Vienna Presbyterian’s Response to Abuse Markedly Different from that of Susan Goff, DioVA

By | April 21, 2020

Some years ago, Vienna Presbyterian faced a scandal involving its youth minister, who allegedly had abused young women in the church. As it struggled to deal with the crisis, the church took an approach profoundly different than that of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and Bishop Susan “Perjury’s Okay” Goff.

Shortly after news of the scandal broke, the church received the following directive from its insurance carrier:

“Do not make any statements, orally, in writing or in any manner, to acknowledge, admit to or apologize for anything that may be evidence of or interpreted as (a suggestion that) the actions of Vienna Presbyterian Church … caused or contributed to any damages arising from the intentional acts/abuse/misconduct” by the youth director.”

The church declined to follow the attorney’s advice, with its board saying in a letter to the church, “Members of Staff and of Session are profoundly sorry that VPC’s response after the abuse was discovered was not always helpful to those entrusted to our care.”

Similarly, Pastor Peter James said in a sermon, “We won’t hide behind lawyers … Jesus said the truth will set us free.”

Ironically, Bob Malm, in an email to the church vestry, which included his talking points that falsely stated that Mike and I left the church on our own and that our claims were untrue, cited the same Biblical verse, noting that it is “itched” in the church’s rose window.

Today, of course, Grace Church, Susan Goff, and the Diocese continue to try to defend their conduct in court, including their claim that Bob Malm’s perjury is not actionable as a disciplinary matter unless he faces criminal charges.

And that is exactly why the Episcopal Church is nearing its end—with few exceptions, it has lost all claim to moral legitimacy. Instead, it’s all about power, control, and ownership of assets.