diocese of Colorado to have some hand in getting this done with the intent to influence future jurors in the lawsuits against G&SS;.  The raid, I am sure made the front page.  If there is a retraction/apology, it will be buried in the back of the paper.

[13] Posted by BillB on 11-26-2008 at 06:24 PM • top

The remaining Episcopalians are posting a 75% drop in ASA for 2007.

[14] Posted by John316 on 11-26-2008 at 06:25 PM • top

I support this church in its stand for orthodoxy, but have been critical of the loose way the way the scholarship fund was apparently used to support “insiders.”  There is often way too much laxity in the way Trusts, Endowments or other restricted funds are used in the church environment, and many of us have been guilty of turning a blind eye toward strict compliance with the tax code regarding benefits recieved by clergy or their families.  However, based on the published reports this seems to be a matter for the civil, rather than criminal, courts to resolve.  It is a shame that individuals would resort to pushing a criminal investigation in a manner like this.

A search warrant like this one is not all that hard to get, and doesn’t suggest that criminal prosecution, much less a conviction, will be forthcoming. In fact, would bet against it.

[15] Posted by Going Home on 11-26-2008 at 06:26 PM • top

[13] BillB wrote:

If by chance the judge is a liberal, then it may be that the evidence is very thin as we have seen that liberals tend to disregard the law in favor of what is “fair”.

This is the danger in judging guilt or innocence by ideological affinity.  We start looking for villains to blame before the fact in case our champion turns out to have feet of clay.  David committed adultery, lied about it, and then committed murder to cover it up.  People with sound theology do bad things.  We all do bad things.  We can’t slip by this inconvenient fact.  Consistency is imperative to maintain an effective witness.

The idea that police and prosecutors and judges would all conspire to nail a church in CSprings is (shall we say) a low probability.  These people are by and large professionals who want to do a professional job.  We should not impugn their motives without cause.  Let justice be blind.  Let the guilty be punished, the innocent vindicated, and the cards fall as they may.

This is not a football game.  We shouldn’t be hoping for one side to win because it’s in our interest.  If a crime has been committed, we should want the perpetrator punished no matter who it might be - or how painful the realization.

carl

[16] Posted by carl on 11-26-2008 at 06:45 PM • top

The idea that police and prosecutors and judges would all conspire to nail a church in CSprings is (shall we say) a low probability.

Yes. Let’s pray that the truth will be evident and soon, whatever it may be, and that the innocent, whoever they are, see justice.

[17] Posted by oscewicee on 11-26-2008 at 06:47 PM • top

Going Home is correct that warrants are fairly east to get even on circumstantial levels. We all need to be in prayer for Fr. Armstrong, his family and his parishioners! This is so unchristian and just like TEc revisionists. Never satisfied with the rulings that are against them so they seek to do more damage going about it though another tunnel on another avenue!

[18] Posted by TLDillon on 11-26-2008 at 06:53 PM • top

The Rocky Mountain News has a more up-beat take on the matter.

[19] Posted by Antique on 11-26-2008 at 07:04 PM • top

Antique, that story does have a different perspective on events.

[20] Posted by James Manley on 11-26-2008 at 07:10 PM • top

Hmmm, this is an interesting story but I think it is best to simply wait for the civil authorities to find the truth of the matter.

[21] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 11-26-2008 at 08:12 PM • top

Sounds like a normal way that police would gather information when a complaint has been filed, in this case by the wonderful and holy bishop of colorado. In civil proceedings you issue a request for documents, but this is how the police do their shock and awe gathering of information.

As Father Armstrong suggests in one of these articles, not a big surprise nor particularly upsetting or news worthy. I would imagine they get requests for info in the civil suit daily.

Anyone who stands up to TEC can be assured of trumped up charges and this sort of abuse of process.

[22] Posted by RejoiceRejoiceBelievers on 11-26-2008 at 08:45 PM • top

I’m with Matt. Let’s wait until the civil authorities can tell us what they’ve found. I would like to think they have a higher regard for the rules than 815, anyway.

[23] Posted by David Ould on 11-26-2008 at 08:48 PM • top

Sadly, there is a better chance of actual justice with the secular authorities than with TEC.

[24] Posted by st. anonymous on 11-26-2008 at 09:24 PM • top

The day before Thanksgiving?  What’s up with that?

bb

[25] Posted by BabyBlue on 11-26-2008 at 09:49 PM • top

Is that the same O’Donnell in the article who was fired from a nearby AMiA congregation and has now resigned from the Grace Episcopal Congregation?

see their site

What’s up with that? Pretty dangerous being so public, it can come back to haunt you.

[26] Posted by RejoiceRejoiceBelievers on 11-26-2008 at 09:58 PM • top

Testing

[27] Posted by EmilyH on 11-26-2008 at 10:08 PM • top

The below is not intended as a comment.  I am having problems using the site and wondered if:
1 There are technical problems
2. I can’t recall how to use the site
3.  I have been removecd as an authorized commenter on the site?

[28] Posted by EmilyH on 11-26-2008 at 10:11 PM • top

“The seizure was part of a criminal investigation begun last summer at the behest of the Colorado Episcopal Diocese and Bishop Rob O’Neill.”

Good for the RMN to acknowledge this thing has been driven by +O’Neill, I have a hard time believing todays’s events would have ever taken place without the diocese’s (likely) incessant proding…..

[29] Posted by Chris on 11-26-2008 at 10:15 PM • top

... controversial pastor, the Rev. Donald Armstrong, who wandered the sidewalk in clerical garb, a copy of the warrant clutched in his right hand.

EEEEK! An Anglican priest actually wandered about in clerical garb, holding the warrant that Our Public Servants claimed allowed them to tear up his church!  This is clearly the most damnable behavior ever!  Why couldn’t he, like all decent Episcopal priests, wear a Hawaiian shirt and hold a copy of Playboy ... 

Now I have to ask you, friends, how can we possibly condone this sort of image heresy?  Do you really want to associate yourselves with a church which allows its priests to appear in clerical garb?  Really now ...

[30] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 11-26-2008 at 10:25 PM • top

EmilyH—I’d choose #. Everything looks good from this end.

[31] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 11-26-2008 at 10:35 PM • top

Now I’m confused ... I wrote # “two” (but the numeral)

[32] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 11-26-2008 at 10:37 PM • top

At least one C.Springs media station has covered the event and has stated that
Fr. Armstrong (at least they got that right) had been convicted by the Diocese of Denver (sic) of embezzlement. I have read that the District Attorney of El Paso County (C.Springs) was the Sr. Warden of Grace and St. Stephens. I imagine that he has recused himself, ‘though local news media report that the warrant execution was carried out by state and C.Springs officers.
Tom in Pueblo

[33] Posted by tomcornelius on 11-26-2008 at 10:43 PM • top

I would like to believe, like carl, that the police will follow the evidence.  I sincerely hope and pray that they do so that true justice is served, whatever that may be.  But, from my experience, there are some (please note that I have said “some”, not “many” or “most”) law enforcement officials who postulate their own theory first, then try to find evidence to support that theory and discard any evidence that does not support the theory.  Unfortunately, real life people don’t always have the integrity of the characters from the CSI tv franchise.

[34] Posted by Florida Anglican [Support Israel] on 11-26-2008 at 10:44 PM • top

Emily #28 & 29,

Please be assured that technical problems are ideologically neutral; when the SF server gets temporarily overloaded, it may lose posts.

I strongly suggest to all posters that before hitting “Submit” they type ctrl-A [mark everything] ctrl-C [copy everything].  That way, if your precious post is lost, you can simply paste it [ctrl-V] into a fresher edit window.

Keep posting.

[35] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 11-26-2008 at 10:48 PM • top

I think carl is correct. 

It is best to separate one’s theological views from the issue of conduct.  We can and should demand that the civil authorities do the same. 

FWIW
jimB

[36] Posted by jimB on 11-26-2008 at 10:57 PM • top

I should add “convicted of embezzlement” and “excommunicated” by the Diocese of Denver(sic)

[37] Posted by tomcornelius on 11-26-2008 at 11:13 PM • top

Baby Blue,
  Be careful of your facts before you post or you run the risk of committing libel.  Father O’Donnell was not fired from an AMiA parish and the tone of your post could be construed as a threat.  A wiser post would suit this discussion.  Let’s keep it to the issues at hand and not make this personal.

[38] Posted by Ann on 11-26-2008 at 11:40 PM • top

I was raised a Presbyterian, but something about the tradition, ceremony, welcoming friendliness, warmth, music and intelligent theology attracted me to the Episcopal church as a teenager. That was nearly a half-century ago.

Now ask yourself this: If you were a religious teenager in Colorado Springs in 2003-2008, is there anything, anywhere in this and other actions of TEC bishop out there that would make you want to go anywhere near ANY Episcopal church?

Me neither. That is a sin against God, and against one’s supposed calling. “Feed My sheep,” He said.

[39] Posted by rkreed on 11-26-2008 at 11:51 PM • top

Ann, You must be referencing Rejoicerejoicebeliever’s comment…..?

[40] Posted by heart on 11-26-2008 at 11:53 PM • top

Ann, it was not Baby Blue. The ID is below the post.

[41] Posted by rkreed on 11-26-2008 at 11:54 PM • top

Huh?

bb, who was just sad this happened the day before Thanksgiving.

[42] Posted by BabyBlue on 11-26-2008 at 11:55 PM • top

I believe today (Wednesday the 26th) is the day before Thanksgiving and it happened this morning. To get to the point:  It truly amazes me how the “unbiased” media and elements of the “Christian Clergy” hve gone tooth and nail after some of the key individuals targeted in the Episcopal Diocese’s vendetta against Fr. Don Armstrong, ie., former and current vestry members of the majority breakaway Anglican communion, including a recused District Attorney, a former County Commissioner, the current City Clerk, The Lady who heads the St. Stephens Academy and Rev. Don Armstrong himself. The hierarchy of the Episcopal Church has trampled traditional Christian theology in the dirt even to the extent of denying that Christ is the way to salvation. That is the main factor of dispute. Sexual immorality was only one element of many. That is the reason for the breaking away which has triggered an almost psychotic reaction among the apostate Episcopal Bishop and his sycophants. This scenario is being replayed in several breakaway dioceses around the country in reaction to an apostate clergy and leadership. This has resulted in literally multi-millions of dollars in legal fees involving the ensuing property disputes which ignore the fact that local people paid for every block of stone in, and contents of, their respective buildings. Denver has already spent over $two million pursuing this vendetta against Grace.
The spurious charges leveled against Fr. Armstrong have not been substantiated either by Federal IRS auditors or by independent auditors. Does anyone think that the IRS would ignore this in light of their current animosity toward Christians speaking out publicly.
The timing of the police Dept. in this latest manouvre leads one to wonder about the source of their motivation. Such a coincidence! - with Thanksgiving services just getting underway. My goodness (or badness). The records have already been provided anyway. A 20 man swat-team to execute this pageant! Did they expect Don would be manning a machine gun as he escaped in his helicopter? A real police-like move after over a year of dithering. Why didn’t they call in the Homeland Security and the Posse Commitatus too? Did they use body armor?
The heart rending statement of the minority Episcopal remainder (on TV) which stated, “We want our Church back” (meaning “their” building), is truly a tear jerker considering the circumstances. All they have to do is walk up the street a few blocks, repent, and rejoin Jesus fearing, scripture driven Christians. We can only pray that the Holy Spirit will intervene in this mess and quickly dispatch the scuruloous charges and exonerate Fr. Artmstrong who is backed by indisputable elements of several vestrys.

[43] Posted by athan-asi-us on 11-27-2008 at 12:41 AM • top

Well, I won’t be giving thanks for this Diocese or its bishop later today.

People might consider sending donations to Fr. Armstrong’s attorney who is mentioned in the Rocky Mountain News article.

Nothing much surprises me from TEC any longer, but that doesn’t make it less despicable or shameful.

[44] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 11-27-2008 at 12:44 AM • top

Prayer and patience.  Fr. Armstrong seems to be calm and assured of the outcome, smile and his graciousness with authorities is commendable.  We should not be surprised by anything 815 plans anymore, and we should also know Who is in control.

Whatever the Diocese and 815 conspire to do will once again be a pit they dig for themselves (deeper and deeper.)
Carrie

[45] Posted by cityonahill on 11-27-2008 at 08:03 AM • top

Mad Potter, I believe that the Diocese of Ft Worth has the provision in its canons that all property in diocese is titled to the diocese.  In my own diocese, when a congregation is received as a parish, any real property is titled to “the Rector, Wardens, and Vestry of X.”  There are provisions about construction, selling or buying real property, and so on, but the title is in the name of the parish.

Every diocese has its own canons on the titling of congregational property.  We can’t generalize from one to another without examining the canons of the dioceses involved.

[46] Posted by AnglicanXn on 11-27-2008 at 09:36 AM • top

tomcornelius,

It is not helpful when someone distorts the facts be it a journalist or a poster.  The diocese did not “excommunicate” anyone. In fact, if you read the prayer book’s disciplinary rubrics, you will discover that the authority to do so is not vested in the diocese. 

FWIW
jimB

[47] Posted by jimB on 11-27-2008 at 09:51 AM • top

Carl,

My trust (actually distrust) of the Prosecutor, Police, Judicial triumvirate is based upon what happened in Dallas County, Texas in the 1980s.  It seems they worked together to convict people, primarily people of color, for crimes not committed.  There have been nearly 20 people who have had their convictions overturned since the 90’s.  How many more that have not had sufficient support nor evidence is unknown.  What is now known is the corruption that existed then.

With what has happened within TEC and what has been said and done by politicians, I am very wary of this world.  I would like to trust that what the secular law does is right.  However, my belief is that there will be increasing persecution of orthodox Christianity by the secular world in the coming years because of the evil that is spreading so insidiously.

I am willing to wait and see what comes to light.  If Grace and Saint Stephens has actually done wrong then they need fit, worldly punishment.  But if they have not done wrong, the authorities will attempt to bury that fact to save face.  All that will remain is the fact that the church was raided.

[48] Posted by BillB on 11-27-2008 at 10:22 AM • top

#44 said:”

The spurious charges leveled against Fr. Armstrong have not been substantiated either by Federal IRS auditors or by independent auditors”

Actually we know nothing from the
IRS re: Fr. Armstrong’s personal return, and, to my knowledge, Grace would not have filed one.  It would seem that a forensic accountant would be how it would be approached rather than an “independent” accountant hired by either the diocese or Grace.  An accountant is only as good as the records he/she is given.  My own thinking on this is that Armstrong+‘s issues may or may not be criminal but, if he did not report the scholarship money as compensation and 1.  The entire class of potential recipients were his children 2. His vestry’s yearly allocation document shows a salary that doesn’t seem to match. 3. His name is on any of the checks, he is going to have a problem with the tax man.

[49] Posted by EmilyH on 11-27-2008 at 10:27 AM • top

We are challenged to cry out for justice, and stand with those who are unjustly persecuted, for rightous sake.

It’s important to let those who are in power know that the eyes of the people of the country are upon them, to insure that their behavior is above board.

[50] Posted by mari on 11-27-2008 at 10:29 AM • top

On the issue of Colorado as liberal and therefore pre-disposed to deal unfairly with Grace.  Leaving that alone for a minute, if Colorado is liberal
certainly Colorado Springs isn’t.  This is a conclave of red-minded folk including social conservatives like the Dobson family of minitries, Ted Haggard’s church and social/poltical conservatives like the John Jay Institute as well as military organizations such as the Air Force
Academy.  In this case, it appears that it was the llocal constabulary that made the hit.  It wouldn’t seem that their members would be particularly welcome at the next Rotary meeting.  So it begs the question, if the locals probably were not enthusiastic about the pre-holiday raid, who or what decided it should be done and why now?

[51] Posted by EmilyH on 11-27-2008 at 11:27 AM • top

My comment above that was attributed to poor innocent Baby Blue was merely coming from my Episcopal theological heritage which naturally included the doctrine of Karma, what goes around comes around. It was not meant to threaten, just to point out a feature of the spiritual world.

51 The church did have an forensic audit done which cleared Father Armstrong primarily because it had more complete information that the O’Neill/Schori forensic audit.

And have pity on the police for this show of force, the well funded Episcopal Church attack on this orthodox congregation and its rector has the police pressured and under the gun of TEC attorneys who can’t afford to loose the property case and need to remove Father Armstrong one way or another to weaken the congregation’s resolve and ability to fund their defense.

[52] Posted by RejoiceRejoiceBelievers on 11-27-2008 at 11:33 AM • top

Thanks to Carl for a cautionary note in our zeal.  Also for an example of Colorado police justice, watch how the Colorado Springs police handle this parade of what looks like Episcopalians to me: Youtube

[53] Posted by monologistos on 11-27-2008 at 11:36 AM • top

EmilyH, I’m very sure that it came about as TEC, both in state and out applied their high pressure tactics to the police, city and state authorities, which are very liberal. What is most striking is the fact that TEC’s ground troops had been informed of this happening, so they could show up to watch and spread their libel to the press. It’s just another example of the Godless nature of TEC and their followers.

[54] Posted by mari on 11-27-2008 at 11:55 AM • top

These strong-arm goose-stepping tactics….while they might be effective for the present….are going to backfire on the Diocese of Colorado and TEC eventually.  They just cooked their own geese!

[55] Posted by Cennydd on 11-27-2008 at 12:04 PM • top

jimB, #49: I agree with you about distortion of facts and the rubrics. The television reporter stated that Fr.Armstrong had been “excommunicated by the Diocese of Denver”;I was only noting the statement of a misinformed media person.

[56] Posted by tomcornelius on 11-27-2008 at 12:24 PM • top

Unless I’m mistaken, the Diocese of Denver is Roman Catholic.

[57] Posted by Cennydd on 11-27-2008 at 01:25 PM • top

Cennydd: The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado is headquartered in Denver, CO.
Emily H.: The atrocious timing of the “raid” was no accident. Mari’s observation is accurate. Also, you can be rest assured that the IRS would have moved on Fr. Armstrong by now if he had filed false returns. He made his returns public for all to see quite some time ago or does your memory stretch back that far?
All they needed was one cop to knock on the door of the parish office, show a warrant, and walk away with the “evidence” that was only in the parish office (adjoining house). They didn’t have to yellow ribbon the whole block. What a great drama and pageant though. I wonder if the 20 cops wore body armor?

[58] Posted by athan-asi-us on 11-27-2008 at 02:42 PM • top

Yes, I’m aware that the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado is headquartered in Denver, and so is the Roman Catholic Diocese of Denver. 

As for the timing of the police raid, I too believe that it was no accident.  It shows the depths to which the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado has sunk; depths of shame, ugliness, and degradation. 

In this holiday season, we should show forgiveness, but when things like this happen, it’s hard to do!

[59] Posted by Cennydd on 11-27-2008 at 03:27 PM • top

I really don’t want to get into debates here about conjecture, and I am not a real police person nor do I play one on TV. However, If I was charged with serving a warrant and gathering evidence, I would want to be able to sit in a witness box in any future trial and affirm that my team got all available evidence subject to the warrant, was in control of all entrances to the buildings and proceeded rapidly enough to ensure that no evidence was destroyed. Why the warrant was served when it was is apparently pure conjecture. Why a relatively large group of police were used seems to me to be explainable as merely cautious law enforcement professionalism.

[60] Posted by Bill Cool on 11-27-2008 at 03:33 PM • top

Um, no Bill Cool, using a 20 member SWAT team, I still can’t get over that. SWAT are only to be used in case of armed conflict, hostage type situations.. that was not erring on the side of caution, but something to inflame suspicions, to lend an air of credence to what there is no proof of thus far… it was done that way for effect.

If this was merely a matter of wanting to properly ensure the securing of the area needing to be searched, 4 or even 6 officers, with someone from the DA’s office to moniter the securing of evidence. In the state I lived in previous to Michigan, a local official, at his home was given a warrant and his files, computers, and in fact entire home was searched. There were not 20 officers, certainly not SWAT team members.

[61] Posted by mari on 11-27-2008 at 04:07 PM • top

I do not know Fr. Armstrong and have only come across his comments here and maybe one other blog.  I have great respect for his orthodoxy and courage.

But I have known other orthodox and courageous priests who were snared by sins of a financial or sexual nature.  The collar is a red flag to the devil and he rejoices when he can strike a shepherd (or a sheepdog) and bring confusion on the flock.  The devil’s also been known to strike when the sheepdog is innocent because of the confusion created in the flock.

I don’t know what the case is here.  I pray that there is not malfeseance and that Satan is striking just to confuse and demoralize, not because of actual sin.  But we all need to be prepared in case Fr. Armstrong is guilty.  In either case, we need to pray that God’s Truth will be known and that the guilty will be brought to justice and repentence - whether the guilty is Fr. Armstrong or those who trumped up the charges against him.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

[62] Posted by Philip Snyder on 11-27-2008 at 05:01 PM • top

Mad Potter:  The two issues, one civil and one criminal, are interrelated to say the least. The civil issue over who owns the property is coming up for trial in February (hopefully). The fact that church property is treated differently in different dioceses and States has to be taken into account. In the case of Grace & St. Stephens, its property is titled to a local corporation with a board of directors and bylaws controlled locally and not by the Diocese in Denver. That Board by virtue of the majority vote of the bona fide members of parishioners of Grace & St. Stephens, voted to leave the Episcopal church. That Board has title to the property. The minority congregation who stayed with Bp. O’Neil are now whining about wanting “their” property back. O’Neill is in a rage because he is possibly being beaten in that scenario and he is now pushing the criminal charges. These charges are a myth and a lie. Every penny that Fr. Don ever received from the Parish was with the review and approval of a treasurer and a Vestry. Don has made his income tax returns public knowledge and the IRS hasn’t lifted a finger against him. With that said, we need to pray that the Holy Spirit will intervene in this travesty and ensure that justice is served.

[63] Posted by athan-asi-us on 11-27-2008 at 05:10 PM • top

Mari [63]

I see no references to any SWAT team in either of the news accounts that are posted on SF. One mentions that about half the 20 officers were from the department’s financial crimes unit. The one picture showing police shows an officer in civilian business casual dress walking along what looks like the front walk of a home, one uniformed officer holding open the front gate for him. It would be good for us not to inflame this with non-facts about a SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) team.

[64] Posted by Bill Cool on 11-27-2008 at 05:34 PM • top

Mad Potter (#64),

You said:  “He still thinks that redirecting funds to his kids education is legal.”

It would be very helpful if you would provide some support for that statement.

God bless.

[65] Posted by Ol' Bob on 11-27-2008 at 06:29 PM • top

“SWAT” team was being used as a generic term to describe the 20 police personnel who choreographed their block long performance.

[66] Posted by athan-asi-us on 11-27-2008 at 06:40 PM • top

MP, why aren’t you providing a source for where he says what you are trying to attribute to him?

Are you, or are you not in Britain as you claim on your blog? I’m asking as you talk today as if you were having a Thanksgiving meal.

[67] Posted by mari on 11-27-2008 at 07:19 PM • top

Mad Potter (#69),

You said:  “Ol’ Bob, you’ll have to, if you can, find what he said…”  Wow!  It is my responsibility, not yours, to vouch for what you state as a fact.  An interesting value system.

Your latest statement “…I do think that he thinks he acted correctly…” is a significant improvement over your earlier statement “He still thinks that redirecting funds to his kids education is legal.”  Get the difference between a statement as your opinion and a statement as a fact?

I suppose it is obvious that I have developed over time a bit of sensitivity to this issue in some of your comments.

I do not, nor do I suspect that you do, know the language establishing the funds from which the alleged payments were made.  Nor does either of us probably know what the terms and conditions of those funds said with respect to use of the funds.  No does either of us probably know who had authority, under the terms and conditions of the funds, to approve disbursements.  Nor do we probably know who approved, or did not approve them.

What actually happened may have been legal; it may have been illegal. That will be determined in a court of law and the service of the search warrant was part of that process.  With respect to the propriety of the service of the search warrant, I was told several years ago by the chief of police in the city in which I live that the most dangerous activities, resulting in the largest single cause of police fatalities, are routine traffic stops and domestic violence calls.  I think I will leave conducting police business to the police until there is actual evidence of some actual, factual excessive use of force.  I do not know, but from what I have read about Fr. Armstrong, I suspect that he is much less bothered by the manner in which the search warrant was executed than you seem to be.

I think I will wait for the facts.

In the interest of full disclosure. I am biased in Fr. Armstrong’s favor and biased against Bishop O”Niell in this dispute.  In the meantime, I will pray for Fr. Armstrong, his family, the members of Grace and St. Stephens, Bishop O’Niell and the members of Episcopal Diocese of Colorado.

Thanks for the Thanksgiving wishes.  I wish the same for you and yours.

God bless.

[68] Posted by Ol' Bob on 11-27-2008 at 07:31 PM • top

Mad Potter was asked for his reference to Armstrong’s assertion that the scholarship was “legal”  Actually he alleged it was more “common practice” I believe it is contained in tne following.  Also, in the letter, Armstrong addresses the reporting of his housing allowance, fees for funerals etc., but he does not seem to refer to the reporting of the “scholarship” funds on his return.  From the Rocky Mountain News: “Fr. Donald Armstrong’s Letter to Grace Church and St. Stephen’s Parish
Published March 31, 2007 at midnight
I will share with the congregation at our meeting on April 14th, copies of my tax returns showing that I have always declared on my taxes the value of the church provided rectory, as well as any gifts or gratuities I might have received for doing a wedding or funeral.
....
Much of the bishop’s complaint has to do with scholarships granted to my children for college.

This is a common practice in the church and our own system for doing this was patterned after other Episcopal Churches of a similar size and budget to Grace Church. These scholarships, like all financial arrangements with staff members, were negotiated with and handled by the wardens.”

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_5455875,00.html

[69] Posted by EmilyH on 11-27-2008 at 07:35 PM • top

So, you aren’t a member of the clergy in England as you have claimed on your blog? Your blog where you were using the n-word over and over again?

[70] Posted by mari on 11-27-2008 at 07:49 PM • top

Mari,
Read carefully, you’ve confused MadPotter with MadPriest.

[71] Posted by John316 on 11-27-2008 at 07:51 PM • top

Ummm….I think, mari, that you are confusing Mad Potter with Mad Priest.  I could be wrong, but I don’t think they are the same person.

[72] Posted by Florida Anglican [Support Israel] on 11-27-2008 at 07:52 PM • top

Darn, sorry about that.

[73] Posted by mari on 11-27-2008 at 07:58 PM • top

My own take, again, on the “scholarship” funds is, that unless these kids competed in a class of eligible recipients (evidence of advertising the scholarship would help here), these funds fall under compensation, and, if Armstrong + participates in social security/medicare are subject to self-employment tax as well as income tax.  But, I am not an attorney or CPA but have quite a bit of experience with 501c3s.  I think Mad Potter is addressing O’Neal’s presumption (a big one granted) that the diocese is the owner of the funds that Armstrong+ was using.  That would explain an allegation of embezzlement.  Again, tho owns the property question is central.

[74] Posted by EmilyH on 11-27-2008 at 08:00 PM • top

Darn, sorry about that.

Can I suggest you apologise directly to MadPotter? To equate someone with MadPriest is a particularly unpleasant thing given all that he has written, accident or not.

thanks

[75] Posted by David Ould on 11-27-2008 at 08:01 PM • top

A common practice is for the more affluent churches in Christendom to provide their clergy with the perk of educational aid for their children.  This is also a common benefit provided to the children of faculty of many universities.  The reason the scholarship aid did not show up on Armstrong’s tax returns is probably due to the fact that the funds were paid to his children or the school in question and not to him ergo they were not taxable to him. At least one of the parishioners who remained with the Episcopal remainder was one of the loudest complainers about Don dipping into “Church Scholarship Funds” and yet that persons own children benefitted from those funds. Go figure that one.

[76] Posted by athan-asi-us on 11-27-2008 at 08:08 PM • top

Mad Potter (#76),

You said:  “…I actually don’t think I am being inconsistent.”

My friend, MP, I have never suggested that you are “being inconsistent”.  Quite the contrary, I think I see a quite a pattern of consistency in the way you have made statements about Bishop Iker and Fr. Armstrong which you could back up.  I think I have been fairly consistent in confronting you about it, over several threads.

It’s Thanksgiving.  I am waiving a white flag.  Let’s call a truce!  ‘Till next time!

Enjoy the balance of your Thanksgiving.  I must say I was disappointed that your menu did not include crayfish etouffee, one, among many, of my favorite Louisiana dishes.

God bless.

[77] Posted by Ol' Bob on 11-27-2008 at 08:12 PM • top

Mad Potter:
Apparently you think that Episcopal Bishops walk on water. Only if that were true. The national Church, with the advice of David Booth-Beers (Atty)(and with their deep financial pockets) has taken an immoveable position on Church property that in many cases defies all logic. The Virginia courts have upheld the CANA majority in retaining their title to property claimed by the Episcopals. You will see the same thing taking place all over the country as diocese after diocese get fed up to the point of nausea and leave the Episcopal Church. In many cases, like that of Colo. Springs, the Diocese has not contributed one red cent to the establishment and upkeep of the local parish. Therein lies the crux of the matter. The only standing they can muster in the issue is a nebulous claim of ecclesiastical authority and agreements that were never approved at the local level. With their deep pockets (from NY city) they will pursue this til Hell freezes over or everyone runs out of money I’m afraid.

[78] Posted by athan-asi-us on 11-27-2008 at 08:27 PM • top

Don’t forget some red beans and rice.

[79] Posted by athan-asi-us on 11-27-2008 at 08:38 PM • top

Mari (#80),

Deacon Ould and I can be very judgmental here; neither of us has made a mistake in so long we can’t remember, at least that describes my situation.

Now, I am a numbers guy.  There were two words in the names of both of the commenters involved in your mistake.  You got one of the two names right.  In baseball, that is a 500 batting average.  One can get into the Baseball Hall of Fame with a 500 batting average, and Deacon Ould, down there, down under, wherever, with the kangaroos and lay presidents, for which he offers no apology, won’t even have a vote. 

Let MP decide whether he wants an apology.  I’ve been giving him “what-for” for some time, he has never sought an apology from me and I think we are friends.

Rest easy and God bless.

[80] Posted by Ol' Bob on 11-27-2008 at 09:19 PM • top

Mad Potter,  Just for you ...

http://bacontoday.com/turbaconducken-turducken-wrapped-in-bacon/

ENJOY!  Happy Thanksgiving!

[81] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 11-27-2008 at 09:23 PM • top

Thanks Ol’ Bob. smile

[82] Posted by mari on 11-27-2008 at 09:54 PM • top

On the Property Issues:

Wouldn’t the right thing to do be “back those whom the existing legal arraignments backed”?

[83] Posted by Bo on 11-28-2008 at 12:27 AM • top

#83 athan-asi-us   I am indeec aware that such benefits are provided to university personnel as well as clergy family.  My point is, unless its a scholarship open to a class of people and an arm’s length transaction, it’s a taxable benefit as compensation.  If Armstrong+ reported the funds as compensation on his return, it’s probably fine, but if he didn’t, well, I’m glad I am not he.  Second, if the “complainer” on his “dipping into scholarship funds” saw his dipping as compensation that was simply not reported to the vestry or larger church and only known by the wardens, that’s a church PR transparency issue as well as a tax issue depending on how the “scholarship” was structured.  Some years ago I specifically considered a position at a univetisity with such a benefit, the university, however, as well as the state tax code made clear that the benefit was a taxable one.  This is a matter between Armstrong+ and the IRS.  But it does bring up an important issue, if a “scholarship program” is to be developed at an institution, what are the IRS restrictions on its development administration and grants policy as well as the states.  If Grace St. Stephens has a scholarship, are all children of parishioners eligible recipients?  Is the decision made by a committee with no member having a vested interest in the outcome etc.  But, if the “scholarship” is to a dependent of a church staff member…well, that’s an issue.  The “complainer” whose kid may have gotten one of the scholarships has a real point and Grace’s 501c3 status may be at risk unless the transaction was totally arms-length.  In addition, if Armstrong’s “compensation” was being funded out of the scholarship fund, as if it were the salary budget line, those who had contributed to it might be justifiably miffed.

In any event, if a church is going to sponsor a scholarship fund, it needs to address how they must be structured to insure that the funds are not taxable to the recipients and that the donations it
receives are properly administered, e.g. eligible class of recipients, advertised, no undue influence on the distribution committee etc.)  I’d find a good <b>church<b> accountant or non-profit tax consultant before moving an inch in this direction.

[84] Posted by EmilyH on 11-28-2008 at 06:39 AM • top

EmilyH,
As I recall from the initial uproar over this, there was a trust fund set up by some long dead parishioner for
scholarships. I don’t remember what the qualifying criteria was. But some of the vestry were also trustees of this fund, (as well as one set up for the music program at the church.) That is how the money appears to be coming from the vestry and church, but it is actually a different source. What I do remember feeling uneasy about was reading that the checks were made out to Fr Armstrong, rather than the children. I thought
as I read, he should have had the checks made out to the children and/or the colleges and kept his name out of it. That way most if not all the scholarships would have been non-taxable, and what was taxable would have been on the childrens’ 1040.

[85] Posted by Marie Blocher on 11-28-2008 at 07:42 AM • top

I don’t know anything about this case other than what I’ve read here (and some of the articles that are linked from here), but taking all comments into account it sounds like Fr. Armstrong and the vestry did not act in an intentionally illegal or unethical way.  It sounds like they should have had an accountant or tax lawyer advise them, though, in order to avoid a situation such as this.  It seems to me that the diocese is acting in a petty, petulant, heavy-handed way and has possibly unduly influenced local law enforcement to do thier dirty work.  “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”  What kind of witness is this to non-believers?

[86] Posted by Florida Anglican [Support Israel] on 11-28-2008 at 07:48 AM • top

Some of the confusion about the educational trust money arises from the fact that two trusts were involved.  The Helen Smith trust was set up to defray educational expenses of the parish’s children.  My daughter was one of the recipients about a dozen years ago.  The other trust, considerably larger, is the Bowton trust, which is restricted to ministerial candidates.  So far as I can determine, Fr. Armstrong drew upon the latter trust to pay his two children’s educational expenses, although neither of them met the designated criteria.

[87] Posted by Wolfstan on 11-28-2008 at 11:03 AM • top

Florida Anglican,
As you say, I think the trustees & Fr Armstrong should have had an accountant or tax lawyer advise them before the first check was written.
It is best to be completely circumspect when dealing with other people’s money to avoid even the appearance of wrong doing.

[88] Posted by Marie Blocher on 11-28-2008 at 11:20 AM • top

So, to sum a few things up:
1.  “20 person SWAT team” is not “generic” but colorful enhancement of “20 police officers”.
2.  The charge that the orthodox are inconsistent because they do not treat every property claim in every place exactly the same place is absurd.  Laws and situations vary from place to place.
3.  We do not know the exact situation regarding Fr. Armstrong’s actions with regards to the scholarship and we are engaging in idle speculation IMHO.
4.  Mad Potter is not MadPriest.  Two very different people.

[89] Posted by monologistos on 11-28-2008 at 12:01 PM • top

Everybody is entitled to an opinion on who owns a piece of real property, church people included. But if your opinion is based on something other than the recorded ownership in the county real estate recorder’s office, there is a huge risk that the courts may not agree with your opinions.

[90] Posted by Cousin Vinnie on 11-28-2008 at 01:12 PM • top

4.  Mad Potter is not MadPriest.  Two very different people.

Yes! Please don’t confuse some possible similar believes with being that the same person. While I may not agree with Mad Potter often, he seems a pleasant enough, possibly agitated at a situation at times, but we all are passionate about somethings, certainly not like the other, who seems to lack civility and basic common manners.

Mad Potter, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving too!

[91] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 11-28-2008 at 01:49 PM • top

Here in California….a very strong property rights state, by the way….if your name is on the registered deed as the property owner, you OWN it!  I know of NO instance in which The Episcopal Church, also known as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, or its other name the Society for the Spread of the Gospel (or whatever it was once called) actually has its corporate name on any deed referring to any mission or parish property registered by any County Clerk’s Office in this state. 

The laws vary from state to state, of course, but according to the way things stand in our state, the bishop of the diocese, acting in the name of the people of the diocese, and acting FOR the people of the diocese, owns the property.  The Episcopal Church does NOT own the properties in question; the dioceses do, and the claim of TEC ownership based on “hierarchical” organization is ridiculous, since a diocese can legally leave the Church, according to TEC’s originally-written constitution….which I believe still applies.

[92] Posted by Cennydd on 11-28-2008 at 02:29 PM • top

#55, were you writing satirically, or were you actually serious?  I watched that video (really, a collection of stills sequenced to Peace Train by Cat Stevens for maximum reminiscent, emotional affect), and saw numerous examples of proper police procedure, police restraint, medical attention being given, and only a handful of police actually present.  Where is the brutality in this video?  I don’t see it.  There are a lot of unanswered questions in that video.  If you are going to post YouTube videos (or anything else for that matter) as support for your arguments (which is entirely valid), please avoid the propaganda machine.  It chews up truth and spit out twinkies.  And, while twinkies are sweet, you just can’t live on them.

[93] Posted by Modest Mystic on 11-28-2008 at 03:02 PM • top

If there is a “criminal complaint” as stated in the Mountain News article, then a search warrant and seizure of records would be logical.

We should wait, see, and pray for Grace Church and St. Stephen’s. I’m sure it will come out in the wash.

[94] Posted by Andrewesman on 11-28-2008 at 03:20 PM • top

#98 Wolfstan.  As we say in my family: “Oh, wow!”  So much for respecting the intent of the donor in addition to the tax concerns.

[95] Posted by EmilyH on 11-28-2008 at 04:12 PM • top

Re: new info. in post #98, I hardly think that a couple of mis-originated scholarships would really garner the attention of a court order for 20 cops to go rummaging through records.  Yes, writing checks off the wrong account is a no-no, but is it really worthy of all this hoo-hah? 

#100, your observations are correct and well said.  And, yes, we are just speculating.  This situation definitely fits the ‘weird’ category.  So, I’ll be a lot happier forming a more comprehensive opinion with some more comprehensive information.

[96] Posted by Modest Mystic on 11-28-2008 at 06:07 PM • top

My oldest daughter attended a SMALL Christian school where the children of the teachers received free tuition.  Because it was written up as a job benefit, it was not considered as income.  The details are important when it comes to the legality of these things.  No one REALLY understands the tax code.  If you get advice from the IRS, it is not legally binding because even THEY do not understand it.

True story.  As GRADUATE STUDENTS my husband and I were audited by the IRS.  (Like graduate students have money or something.)  My husband is scrupulously honest so when they wanted an extra $25 he felt we did not owe he challenged it.  While the case was still active (these things do take years, even in the best of cases), we moved to a different state where the case was assigned to an agent with a particularly nasty reputation.  A deacon at our church was an economics prof at the state university, so we consulted him.  He did not have IRS expertise, but sent my husband to another professor who dealt with the IRS often…and had his own reputation.  The minute his name got over to the IRS in connection to our case, the situation turned around and THEY owed US $25!  My husband asked the man what we owed him and he said whatever we wanted to pay (my husband was a post-doc and we still had no money), so my husband gave him the $25 (it was the ‘70s, it was more money at the time).

If Don+ and his vestry feel he is in the right, he should stand up for his rights, and maybe a good tax attorney would help.

[97] Posted by old lady on 11-28-2008 at 08:41 PM • top

It is my understanding that this large did indeed have annual audits by auditors who looked at all these issues and that Armstrong’s own tax preparer wrote a letter saying he had fully devulged the scholarships and that he was advised they were not taxable…what’s a guy to do?

[98] Posted by RejoiceRejoiceBelievers on 11-28-2008 at 10:09 PM • top

Emily H is right about the standard to be applied in the case of bona fide scholarships.  In really a common sense standard—if the scholarship is structured to benefit too small a class, or is not awarded by a truly disinterested group based on objective criteria, then it doesn’t pass the smell test. Benefits that are received as a consequence of your employment are usually taxable unless they fall under a specific exemption.

The same applies to “love offerings” to your pastor or his family. As a general rule, if the church collects an offering for the Rector or staff member or member of their family, and the donor gets a tax deduction, the proceeds are compensation to the Rector or staff member.  The only exceptions are non-substantial seasonal gifts from the church.

Having said that, this should be a civil, not criminal, matter.

[99] Posted by Going Home on 11-29-2008 at 12:20 AM • top

#109 said:

“Armstrong’s own tax preparer wrote a letter saying he had fully devulged the scholarships and that he was advised they were not taxable.”

  So who “advised” Armstrong’s tax preparer that they were not taxable?  On whose advice or recommendation were the funds from the Bowton trust deemed a valid fund to use for this perquisite/fringe benefit?  And, in this case I really have no
idea, do a donpr’s wishes have any legal warrant? (Given Sarah’s recommendations on restricted/designated giving, I think this is an important question)  And, given the restrictions on the trust, have its administrators (Armstrong among them I don’t know), violated their duties as fiduciaries?

[100] Posted by EmilyH on 11-29-2008 at 06:54 AM • top

#103 Cennydd You and I often disagree but on CA being a strong property state, we do agree.  But the issue of ownership is greater than whose name is on the documents filed in the county recorder’s office. That, in regard to a church is not yet determined to be definitive which is why opinions in the 3rd (your district) and 4th district court of appeals disagree…  Should there be hierarchical preference in CA?  A subsequent question, if CA adopts hierarchical preference, who/what is the top of the hierarchy in these decisions.  You will suggest that the top is the diocese and there are many good argument s that that is the case.  By contrast, even th neutral principles theory advocating decision of Jones. v Wolf referred to a national church’s option to create in its governing documen ts provision to insure that it was the the owner.  (My memory here is a little wanting, bit I think there was mention of the failure of the lower court to consider the governing documents of the upper? That maybe Presbterian v. Hull?) But its almost all the hierarchical churches took seriously its recommendations which, for TECUSA resulted in the Dennis Canon   We’ll see…

[101] Posted by EmilyH on 11-29-2008 at 07:32 AM • top

Emily, subjective intent does often become relevent in the context of determining the difference between a civil mistake and a criminal act.  People need to quit talking about this as the latter.

[102] Posted by Going Home on 11-29-2008 at 08:20 AM • top

#113 et alia  A couple of things registered on me, and I don’t have a clue as to Armstrong’s intent.  I assume he is innocent unless judged elsewise by a jury of his peers.  It is entirely possible that any criminal proceeding will ever get beyond the DA.  But, apparently a judge decided that there was enough to issue a warrant.  But, on why the diocese would be so concerned.  1st, they might argue it’s their money But second, they have argued that the actions of Grace St. Stephens caused them (as THEY are Grace St. Stephens following their possible ownership logic) to file false W2s leaving them open to accusations of tax fraud.  Had they not taken action, and, if Grace St. Stephens and its rector is found guilty of tax fraud, would the diocese then be guilty of co-conspiracy or some other crime, or, at minimum, subject to losing its 501c3 status.  It maybe a “t” crossing “i” dotting thing here that might have been advised by the diocesan attorneys?

On the date of the “hit”  It occurred to me that St. Stephen’s has a school.  Although their current calendar   only goes through last May, the previous year’s shows a week vacation as the Thanksgiving recess.  A decision to time this visit by the police and the ugly crime scene tape when students were not in school seems a good thing?

[103] Posted by EmilyH on 11-29-2008 at 08:47 AM • top

EmilyH, you seem to be thriving off speculation and research about this…what is your dog in this fight and why are you so hopeful that this successful rector be shut down?

It just seems a little over the top. In fairness to Armstrong about whom you know so much, why don’t you reveal who you are so that readers can do diligence on you?

[104] Posted by RejoiceRejoiceBelievers on 11-29-2008 at 11:50 AM • top

115 Rejoice.  Yes, I have a dog in this fight and, actually, it has little to do with this “successful rector” <i>per se</i.  For many years I worked with 501c3 organizations, primarily higher ed.  My concern is the overall reputation of the fund-raising community and the “honor” of recipient organizations.  If Armstrong+ has 1. violated tax laws, we are all hurt.  2. If Armstrong+ is criminally liable for what has happened, we are all hurt.  3.  If Armstrong+ (or Grace) has misused funds designated by a donor for ministerial education to his own benefit, we are all hurt.
The problem is, like the one corrupt used-car-salesman that may exist for the 10 honest ones, it is the one rotten apple who will be remembered by the giving community.  If Armstrong+ is corrupt, and that is a big IF, then, to me, it is important that he be exposed and stopped.

[105] Posted by EmilyH on 11-29-2008 at 01:08 PM • top

Actually, I have quite enjoyed Emily’s comments in this thread.  She has been very informative.  Neither finance nor law are areas in which I function even adequately.  So, for me, the speculation comes with helpful finance/law lessons.  And, I think we all have that same “dog in this fight” (I’ve never heard that expression before).  Regardless of the the man or the parish’s guilt or innocence, this is embarassing for God’s Church.  I hope that it is resolved soon with no finding of wrong-doing, for the sake of the Church catholic and for the cause of the Common Cause.  But, as has been said repeatedly here.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

[106] Posted by Modest Mystic on 11-29-2008 at 01:22 PM • top

115.  I am sorry that this part got missed.  I worked with not-for-profits for many years.  Their ability to raise funds is based on trust.  If that trust is damaged, we are all hurt.  To me, clearly Armstrong+ didn’t 1. know or 2. didn’t care or 3. both about the trust relationship of donors and recipient institutions. It would not matter to me if he were the administrator of an art museum, a hospital executive or a church rector.  He was/is responsible for a not-for-profit.  He is a fiduciary and has responsibilities .  He, I would also assert is ethically responsible for the relationship of trust between donor and recipient.  If, as suggested above, the Bowton trust was set up to fund scholarships for ministerial education, and his kids received funds from it, that relationship of trust was violated.

[107] Posted by EmilyH on 11-29-2008 at 01:23 PM • top

Hasn’t this horse been beat sufficiently?  It seems to have expired some time ago.

[108] Posted by Florida Anglican [Support Israel] on 11-29-2008 at 01:37 PM • top

Actually, Emily H, that is exactly what the bishop is trying to do by feeding people with false accusations so they will go after Armstrong and undermine his ability to raise the funds to mount the legal defense for the property.

If you read the forensic report at Grace Episcopal’s web site, you can see that the scholarships were simply that and all these accusations are either totally untrue or spun incidents that have reasonable explanations.

Nothing is perfect in the multifacited life of a parish, but that doesn’t make it criminal. I wonder how many parishes could withstand four full investigations like Grace Church has. I bet not a rector nor warden on this list would want to have to endure that.

Armstrong has been a leading voice in this fight in the larger church, and through his work with AI and ACI has been a threat to the revisionist agenda. It makes sense that he would be attacked like this, his somewhat abrasive posts on this site make me think he is an inviting target.

But lets not turn on those whose basic make up made them ready to take on the battle, and lets not undermine as tools of the apostate bishop those who are willing to stand up to him.

And let us also see in this why so many are afraid to stand up to the Schori team, they fight dirty and to the death. Chose this day whose side you wish to support.

[109] Posted by RejoiceRejoiceBelievers on 11-29-2008 at 04:14 PM • top

EmilyH:
Et alia might be OK as long as what is referred to are things.  If they are people, the correct Latin is et alii or et al. with a period.  If they are things, I’d probably go for inter alia, meaning “among other things.”

Rudy+

[110] Posted by Rudy on 11-29-2008 at 04:15 PM • top

Rudy+ gratias

[111] Posted by EmilyH on 11-29-2008 at 09:01 PM • top

#117 writes: “Neither finance nor law are areas in which I function even adequately.”  Perhaps this explains your perception written in #104 ... “only a handful of people” getting arrested for a legal assembly when they had the permit needed clearly available.  I would note that all charges for the arrests were later dropped.  The medical care would not have been necessary if the marchers had not first been brutalized by police or sheriffs or whatever these clowns were.  Your perception of acceptability reinforces my very negative opinion.  The level of violence which is deemed acceptable seems to be on the rise of late. Perhaps people are jaded from seeing dozens of fake murders on TV or perhaps watching people be roughed up on COPS all the time.  I just wonder if you would flinch if your own mother was dragged across the street or if some officer twice her size kneeled on her neck while cuffing her(as a for-instance).  I guess some people LIKE to see other people brutalized ... or without irreversable organ failure, it’s all cool.  That’s why there was no substantial public outcry about our torturing enemy combatants, in over 130 cases, according to our military records, to death.

[112] Posted by monologistos on 11-30-2008 at 09:31 AM • top

monologistos (#125),

Would you be kind enough to provide a link or other citation regarding the torture deaths of 130 enemy combatants.

God bless.

[113] Posted by Ol' Bob on 11-30-2008 at 01:17 PM • top

Monologistos, this morning I wrote you quite a nasty gram in response to your “critique” of my “violent” and “jaded” ways.  Everything I said in that response is correct, and I am in the right.  But, my attitude was one of anger toward you.  So, I did not hit the submit button.  I went to church and, when I said the confession, I thought of you.  Even though you never read my rant, I apologize to you for harboring angry thoughts toward you. 

As for your post, I would ask that you please not misapply my words and to refrain from characterizing me since you have no idea who I am.  You don’t know me.  You presume too much.  If you disagree with me, that is your right.  Please do so in a respectful manner next time.  Also, please to not use my posts to other users to slight them.  That was inappropriate.  All politics aside, this is a Christian forum.  Let’s try to behave in that manner.  That goes for me as well as you.

[114] Posted by Modest Mystic on 11-30-2008 at 06:35 PM • top

127: well done, friend.

[115] Posted by paradoxymoron on 11-30-2008 at 06:52 PM • top

EmilyH does have a dog in this race, it is her desire to vilefy any and all who take a principled stand against the nest of vipers in TEC. If she is so concerned about bad apples being investigated and held accountable, then why is she so silent about the hypocrisies and wrongs that TEC is guilty of?

Sorry, EmilyH, but I agree with the previous poster who stated that you should identify yourself and cite the exact sources and data that prove, without a shadow of a doubt on the subject.

[116] Posted by mari on 11-30-2008 at 10:23 PM • top

#127, I’d hate to be on the receiving end when you are upset!  Thanks for the lecture.

[117] Posted by monologistos on 12-01-2008 at 12:10 AM • top

#126, It’s been a few months so I don’t recall the name of the expert giving testimony, but it was entered into the record in a hearing before the House Subcommittee responsible for oversight of torture and the number of deaths reported was said by that expert to be drawn from our own military records.  That fact was not questioned by committee members but it was pointed out that torturing people to death is not our official policy and it isn’t legal.  Of course, we don’t officially practice torture at all.  Rendition is also not part of our official policy.  Sorry I can’t give you more details.

[118] Posted by monologistos on 12-01-2008 at 12:18 AM • top

#129 Mari.. Please see 116 and 118.  Again, my concern has nothing to do with either Armstrong+‘s theology or success.  My concern is how his actions can affect the giving community if the allegations are true.  First is the possible criminal issue, second, the violation of donor intent.  If you are a potential donor to, say, United Way, and you read in the newspapers that it, or its director, is under investgation for misuse of funds, would you think twice?  Would you wonder about the oversight of its board?  If you were a donor to a university and learned that the gift you made to provide scholarships for young scientists just went to the children of the chancellor majoring in music at Oberlin, how would you feel?

[119] Posted by EmilyH on 12-01-2008 at 07:13 AM • top

Mari@#129 To itterate my point…On this blog, Sarah Hey has frequently argued for designated/restricted giving as a way that reasserters dollars can be used in the manner they wish in their
parishes.  If such a reasserter made a gift to the flower fund to honor their deceased relatives and it was used to pay the diocesan assessment to a “liberal” bishop, would the donor object?  Would Sarah feel that the relationship had been betrayed.  There are two points, whether the “restriction”
is legally enforceable and its ethical dimension.  From the point of view of the trust relationship, either
way, the relationship is toast.

[120] Posted by EmilyH on 12-01-2008 at 07:38 AM • top

RE: “Would Sarah feel that the relationship had been betrayed.”

What really matters is what the law states.  And actually, unless the restriction has been made in the appropriately strict fashion, the rector will merely redistribute his assessments to the diocese elsewhere.

I need to repost that main article that detailed the way parishioners need to restrict money.  Thanks for the reminder.

But the real issue is legality, of course, not my feelings.

If something was done illegally in Colorado, then obviously I hope that the truth will come out in a court of law.  I believe that in general we can depend on the secular authorities to have a grasp of justice in Episcopal Church issues.  And regardless of what happened, the truth is there, needs to be discovered, and needs to publicized to the nation.

[121] Posted by Sarah on 12-01-2008 at 08:03 AM • top

#134 Sarah said:

“What really matters is what the law states…I believe that in general we can depend on the secular authorities to have a grasp of justice in Episcopal Church issues. ”

  Yes, Sarah, on that we can agree.  In the US and most of the Anglican “west” we can default to our courts for a nonpartial verdict.  We have the luxury of 1. Believing in most cases that the courts are unbiased.  2.  That they will follow the rule of law 3. That their decisions will be enforced.  This is not true in other countries.  It is, for example, after reading of this weekend’s actions in Jos, something special that
other countries do not enjoy.  When the GS, for example, critiques our use of the legal system to “settle” matters, I need to realize that, for them, the justice system may offer near “justice” or “system”  In the US “Take ‘em to court” IS the definitive attempt at fair play.

[122] Posted by EmilyH on 12-01-2008 at 08:17 AM • top

We have unity at last, EmilyH, on something.  ; > )

[123] Posted by Sarah on 12-01-2008 at 08:22 AM • top

In the US “Take ‘em to court” IS the definitive attempt at fair play.

Absolutely, for instance when TEC throws its millions into intimidating small parishes and even individuals by breaking negotiated agreements and filing vindictive lawsuits instead.  As I’m sure the Cherokee and the Sioux would tell us, that’s fair play, all right.  Makes a tear of joy come to the eye, it does.

Cheers,

Phil Hobbs

[124] Posted by gone on 12-01-2008 at 08:29 AM • top

#137 Mr Hobbs.  Nothing is perfect and had those who walked upon the trail of tears had the advocacy of a free press, things may well be different.  Ironically,like them or not when they stand up for neo-nazis and whatever, we have such as the ACLU, amicus brief filers etc.  But, in our context, the courts ARE the fairest venue.  I have no problem with the likes of Matt Kennedy who, on this blog, has said, fight ‘em court.  My understanding of the gospel is similar, if the elders can’t work it out (They’re the parties in the dispute) find the fairest mediator possible, one you have agreed on, and let him decide.  In our context, that’s the US courts

[125] Posted by EmilyH on 12-01-2008 at 08:56 AM • top

“...find the fairest mediator possible, one you have agreed on, and let him decide.  In our context, that’s the US courts”

I agree with that bit.  It was your remark about “take ‘em to court being the definitive attempt at fair play” that I was making fun of.  Grimly amusing in our current context.

Cheers,

Phil Hobbs

[126] Posted by gone on 12-01-2008 at 09:03 AM • top

Speaking of trust within a community you are not a member of, about which you tediously lecture so many on this board who know more about it in churches than you do, Emily H., it hardly escapes anyone’s notice that orthodox Christians regard you with little trust.  As many who post here know, churches are unique among “non-profits” such as those seeking to advance homosexuality and your efforts here.  So spare us the ad nauseam posturing as a state prosecutor or your odious “concern” for “the community” when, in fact, you mean “my community.”  We are all thankful there are real prosecutors and law enforcement officials rather than mere propagandists aspiring to be ones in the self-fashioned kangaroo courts of their moribund “communities.”

I heard recently that your out counterparts who, acting as a mob, consciously targetted and then attacked a church holding a service in Hope, Michigan, have inspired new legislation that will make penalties for their wildings stiffer. (Anyone have a link?)  A certain amount of self-destruction in the pursuit of misunderstood liberty is tolerated in this country, however questionable that is from an ethical or religious standpoint; however, once the self that seeks its own destruction becomes so aggrandized that it cannot distinguish itself from others, or seeks to blur the lines between its own toxic community and that of others who want no part of it, it will not be tolerated.  The freedoms of those individuals cannot trample on the freedoms of others and once the freedoms of conscience and to authentic religion cease to be fiercely guarded here, our continuity as a nation and society will be gravely imperiled.

The “community” you seek to advance, Emily H., is not one most on this board would ever wish to be part of and most of us will do everything we can to keep it from corroding our identities as citizens of a country, state, etc., not to mention our birthrights in a particular nation and its territories.  The citizens of California and other States have recently expressed themselves on just such a point.  The Soviet Union tried ruthlessly for decades to substitute itself for genuine religion.  But even it, with all its might and bloody history, finally gave up on the effort (or so it appears at this point).  Many in this country have no desire to attempt an Americanized version of the deluded, barbaric experiment.

[127] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 12-01-2008 at 11:18 AM • top

#138, I have been with you up until this point.  Thank you for your input.  It has been educational and a fresh perspective.  However, I would appreciate if you could point to the Scriptures where it says to use the secular courts to work out our differences.

if the elders can’t work it out (They’re the parties in the dispute) find the fairest mediator possible, one you have agreed on, and let him decide.

  This is not my understanding.  I’m thinking of 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 specifically.  Which passage are you thinking of?  I don’t want to argue terms with you.  I think it is better just to see what the Word has to say about it.  Thank you again for hanging in there to speak your mind.  You and I don’t always agree, but sometimes we do; and that makes things interesting.  grin

[128] Posted by Modest Mystic on 12-01-2008 at 05:03 PM • top

I like what the quote below says about the Corinthian passage above:

6:1 “When you have something against another Christian, why do you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter, instead of taking it to other Christians to decide who is right?” NLT While there are certain cases that, by law, have to be submitted to the legal authorities, disputes between Christians should be handled by qualified Christian leaders in the church. Paul declared that disagreeing Christians should not have to file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to resolve differences among them. Why did Paul make this point? (1) If the judge and jury were not Christians, they would not likely be sensitive to Christian values. (2) The basis for going to court is often revenge; this should never be a Christian’s motive. (3) Lawsuits make the church look bad, causing unbelievers to focus on church problems rather than on its purpose.
—Life Application Bible Commentary

Mystic, I would argue that, at this point, there are no identifiable qualified leaders in the Church who are able to bring a resolution to the disputes before us.  I would also argue that the differences before us are far from petty which is what I believe Paul was taking the Corinthians to task for ~ going to court over petty little matters.  Since there are no leaders in the Church who would be trusted by all parties and since the matters are large, not small, the court is the next route.  And I think Paul would shame us as much as he did the Church in Corinth.

[129] Posted by Vintner on 12-01-2008 at 09:38 PM • top

If Paul’s word shames us, then why are we suing each other?  I’m not debating here, I’m just discussing.  Not everything on these forums has to have a hard and fast answer.  And, I was asking what Emily was intending by her statement.

[130] Posted by Modest Mystic on 12-02-2008 at 12:26 AM • top

Actually, we seem to have wandered far off the topic of this article.  Perhaps we should call it a night.  I think we are beginning to rehash matters already discussed elsewhere.

[131] Posted by Modest Mystic on 12-02-2008 at 12:27 AM • top

If Paul’s word shames us, then why are we suing each other?

I would argue that since both sides see themselves in the right, both sides may regret having to resort the courts and all but the most ardent of fighters may even feel shamed at having to do so.  However, both sides will justify their actions by claiming that there is no other route available to settle their dispute.

Paul further argues in chapter 6 that it would be to a Christian’s benefit if the Christian were to allow himself/herself to be defrauded ~ (7 In fact, to have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—and believers at that.  1 Cor 6:7-8) ~ the problem is that each side wants the other side to be “defrauded” (but neither side will admit to being wrong). 

My objection to hearing the 1 Cor. passage used (which is why I piped up) is because I think it’s oft times used in too confining a manner, i.e., “I’m going to take an action that I think is legally right (take my property because I maintain in) and you think is legally wrong (theft) and you shouldn’t sue me (hold me accountable) because Scripture says so.”  It ignores other Scriptures pertaining to stewardship and accountability.  Jesus did encourage people to solve their differences before they got to court ~ but if they didn’t, presumably to court they would go.

Lastly, if you want to have a private chat with Emily, take it to the PM.  Otherwise, what you offer here is free game to be commented on.

[132] Posted by Vintner on 12-02-2008 at 04:36 AM • top

In a more succinct manner: 1 Cor. 6:1-11 can be used as a Scriptural reference against suing AND against defending oneself in a lawsuit.  Thus I would turn the question around and ask, “Where in the Word would you go to justify defending yourself in court?”  And if some no longer consider TEC a Christian Church, are they not themselves not following Paul’s admonition to be “defrauded” instead of fighting?

In my opinion, when it comes to the issue of going to court, BOTH sides are equally guilty of not following 1 Cor. 6:1-9…which is how I think Paul sees us in our current disputes.

[133] Posted by Vintner on 12-02-2008 at 04:57 AM • top

Actually, Vitner, I agree with you about,

Paul further argues in chapter 6 that it would be to a Christian’s benefit if the Christian were to allow himself/herself to be defrauded ~ (7 In fact, to have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?

I appreciate your sense of defending the Scripture against misuse.  You keep right on doing that.  grin  But, like I said, I’m only discussing at this point not debating.  I was curious to see Emily’s presupposition as it relates to Scripture.  She’s not commenting, so I guess she’s decided not to continue on this thread.  I don’t blame her. 

As for your second question, I would not defend myself (in a parish property rights case).  Go ahead, take the building!  It’s just a building.  If you mean more broadly, would I defend myself in court over anything, it depends.  I have had grounds before to file a lawsuit, but have always chosen not to because it is better to be wronged and serve as a witness to Christ in doing so.  If someone were to file against me, it would probably be different.  I’m not much of one for crusading through the courts, so I imagine my litigious response would be minimal at least. 

Well, I have to hurry up and get on a plane, so I will have to cut this short and not think it through as thoroughly as I usually would.  Have a great week everyone!

[134] Posted by Modest Mystic on 12-02-2008 at 10:45 AM • top

#147 Modest Mystic.  Sorry have work to do and meeting tonight.
You of course are entitled to read Paul in any way you wish to.  I do not think that Paul was addressing a community with issues
such as ours.  Again, the contenders are the elders.  Would those who are being sued walk away from the property thus eliminating the need for outside intervention?  The answer in many cases, say CANA Northern Va, Good Shepherd Binghamton, St James Newport etc. is no, and I think it perfectly appropriate that they contest the issue in the most neutral venue possible.

[135] Posted by EmilyH on 12-02-2008 at 05:34 PM • top

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