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Grace Episcopal Alexandria — Kemp Williams

I read with wry amusement the piece by Kemp Williams in this month’s edition of Grace Notes. Indeed, the juxtaposition of Kemp’s comments and those of Michael Guy at the start of this month’s edition makes his comments deliciously ironic, and Kemp has no idea how clueless his comments really are.

In his article, Kemp babbles on about Grace being welcoming, inclusive, and accepting. And you know what? All of those are true. And therein lies the irony.

At the heart of the matter is the issue of what comprises the paradigm into which one is being welcomed. If the environment is loving, then inclusion indeed is a good thing. If the environment is hateful, then inclusion is a bad thing, for it broadens the circle of hate. And when, as at Grace, the environment into which one is welcomed is superficially friendly, but hateful and ugly beneath the surface, then inclusion is not just a bad a thing — it is downright deceptive.

Who and what exactly am I talking about? I am talking about the things already covered in this blog:

  • Clergy who commit perjury. Yes, that would be Bob Malm.
  • Clergy who lie with impunity.
  • The ugly, behind-the-scenes smear campaigns coming from various persons connected with the parish, alleging that I have embezzled money, am mentally ill, have engaged in physical abuse of my husband, fraudulently steered contracts to friends, and more.
  • A church that tries to drag a dying woman into court in violation of the law.
  • A church that makes false statements of law and fact in court.
  • A church that refers to members as “domestic terrorists.”
  • Members, including Kemp Williams and Kelly Gable, who talk about others, versus to others. That’s longhand for “gossiping.”
  • Kelly Gable’s and Bob Malm’s defamation.
  • Members who speculate about the personal lives of others. See above.
  • Single female members who pursue married men in the parish.
  • Members who threaten Mike’s job.
  • Bob Malm forcing Mike out of the church, then lying and claiming that he left on his own in July 2015.

And all too often, members conflate friendly with faithful. One can be friendly, and not be faithful. In fact, some of the most toxic churches are the friendliest, and you can quote me on that.

Michael Guy’s comments are spot on:

One sin always before us is how we treat our brothers and sisters. If we are not loving them as God loves us, then we are sinning. Even though one has a right to have an opposing opinion, it does not give one the right to disrespect that sister or brother. Disrespect is seen in forms of abuse, mentally or physically and sometimes both. This is not love. Before we say, “I am not disrespectful,” to witness this and ignore it is a sin of omission. It remains a sin.

And Grace parishioners ignore Bob Malm’s conduct, that of Sugarland Chiow, and that of the church itself in court, as well as Kelly Gable and others that they elect to the vestry. Yet as Michael Guy reminds us, “To witness this and ignore it is a sin of omission.” (Let’s not forget that this includes Michael Guy and Jason Roberson themselves, as well as bishop Susan Goff and the rest of the Mayo House fatcats.)

Jesus addresses these issues. In Matthew, he says:

You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. 18 A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.

And so it is with Grace Church. While Kemp may bloviate about worshipping in the beauty of holiness, neither his worship, nor that of anyone else at Grace Church, means a thing when they ignore outrageous and shocking misconduct in the parish, their own and that of others. And when Kemp and others turn a blind eye to their own behavior, and that of the church itself, happily secure in their circle of friends at the church, they trade faithful for friendly.

Or, as Jesus says, “ 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

In other words, one cannot worship in the beauty of holiness when one sins against another. The beauty of holiness has nothing to do with a pretty building with stained glass, incense, and bright shiny things. Worshipping God in the beauty of holiness refers to the beauty of holiness itself, or acting in a holy way. And whether it’s the childish bullying and social aggression in the altar guild, the choir, at the vestry, or even the immaturity of Lisa Medley and others flipping me the middle finger in public, these things are not holiness.

And as Michael Guy notes, the Sugarland Chiows, Jan Spences, Kemp Williams, Kelly Gables, Lisa Medleys, Bob Malms and Alison Campbells of the world need to recognize that when they engage in their childish games, make obscene gestures, or engage in defamation, they’re doing those things to Jesus. The fact that they are current with their pledge, or polished the altar ware on Saturday, or went to Shrine Mont last fall, does not in any way lessen their sin.

So when they wonder why Grace Church is falling apart, or lament the chaos that they claim will come from my blogging about the clergy perjury parish, they would do far better to start by turning a critical eye to their own conduct. Something about the log in thy own eye….

And in closing, I remind the good Christians that I am not the only person who has left the parish over these issues. It’s time to stop lying, making excuses, and ducking responsibility.