On the one hand, the parish now is free of the deleterious effect of perjuring priest Bob Malm, at least on a daily basis. Michael Guy appears to be much more grounded in actual faith, and less in outward image.
That said, the church has yet to make peace with its past and Bob’s baleful influence. This is still a spendthrift church—one that pays $100k bonuses to a feckless rector, while cutting employee health benefits. A church that refuses to save for the future. A church that does next to nothing to grow, yet expects membership to miraculously increase. A church that claims to be a center for “outreach and healing,” yet puts very little money toward these goals. A church that tries to drag the dying into court, where members urge people to commit suicide, and where the rector commits perjury with impunity. In fact, the church named part of the building after its former Perjurer in Chief. A church that has to borrow to keep the HVAC on, but draws $3,000 out of savings for a party.
Even better, the church has the chutzpah to claim that it’s been careful with its funds. Leaving aside $100,000 bonuses and the more than $2 million cost to the church of Bob Malm’s personally owned rathole of a house, I guess that’s true. After all, those expenses don’t leave room for much else.
All of that points to a larger issue, which is how much longer will people provide funding for this toxic mess? The fact that Bob Malm can commit perjury with the full support of the vestry, Sugarland Chiow, the staff, and the diocese, then get part of the building named after him for his troubles, demonstrates that this is a church and denomination that is utterly broken and dysfunctional. Yes, the optimists among us think some of these issues will be addressed in another generation, but collapsing attendance, baptisms, and other indices of church health suggest that neither the denomination nor the parish have another generation during which to fiddle with the deck chairs.
If we look at Europe and the role of organized religion there, it seems unlikely that church ever will make a comeback. Once-bitten, twice shy applies, and this is a dog that’s bitten far too often to get any benefit of the doubt.
So, if you are a member of Grace Church, or of the Club Mayo crowd, my message to you is this: It is time for radical change. And if you can’t or won’t make that happen, it’s time to say goodbye. Grace Church, the diocese, and the Episcopal Church simply are no longer relevant.