Colorado church loses rector as trial nears

From The Gazette of Colorado Springs:

If ever a church needed a strong leader, it was Grace & St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.

The congregation had been exiled from its home in the majestic stone structure on North Tejon Street, after a conservative faction that broke away from the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado remained in the building.

On Oct. 5, 2007, the diocese tapped the Rev. Michael O’Donnell to be priest in charge of a church that had no permanent home. His Episcopalian flock found a temporary place to hold services, first at Shove Chapel on the Colorado College campus, and then at First Christian Church downtown.

Everything seemed to be going fine, and then, without warning, O’Donnell resigned in October.

There’s nothing sinister going on. O’Donnell told me he wants to try something else, though he’s not sure what that might be.

But he also said he wanted to leave before the start of the Feb. 10 trial over who owns the $7 million North Tejon Street church property: the Episcopal Church, or the breakaway group led by the Rev. Donald Armstrong, which then affiliated with the conservative Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

“It’s painful to see the church you love divided,” said O’Donnell, 52, who had been an associate rector under Armstrong. “I felt rather than be in the middle of a court case, I would leave because I have done what I needed to bring them to a place of stability and safety.”

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