Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Here’s How Grace Church Uses Its Pledge Income

One day in 2013, as I was doing repair work in the undercroft, I noticed that the window sills in the vesting rooms were dirty. Not just a little dirty—disgustingly, filthy dirty. As in not cleaned for several years. Layers of dead flies, dust, and pieces of cut grass that had been blown through the increasingly decrepit windows by the lawn mowers, together with water stains and more.

I took the following photo and sent it to Bob Malm by email, asking who was responsible for cleaning the vesting rooms. (Given that the parish has a paid sexton, one would think he would do it. But then, having caught him sleeping in the building on one occasion, and having been unable to locate him in the building on other occasions when he was supposedly working, that may be an unwarranted assumption.)

Predictably, Bob didn’t bother to respond.

So I asked parish administrator Charlotte Payne Wright who is responsible for cleaning the vesting rooms. Her telling response, “I’m not sure anyone is.”

The upshot is no one knew or cared. And yet Bob Malm subsequently claimed in writing that “no one at Grace is shirking their responsibilities,” despite the fact that it clearly had been at least four and a half years since anyone had bothered to clean the vesting rooms, as evinced by the date of the bulletin from the Great Vigil of Easter.

That begs the question: What does this utter indifference to the care of the physical plant suggest to members? To visitors? What does it say about the role of the building in divine worship? About stewardship of the money and resources entrusted to the church?

And what does Bob Malm’s non-response and claims that he actually was doing his job say about him? About the vestry? Does this sort of conduct warrant a $200,000 annual compensation package and a 2014 annual bonus of $100,000?

Nor is this the only example of ignoring basic standards of cleanliness and maintenance. Indeed, such examples are myriad. And in another instance, when I brought up similar issues, Bob’s response was, “I have neither the time nor the interest.”

Given Bob’s annual month at the beach, his week for the Boston Marathon, and his many trips “out of town,” I have no doubt perjuring priest Bob Malm was telling the truth when he said he didn’t have the time, and he clearly had zero interest.

This sort of feckless leadership and the fact that it was acceptable for so many years at Grace Church surely is worth keeping in mind if you are considering getting involved in the church, or making a pledge to the church.

Caveat emptor!

Filth in the vesting rooms, left untouched for 4.5 years.