Wednesday, December 4, 2019

A Shout Out To St. Gabriel’s, Marion Massachusetts



If you are a member or friend of St. Gabriel’s parish in Massachusetts and you are reading this, good for you. While I can’t guarantee that you’ll agree with the opinions in this post, my hope is that they will be helpful to you.

If you’ve come across this blog, you may be wondering where to start, and what this blog means.

Before we go further, let’s acknowledge something: Bob Malm can turn on the charm when he chooses to. He is intelligent, he can be engaging, he is articulate. He’s adept at telling people what they want to hear. Indeed, has has said that he would have chosen to be a politician if he had not become a priest, and he has many of the attributes needed to be successful as a politician.

At the same time, I believe you have a problem on your hands, one that places your church at risk. Far too often, churchgoers conflate friendly with faithful, but the two are not coterminous. Indeed, they may be opposites, and therein lies the danger.

Right behind Bob’s engaging demeanor exists a very different reality, which is that Bob is a priest in name only. In the past, he has lied under oath, attempted to drag my mother, dying of COPD, into court, lied to parishioners and his vestry, and more, all in the name of trying to shut down public criticism of his misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance during his time as rector of Grace Episcopal Church, his last job. 

Apropos his lies to his parish, he falsely stated that I left the church on my own. That is a lie, as evinced by the email, which you can find on this site, in which he directed my husband Mike and me to find a new church. You also will find a copy of my confirmatory email to Mike Jones, a fellow parishioner, in which Mike confirmed that Bob had contacted him to direct him to exclude me from the life of the parish. And Bob acknowledged during a meeting with bishop Shannon Johnston in Fredericksburg Virginia that this was a lie saying, “I don’t know what planet you live on, but when someone does something to me, I do something to them.” Also present in the room was Canon Pat Wingo.

Bob was also largely indifferent to the wellbeing of Grace Church. During his time as rector, the church office and business records were a shambles. Cash went AWOL without explanation, with thousands of dollars in loose cash and stale checks found in the parish administrator’s office after she left; she was a hoarder, and her space could best be described as a death trap. Additionally, church staff bullied parishioners, including me, Deborah Crabtree, and others, while Bob consistently turned a blind eye. Nor was Bob compliant with church canons—during my years at the church, the parish did not have a church finance manual as required by canon, despite Bob having been rector for more than 25 years. And yet Bob claims no one shirked their responsibility. 

Behind the scenes, Bob also causes unhealthy church dynamics, referring to parishioners as “assholes,” and “spies,” and other disparaging comments. In short, Bob models a lack of respect for the baptismal covenant that has caused more than one person to say, “I would never belong to your church, and it’s because of the way people talk to each other.”

Apropos these comments, Bob tells people that I am mentally ill, that I threatened him, and a whole bunch of other hogwash, all of which is part of a larger smear campaign on his part. Yet there is ample documentation of his misconduct on this site.

Most telling is the fact that during the last 5 years of Bob Malm’s tenure at Grace Church, the parish shed one-third of its pledging units, going from 317 units in 2014 to 208 last year.

Bob can lie and try to diminish criticism all he wants, but if Grace was such a slice of paradise under Bob Malm, why are people leaving?

I’d also note that, to my knowledge, Bob has no formal interim training. That is troubling, because a good transition minister has some very specific tasks ahead of her or him. I do not believe Bob is capable of achieving these goals.

Please do yourself a favor: Do your utmost not to let Bob Malm trash your parish. He’ll smile, give you hugs, and tell you that your church is a holy place, but behind the scenes he may well cause profound damage to your parish.