Friday, March 30, 2007

Breakaway Episcopal pastor accused of financial misdeeds

[The Washington Times] 30 Mar 2007--The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado is accusing the pastor of a conservative Colorado Springs parish of financial misconduct just days after the parish voted to secede over the church's liberal direction.

The diocese charged the Rev. Don Armstrong, rector of Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, the largest Episcopal parish in Colorado, with stealing and misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars over a 10-year period.

The accusations, sent in a letter to parishioners Wednesday, came two days after the parish's vestry voted to leave the Episcopal Church over issues of sexuality and biblical authority and unite with the Nigerian-led Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

At the same time, Mr. Armstrong, a nationally known spokesman for the conservative cause, took back control of the church after a four-month administrative leave, during which he was under investigation for misapplication of church funds. He has denied charges of financial impropriety, noting that his taxes and the church's finances are being independently audited. He plans to respond in detail to the charges at an April 14 public meeting.

He and his supporters have accused Bishop Robert O'Neill of trumping up charges as punishment for his refusal to toe the liberal diocese line.

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