Before we go further, let me say this upfront: As someone who is perhaps the most vociferous critic of Grace Episcopal, the clergy perjury parish, particularly during the final years of perjuring priest Bob Malm’s reign, I like much what I see coming out of the parish. That will come as a surprise to many, but fair is fair.
In that vein, the church recently posted the parish administrator job position and it contains promising signs. Among these is the fact that the job description (JD) emphasizes equally the “soft skills” of integrity, dependability, and interpersonal skills, versus the technical skills required for the position.
Seemingly gone are the days when church staff could, with Bob Malm’s tacit and express support, yell at church members, curse them, lie about them, and more. Of course, none of that behavior should come as a surprise at a church where the diocese, bishops, vestry, and parish membership supported perjuring priest Bob Malm and his toxic behavior.
In recent years, things got a little better, but Amy “Middle Finger” Medrick certainly was no slice of paradise. Whether it was her falsely opining on what constitutes active church membership in contravention of church canons, her involvement in Bob Malm’s bullying, or flipping off protestors, Amy was a prime example of all that is wrong with Grace Church. That said, she did clean up the office and finally put in place a useful church management application. That stands in marked contrast with the Charlie Foxtrot that was the system used by Beth Wiggers and Charlotte Payne Wright. And Amy did manage to avoid some of the extremes of behavior that led to the current meltdown.
It’s also true that the church still has not wrapped its arms around facilities management. In light of Amy’s experience in affordable housing, she certainly was more than capable of doing better in this area. Yet despite the replacement of the HVAC systems, the church is reverting to type when it comes to preventive maintenance, which is to ignore emerging issues in favor of deferred — and inherently more costly — maintenance.
It’s also worth noting that the parish’s decision-making processes likely remain flawed. For example, the decision to run the HVAC system after the rupture of the underground line between the church and Merrow Hall was a debacle — yet one that few if any in the church recognize. Specifically, despite express warnings to the contrary, the church ran the system without flushing the lines, resulting in the accelerated failure of several air handlers and other pieces of equipment. Had the church been more prudent, it probably could have managed a couple more years with the incumbent system.
That underscores a key point, which is that despite years of warnings, the church still has no replacement reserve study, and thus no meaningful plan to address capital expenditures, or capex. As a result, the church remains awash in an endless sea of reactive responses to its facilities issues. Nor have the half-measure steps taken by the property committee, which include identifying and estimating upcoming expenses, made any difference, for the church saves nothing from its operating budget for future capex. That’s really stupid, as it is virtually a given that the place will be much smaller in 10 years. Yet even as recently as 2014 the church was handing out $100K bonuses to perjuring priest Bob Malm — with the Princess Porcine, aka Lisa Medley, urging the vestry to give Bob $200K! (My guess is that the Princess Porcine doesn’t understand the concept of “private inurement. But then, she’s not the sharpest tool in the shed.)
On a positive note, the JD’s inclusion of social media is promising. Over the years, numerous folks have offered to help the church in this area, including my buddy Dee Parsons, who is known around the world for her work on abusive churches, including coverage of Grace Church and perjuring priest Bob Malm. True to form, Bob Malm ignored Dee’s offer, which is a shame. It’s a shame because folks at Grace don’t realize that announcements online are counterproductive —as in “the most recent sermon is available here.” If that’s your idea of social media, please do all involved a favor and stay off social media. Indeed, to the extent that parishioners like Leslie “Hambeast” Malm and Lisa “Princess Porcine” Medley — and their family members — have tried to wade into that space, the results have been nothing short of disastrous for the church. Yet many in the church have been too clueless to see this.
Ironically, while he is clueless as to social media and technology issues, perjuring priest Bob Malm, with his attention to superficial impressions, most clearly understood the problems the church has faced online. The church’s reputation is profoundly damaged, as is that of the diocese and the Episcopal Church, and that damage is getting worse over time.
Of course, Bob’s efforts to perjure his way to victory on this front simply made things hundreds of times worse for the church. And the efforts to defend its conduct in court simply tell the world at large that Grace remains mired in its own ethical filth.
At least in the JD folks didn’t pull a Jason Roberson and claim that the place is “growing and flourishing.” It is neither, and to claim otherwise, to put it generously, is misleading. Indeed, at a time when the area population has grown by more than 13 percent over the past ten years Grace is barely managing to hold on. And from 2015 to 2018 alone, the parish lost almost exactly $100,000 of purchasing power. If that is Jason’s idea of growth, I’d like to see what he believes decline looks like.
And turning this situation around is going to require a willingness to take a fresh look at every aspect of the church, including how people interact with each other.