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Letter from the Music Director of Grace Church to Members of the Choir

Thursday, March 29, 2007 • 4:41 am

Letter from the Music Director of Grace Church to Members of the Taylor Choir
posted in the comments on titusonenine

March 29th, 2007 at 12:52 am

Subject : Letter from XXX

Members of the St. Stephen’s and Taylor Choirs, By now, many of you have learned of the sad events that have transpired at Grace Church. The articles and events of the past two days are too numerous and complicated to be summarized in this letter. I urge you to read the articles on the church website, Associated Press, Gazette, Denver Post, RM newspaper, etc. to fully understand what has transpired.

In short, the Vestry voted to go under alternative oversight under the Archbishop of Nigeria and to hire Don back as the rector without informing the congregation. They have changed all the locks to the church and the office and are claiming the property as their own. The Bishop has removed the Vestry and plans to stake claim on the property and assets in court.

Not knowing exactly what to do about this and having no warning from the former Vestry or other staff members, I called the Bishop of Colorado, Robert J. O’Neil, in order to find out what I should do. After talking with him and considering how to proceed, I have decided to stay with the Episcopal Church under his oversight for the time being. Under no circumstances will I work for this new Anglican church under the Archbishop of Nigeria. I was hired as an employee in the Episcopal

Church and will remain in its employment. Unfortunately, I have no access to my office and my organ and choral music in the McWilliams house on Tejon St. we were, however, able to secure music folders and choir robes from the choir house.

Naturally, this disastrous turn of events affects you all because you are ministers and/or employees to the congregation of Grace Church. First, let me say that I am so sorry this has happened to you. You don’t deserve it and you have been the highlight of my time in Colorado Springs. I have been able to cope with this untenable situation only because of the wonderful support from the choirs.

XXX XXX called me from the UK today and expressed the same sentiment. He cares for you as I do and worries about you every day. In speaking with the Bishop, I learned of his plan for the immediate future of those who wish to stay a part of the Episcopal Church. For this Sunday and until the issue of the property is resolved, Grace & St Stephen’s Episcopal Church will meet at an alternate location (he is trying to find a place with a decent organ) because he does not intend to turn Palm Sunday into a political boxing match between Don Armstrong and the Diocese. I will play and direct a choir of whoever (from St Stephen’s and Taylor) would like to sing. I imagine that quite a few of you will participate in this service and I look forward to worshipping with you in what I imagine will be a smaller, more fulfilling liturgical experience. It will take an incredible amount of thought, prayer and good fortune to rebuild this church. However, I believe that, in due course, we will be restored to a semblance of normalcy in our Gothic home downtown. The immediate future of Taylor choir is bleak simply because remuneration isn’t possible until there is a plan and the money to support it. The Music Committee (XXX XXX, XXX XXX, XXX XXX, XXX XXX, XXX XXX, XXX XXX and XXX XXX) has called the officer of the Taylor Trust and frozen the assets so the Nigerian church cannot receive its funds. We met today and will meet often to keep the program alive to serve the needs of Grace Church. This is the best we can do.

I am looking into possible rehearsal spaces for Thurs. night and Sunday morning and will keep you all informed as to the details of my plans for Holy Week and Easter music. We must remember, in spite of what has occurred in our church, that this is a precious time for Christians and that choral music written for Christian worship is perhaps the greatest artistic treasure in the world.

What we do is a gift given both to and from God and an expression of what we believe as Christians. Please call me on my cell XXX or at home XXX XXX if you have questions or just want to talk. I love you all and I will hold you in my prayers during this difficult time,


111 Comments • Print-friendlyPrint-friendly w/commentsShare on Facebook

This is so heartbreaking. I am simply sad, for them, for all of us. The wretched condition of the Body of Christ is all too fitting for this Holy Week. Please, let us all keep ALL of our brothers and sisters foremost in our prayers, and that the Light of the World would stream down on His Body, bringing healing, wholeness, and restoration.

[1] Posted by AnnieCOA on 03-29-2007 at 05:39 AM • top

I would think that since the ownership of the property is currently under dispute (both sides making claims) in the courts that removing any property in a way that is unauthorized by the one who holds the deed&title; could be considered stealing.

[2] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 03-29-2007 at 05:51 AM • top

well, as long as the music is looked after and the choir robes and music folders are secured then everything should be ok.

Those are, after all, the important things.

[3] Posted by David Ould on 03-29-2007 at 06:01 AM • top

yes, well, all pastors know where the devil fell when cast out of heaven

[4] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 03-29-2007 at 06:04 AM • top

Matt, this statement might surprise you, since where my ‘letter’ resides. There is a greater sin than theft, that of idolatry. A priest in charge of pastoral care has yet to respond to a request for help at a ‘flag ship’ parish. He not bothered to speak with me (though has triangulated in violation of his own words from a sermon last July). He has important things to worry about like keeping buildings of rubble from +Lee. Then +KJS has +Lee chain and is prepared to fight for these building of rubble. Currently I’m looking at a AMiA parish with no property and they seem to care a little more about living stones.

I know that I’ll seem like a defector to the cause as I write this, however in Northern Virginia and very close to the situation, I’ll say it’s very sad. I’ll say I’m not impressed with either side. I know Sarah’s article about ‘Little Stone Bridges,’ yet our hearts must be in the right place. Currently I’ve personally experienced a lack of care for people as CANA & DioVA fight. As Satan laughs as people entrench and are beginning to turn a thing into an idol.

It is very sad. This letter is very sad. I’m not going to write an opinion one way or another as I ponder these things. I’m not even making a judgment on who’s claim I think is rightful owner. I will warn the Bible warns an awful lot about the sin of idolatry, we should guard our hearts. This is polarizing so quickly it appears if all sides are loosing our witness to the world for Christ. That is what is grieving me the most.

[5] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 03-29-2007 at 06:14 AM • top

A sad situation indeed, but right on schedule (Holy Week).

My observation is that “traditional” music leaders (classically trained on organ) tend to be resistant to the genuine move of the Spirit and “institutionalists.”  Any thoughts, class?

[6] Posted by bigjimintx on 03-29-2007 at 06:23 AM • top

By any chance is the organist’s name Benedict Arnold.

[7] Posted by PapaJ on 03-29-2007 at 06:43 AM • top

Brother Hosea,
Yeppers, it HAS been a little hectic in our neck of the woods, hasn’t it? And things can certainly feel especially lonely and hard when we express a real need that seems to be ingnored by the people we believe should respond with prompt compassion. We do let each other down, don’t we? Sometimes very, very badly. I don’t honestly believe our NoVA CANA churches have a corner on that market, and I suspect you don’t really believe that either. At least I hope you don’t.

I’m sorry to be brief, but I have to get my offspring to their places of learning. I just wanted you to know that you aren’t alone.

[8] Posted by AnnieCOA on 03-29-2007 at 06:51 AM • top

Some organist-Choirmasters are full-time employees who move about the Church in a way that is not much different from a clergymen.  For these gentlemen, it would be wise nowadays to consider the total aspects of any job situation they move into—not just the music program.  In the above case, the organist would have been wise to stay with the person who signs his paycheck, and I doubt very much if that person is the bishop.  But, I could be wrong.  I’ve been wrong before. LOL

[9] Posted by GB on 03-29-2007 at 07:01 AM • top

This letter seems to have been written by a prima dona musician who thinks his performance is the most important part of the liturgy, who doesn’t serve the church and its rector, so much as his own performance agenda.  They infect more than one parish.  And yes, his removing church materials from church property sounds like stealing. 

Also disturbing is the independently controlled fund for music.  How many parishes have similar arrangements that undermine the rector’s authority in the parish, including over liturgical music?  I’ve seen choir directors that interfere with and co-opt a church’s donors for their own promotion or what they single-handedly think is best for the parish.  Its sickening.  While the director was allowed to draw donations away from the church to the choir, the church suffered deficit spending. 

Grace Church is probably better off without this guy and all the others that follow him.  I hope Grace can get its property back from this thief and that he is fined for his actions.

[10] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 03-29-2007 at 07:08 AM • top

Hosea6:6, I don’t know your identity or what parish you belong to, but if there is any way that I can help, please e-mail me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  Your posting alarms me greatly and I want to do anything I can to help.  Jesus summed up the Ten Commandments with two - to love the Lord God and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  There is nothing more important than this - nothing. 


[11] Posted by BabyBlue on 03-29-2007 at 07:10 AM • top

Thank God I’ve never had the opportunity to become ‘classicly trained on the organ”!!!  I am an organist, but never had to opportunity to do more than the basics, but 40 years of service to smaller churches has for the most part been a blessing.

Unfortunately, as a bit more time goes by, it will be shown that there has indeed been an entrenched group of folks, (including this guy) who have not “liked” things at Grace for a long time, and have happily joined the effort to discredit the priest for their own purposes.  All the rest is just opportunism! 

Since I have served at mostly smaller churches, its sometimes even worse, they become a microcosim of the troubles of big churches, and the warfare is a bit more open.

It also shows a problem where the priest relegates a great deal of responsibility, and then wonders why things go wrong.

There is NO question in my mind that the effort to oust the priest has been going on long before all this, and they finally figured out how to get the Bishop on their side.

I do NOT know the circumstances of Fr. Armstrong’s situation, so will not address that, I do recognize the plotting and scheming done by some members of the church.

Shame on them,

Grannie Gloria

[12] Posted by Grandmother on 03-29-2007 at 07:51 AM • top

“I have no access to my organ.”, states the organist.  Wrong pronoun if he is describing the musical instrument that is part of the church.  It’s not his—-it is part of the fabric of the church building.

[13] Posted by David Wilson on 03-29-2007 at 08:05 AM • top

News flash:  Even without choir robes or music folders. God is still on His throne in Heaven.  Worship can and will proceed whether or not the music director is present.  A congregations fully engaged in worhsip is better than a performance oriented choir, any day.  So sing out mightily and make a joyful noise unto the Lord - He doesn’t need the trappings.

[14] Posted by DaveG on 03-29-2007 at 08:05 AM • top

Thank you Baby Blue for your kind offer. I’ve emailed one who is out of town but a mature Christan to connect with one to help play the “Holy Spirit with skin on,” as I fear alone, my emotions would speak and tear down the wonderful gift the Lord may be trying to give through you. At this point the best guidance is to test all actions against the very command you reminded us. If we love God as we ought and neighbors as ourselves than we will find true righteousness.

[15] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 03-29-2007 at 08:24 AM • top

I think that it would be great to see a poll of the congregation and find out what percentage of the church are in agreement with the move out of ECUSA.  The church congregation ought to have the opportunity to demonstrate the support the legitimacy of the move to CANA and I would hope that it would be a high % but it would be good to see the support that the vestry and Fr. Armstrong have.

Regarding the organist, he may not be a ‘Benedict Arnold” at all. He could be a reappraiser and not orthodox at all. If that is the case, it is hard to fault him. 

Everyone there needs our prayers ..... reappraisers and reasserters both.  What a difficult and very sad 6 months it has been.  The serpent sure has been hard at work in this parish.  I’m struck at the difference though between this tragic turn of events and the strength of the Lord that has been so evident at Falls Church and Truro.

[16] Posted by Bill C on 03-29-2007 at 08:28 AM • top

Yes, this sounds much more like music idolatry than worship.  So sad when professional musicians forget who they are serving.  What our Lord is waiting for is that sweet, sweet sound from the created ones.

[17] Posted by hanks on 03-29-2007 at 08:30 AM • top

Hosea6:6, without knowing what you are experiencing, I can only offer sympathy and prayer. These are truly times that try means souls, and when our theological disagreements become expressed in terms of real property and money, it is just—ugly. Those who advise walking away with nothing are offering wisdom, I believe. Healthier for the spirit even if it feels unjust.

[18] Posted by oscewicee on 03-29-2007 at 08:44 AM • top

Let’s not jump to conclusions about this organist or organists in general (what’s the difference between a organist and a terrorist?  You can negioate with a terrorist! - please forgive me).

This is a sad situation where all are concerned.  Hosea has it right that our fighting has Satan in fits of laughter.  We don’t know enough to make a judgement one way or the other about Father Armstrong’s financial dealings or Bishop O’Neill’s motives.  We cannot judge motives.  We can only discern actions.  I must admit that Fr. Armstrong and the vestry taking the congregation out of TECUSA just before the letter of allegations is published doesn’t pass the smell test.  Neither does the bishop’s double secret investigation pass the smell test and neither does holding the letter until after the HOB meeting pass the smell test.

I think I know who is behind all this and his name is an anagram of Santa.

Phil Snyder

[19] Posted by Philip Snyder on 03-29-2007 at 09:06 AM • top

Yep, I’m always way more impressed with someone who gets paid to go to church to do a job than I am with the folks who go there unpaid, giving of their own money to keep it going. NOT.

Sheesh, where does he think the money came from for the organ, choir robes, etc.? This guy is the best argument ever for an all-volunteer music ministry.

[20] Posted by Dazzled on 03-29-2007 at 09:11 AM • top

“He could be a reappraiser and not orthodox at all. If that is the case, it is hard to fault him.”

I disagree, Bill C.  The kind of stupid egotism on display in this person’s letter is really unacceptable for any staff member of a church, let alone a thieving one.  He should not be tolerated at any church as an employee because of the destructive influence he has in the parish.  This is especially true if he interacts with children, but neither does his pernicious influence on adults honor or serve the church well.  His departure from the parish is a blessing.  They just need to get back the property he took with him.  And yes, DDW+, in view of his overblown sense of entitlement and personal dudgeon, he would have stolen the organ as well, if it had not been nailed down.  For that matter, he probably took more than is mentioned in his letter which seems to be addressed to presumed allies.  It is good that at least one of them had the sense to get it to titus, Stand Firm, and any other possible sources of disinfecting daylight.

[21] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 03-29-2007 at 09:13 AM • top

All in those parishes have our prayers.  Congregations in every parish are being torn apart, the difference being that for most of us it is less public, at least for the moment.  Most Episcopalians and Anglicans have a respect for the hierarchy of the church.  We have been taught since day 1 of Sunday School that our priest is subject to the bishop.  At any time when the rector is at odds with the bishop, there is tension within a congregation.  Now, with many rectors having to stand against the entire hierarchy of TEC, the tension is that much greater. 
My own parish is too small to divide, and as far as I can tell, the bishop’s legal claims to the property are pretty good.  Before too long, I am sure there will be an Anglican congregation close enough for me to get there on a Sunday morning, and when that happens, I will probably have a tearful goodby and take leave of my current TEC parish, along with a few others.  It has even occured to me to seek ordination- if Nashotah has any interest in a fellow in his 50s without the backing of his local bishop (who I highly doubt would send anyone to Nashotah, age not withstanding)- and coming back here to minister to the hearty souls who want to continue in the true Anglican spirit.
But whatever the future holds, let us all keep the parishes of Virginia and Colorado and others under assault from TEC in our prayers.  And also keep the bishops of TEC in our prayers, and pray that the they may find the Grace of God to see the Truth they have blinded themselves to.

[22] Posted by tjmcmahon on 03-29-2007 at 09:34 AM • top

I agree with those who feel this foolish young organist is not a person they want in ministry nor can trust.  He makes many false assumptions.  If he was a paid lay employee, he served at the pleasure of the Vestry, not the Diocese.  He stole music and choir robes that did not belong to him.  He is now complicit with a Bishop who has had a long-time agenda to take over this orthodox church.  By any ethical standards, this foolish and immature person is a traitor and thief with an exaggerated sense of self-importance.  Good riddance.

[23] Posted by PapaJ on 03-29-2007 at 09:36 AM • top

Congregations in every parish are being torn apart, the difference being that for most of us it is less public, at least for the moment.

Painfully true, and I can’t help wondering how many people are losing their faith in this mess.

[24] Posted by oscewicee on 03-29-2007 at 09:43 AM • top

As a former professional church musician and a present seminarian, I learned a long time ago the problems attendant with choirs/choir directors—contemporary or traditional.  Churches tend to go for the best “race horse” they can find to fill the position of parish musician—much more pleased to get an Eastman trained organist than a committed, authentic believer.  Therefore, in many cases one of the most visible and active ministries of the Church is run by a reprobate who is many times more loyal to Bach than to Christ.  The Episcopal mantra of late has been, “If the liturgy is done well, all is well—or at least there won’t be too many questions.”  Shame on the churches who place far more emphasis on form and literature than on content!  The great Anglican hymnody was designed to provide a conduit for individual and corporate worship of God and as a vehicle for the doctrinal training of the congregation.  (Luther said that a congregation learns far more theology from hymns than it does from homilies—HOW SAD!)  If such is the case, then I fear—taking into consideration both the stilted, “performee” manner in which today’s hymns are sung and the theological bankruptcy of the “edited for content” 1989 hymns—we—Episcopalians—are “of all people most to be pitied.”

[25] Posted by Enough with the Stool on 03-29-2007 at 09:50 AM • top

“traditional” music leaders (classically trained on organ) tend to be resistant to the genuine move of the Spirit and “institutionalists.”—bigjimintx
“By any chance is the organist’s name Benedict Arnold”. –PapaJ
“This letter seems to have been written by a prima dona musician..”- Seen-Too-Much
“Yes, this sounds much more like music idolatry than worship. “ –hanks
“The kind of stupid egotism on display in this person’s letter … a thieving one….destructive influence …especially true if he interacts with children….his pernicious influence on adults…overblown sense of entitlement and personal dudgeon, he would have stolen the organ … probably took more than is mentioned in his letter”—Seen-Too-Much
“…this foolish young organist is not a person they want in ministry nor can trust…this foolish and immature person is a traitor and thief with an exaggerated sense of self-importance”—PapaJ
Matthew 7:1
Luke 6:37
Romans 2
God’s Righteous Judgment
  1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

[26] Posted by Righteousness on 03-29-2007 at 10:11 AM • top

Nobody mentioned this guy’s habits and preferences.  If he favored that pretentious, mid-twentieth century tuneless choral drivel that is so common in Episcopal churches—let him keep it.

[27] Posted by Cousin Vinnie on 03-29-2007 at 10:17 AM • top

Churches tend to go for the best “race horse” they can find to fill the position of parish musician—much more pleased to get an Eastman trained organist than a committed, authentic believer.  Therefore, in many cases one of the most visible and active ministries of the Church is run by a reprobate who is many times more loyal to Bach than to Christ.

Before we all pile on church musicians, it is perhaps worth keeping in perspective the fact that we could all name far more churches and individuals whose faith has been wrecked by their Episcopal clergy than by their musicians.  The statement above could just as well have been written as follows, and applied with far greater frequency:

Churches tend to go for the best “race horse” they can find to fill the position of rector—much more pleased to get a GTS trained priest than a committed, authentic believer.  Therefore, in many cases every one of the most visible and active ministries of the Church is run by a reprobate who is many times more loyal to the progressive agenda than to Christ.

[28] Posted by PCampbell on 03-29-2007 at 11:09 AM • top


[29] Posted by Enough with the Stool on 03-29-2007 at 11:25 AM • top

Funny thing, in most parishes I am familiar with and certainly in my ex-parish, the choir tends to attract the most liberal parishoners. Before anyone gets their pants/panties in a wad, this is just a personal and unscientific observation.
My opinion: This guy would make a perfect Music Director for the Titanic.

the snarkster

[30] Posted by the snarkster on 03-29-2007 at 11:26 AM • top

Let’s take a breather…

Here are MP3 files for 5 selections from Vivaldi’s Magnificat, sung by one of the several choirs of Grace Church / St. Stephen’s.

Duplicated from T19, but worth the pause.

[31] Posted by Br_er Rabbit on 03-29-2007 at 11:49 AM • top

My observation also, and I am an active choir member and very orthodox. That said, one of the reasons I want Anglicanism to survive in North America is the glorious tradition of Chruch music (Anglican and Catholic). The poetry in many hymns is profoundly moving, and very scriptural, if one just listens. The primary reason I was first attracted to the Episcopal church was the music (I was raised S. Baptist) and if my parish went over to modern praise music or save-the-world drivel, I would just leave and stay home Sundays and read the Bible and listen to St. Paul Sunday.
This guy swiped church property, and should be prosecuted, IMO.

[32] Posted by RichardP on 03-29-2007 at 11:55 AM • top

BR Rabbit,

Simply amazing what you can do with a 2000 member church.  Money can make a difference.  I enjoy a variety of church music, but our church has also struggled mightily with the whole issue of music and choir.  Our church recently disbanded our choir when it became much more about the performance than worshipping for an audience of One.

[33] Posted by usma87 on 03-29-2007 at 12:10 PM • top

This guy swiped church property, and should be prosecuted, IMO.

Doesn’t it matter who wins the lawsuit over the property?  If it really belongs to the diocese, according to Colorado law, then the choir director “preserved” the choir robes and music from the “other side”.

Also, look at the church web site.  The “Alice Bemis Taylor Trust” donated the organ and funds some concerts by the church’s “Grace Church Taylor Choir”.  Perhaps the choir director was saving the Taylor Trust’s property?

[34] Posted by Paul B on 03-29-2007 at 12:14 PM • top

Last August I left behind a large parish where the two organists and many of the vocalists in the choir are paid (beautiful music, no question about it).

Do I miss it in our little Anglican congregation where five of us gather in various homes to practice each week so that we can provide some leadership in singing along with our enthusiastic congregation to the glory of the Lord with an abundance of joy, and where we know God has blessed us again every time we find a pianist to accompany us?

Absolutely not.

[35] Posted by BettyLee Payne on 03-29-2007 at 12:20 PM • top

This is not the first instance where a choir director has supported TEC during a split while the Rector, Vestry and majority of the congregation have gone elsewhere. 

Reasons vary. There are some wonderful, Choir directors who are dynamic Christian leaders.  I have had the pleasure of worshiping with them in the Episcopal Church. Clearly, a choir director’s first qualification should be his or her spiritual depth and conviction, not his musical pedigree.

There could also be another contributing factor here.  The choir director was “out of the loop” with the decision to leave.  I am sure that was by necessity. However, it clearly resulted in hurt feelings.  No one wants to be the last to hear something.

God is sorting.

[36] Posted by Going Home on 03-29-2007 at 12:22 PM • top

This purported letter makes no sense. Was the organist/choirmaster hired by the Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Colorado? Probably not. It is more probable that his position was one with Grace Church, and thus he was employed by Grace Church. Such employees are not employed by the Rector. Ordinarily they are employed by the church, under the supervision of the Vestry.
This person is clearly unfamiliar with serving in a hierarchical organization, and does not comprehend that his first communication should have been with the Senior Warden of Grace Church.
Legally speaking, he/she has no standing to communicate with the Rector of Grace Church, nor does he/she have standing to communicate with the Bishop of Colorado. His/her decision to remain with TEc or to join with CANA was not his/hers to make. That was the decision of the Vestry, which, the last time I checked, is an elected body.
He/she is, of course, free at any time to resign his/her position as choirmaster/organist of Grace Church.
But he/she certainly has NO authority NOR responsibility for the property entrusted to his care by the VESTRY! Who appointed him/her as the independent, free, unfettered, not-subject-to-colonialist rule organist/choirmaster? Were those the terms of his/her employment?
Did he/she get sovereign rights to contradict whatever the Rector chose for music for the services?

He/she can make his/her own choice about whether to affiliate with TEc or with CANA. But he/she has NO power to make that choice on behalf of the choir, the music program, the robes, the music, the organ, the piano, the collection of handbells, or any other property of Grace Church!

Give me a break!

[37] Posted by mathman on 03-29-2007 at 12:23 PM • top

Music Directors and Choir Directors are frequently paid staff members of churches, whether part time or full time. While they are often members of the church where they are employed, this is not always the case. You and I (unpaid) aggregate usually with a church where we feel at home, in many ways. This paid staff sometimes ends up in churches where they are doctrinal misfits (to the particular church, that is.)

I personally know a music director who was told by his employers NOT to attend Plano West. He attended Plano West, and they fired him. He then found a new home at an Anglican church which had recently fled from the Diocese.

There is every possibility that the music director here under discussion may have been doctrinally at odds with the great majority of members at the church where he was employed. (None of this background is meant to excuse any acts of malfeasance.)

[38] Posted by Br_er Rabbit on 03-29-2007 at 12:39 PM • top

deleted: slanderous accusations

[39] Posted by COneedshelp on 03-29-2007 at 12:43 PM • top

deleted: personal motivation questioned

[40] Posted by midwestnorwegian on 03-29-2007 at 12:48 PM • top

You have the right of it Mathman. The organist is hired by the vestry, unless they are volunteers from the parish. Still even if they are volunteers they get a stipend paid by the vestry.

[41] Posted by Marlin on 03-29-2007 at 12:50 PM • top

PaulB makes a good point as to the ultimate ownership of the property in question here - in “neutral principles” jurisdictions (like CO), the intent of the donor of property is one of the things courts usually look at when determining whether the real or personal property is being held in trust for the denomination even though “title” is in the parish.  If the Taylor Trust (or whatever the technical name is) was donated with explicit language restricting its use by an ECUSA parish, then the ownership might ultimately be found to be in the denomination.

[42] Posted by SCVJefe on 03-29-2007 at 12:53 PM • top

He/she can make his/her own choice about whether to affiliate with TEC or with CANA. But he/she has NO power to make that choice on behalf of the choir, the music program, the robes, the music, the organ, the piano, the collection of handbells, or any other property of Grace Church!

Well, again, that issue does depend on who his contract is with.  If it is with the diocese or a trust fund and not the church, then he might be within his rights.  If not, he should have resigned and left the items alone, pending the outcome of a lawsuit, just to be doubly sure he is not stealing. 

Meethinks he now hath discovered his true allegiance, regardless of the letter of the contract. 

The rest will come out in due time.

[43] Posted by Steve Lake+ on 03-29-2007 at 01:00 PM • top

midwestnorwegian, I am sure his 6 month pregnant wife would be shocked to learn this information.  He is happily married, he is staying with the episcopal church because he is sane.

[44] Posted by COneedshelp on 03-29-2007 at 01:04 PM • top

COneedshelp -

might he be YOU by any chance?

[45] Posted by Dazzled on 03-29-2007 at 01:18 PM • top

My prayers are with you.  I have been rather taken aback by the amount of negative comments based upon knowledge not in evidence at this site.  Especially in this string.  The majority of the people commenting on this site feel that the Church and all its property should go with the Vestry & Clergy to CANA.  The diocese and those who want to stay feel that the property belongs to the diocese for the benefit of those who do not want CANA oversight.  It’s a different worldview, certainly a valid point of view.

I do wish people would refrain from making unsubstatianed accusations and judgements based upon little or no evidence.  And I hope that anyone who feels that I have made any mistatements will respectfully tell me. 
Peace be with you,
Nick from Texas

[46] Posted by Righteousness on 03-29-2007 at 01:22 PM • top

COneedshelp - Thank you for your input and correction.
Next question…Does he honestly think there will be room for his gifts within TEC when they rip out “his” beloved organ and replace it with guitars, drums and keyboards….because this IS the direction the reappraisers are going.

[47] Posted by midwestnorwegian on 03-29-2007 at 01:23 PM • top

I am sorry but the behavior here is disturbing. This board illustrates far more than I ever could why I posted a call over at MadPriest’s the other day for the so-called orthodox to repent. I am amazed that Christians would behave in such a manner or make these statements about a fellow Christian whom you do not know who is obviously trying as best as he can to make it through what must be a challenging time for everyone on both “sides” of this debate.

Where do you learn to talk like this about other people? Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh? That kind of talk may be acceptable in political debates but not in the church.

I don’t care how “orthodox” your beliefs are, one’s behavior says far more about the state of their soul than all of the belief statements in the world. Guess what this discussions says. Claim to be Christian all you want, I doubt that anyone who could savage another Christian like this actually knows or worships the risen Christ. I don’t believe that they can and I mean that in all seriousness, and this is not a good thing.

[48] Posted by denniswine on 03-29-2007 at 01:31 PM • top

Dazed, If I were the Music Director I probably would not have mispelled, St. Stephen’s in my first post.  Am I affiliated with the choirs? Yes.  Do I lead them? No.  Do I support the actions of the Music Director and Bishop O’Neil? Absolutly.

[49] Posted by COneedshelp on 03-29-2007 at 01:34 PM • top

I think we gain little discussing this when we know so little.

[50] Posted by oscewicee on 03-29-2007 at 01:41 PM • top

What is clear is that the organist and several choir members were paid and were present in that church because of it.  That does not mean that they aren’t member there, but being a paid member is quite different than being an unpaid member. 

While vestries pay staff, parish staff are best under the authority of the rector who should have the ability to hire and fire them.  That’s the way it is in most parishes I’ve been in.  It really is a bad situation if some employees were to report to the vesty while others report to the rector;  it would be too difficult for the rector. 

Unless he is willing to resign WITHOUT taking property with him, this man has no business being in a church he does not support but does not hesitate to accept payments from.  Prima dona is an apt description for him since he clearly does not believe the same things that this church does.

[51] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 03-29-2007 at 02:07 PM • top

<i>Unless he is willing to resign WITHOUT taking property with him, this man has no business being in a church he does not support but does not hesitate to accept payments from.  Prima dona is an apt description for him since he clearly does not believe the same things that this church does. </i>

Umm, this might be open to some ironic thoughts if applied more widely…...

IMHO, where property issues are concerned I’m not sure anybody ever wins.  It just brings out the worst in folks.  Far better just to let it go, I think.

[52] Posted by Peter on 03-29-2007 at 02:16 PM • top

from Title II, Canon 5: “the Member of the Clergy shall have final authority in the administration of matters pertaining to music.”

This Music Director seems to misunderstand the chain of command.

[53] Posted by allergic_to_fudge on 03-29-2007 at 02:28 PM • top

But Grace Epsicopal Church, Diocese of Colorado does not currently have a vestry or rector?  That is who hired him. 
He was not hired by Grace Anglican Church - CANA.  - He made it clear in his letter that he would not serve a CANA church.  He wants to be the Choir Director of an Episcopal church.  He communicated this to the next in the chain of command, Bishop O’Neil.  Just because somebody signs your paycheck does not mean that they own your soul.  He is staying with the Grace Episcopal Church. By requesting primatial oversight from CANA the Clergy and Vestry are leaving Grace Episcopal Church.
Peace be with you,
Nick from Texas

[54] Posted by Righteousness on 03-29-2007 at 02:40 PM • top

Midwest and COneedshelp—I would respectfully take issue with both of you on a couple of points.

Midwest: First, why speculate about personal attributes that we don’t know about?  Its far to make observations about the general need to view our musical staff as ministers first and musicians second and hire accordingly.  But to speculate about things like sexual orientation is as out of place as this man’s letter to his parish. Second, don’t confuse traditional worship styles with “orthodoxy”. Whether you are orthodox in your faith has nothing to do with whether guitars, drums and keyboards have replaced the organ in your church.  Some of the most orthodox Anglican churches have contemparary music in their services, while some of the most revisionist Episcopal parishes use classical hymns and organs.  I understand and appreciate the criticism of the shallowness of SOME modern song lyrics, and I personally prefer classical hymns. It is not worth fighting over the tempo of our music. I am a classical music kind of guy, but give me a praise service at an AMIA church over classical music at the National Cathedral ANY DAY.

COneedshelp—I love the type of music your choir sings and expect they are great. But what was your point in telling us that your members perform in Operas at the Met?  Unless the Met has become the new entrance to Heaven, that is of little relevance.  I am much more concerned about the ministry of the choir and how it integrates into the living worship of its members. 

You also say that the leader is staying in TEC because “he is sane”?  Sane?  Cautious, I can see. Timid, perhaps. Needs to feed his family?  Understandable. Hurt feelings because he wasnt in the “loop?” Typical human reaction.  If so, I say forgive and forget and let everyone move on without rancor.

But staying in TEC because he is sane? Where have you been for the last few years? Within the context of historic Christianity, it is TEC that should be locked up in the loony bin. Your Presiding Bishop denies the uniqueness of Christ (and thus Christ Himself!), Elton John felt comfortable and welcome to chose your flagship Cathedral in New York for his birthday bash and the denomination has famously taken the lead in opposing restrictions on full term, live-birth abortions (who else but an Episcopal leader could coin the phrase “holy abortion”!).

[55] Posted by Going Home on 03-29-2007 at 02:54 PM • top

A lot of assumptions and unsupported accusations and conclusions are being made here, both by supporters of Armstrong and Grace vestry and supporters of TEC.
1. From the choir director’s perspective, Nick from Texas is correct that the leadership of Grace is vacant and therefore contacting the bishop was appropriate.
2. CONeedsHelp, you make potentially defamatory statements about Don Armstrong.  Speaking very seriously, I would caution you from making this sort of statement in the future.  And Greg/Matt/Sarah, I would probably delete CONeedsHelp comment posted above from this string if I were you.  At this point charges have been made, but we have seen no evidence and there certainly has been no conviction.  The jury is still out as to who is the wrongdoer here.
3. The property will belong to who the courts say it belongs to.
4. This whole situation is crying out for a neutral third party to come in, suspend all realignments, charges, taking of properties, etc., and conduct an open investigation into exactly what has happened.  There is simply too great of a trust deficit for the existing parties to sort this out.

[56] Posted by jamesw on 03-29-2007 at 03:10 PM • top

Someone has just brought this thread to my attention:

1. There will be no more personal attacks on the choir director. It is fine to question his actions which are indeed questionable, but do not go to motive. This is especially unacceptable with regard to his sexuality.

2.There will be no more personal attacks on the vestry or rector of Grace. Again, it is fine to question actions but not motives.

I will go through and delete what needs to be deleted

[57] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 03-29-2007 at 04:02 PM • top

4. This whole situation is crying out for a neutral third party to come in, suspend all realignments, charges, taking of properties, etc., and conduct an open investigation into exactly what has happened.

Well, that automatically eliminates anybody remotely connected to 815.
Lets see….....Eureka, I’ve got it! How about some kind of [insert drumroll]......PRIMATIAL VICAR? Oh wait, I’ve heard that idea somewhere before. I wonder where…...?

the snarkster

[58] Posted by the snarkster on 03-29-2007 at 04:37 PM • top

well, as long as the music is looked after and the choir robes and music folders are secured then everything should be ok.

Those are, after all, the important things.

On a note of personal privilege, since my mother, classically-trained in both piano and vocal, was a choir director and occasional organist for sixty years, at one time or another playing the entire Methodist, Episcopal (‘42), and Lutheran hymnals, and now at 93 still plays the grand in the lobby of her assisted living facility for Saturday afternoon and Sunday in-house evangelical services, I have to say: Yep!  You got it!

For the Music Director, the music <u>is</u> the most important thing in the service.  If he didn’t believe that it was, and didn’t care in the depths of his soul that it come out slightly finer than humanly possible for the choir and instrument he’s working with, he would have to be out of his mind to put in the amount of time, energy, and emotional commitment that it takes to produce the stuff most of us tend to take for granted.

Yes, for him it is the most important thing in the service.  You wouldn’t want it any other way. 

I have no idea—well, I have some suspicions not worth voicing—why this music director feels as strongly as he does about the move to CANA.  But I feel very sad for him, and I wish him and the choir well.  The business of robes and movable equipment is trivial and will sort itself out eventually, but he’ll in all likelihood have to deal with CANA/Piskie polarization within his own choir in addition to the general upheaval and confusion.

We should keep him in our prayers.

[59] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 03-29-2007 at 05:16 PM • top

Snarkster: Ha!!  My thoughts exactly when I wrote that.

What is so ironic about this whole sorry incident is that the HoB rejected the PC/PV plan because it is a supposed “threat” to TEC polity.  Yet here we have a concrete example of a complete failure of TEC polity to handle a very serious issue, and which the PC/PV plan would very likely have prevented.

[60] Posted by jamesw on 03-29-2007 at 07:32 PM • top

jamesw: “There is simply too great of a trust deficit for the existing parties to sort this out.”
So very true. It makes a typical dysfunctional family look… well… functional. I suspect two things may happen:
1. People will flee because of the absolutely insane atmosphere (whether they agree theologically, ecclesiologically, pastorally, or not), abuzz with rumor, innuendo, claims and counterclaims, or
2. People of all sorts will flock to the church because it’s more exciting than “Desperate Housewives” or “Survivor.”
Talk about dirty laundry hanging out in public! But then again… sometimes the dirty laundry needs to be hung out for a fresh airing and for all to see…
I, self-admitted “revisionist,” am appalled and saddened, and I hold the people in my prayers.
And I applaud Fr Kennedy for cleaning up some truly vile, unhelpful, and unwarranted remarks on this thread.

[61] Posted by PadreWayne on 03-29-2007 at 10:12 PM • top

Mr. Dennis,

<font color=“red”>I am sorry but the behavior here is disturbing.

By their works, you will know them.  Bp. Sisk called it correctly.

[62] Posted by taomikael on 03-29-2007 at 11:42 PM • top

FWIW, some background on the music director. It’s no secret: his name is Deke Polika. He is/was fairly new to Grace Church, hired just within the past year. He came from a United Methodist background in Virginia. He holds a master’s degree from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., where he was captain of the varsity tennis team. He served as organist and music director at theologically liberal Presbyterian and United Methodist churches in the Greater Washington area prior to coming to Colorado Springs. I have no idea where he stands on issues of faith and salvation.

Something that may have gone unnoticed: what kind of counsel did Bishop O’Neill give him when he called? Did he discuss with the bishop his plans to take off with the choir robes? Wish we had a tape of THAT call.  =vbg=


[63] Posted by r.w. on 03-29-2007 at 11:45 PM • top

“Unfortunately, I have no access to my office and my organ and choral music”.
Apparently he believes that his (my) performance is more important than the rest of the service, but some of us would be happy if organists would just quietly accompany the choir instead of playing the organ so loudly that children cower in fear and adults lose the last vestiges of their hearing.

[64] Posted by Betty See on 03-30-2007 at 12:54 AM • top


[*LOL*] Have you been watching paarishes in Virginia? You accurately described some of the rotation at Truro & TFC & it’s been pretty stable without a whole lot of discord in the congregation.

I, self-admitted “reasserter,” am appalled and saddened, and I hold the people in my prayers. Who said the two sides can’t agree on something?

[65] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 03-30-2007 at 07:03 AM • top

“Apparently he believes that his (my) performance is more important than the rest of the service”—Betty See
and you know this because…..?  or are you just being judgemental.  Didn’t Jesus say something about that?

[66] Posted by Righteousness on 03-30-2007 at 07:22 AM • top

According to the Rocky Mountain News (also reported on T19)  the Rev. Michael O’Donnell, a priest, and the Rev. Sally Ziegler, a deacon at Grace Church have elected to stay with TEC.  Both hired by Armstrong. I guess there might be alot of people at Grace who aren’t leaving.

[67] Posted by C.B. on 03-30-2007 at 08:47 AM • top

I agree with Dennis Wine.  Now maybe he can take his message back to the website he trumpets - MadPriest’s.  I won’t hold my breath.

[68] Posted by Phil on 03-30-2007 at 09:16 AM • top

Some people might find this letter a bit artificial. They would be quite mistaken. Consider the third paragraph:

“Not knowing exactly what to do about this and having no warning from the former Vestry…, I called the Bishop of Colorado…in order to find out what I should do.”

-o- Some might think it strange that the music director’s first impulse was to call Bp. O’Neill personally. But The Handbook for Church Music Directors (12th edition, 2001) clearly states, “When in doubt, call the bishop.”

-o- Some might wonder about the music director’s reference to “the former Vestry.” Rather lawyerly for a music director, they might suggest, much less a music director caught in a crisis. But music directors have good ears—-ears sensitive to the same nuances of language that would concern a lawyer planning a lawsuit.

[69] Posted by Irenaeus on 03-30-2007 at 10:33 AM • top

Perhaps, Irenaeus.  But I am skeptical of anyone in this situation who would not first ask whomever hired, supervised or paid him and instead, as his very first action, consults someone who had never done any of those and who may have no legal claim to church property, including property the music director presumtively took with him.  I would be more sympathetic to your view if he called the Bishop after he had conscientiously exhausted the common sensical options at hand.  Instead he circumvented every one of them.  His overly possessive attitude about the organ reveals more than simple confusion.  By your reasoning, his sensitve ears would have also detected much earlier that things were not right in this Diocese, with this Bishop, in relation to this church.  But he probably is right that benefits paid to him are tied to TEC and he may have been averse to losing them.  He just didn’t have to steal things on the way out the door, unless, of course, the Bishop advised him to do so.

[70] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 03-30-2007 at 11:19 AM • top

I was pointing out that his statement speaks in the possessive of “my organ” and “my music” instead of rightly claiming that it is the Church’s organ and the Church’s music.
My other objection was an attempt to point out that organists in general should be considerate of people who have lost hearing are possibly lose more of their hearing because they are exposed to loud music which damages the hair cells in the inner ear. We are a captive audience because we come to Church for religious reasons not to hear powerful organ music and those of us who love to hear the chior sing are often deprived of this pleasure because the organist plays so loudly that you cannot hear the choir.
I was speaking of organists in general and I apologize, if you consider this a personal judgement of this organist.
The judgement that I will have to make is that I will lose the little hearing I have left unless I get up very early on Sunday morning and attend a service without music order to preserve what is left of my hearing.

[71] Posted by Betty See on 03-30-2007 at 11:52 AM • top

Betty See,
As I said in another post somewhere else on this site- when one points a finger at someone there are three fingers pointing back at you.  I guess I have the same number of fingers as everyone else.

[72] Posted by Righteousness on 03-30-2007 at 11:59 AM • top

If my church had a big pipe organ, and the organist didn’t occasionally pull out all the stops and show what it could do, I would have some very pointed questions for the vestry, as to why we spent a kajillion bucks on a pipe organ when we are only asking it to do what a used electronic Wurlitzer could accomplish.

[73] Posted by Cousin Vinnie on 03-30-2007 at 12:17 PM • top

He hasn’t left the church: it is those who have gone to CANA who have left the Episcopal denomination.

[74] Posted by Merseymike on 03-30-2007 at 12:27 PM • top

It is those the Stalking Bishop may have advised to steal who are leaving the Anglican Communion.

[75] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 03-30-2007 at 01:04 PM • top

I am also a Music Director and would like to shed some light concerning the Music Director’s statement in his letter:

“Unfortunately, I have no access to my office and my organ and choral music in the McWilliams house on Tejon St.” 

I understood this to mean his organ MUSIC AND choral music and not as some have suggested the organ ITSELF and choral music. I keep some of my own organ music in the choir room just because it is easier than lugging it back and forth, plus, the church is the only place where I practice and play it.

[76] Posted by Janis on 03-30-2007 at 02:14 PM • top

my office and my organ and choral music in the McWilliams house on Tejon St. we were, however, able to secure music folders and choir robes from the choir house.

Your office, your organ, your music, your robes??? You have only been there a few months and the church paid your way and your salary, you were an employee. YOU don’t own any of those things, the parishioners paid for them and you STOLE them. If this is what it means to be an EPISCOPAL today under O’Neill, then you can have him. Do the right thing and return the stuff you STOLE don’t be a thief, hurting the parish that reached out to you. Is that the legacy your want for your child, being a thief for a bishop is OK? I pity you all.

[77] Posted by J__C on 03-31-2007 at 11:52 AM • top

Well I’m sure if he has rent and other receipts for his office, organ, choral music, etc., the police in Colorado Springs will be happy to help him get access to his office and get his possessions back. OTOH, I hope he also has receipts for the robes, folders and whatever else he took.

[78] Posted by Dazzled on 03-31-2007 at 12:44 PM • top

Being a PK and church-brat for lo, these many years, I am surprized to think that the organist/choir director did not have keys to the church, choir room, etc.  Every organist I have ever known practices at his/her own convenience, often has office space in the church buildings, and usually has the run of the place.  WHY is this gentleman’s access suddenly denied “Unfortunately, I have no access to my office and my organ and choral music in the McWilliams house on Tejon St.” (if he had it in the first place)?

I was hired as an employee in the Episcopal Church and will remain in its employment.  That is also an interesting arrangement - usually one is hired as an employee of an Episcopal Church, (as has been stated previously), by the vestry and almost <u>always </u>at the pleasure of the Rector.  A Diocesan mole, perhaps?

[79] Posted by GillianC on 03-31-2007 at 12:45 PM • top

Posted by Enough with the Stool
<i>”(Luther said that a congregation learns far more theology from hymns than it does from homilies—HOW SAD!)” <i>

By the way Luther being human said many, many things in his life time in various settings.  This concept is however not representative and not present in the Lutheran confessions.

Just an

[80] Posted by observer on 03-31-2007 at 12:52 PM • top

J_C, have you never referred to the place where you work as “my office?” or “my store”? or “my [whatever]”? The personal pronoun is irrelevant here. Moreover, please check the placement of the “my” for organ and choral music—to me, it clearly reads that it is the music</i> he is referring to; he is not claiming ownership of the instrument. As someone (a church organist) pointed out on another site it is also quite possible that the music is, indeed, his—our organist leaves most of her own personally-purchased music at the church for convenience, so perhaps that is what he is referring to.

Moreover, other music and the robes were paid for by Grace & St. Stephens <b>EPISCOPAL Church, not Grace & St. Stephens (or whatever name) Mission Church of the Province of Nigeria, and those items of property should rightly travel with the polity of the Episcopal Church wherever they may worship. Moreover again, the congregation itself has not voted to depart the Episcopal Church; is it claimed that the Rector and Vestry own the church?!?

I have heard over and over the HOB statements referred to as “arrogant.” The arrogance of Fr. Armstrong and the Vestry, to me, are simply appalling, given that the congregation has not yet had a chance to voice their opinion. As a parishioner, no matter what my leanings, I would be furious that matters had been so presumptiously taken into their own hands.

And I also suggest that the denigration of the music director should stop. It is neither helpful nor Christian. This was a man employed by an Episcopal church—his loyalty should be commended. The Vestry and Rector who signed his contract no longer exist. They are part of a new entity. And, too, he undoubtedly was experiencing a certain amount of anxiety (have you ever been an employee whose company experienced a hostile takeover? or a buy-out? or a merger?). It would not surprise me that a church musician, seeing “his” church on fire, might rush in to save the music! (And please don’t bother addressing this as “idolatry,” as I have seen elsewhere.)

[81] Posted by PadreWayne on 03-31-2007 at 01:01 PM • top

Gillian C: He was locked out.

[82] Posted by PadreWayne on 03-31-2007 at 01:02 PM • top

I apologize for the bold print above—I should not play around with html codes! And although it looks like I was yelling, I wasn’t.

Mea culpa.

[83] Posted by PadreWayne on 03-31-2007 at 01:05 PM • top

PadreWayne, it appears that only 4% or around a 100 people from this congregation of 2500 are following the Stalking Bishop of the IRS.  Up to 96% support for the vestry’s decision is pretty good support for them.

[84] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 04-01-2007 at 07:00 AM • top

‘an employee of the Episcopal Church’ ,maybe not a mole,perhaps a weasel in the henhouse.
Can we say ‘sneaked in to spy out our liberty….in order to bring us into bondage’(Galatians 2:4)?

[85] Posted by paddy on 04-01-2007 at 07:27 AM • top

Perhaps we should think about how this young organist feels.  Here he is, his wife is pregnant, and all of a sudden, with no warning his job is pulled out from under him.  Let’s face it, whichever way this goes, whoever is in the church will probably not be able to afford a professional organist.  PANIC may have set in. (YES, even if he trusts in the LORD, at the moment thinking about supporting a family may have gotten the upper hand.)

I would think that this kind of job is getting scarce.  Here he thought he’d grabbed the brass ring and all of a sudden it was snatched back.  He must have thought about who would be more likely to keep him on and who would be more likely to have possession of the organ when the dust settles and put his money on the bishop.

We have sort of lived this in my family, although not with a church as employer.  When I became pregnant with my third child, my husband’s company was having problems and people were starting to leave.  My husband thought about all those mouths to feed and found a different job himself.  So I can understand what this young dad-to-be was feeling.

We should be a little sympathetic to the young man.  If he sounds possessive of material goods we sould consider his state of mind as he looks as the possibility of losing everything.  He is grasping at what he can.

Perhaps Fr. Armstrong et al would have done better to hire someone of more mature faith.  But then perhaps they saw someone whom they could disciple over time.  Only there was no time.

[86] Posted by old lady on 04-01-2007 at 08:05 AM • top

It is truly sad that our church is coming to this - anger - broken relationships - secret meetings - changed locks - lawyerly language - desperate housewives.  Have mercy on us father.  Bring us back to what is important this lent.  Let’s remember how we got here - by (both sides- including myself) not keeping our eyes on Jesus and following his footsteps.  Let our pain bring us to repentance rather than recriminations.

- a guilty lay person who seeks forgiveness today.

[87] Posted by BillK on 04-01-2007 at 08:33 AM • top

old lady, I could understand someone needing to keep a job in these circumstances.  But he left the church that was paying his salary, medical insurance, retirement, all benefits, etc., that had a large organ he was hired to play;  had he stayed, they probably would have continued to pay it.  Now he will be paid by the Diocese, the cost of which, including retirement, medical, etc., can be added to the tab of the Inquisition against Grace Church and Fr. Armstrong.  Is the Diocese going to pay for all of the professional musicians that Grace used to pay?  For how long?  It will add up and with such a tiny following.

It is still unclear whether he will return the things he stole when he left and whether the Stalking Bishop told him to take them.  He should not have taken property that did not belong to him and should not have been the Bishop’s thief, if that is what happened.

[88] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 04-01-2007 at 03:54 PM • top

Seen-too-Much: “He should not have taken property that did not belong to him and should not have been the Bishop’s thief, if that is what happened.”
Speculation on what the Bishop told him to do is… speculation.
Then again, my take on it is that sans Rector, sans Vestry, the property rightly belonged to Grace & St. Stephens Episcopal Church, which is still a legal entity and a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado. Good grief. Surely there are more important issues here than the choir robes. (I note no response to the possibility that the organ and choral music was, indeed, his personal property [Please read the entries by church organists above…] And if not, I suggest that it, too, belongs to Grace & St. Stephens Episcopal Church.)

[89] Posted by PadreWayne on 04-01-2007 at 07:31 PM • top

Of all the things this organist took from Grace Church, some may have belonged to him personally, but it is clear they all did not.  It is also possible that none of what he took belonged to him personally.  So it is clear he took things that did not belong to him, even while it is clear we don’t know what those things were.

Similarly, he claims to have talked to the bishop who gave him advice about what to do.  So, it is also clear that he took the things that did not belong to him either on his own initiative or because the bishop told him to.  In either case, he is wrong and needs to return what does not belong to him.  Sure, we don’t know what the bishop told him, but he admits to being confused, not knowing what to do, and we know that the Stalking Bishop has levelled defamatory allegations against Grace Church and Fr. Armstrong, which his own accountants cannot prove. 

People can draw their own conclusions about the bishop and this former employee of Grace Church.  The ruse of “speculation” hardly dissembles the likelihood of events, or the certainty, that, in either case, the music director removed things that were not his.  If he allowed himself to be the Stalking Bishop’s pawn, against his supervisor and employer, all the worse for him.  If he didn’t, he still took property he had no claim to and should return.

Again, feigning ignorance against the self-admission of this former employee and other evidence is evil.

[90] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 04-01-2007 at 08:32 PM • top

Friends, please.  The first thought of any music director when he hears of some (non-lethal) disaster at the church is “Is the music OK?”—because he’s spent years collecting and building up a repertoire of choral and organ stuff he knows he can do well.  The second thought is either “where are we gonna rehearse?”  or “where are we gonna sing?”, depending on whether it’s before or after Wednesday.  The third thought is “are the robes OK?”—because that’s an expected and integral part of his show, and the baritones tend to show up on Sunday wearing loud Hawaiian shirts.

This young fellow is an artist, not a theologian, and doubtless picked up a terror of the Nigerian Church from the artsy intellectual academic ambiance such people tend to move in; holding it against him is like blaming a fish for being wet.  And as was pointed out, calling the bishop when you have no idea what to do is the recommended procedure; after all, the bishop is, for better or worse (usually worse in ECUSA), the chief liturgical officer of the diocese.

Likewise this carping about the robes and music and so on is just silly and small-minded.  From his point of view, he’s responsible for them and they’re something he needs in order to do what he’s supposed to do; it’s not as though he were planning to fence them in Singapore.  Who actually gets the robes will not turn out to be a major issue when this whole mess is finally sorted out.

We are Christians, after all, and if we can’t even cut some slack for an earnest young fellow caught in the middle of a terribly difficult situation, what doth it profit us to quote Scripture and trumpet finding a new life in Christ?

[91] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 04-01-2007 at 09:07 PM • top

Craig: Well written and to the point. Kudos for clarity.

[92] Posted by PadreWayne on 04-01-2007 at 09:24 PM • top

CG, the property here is not so important, true.  But his intentions and what directions the bishop gave him are.  Unlike wet fish, each and every employee and member of Episcopal parishes now must choose;  unlike animals, they are responsible for wrong actions; even if we can understand how wrong choices are made, we all the more now need to be clear about what choices are wrong and why they are wrong.  Clarity is needed, as many have remarked.  That includes people who have not had to make the kinds of decisions and choices they will need to make increasingly now than they have in the past.  Befuddlement will cost many more than clarity will.  This is not an empty exercise, even if it is a painful one.  Fuzzy-mindedness is no longer a charming Anglican foible and studied ethnic eccentricity, but merely a bad habit, whether “artsy, intellectual, academic”, or the privilege of bishops.

[93] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 04-01-2007 at 09:27 PM • top

In trying to describe what may have been the musician’s train of thought, I never said he was rational.  However, in his unsettled state of mind he had to make a choice as to who HE THOUGHT was going to win the property battle.  He decided on the bishop.  Time will tell if he is correct.  Yes, he might have done better to call the folks who hired him, but he did not make that choice.

I am thinking that whoever ends up with the organ is not going to be able to afford to pay the poor young man.  He is probably thinking that, too, but is betting that the diocese will get the property.  He figures if the bishop does get the property at least he will be close to the organ whereas if he throws in with Fr. Armstrong and they do not get the property they will not be buying an expensive new organ any time soon.  And the diocese may be more likely to pay him than the CANA congregation.

Of course if Fr. Armstrong and his following do manage to hold on to the property, the choir director is the big loser….well, only if they would be able to pay him.  (He IS betting after all.) 

You make a good point that everyone should be making up his/her mind what s/he will do if something like this happens in his/her church.  This case should be a wake-up call to any congregation which has placed the decision to leave TEC in the hands of the vestry.  It can happen overnight and you may not even find out until after the fact.

I cannot imagine that there would not be clues in place, but not everyone is paying attention.  My husband and I left ECUSA in 1984 so that we could raise our children in a church which followed scripture.  Now they are adults we can return to the Anglican practice we prefer and are deciding on a new church home.  There are no Anglican churches very close, so we are favoring a church which is sound and likely to leave TEC.  According to the church’s by-laws, the decision is in the hands of the vestry.  However when they make that decision, no doubt some people will be surprised.  The priest is actually pretty clear that they church could be leaving TEC, but some will still no doubt be surprised.

This can happen to anyone in a church struggling to be orthodox.  Everyone needs to learn that lesson from Grace and St. Stephen’s.  Know what you would do.  Make sure all your fellow congregants know that they should have a decision in place.

Back to the music director.  He had a right to take his own music and anything else that belonged to him.  The rest of the things he took fall into some kind of gray area, I think.  Maybe he felt that as music director they belonged to HIM as much as anyone.  This may not be the right thought and it may not be proved legally correct in the long run.  But perhaps he was not thinking all that clearly.  And he did ask the bishop for advice rather than Fr. Armstrong.  I am not saying that the bishop told him to take the stuff.  But I am sure that the bishop told him that the diocese owned the property.  He may have extrapolated from that opinion that the musical equipment also belonged to the diocese and if he was sticking with the diocese then he could take them.  Again, I am not saying this is correct, but it is apparently what he acted on.

[94] Posted by old lady on 04-01-2007 at 10:15 PM • top

This was not an emergency situation, decisions regarding church property should not be made by an organist or choir director.

[95] Posted by Betty See on 04-01-2007 at 10:36 PM • top

To those still interested, I found an article which states that the choir robes were purchased and donated by a member of the choir.  She says that she donated them to the Episcopal church and that is where they are now, so they were not stolen. link#1

Interestingly, that article says that there were 600 people at the CANA service and 400 at TEC.  Another article I saw said there were 800 at the CANA service and 250 at TEC.  I can’t find that now, of course, but I did find another that had the 250 figure for TEC.  And that evidently includes other nice Episcopal folk who wanted to support TEC Grace.  link#2

Hope those links work.  I do NOT do html.  I AM an old lady.

[96] Posted by old lady on 04-02-2007 at 06:38 PM • top

After thinking about it I realize that we should commend the choir director for being honest about it and admitting that he took the Choir robes. 
If they were not accounted for it is possible that Father Armstrong would be falsely accused of taking them too.
The lesson we should learn from this is that we should not panic and jump to hasty conclusions which might lead to unwise actions.

[97] Posted by Betty See on 04-02-2007 at 06:58 PM • top

Thanks, Old Lady, for your last post - as one old lady to another, I wondered how the CANA and TEC services went.

[98] Posted by Betty See on 04-02-2007 at 07:14 PM • top

Old Lady, you just made me smile—for a number of reasons.
Blessings this Holy Week—and for the Feast of the Resurrection!

[99] Posted by PadreWayne on 04-02-2007 at 08:33 PM • top

PadreWayne, I was just wondering WHY he was locked out - that’s all.  Was everyone locked out?  Inquiring minds, and all that.

[100] Posted by GillianC on 04-02-2007 at 08:42 PM • top

GillianC, the letter states “They have changed all the locks to the church and the office and are claiming the property as their own.” We can only conjecture without more information.

[101] Posted by PadreWayne on 04-02-2007 at 08:50 PM • top

Betty See:  Perhaps old ladies are just more curious than some other people.  Or perhaps we just know how to follow through.  wink

Both congregations seem to have enough people to carry on.  Perhaps something equitable can be worked out about property.  Fr. Armstrong says that if a majority does not vote to go to CANA he will leave the church property and start fresh with the group that does want to leave TEC.  Of course if a majority vote to leave, the CANA group will try to keep the church property.  Messy, messy litigation.

Padre Wayne:  Oh, no! You are laughing at me.  Ah, well, that is what happens when you get old.  LOL

Blessings to both of you and anyone else out there as we remember Christ’s death and resurrection.

[102] Posted by old lady on 04-02-2007 at 08:54 PM • top

Oh, no, no, no! Dear One, not laughing at you! You made me happy with your message! And look at those smilies! You do do html!!!  grin

[103] Posted by PadreWayne on 04-02-2007 at 09:04 PM • top

THANK YOU for the clarification.  It is sometimes hard to understand the emotion behind the words we read online.

Smilies are NOT html!  They are easy.

[104] Posted by old lady on 04-02-2007 at 09:42 PM • top

In the comments, to the article found here, a Shove chapel participant remarked the attendance to be 260. This was posted at 2:37 PM. Probably minutes after the service ended. (She did say that there was one spy, so perhaps the number should be 259.) In subsequent articles, the numbers rose to around 300, then around 400. I saw an article from today saying the seating capacity was 1000 and it was 4/5th full. I would take the first number to be the most accurate.

Why is this significant? Father Armstrong has shown that he the leadership skills to draw in a large enough congregation to make Grace and St. Stephen’s viable. Despite the controversy in the national church, the ASA has held steady at about 800 in the past ten years. In contrast, St. John’s Cathedral has dropped its ASA by 25% in the past ten years.

[105] Posted by rob-roy on 04-02-2007 at 09:42 PM • top

Is it not possible that G & SS Anglican Mission also had some ringers? Conservatives from other denominations? IRD folks? Colorado Springs is, after all, home of a number of very conservative religious and political groups, and I’d suspect they would have been delighted that progressive Episcopalians were infighting. Sunday attendance figures don’t impress me one way or another. Yes, I’m delighted when the church swells, but I am more delighted when I witness spiritual growth and fulfillment of mission.

[106] Posted by PadreWayne on 04-02-2007 at 09:49 PM • top

Most of the ringers follow the Stalking Bishop, Padre Wayne, not Fr. Armstrong.  Good to hear “Sunday attendance figures” don’t impress you.  The Stalking Bishop beat the bushes and appears to have gotten 2 ringers for every former Grace Church member at Colorado College last Sunday.

[107] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 04-03-2007 at 06:39 AM • top

Seen-too-Much: “2 ringers for every former Grace Church member at Colorado College last Sunday.”
I doubt that they consider themselves “former” Grace Church members. Grace & St Stephens still exists as a polity within The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado. Moreover, to consider them “former” members would imply that they will not have voting privileges when the 40 days draws to a close.

[108] Posted by PadreWayne on 04-03-2007 at 07:23 AM • top

Hmm.  That would be a LOT of visitors at the TEC service.  Hard to imagine.  I guess it would be easier to get people to the afternoon service, though, if they wanted to attend their own church in the morning.

If G&SS; (Gilbert and Sullivan Society anyone?) had over 2000 members, I would think that NONE of these people needed to be “ringers.”  Over half would be likely to show up at one or the other service out of sheer curiosity, don’t you think?  Maybe many would be at at BOTH services.  I just mentioned outside folk because the article did.

Let’s see what the attendance at both is in a month or two…Let’s see how the vote turns out!  But however the vote turns out, I still think that there are enough people for two viable congregations.  I think Fr. Armstrong has the right idea.  The larger group should get the building.  Other property could be negotiable if the smaller group is sizable.

[109] Posted by old lady on 04-03-2007 at 07:27 AM • top

Are paid Choir members who may or may not be members of the Church considered eligible to vote?

[110] Posted by Betty See on 04-03-2007 at 08:01 PM • top

Betty: A choir member who is paid may or may not be a member; i.e., they may or may not be baptized and take communion three times yearly. They may or may not be confirmed (which does not inhibit membership, and, in most parishes, I believe, does not affect their voting status if they fit the communion-taking rubric). A staff person (which is, after all, what a paid choir member is) may or may not be a voting member of a parish. In our parish, one is and one is not.
My post above was not referring to choir members (paid or unpaid), but the calling of faithful Episcopalians who worshiped at Shove Chapel “former” members, which I felt was legally inappropriate and also uncharitable.

[111] Posted by PadreWayne on 04-03-2007 at 08:32 PM • top

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