Update: click on “continue reading” to see the Diocese of Colorado’s statement.
Deep into damage control, the ACI says: “In consequence of the legal and ecclesiastical struggles Grace Church and Fr Armstrong are now engaged with, we judge it proper to dissolve our relationship with the web-site and all activities of Grace Church (CANA or TEC), so that the charges of the Presentment and other matters of public trust and ecclesial jurisdiction might be resolved without interference.”
So “six guys with a Web site” are now three guys–or is it five guys?–without a Web site. Yet (Hey, senorita, that’s astute) they still call themselves an “institute.” And Christopher Setiz is still “president.”
In demonstrating the durability of their pretensions, however, the guys–excuse me, the Fellows–have not cleared up the confusion about their relationship with Armstrong and Grace Church. Sarah Dylan Breuer points out, a few inconvenient facts.
(And Jake provides some good background.)
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Rev. Don Armstrong, who unti this morning was the executive director of the ACI, defended himself against the presentment for financial misconduct brought against him by the Diocese of Colorado.
You will undoubtedly read various accounts in tomorrow morning’s papers regarding a meeting held this morning at Grace Church in Colorado Springs in which Don Armstrong offered a public response to the charges of financial misconduct that he is currently facing.
I am attaching to this email the media statement that my office released this afternoon in response to that meeting. I hope that you will find it helpful in the event that you have any questions from any members of your congregations.
I am indeed sorry that Father Armstrong has chosen this course of action. As you will see in the media statement, Father Armstrong has been offered a number of formal and informal opportunities to provide either me, the Chancellor, or the Church Attorney any evidence or explanation that would mitigate the allegations against him. Sadly, he has consistently declined to do so and has not been willing to respond to any reasonable questioning by those who are informed about the facts of the case against him.
With regard to both Father Armstrong’s conduct and the seizing of the property of Grace and Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church, I will certainly continue to pursue every legal course of action available—ecclesiastical, criminal, and civil—that I deem appropriate.
If there is any specific information that you would find helpful, or if you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to be in touch with me. It is important to me to do all that I can to keep you informed, particularly to the degree that it will support your pastoral leadership in your congregation. Again, please don’t hesitate to ask.
In the meantime, please know that I am grateful to you for your patience with this very sad and unfortunate situation. I continue to ask your prayers for Don and his family and for all the people of Grace Church.
God’s peace and blessing be with you all. Yours faithfully in Christ,
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2007
Contact: Beckett Stokes, email@example.com
(303) 748-9835 mobile
(303) 837-1173 office
The public meeting conducted by the Rev. Donald Armstrong today does not constitute a legitimate response to the serious charges of financial misconduct pending against him.
The Canons of the Church provide a clear and reasonable process by which allegations of wrongdoing against any member of the clergy can be investigated and resolved. This process – which is based on the United States Military’s Uniform Code of Military Justice – is designed to protect the interests of all involved, and provides those accused of wrongdoing with particular protections and avenues of appeal. The bishop and diocese have followed this process faithfully. In the course of the investigation, Rev. Armstrong has been formally and informally invited by the bishop, the diocesan chancellor and the Church Attorney on several occasions to offer information and evidence that would mitigate or provide reasonable explanations for the allegations against him. He has not availed himself of these opportunities.
Rev. Armstrong has chosen instead to violate the terms of his inhibition (or temporary administrative leave), make many misleading and false public statements, and work actively – along with former members of the parish’s vestry – to illegally take the real property of the Episcopal parish of Grace and St. Stephen’s from its rightful occupants and put it under the control of a Nigerian bishop.
Rev. Armstrong remains an Episcopal priest, under inhibition by his bishop, facing trial on several charges of financial and other misconduct in Ecclesiastical Court.
The Presentment prepared by the Church Attorney and the Diocesan Review Committee, which outlines these charges and the evidence supporting them, is a public document and available from the diocese upon request.