Amidst the continuing public controversy over Bob Malm’s claims that he’s being pursued by “domestic terrorists,” an older member of the parish recently posted a clueless, amusing, and rather telling review of the parish on Google reviews. I’ll leave the person’s name out, as it’s not germane to this post, but instead focus on the ways in which this review, intended to be positive, says far more that it intends to.
First, some context. Several years ago, the author of the positive review allegedly launched an almost year-long campaign of the silent treatment towards an altar guild chair after the latter — horror of horrors — allowed the women to choose whether to wear the traditional blue smocks. Leaving aside the ludicrously stupid reason behind her actions, shunning a fellow church member over an issue such as this — one that was approved by the rector — is anything but Christian. Moreover, there have been numerous complaints over the years about this person bullying, yet nothing ever is done about it. (I have personally witnessed more than one member of the altar guild in tears due to this person’s conduct.) So any reference from this person is, at best, of dubious quality.
Second, this person refers to Bob Malm has her “friend” for more than 28 years. That also speaks volumes, as your priest is not your friend. That’s right—she or he may be friendly towards you, but he or she cannot be your friend and have a healthy pastoral relationship with you. So, I hate to break it to folks, but that is a boundary issue right there.
Third, this person says she has complete trust in Bob Malm. One can trust someone, and still hold them accountable; the two are not mutually exclusive. Nor is Bob’s misconduct a matter of trust. It is an empirically verifiable fact that, inter alia, Bob’s legal pleadings contain multiple falsehoods. Similarly, the vestry’s own minutes document the years of shoddy management and inept financial reporting. So too can one verify Bob’s efforts to force us out of the parish, his efforts to drag a dying woman into court, and his weird claims that he’s threatened by domestic terrorism. And of course, there is the falsehood in the vestry talking points where it is claimed that Mike and I left on our own. If that was the case, why then did Bob find it necessary to send us an email telling us to leave? Or to instruct staff to exclude us? Even the friggin’ vestry at Grace Church lies.
In short, no matter how you parse it, Grace Episcopal Alexandria is a hot mess, and one that is fast coming unraveled due to Bob Malm’s own vile, vicious, and vindictive behavior. Giving Bob and the bad behavior that happens all too often in the church air cover simply exacerbates the situation and causes third parties to look and say, “Wow, this place is really clueless.”