November 10, 2007, Colorado Springs, Colorado — Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and the Bishop and Diocese of Colorado today announced that the parish and the Episcopal Diocese are requesting permission from the court to add claims for repossession of the church property and monetary damages in their legal battle. The church’s property has been taken by a secessionist group led by Father Don Armstrong that left the Episcopal Church and affiliated with a Nigerian church faction (The Convocation of Anglicans in North America or CANA).Background regarding Don Armstrong, who was recently deposed by the Diocese of Colorado, can be found here.
In its response to the suit filed last spring by the secessionist group, the diocese has made it clear that its primary objective is to regain rightful possession of property now wrongfully occupied by the secessionists. Bishop Robert O’Neill has stated from the beginning that the diocese will pursue all necessary and appropriate legal means to regain rightful possession of the Church’s property. This filing is another step in that process. Colorado law is clear that all Episcopal churches hold their property for the diocese and the Episcopal Church. Time after time, in Colorado and other states, courts have ruled that while individuals can leave the church, they may not take church property with them.
In accordance with Colorado law, which requires that all essential persons be included in a suit, the Episcopal parish and diocese are requesting that the court add as parties those individuals who have led the secessionist group in taking the property. These include the Rev. Donald Armstrong III, Jon Wroblewski, Chad Friese, Robert C. Balink, Charles C. Brown, Dareleen Schaffer, Alan Crippen II, Jack Gloriod, Craig Whitney, Keith Stampher MD, Marge Goss, Susan Spencer, Kevin Dibble, Edwin J. Montgomery, Jason Huntley, Rip Hollister MD, Michael Barber MD and Emily Kline.
According to Clelia deMoraes, Senior Warden for Grace Episcopal Church, “Colorado law is clear that when a faction of a parish leaves the Episcopal Church it cannot take the property with it.” DeMoraes added, “People need to understand that the only victims here are the people whose property was stolen.”
Background on Alan Crippen, listed among those being added to the suit, can be found here.
The Rocky Mountain News is running this story regarding this new development.
Thanks to S. for sending me this and to Thinking Anglicans for pointing to the story in the RMN.