One of the amusing things is the claim in Grace church publications that it’s been careful with expenses, and thus people should fulfill their pledges. That’s not only a partial truth, but it’s disingenuous as well.
Let me be clear: Over the past couple of years, the parish indeed has been careful with cash flow. In saying that, I am choosing my words carefully.
But over time, the parish has been anything but prudent.
- It way overpaid for Bob Malm, a feckless rector if there ever was one. Indeed, Bob was overpaid by 40-70K a year and compensated more highly than the bishop in charge of pastoral development at church headquarters. And Bob did a whole lot less work, of that you can be assured.
- It tore down the rectory, an asset worth roughly $700,000, instead tossing a ton of cash at Bob Malm, totaling more than $1 million during Malm’s tenure.
- It wrote off $100,000 in debt that Bob owed the church, giving it to him as a bonus.
- It contributed $3,000 from savings for Chris Byrnes’ farewell party, a silly and wasteful extravagance at a time when church employees got a sheet cake at coffee hour as their good bye.
- It cut employee health care benefits to “balance the budget” at a time when it was paying Bob Malm a $100,000 bonus.
- It has consistently deferred maintenance, resulting in costly after-the-fact repairs.
- It has consistently underpaid its commitment to the diocese, while claiming that it is a “center for outreach and healing.” I call bull on that.
- It lost thousands of dollars via stale checks that disappeared into the parish administrator Charlotte Payne Wright’s office, only to be found after the latter’ s departure. And you cannot convince me that people didn’t call to ask why their checks hadn’t been cashed.
- It failed to establish a finance manual as required by denominational policy, which if done properly would have established policies and procedures sufficient to prevent the loss of funds described above.
Moreover, it failed to account for the cost of Bob Malm and Sugarland Chiow’s misconduct. Nothing in life is free, and Bob’s committing perjury, Sugarland’s false courtroom statements of law and fact, their efforts to drag a dying woman into court, all carry with them a cost. The cost is that people are departing the parish for less toxic environs, while the Sugarland Chiow’s, Lisa Medley’s and Alison Campbells of the parish cling like barnacles to the hull of a sinking ship. The result is declining revenue and attendance, and to date I have seen no meaningful effort to address these issues.
Speaking of Lisa Medley, Bob’s conduct also served as a benchmark for parishioners, and I believe that it was he who made people like Lisa think that their childish, hateful behavior was okay. Indeed, Leslie Malm proved to be every bit as childish, deceitful and hateful as Lisa, and that is saying something.
So, this pledge season, remember: This is not only a parish where people urge others to commit suicide, it’s a church where Lisa Medley thinks it’s okay to publish details on people’s giving on social media.
And as you contemplate those facts, consider: The parish has been careful with its funds only because it’s run out of funds to squander. If there were funds left to blow, Bob Malm would have had a party that would have made Chris’ pale by comparison.