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BREAKING: Bishop O’Neill Declares Grace-St. Stephens Vestry Vacant

Monday, March 26, 2007 • 9:30 pm


Dear Friends,

As you can imagine, I was deeply saddened to learn this morning that the vestry of Grace and Saint Stephen’s Church voted to affiliate themselves with the Province of Nigeria under the auspices of CANA, and I want to share with you what information I can at this time.

You will undoubtedly read various accounts of this decision in the morning’s papers and on various websites. Such a decision in the best of circumstances has many significant ramifications—canonically, legally, financially, pastorally, and personally—both for members of the vestry and for members of the congregation. In the current situation at Grace and Saint Stephen’s—one in which serious allegations of possible long-term and significant financial defalcation have been made against Father Armstrong—the implications are not only more complictated but potentially more injurious to all involved. In spite of the claims that they have made publicly, my office has provided the vestry with as much information as possible regarding the allegations against Father Armstrong given the canonical restrictions calling for confidentiality while an investigation is ongoing. The vestry of Grace and Saint Stephen’s Church is well informed about those allegations. That they have chosen in consultation with Father Armstrong to “leave” The Episcopal Church knowing that on the same day that our Standing Committee, acting as the Diocesan Review Committee, received the report of the Church Attorney containing the results of the investigation, only calls into question the motivation of the vestry and Father Armstrong in making such a decision.

Having received the report of the Church Attorney today, I have been informed that the Standing Committee, acting as the Diocesan Review Committee, has voted unanimously to issue a Presentment containing six counts of wrongdoing against Father Armstrong. You can expect to hear more from me regarding the details of thisPresentment just as soon it has been formally conveyed to Father Armstrong.

Regarding the decision made by the vestry, I can only say that the decision has no canonical or constitutional grounding or effect. I take the position that people may leave The Episcopal Church but parishes cannot. Grace and Saint Stephen’s Church remains a parish of The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and will continue to be so for any and all who desire to be members of it. To that end, I have removed the members of the vestry and all officers from office under the provisions of our Canons—not the least of which is Title I, Canon 17.8 which states that “any person accepting any office in this Church shall well and faithfully perform the duties of that office in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of this Church and of the Diocese in which the office is being exercised.” As such, the vestry is now declared vacant.

As I have said to many today, my primary pastoral concern is for all those who remain loyal to Grace and Saint Stephen’s. Certainly I will be working with them to make provisions for Sunday worship and for new pastoral leadership for the parish in the short-term and until such time as the parish is restored to its property. I will communicate as much of that as I can just as soon as those details are worked out.

Be assured that I will keep you informed as events unfold. For now, I ask as always that you keep the people of Grace and Saint Stephen’s Church, Father Armstrong and his family, and our Diocese in your prayers. As always, be assured of mine.

God’s peace and blessing be with you. Faithfully,

Bishop O’Neill


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Comments:

Seems to me the parish just DID leave the diocese, Bishop O’Neill, so how can you deny that they didn’t?

[1] Posted by Cennydd on 03-26-2007 at 10:56 PM • top

The vestry has to be his before he can declare them vacant. Last I heard, they were with CANA.

But that’s nice to hear he wants prayers for them and Father Armstring. I’m so touched.

[2] Posted by Dazzled on 03-26-2007 at 11:00 PM • top

If Robert O’Neill had conducted the investigation in a fair manner in which due process was not only done, but seen to be done, this would not have happened.  Now we await to see what these six charges are.  And we await the litigation.  Anyone knowledgeable on what the Colorado state law is?  The property will belong to whoever the courts say it belongs.  The parish has left TEC, no matter what O’Neill might choose to believe.  By his own blundering, O’Neill has just lost his biggest parish and will likely buy himself a few years of propping up a fantasy parish until he quietly pulls the plug when he thinks the attention has moved on.  Sad.

[3] Posted by jamesw on 03-26-2007 at 11:09 PM • top

you can’t fire me: I quit…nah, I’ve already quit, it too late to fire me. Heh, heh.

The gestapo’s already been there. Where are the hobnailed boots?

O’Neill and Howard must be twins.

[4] Posted by Forgiven on 03-26-2007 at 11:27 PM • top

I guess Spring Training is under way and people want to play hard ball…

Does this sound to anyone like he has control of this parish at this point in time?  If not, is he on a fishing trip looking for disgruntled or easily cajoled members to sign up to sue in court?

Does the letter also sound like he’s going to be in a bunch of court cases concerning this parish?  It looks as if he’s ready to fight Armstrong on one set of charges, the vestry on another case and then fight everyone for the property.  It’s the Colorado Bar Association Full Employment Act.  Who knew all the attorneys in Colorado were Episcopalian?

I will admit the comment about the loyal members is very astute.  He just divided the congregation into the loyal and disloyal to the church before the church has entered into their 40-day discernment process.  If the vestry doesn’t know how many of the congregation are on their side, they have made a huge blunder of which the bishop has just taken advantage.

If the vestry doesn’t have better facts and communication than the bishop has at his disposal; the bishop will have them in check in less than three moves.

[5] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 03-26-2007 at 11:32 PM • top

as such, the Episcopal church is now declared vacant!

[6] Posted by no longer NH Episcopalian on 03-26-2007 at 11:36 PM • top

If the vestry doesn’t have better facts and communication than the bishop has at his disposal; the bishop will have them in check in less than three moves.

Quite possibly. I’m not an expert in the history of this, but my impression has been that the laity are, shall we say, tense about both their bishop and their vestry. The only person they seem loyal to and have an affinity with is Armstrong+.

And that may be all it takes for the sheep to follow; their shepherd is moving on and will now be able to tend to them again. That’s the wild card in your prediction. It’s the relationship between the laity and Armstrong+ that will, if at all, offset the bishop’s strategy.

I noted his comment about timing. Not that it matters, but I’m rather curious; how could the vestry know that today was to be the day that the findings report was to be delivered with a recommendation of presentment charges? Seems to me +O’Neill’s been mum on every last step beyond generalities like “Father Armstrong is being investigated…” and “We are expecting a report soon.” Did the vestry suddenly meet, unplanned, and make their announcement in response to this soon-to-arrive report? That would mean they had to contact CANA lickety-split and get formal acceptance from CANA in very short order.

Personally, I think the bishop’s reference to this timing is merely a coincidence and he’s trying to get as much use from it as he can.

[7] Posted by Antique on 03-27-2007 at 01:09 AM • top

“have been made against Father Armstrong”....

Have been made against Father Armstrong, or *I* have made against Father Armstrong?  At least own it, as that’s what real men do. 

Oh, but everyone please pray for God’s priest and his family, whom I may have shafted. 

Ask us if we care…may God protect and strengthen the Armstrong family and the people of Grace/St. Stephens. 

My other prayer is that ++CO and TEC get a clue, but I’m not holding my breath.

[8] Posted by Orthoducky on 03-27-2007 at 01:33 AM • top

Well, this “next shoe to drop” was fully expected, wasn’t it?

“Defalcation” is a troubling word. It can mean “misappropriation” OR “embezzlement.” Bp O’Neil may have used it for effect. If it was embezzlement, the cops likely would be involved.

Fr Armstrong insists he is “innocent” of the accusations. We all hope so. He can’t just make it an “I can explain everything” moment in which he doesn’t.

It doesn’t look good for Grace or Fr Armstrong. (1) He apparently hears from his lawyers that the diocesan investigation was complete enough for charges to be lodged within days. (2) The vestry with no advance notice suddenly votes to leave TEC—surprising the parish members, ACI, everybody. (3) Calling on members to spend 40 days after the fact discerning the situation and decision seems almost an afterthought. (4) There’s gotta be more to the reason for such a huge, immediate rush to sever connections to TEC than the recent House of Bishops displeasure with the Primatial Vicar plan.

A court is going to be involved in this mess very soon. For starters, the diocese will file a preliminary injunction against the vestry. If the judge suspects that one or more of the financial allegations hold water, and if he/she is curious about the vestry’s sudden rush to get out of town, guess in whose favor that judge will be inclined to rule.

This is shaping up to be an extremely sad week for the orthodox cause in TEC.

r.w.

[9] Posted by r.w. on 03-27-2007 at 01:36 AM • top

From the letter:

The vestry of Grace and Saint Stephen’s Church is well informed about those allegations. That they have chosen in consultation with Father Armstrong to “leave” The Episcopal Church knowing that on the same day that our Standing Committee, acting as the Diocesan Review Committee, received the report of the Church Attorney containing the results of the investigation, only calls into question the motivation of the vestry and Father Armstrong in making such a decision.

Maybe the reason they took that action, Bishop, was that they wanted to act before you sent your goons to change the locks on the buildings a la Bishop Andrew Smith of Connecticut!

The one question I would like to see answered is who made the original allegations to the Bishop?  Were those allegations ever presented to the Vestry or Wardens of the Parish?  Or is this just some cooked-up charge from a disgruntled parishioner looking to get even with Fr. Armstrong for whatever reason?

The lack of transparency in this investigation is astounding. Are criminal charges going to be filed? If so, the Bishop’s handling of this matter just might insure a mistrial. 

The Bishop also seems to imply that the Wardens and/or Vestry might be complicit in the wrongdoing. Will they be hauled up on charges also?

This entire situation reeks of shameless politics of personal destruction!

[10] Posted by Allen Lewis on 03-27-2007 at 01:57 AM • top

Any kind of justice requires the accused to be informed of the nature of the charges and the name of his accuser. And for any proceedings to be brought swiftly so that he can clear his name: justice delayed is justice denied.

[11] Posted by dogmatix on 03-27-2007 at 02:59 AM • top

Yes, the lack of transparency in this whole process is very troubling.

If this is an embezzlement in the ordinary sense, that is, diversion of funds for Armstrong’s personal use, then it would be a police matter as well as a diocesan matter.  If, however, “defalcation” means that funds were used for purposes the Vestry approved of but the Bishop didn’t, then it becomes just a canon law matter, I think.  Early on, someone claiming to know posted comments to the effect that the parish has had regular professional audits.  If so, personal embezzlement sounds fairly unlikely.

There’s no way to tell until the Diocesan charges are issued and Armstrong and the Vestry speak.

[12] Posted by Katherine on 03-27-2007 at 03:10 AM • top

In the current situation at Grace and Saint Stephen’s—one in which serious allegations of possible long-term and significant financial defalcation have been made against Father Armstrong-For his sake, I hope the Bishop has “serious facts” on this rather than “serious allegations”. Such a statement with its intent to injure Father Armstrong’s reputation are libelous and unchristian. Not that it matters.

[13] Posted by ExEpiscop on 03-27-2007 at 04:44 AM • top

“Already Gone” by the Eagles

Well, I heard some people talkin’ just the other day
And they said you were gonna put me on a shelf
But let me tell you I got some news for you
And you’ll soon find out it’s true
And then you’ll have to eat your lunch all by yourself
‘Cause I’m already gone
And I’m feelin’ strong
I will sing this vict’ry song, woo, hoo,hoo,woo,hoo,hoo

The letter that you wrote me made me stop and wonder why
But I guess you felt like you had to set things right
Just remember this, Bp Rob, when you look up in the sky
You can see the stars and still not see the light (that’s right)

And I’m already gone
And I’m feelin’ strong
I will sing this vict’ry song, woo, hoo,hoo,woo, hoo,hoo

Well I know it wasn’t you who held me down
Heaven knows it wasn’t you who set me free
So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key

I thought a little bit of triumphalism from the Eagles might be appropro.  Seriously, though, I would think that Martyn Minns of CANA is too smart than to take on this parish and their rector without some strong assurances from Don Armstrong and his attorneys that there is absolutlely no basis for the charges against him.

[14] Posted by David Wilson on 03-27-2007 at 06:08 AM • top

“I take the position that people may leave The Episcopal Church but parishes cannot.”

This is like “Its not an ultimatum unless you think it is.”  Language has private meaning and only says what I want it to say.

I seriously doubt this was a rash act on the part of the vestry, especially if one of the House of Buffoons has been slowly releasing information for some time to them, as he claims.  They could very well see his end game and have acted before him to protect the church and its assets. 

Here’s hoping he will have as much success as Bully Bruno of LA in trying to steal church assets from the Anglican church.

Its interesting that 815 publicly claimed some time ago they had nothing to do with this, cutting O’Neill free.  He can spend hundreds of thousands of diocesan funds on attorneys, accountants and tech people, culling cell phones and computers for “evidence” for the witch trial brought by the kangaroo court of the standing committee.  He’s probably already run through $100,000 - $200,000 of diocesan money and has just lost the diocese’s largest parish.  What does he have to show for it?  The support of his diocese? 

If O’Neill tries to get help from 815, I hope someone brings RICO charges against him.

rw, the reason for this church’s deft and swift action is legal.  Parishes have every right to protect themselves and a year’s abuse from O’Neill has been enough.

[15] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 03-27-2007 at 06:40 AM • top

O’Neill has done what he had planned all along, so this is no surprize.  If I were on Grace Church Vestry, I couldn’t care less what he does now that they are in CANA.  O’Neill is just another of the many examples of TEC’s mean-spirited heresy.  His diocese is dying and he knows it.  He is presiding over what will sooner or later be a corpse.

[16] Posted by PapaJ on 03-27-2007 at 06:47 AM • top

“Rev. Don Armstrong ...  assumed control of the parish today after a 90-day inhibition imposed by Bishop Rob O’Neill.”

An open space in which to act likely has something to do with the seemingly sudden move by the vestry and the rector. Looking at the swiftness coming from the diocesan office, it was a little opening indeed.

[17] Posted by southernvirginia1 on 03-27-2007 at 07:02 AM • top

desperate NH Episcopalian said:

as such, the Episcopal church is now declared vacant!

...along with the See of USA, inc.

No, more than that: they have declared themselves vacant, just as +O’Neill has, in effect, declared himself vacant—having vacated the Faith Once Delivered to the Saints.

[18] Posted by Br_er Rabbit on 03-27-2007 at 07:35 AM • top

As I have said to many today, my primary pastoral concern is for all those who remain loyal to Grace and Saint Stephen’s.

I think he means the traitors, all three of them.

[19] Posted by Newbie Anglican on 03-27-2007 at 07:45 AM • top

So, I was gonna comment on the same script argument we keep seeing here (liberal bishop says he is “deeply saddened” by the parish/priest’s actions and conservative parish/priest replies they/he are deeply disappointed” by the bishop’s actions) but what really hit me like a cold shot of water was the Bishop’s primary concern being “those who remain loyal.”  Ouch.  Whether you are liberal or conservative, that is just not the kind of thing you want to see in print from your bishop.

[20] Posted by Widening Gyre on 03-27-2007 at 07:48 AM • top

++O’Neil can “maintain” 2 TEC parishes if he wishes, for as long as he can afford to, with whatever vestry he wishes to appoint.  This in no way changes the fact that there are now 2 more CANA parishes of traditional, orthodox, loyal Anglicans. 

How is it that TEC’s bishops are so adamant in desire to remain in the Anglican Communion, and so quick and eager to destroy Communion with all the other Anglicans in this country?

[21] Posted by tjmcmahon on 03-27-2007 at 07:51 AM • top

Lack of transparency is the method of operation these days in pecusa.  The same has been done to Fr. David Bollinger in the Diocese of Central NY and I have no doubt to other priests in other dioceses.  The lack of due process is astounding and I can only hope that some justice does come for those falsely accused.

[22] Posted by Tony on 03-27-2007 at 07:52 AM • top

A similarity of method with similarities of intent, Tony.  Didn’t Beers give seminars in DC on how to handle difficult parishes?  So, lets see the RICO charges against TEC.  Grace churches assets are reported on titus as 17 million.  Mulitply that several times for assets nationwide, and its worth a few court battles, don’t ya think?

[23] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 03-27-2007 at 08:33 AM • top

I hereby decree Bishop O’Neill’s cranium vacant.

RSB

Hadn’t seen The Snarkster lately so someone had to do it.

[24] Posted by R S Bunker on 03-27-2007 at 08:42 AM • top

From this moment on, the person with the biggest potential legal liability in this mess is likely to be Robert O’Neill.  Charges of theft are defamatory per se.  Such charges can be privileged if made pursuant to a legitimate internal disciplinary process, but as of yesterday, it appears that O’Neill no longer has jurisdiction over Armstrong.  Therefore, a strong argument exists that yesterday’s statement and all future statements on this topic are not privileged, but are made with malice for the purpose of damaging Fr. Armstrong and not for internal discipline.

It is likely that O’Neill and the diocese were proceeding on the theory that their actions and statements were privileged and did not immediately grasp the legal significance of Armstrong’s switch to CANA.  In any event, the cat is out of the bag and win, lose or draw, O’Neill and the diocese will be as much defendants as plaintiffs in all litigation from now on.  No longer can there be a simple property lawsuit because complicated counterclaims are almost inevitable.  From this moment on, O’Neill needs his own lawyer because he and the diocese no longer have the same interests.  O’Neill likely will be one bishop at least who will understand what it is like to have potential bankrupting liability and crushing personal legal expenses.

Two final words for O’Neill: Charles Bennison.  There probably is not a lawyer alive who thought Bennison would be tied up in litigation as long as he has been.  I personally thought Moyer’s claims were pro forma at best.  I suspect that O’Neill will join Bennison in spending his entire episcopate in litigation, and perhaps in destroying his diocese.

[25] Posted by wildfire on 03-27-2007 at 08:47 AM • top

I bet the diocese takes a huge hit in income from communicants around the diocese who are disgusted with having a dictator instead of a shepherd for bishop.

[26] Posted by David+ on 03-27-2007 at 09:16 AM • top

“I hereby take control over all I survey. Hey, where did everyone go and why is there an echo in here?”

“Sorry sir, all the Christians have vacated the building.”

[27] Posted by Laytone on 03-27-2007 at 09:23 AM • top

I’m not a lawyer but I just talked to one. He thinks that the bishop, in this case, has libeled Fr. Armstrong. There is no relationship there, so these public statements have no protection in law. If this is accurate, Fr. Armstrong could sue the bishop personally, and the bishop could not hide behind his office. Curiouser and curiouser. TEC: “We Guarantee Full Employment for Trial Lawyers”.

[28] Posted by RichardP on 03-27-2007 at 09:25 AM • top

Right now, the smartest thing that Grace-St.Stephen’s could do is have a CPA firm unattatched to the Parish or Diocese do an audit of the Church’s books. That way they can prove to any one, including the courts that there was or was not any financial impropriety. I am sure that Bishop Martins of CANA would not have accepted Fr. Armstrong and the Parish if he thought there was any validilty to these charges. And besides, if they are true, why aren’t the local police involved? If Fr. Armstrong is guilty of embezzelment, it is a criminal offence and we clergy are NOT above the law.

To Fr. Armstrong and the Parish my prayers are with you and may the Lord give you strength and courage to face the days that are coming.
Pax,
Fr. Rick

[29] Posted by FrRick on 03-27-2007 at 09:29 AM • top

“He is presiding over what will sooner or later be a corpse.” PapaJ
How true! Under +O’Neill 2 TEC parishes have closed in Colorado Springs, NOT counting Grace/St. Stephens. Another is struggling meeting in a school with 40 or so in attendance and their Vicar is leaving for California while the AMIA parish booms. Other TEC parishes have closed across the Diocese. The Canon Missioner describes the Diocese of Colorado as “in decline.” But let’s hear it for TEC and the Great Commission, oops I meant the Millennium Development Goals. Sorry don’t inhibit me for thinking myself a Christian and not a U.N. employee. Pray for Christians currently serving in the Diocese of Colorado. Pray for CLC (http://www.clcco.org) and for protection through the Pastoral Scheme for Windsor Compliant Episcopalians who presently remain in the Diocese of Colorado – a declining number all the time! Chapie+

[30] Posted by Chapie+ on 03-27-2007 at 09:34 AM • top

Audits are not intended to discover fraud.

[31] Posted by ExEpiscop on 03-27-2007 at 09:58 AM • top

By the power vested in me as Potentate of the Anglican Norwegian Cigar Smoking Beagle Owners Association (ANCSBOA), I hereby declare Bishop O’Neill expelled from said association.  In addition, any eating of Lutefisk and/or Lefse at any potlucks held in the diocese of Colorado, are hereby prohibited going forward.

[32] Posted by midwestnorwegian on 03-27-2007 at 10:53 AM • top

I understand the “Dennis Canon” is under question.  From info I have from Truro the Dennis Canon was never ratified.  It originated in the HOD then went to the HOB that made changes and then not ratified after the changes.  Anyone know anything about that. 

If that is the case how can O’Neill claim the property if it is in the name of Grace and St Stephens.  I checked the tax records for the county and the diocese and bishop are only on two properties, St Francis (Dorrs closed in Oct ‘06, and the cemetary of St Matthias).

This does get interesting.  Almost makes me wish I had become a lawyer.

[33] Posted by jane4re on 03-27-2007 at 10:58 AM • top

O’Neall writes that there are:

serious allegations of possible long-term and significant financial defalcation

Say what?????  For O’Neall’s sake, he’d better have something more then evidence of possible misconduct against Armstrong.  I agree with Mark McCall, that O’Neall has just opened himself wide to a defamation suit, and given Armstrong’s national reputation, this is one that could result in large damages.  I also agree with Mark that O’Neall and the Diocese of Colorado now need their own lawyers, and I would also suggest the same for the members of the Standing Committee.
And here is a bit of advice to other TEC bishops thinking of trying this tactic:
“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive.”

[34] Posted by jamesw on 03-27-2007 at 11:12 AM • top

Audits:

The Sr Warden of Grace-St.Stephens said in the parish newsletter no audits of parish finances were conducted in 2004, 2005, and 2006 because it was “too difficult or impossible,” according to a post over in T19.  The diocese seized Grace’s financial records over a year ago, but didn’t begin its own formal audit until several months ago—which doesn’t look good for Bp O’Neil. Why the church’s independent auditor wasn’t able to complete at least the 2004 audit prior to the seizure is open to question, though it’s not ususual for internal audits to be delayed. In any case, the parish audits were not “forensic” audits (expensive) designed to uncover wrongdoing.

Accusations:

If the diocese doesn’t have any more incriminating charges than the relatively trivial ones highlighted in today’s Rocky Mountain News, O’Neil is in huge trouble.

r.w.

[35] Posted by r.w. on 03-27-2007 at 12:06 PM • top

Antique,

my impression has been that the laity are, shall we say, tense about both their bishop and their vestry.

their shepherd is moving on and will now be able to tend to them again. That’s the wild card in your prediction. It’s the relationship between the laity and Armstrong+ that will, if at all, offset the bishop’s strategy.

Personally, I think the bishop’s reference to this timing is merely a coincidence and he’s trying to get as much use from it as he can.

Agreed to all of those. Which is why I think the bishop’s move is astute as it forces a decision about loyalty to Armstrong and the church.  The charges against Armstrong challenge his people vis a vis his trustworthiness.  They plant doubts except among the most loyal.

Which is why Armstrong and the vestry need better facts and communication strategies than the bishop just to counter the bishop’s campaign to rid himself of Armstrong’s voice in the diocese.

[36] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 03-27-2007 at 12:07 PM • top

For those interested, details of the allegations against Armstrong (as described by Armstrong) can be found here:

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_5444795,00.html

As r.w. mentions, if this is the extent of O’Neall’s charges against Armstrong, then I think that O’Neall is in deep trouble.  If this is it, then it does, in fact, appear to be a witch hunt conducted by the diocese.

[37] Posted by jamesw on 03-27-2007 at 12:16 PM • top

The ACI is active and influential in Communion affairs, jamesw.  Armstrong is its Executive Director and the last Archbishop of Canterbury and, I believe, other overseas bishops, are on its board of directors.  So Fr. Armstrong’s reputation is not only national, but international.  Grace & St. Stephens parish used to have close ties with African dioceses as well.

[38] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 03-27-2007 at 12:23 PM • top

That’s it?  That’s what they’ve come up with in a year? 

Fr Armstrong should very publicly comment on the pathetic nature of the charges and forgive +O’Neill saying he really feels no need to take advantage of the bishop’s mental infirmity in court.

RSB

[39] Posted by R S Bunker on 03-27-2007 at 12:28 PM • top

There is a type of audit that is intended to discover fraud; it is called a forensic audit.  This is one of the items I have learned as a priest in the Diocese of Central NY.  btw, a forensic audit is expensive.

“Audits are not intended to discover fraud.”

[40] Posted by TonyinCNY on 03-27-2007 at 12:33 PM • top

Wow,  if the charges against Armstrong as stated in the Rocky Mountain News articles are true, they are very lame charges.

When people hear statements like “financial misconduct”, people generally think of things like stealing church funds and whatnot.  These charges are nothing like that.

DoW

[41] Posted by DietofWorms on 03-27-2007 at 12:50 PM • top

It took them a year under the cone of silence to come up with *this*?

[42] Posted by oscewicee on 03-27-2007 at 12:58 PM • top

Any bets that the diocese has someone on hand to prevent Fr. Armstrong from “trespassing” on the property?

[43] Posted by murbles on 03-27-2007 at 01:10 PM • top

I understand the “Dennis Canon” is under question.  From info I have from Truro the Dennis Canon was never ratified.  It originated in the HOD then went to the HOB that made changes and then not ratified after the changes.  Anyone know anything about that.

This is how it’s reported in White and Dykman’s 1981 edition of Annotated Constitution and Canons:

Convention of 1979
Clause (5) of Section 1 was amended to its present wording.
Sections 4 and 5 were added by this Convention. (Journal, pp. B-60, D-154. The account of this legislation does not appear under “Concurrent Actions.” The reference in the index is to a related action.)
_______

Here is how it is reported in the Episcopal Archives:

Resolution Number: 1979-D024
Title: Amend Canons I.6 and II.7 [Of Church Property]
Legislative Action Taken: Concurred As Amended

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY
Author: Originating House: House of Bishops
Originating Committee: Committee on Canons House of Bishops

The Committee on Canons presented its Report #32 on Resolution D-24, and recommended concurrence with House of Bishops Messages #75 and #76.
Motion carried
The House concurred
Resolution Concurred by Both Houses, September 19.

Notes: Resolution 1979-D024 was presented and considered in two parts in the originating House. The first two resolve clauses were adopted and sent to the House of Deputies as HB Message #76, and the third resolve clause was adopted separately and sent to the House of Deputies as HB Message #75.

http://www.episcopalarchives.org/cgi-bin/acts/acts_resolution.pl?resolution=1979-D024
________

I dont see how it was improperly passed but I cant find a full legislative history.  The note in White and Dykman is curious and has been the source of some speculation about the legality of the enactment of the Dennis Canon.

[44] Posted by this_day on 03-27-2007 at 02:21 PM • top

OK, so most audits are not designed to find fraud. Forensic audits are designed to find fraud, or at least recreate past transactions and financial movement. However, I thought that a report of the decision of the Vestry mentioned that Armstrong had requested an audit by the IRS (YIKES!!). Would that not be a froensic audit, sort of on the cheap?

[45] Posted by nEpiscompoup on 03-27-2007 at 07:57 PM • top

This story actually made CNN.  The media’s really starting to take notice.

[46] Posted by st. anonymous on 03-27-2007 at 08:18 PM • top

Well folks, here’s another note.  One thing that the HOB did that hasn’t yet made the news is that they passed a resolution that the General convention is the only body that can interpret the canons and constitution of TEC.  So, we finally have it - the ultimate “church of what’s happenin’ now”.  All authority within TEC has been completely gutted.  Also, CW is that the old ultra liberal Bishops treat KJC as sort of “now, now dear”.  I guess the “power behind the throne” as it were, is the Bishop of Washington.  Of course, we knew KJC was not elected for her brilliance, leadership, etc., but for her maleability as someone else’s toady.  Just as we’ve always known that someone or somebody’s are pulling VGR’s strings. Just another usual day around TEC.  BTW - did you know that TEC is renting out a part of 815 because their finances are so dismal???  ho hum…on to the MDG’s.

[47] Posted by no longer NH Episcopalian on 03-27-2007 at 09:43 PM • top

Cry “Polity!”, and let slip the lawyers of inclusiveness.  Again.

It saddens me that the leaders of our Church will not fight as hard to keep the faith and souls of those who wish to depart as they will to keep their property.  To me, it says volumes about where their priorities lie, and why we are in such a mess today. 

My family have been Episcopalians for more than 230 years.  I never questioned that I would live my life in the Episcopal Church.  But that has changed.  For the first time I not only feel lost in my Church, I’m beginning to feel downright unwelcome.

[48] Posted by cliffg on 03-27-2007 at 09:55 PM • top

Desparatem relayed that the HOB passed a resolution that the General convention is the only body that can interpret the canons and constitution of TEC.

If this is the case then why the name Episcopal.  I thought the authority of the church is with the bishop, hence the name.  By saying it is up to the GC then the bishops are relinquishing their authority.  Now that the canons and constitution are taking precidence over the Holy Scriptures they are also creating a pharisiacal church.  They are not just straying from Christian teaching they are running away from it.

[49] Posted by jane4re on 03-28-2007 at 12:44 AM • top

One thing that the HOB did that hasn’t yet made the news is that they passed a resolution that the General convention is the only body that can interpret the canons and constitution of TEC.

Let’s see, the list is growing…

The bishops, claiming polity won’t let them make any decisions outside of GC, have:

. Unilaterally decided to reject the PV insofar as their own support goes.

. Unilaterally decided to advise the Executive Council to reject the PV.

. Unilaterally decided that GC must interpret the Preamble.

and now,

. Unilaterally decided that canonical law must be interpreted by GC.

Hmmm… Isn’t it the right of polity of GC to make these decisions, and here we have the bishops making them without authorization to do so? I don’t seem to hear the HoD squawking about this. Now isn’t that strange?

I suppose the good thing about this is the Presentment trial of +Cox will now be dismissed. No way an ecclesial court can rule on the matter now. I think the HoB just gave +Cox’s attys a clear and decisive defense: no charges can be brought against the man because no one knows what the canons mean at the moment. Therefore, no one can know if any canons were violated. At best, we’ll have to wait until after GC 2009 to know what the canons say; then and only then can we know if there’s any grounds for <strike>trumped-up</strike> presumed Presentment Charges.

And as far as that goes, here’s the out all the fleeing parishes were looking for! No more suits! No more “abandonment of communion” charges. 815 and individual bishops cannot interpret canonical law that permits them to go after property or depose priests for abandonment of communion. Why not? Because first we need GC to interpret those canons, not permit individual bishops to interpret them.

Stop the Presses! I think the bishops just redeemed their own prey (I mean, er, those they pray for)! And there’s a pretty good reason why the HoD isn’t complaining—they’re too busy shaking their heads at the TOTAL BLUNDER their bishops have made and hoping nobody notices!

All fooling aside, it’s worth a shot in court. Can’t hurt to move for dismissal on the grounds TEC hasn’t determined what their own rules are, therefore no violation of those rules could have occurred. It ought to at least carry some weight where bishops have filed suits, seeing as they now declare themselves, jointly and severally (so I believe the phrase is), unable to decide what the canons mean. And that would include the so-abused Dennis Canon.

Ah, but here’s where the HoD chimes in, “No! It isn’t like that at all! The HoB made these decisions without our input and consent. They can’t do that until we next meet at GC and we all agree on it!”

Which of course means the HoB response to the PV issue is null and void because they can invite other bishops into their diocese for pastoral care, therefore they have no official reason to say, “No.” They can only say, “We don’t want to,” which of course makes them out publicly to be the snakes they are and the other Provinces can’t help but take it as a resignation from the AC.

The HoD denial will also mean the bishops have the right to determine what they will and won’t permit in their own diocese, despite what the HoD has to say about it. So in speaking up to renounce the HoB, the HoD just shot themselves in the foot.

Oh my! Oh my! What a wonderful BLUNDER the HoB just made by this little declaration about interpreting canonical law! You know, I’ve just grown quite fond of our <strike>bungling</strike> blessed bishops.

[50] Posted by Antique on 03-28-2007 at 01:55 AM • top

Anyone: Has “Bishop” Robbie tried to interfere with services at Grace? Is there any court action to bar the vestry and or Armstrong+ from the parish? Anyone know what is going on???

[51] Posted by teddy mak on 03-28-2007 at 07:52 AM • top

Desperate NH: You mentioned the Resolution passed by the HOB last week regarding GC and canon law. Could you give a source for that? I’m not trying to sound skeptical, but it’s always good to have solid sourcing for such things. Thanks! Dave

[52] Posted by DavidSh on 03-29-2007 at 11:11 AM • top

DavidSH-

Re HOB Resolution regarding GC and canon law—From the Mind of the House:

Resolved, the meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution of The Episcopal Church is determined solely by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

[53] Posted by this_day on 03-29-2007 at 11:19 AM • top

Well, it says the PREAMBLE, it doesn’t say the whole thing. Doesn’t that make a difference for some of what is being said here? Although I agree that regarding the current argument about Colorado, it is certainly relevant. I have another question though: did the church in Colorado try and make a settlement with the diocese first, like they attempted in Virginia?

[54] Posted by DavidSh on 03-29-2007 at 11:27 AM • top

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