Grace Episcopal Alexandria: Sharp Decline in Virtual Attendance Calls Into Question the Survival of the Church

By | July 17, 2020

Grace Episcopal Alexandria
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Grace Episcopal Alexandria
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Grace Episcopal Alexandria
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Several local Episcopal parishes are seeing continuing surges in online attendance amidst the COVID-19, with the result that some even say that going online is the best thing that ever happened to them. But Grace Episcopal, the clergy perjury parish, is seeing a precipitous decline in online attendance. The news spells trouble for the church and suggests that it is sliding further into existential crisis.

In 2018, the last year for which there were official numbers, average Sunday attendance (ASA) at Grace had declined to 253. That represents a drop from recent years, which typically ran about 315. 
Why does that matter? Because ASA has long been considered a key barometer of church health. Specifically, people may pledge, not pledge, get married, stay single, have children, not have children — all events that touch on the life of the parish — but if they aren’t turning out on Sunday it’s a fair inference that there is nothing drawing them to community.
Of course, in the midst of the pandemic, ASA doesn’t fully apply, and hits on services uploaded to YouTube won’t accrue all on Sunday.

But one would think that virtual attendance would correlate loosely with ASA, perhaps running somewhat lower to account for elderly persons, those of limited income, and others who may not be able to access online services. (For the record, arrangements can and should be made for these folks, whether it’s mailing them bulletins and audio tapes, phone calls, or socially distanced visits.)

So where does Grace Episcopal, the clergy perjury parish, stand?
The answer is not good.
Coming into Easter, numbers were looking pretty solid. For example:
  • Lent 5:  382 
  • Palm Sunday: 461
  • Easter: 483
  • Easter 2: 285
In short, hardly a case of people breaking down the virtual doors, but still respectable.
Now, let’s look at recent numbers.
  • Pentecost 3: 139
  • Pentecost 4: 162
  • Pentecost 5: 123
To be fair, attendance historically drops in summer. But these numbers are unprecedented, and they are consistent.
But that’s really damning are the most recent numbers. For example, as of this writing, the July 15 evening prayer service has zero hits. That’s right—not even staff or vestry members bothered to surf by. Similarly, the video about the windows of Grace, which inplicates a big, expensive, and time-consuming project, only scored 114 hits. That is not good. And average virtual attendance is running just 141–a decline of 44.14%!
My hunch is that several factors are at play. One is that perjuring priest Bob Malm, like many narcissists, is a compelling actor/preacher. His voice breaks at all the right places, his inflection creates a sense of urgency, and he is appropriately animated. His Jesus-babble may have had no substance behind it, but it sounded good, even as he was committing perjury and otherwise engaging in misconduct. In other words, Bob would have you conclude that the storefront is the store, and he made sure the facade is Gucci.

Michael Guy, on the other hand, appears sincere, but his delivery is solid, slow, measured. Thus, if you’re looking for the superficial theatrics, you’re going to be disappointed. In other words, Michael would have you ignore the storefront, but step inside, do some shopping, form your own conclusions.

Of course, it is not fair to compare one priest with another, for each brings his own skills to the table. Unfortunately, after 30 years of perjuring priest Bob Malm, folks at Grace Episcopal Alexandria, the clergy perjury parish, don’t have the spiritual maturity to understand this. 

Second is the fact that Grace remains closed at a time when NVA is reopening. That’s a prudent choice, but it also means that Grace’s online offerings face increased competition. Of course, as the pandemic drags on, people increasingly realize we neither will, nor should, go back to the way we were any time soon.
Third is the fact that Grace continues to stay close to home when it comes to filling positions. Whether it’s pulling in Jason Roberson (he of the infamous “thriving and flourishing” fib), or drawing on Chrissie Crosby to fill the family ministry role, the church is having trouble attracting fresh blood, and with good reason. But at the same time, drinking from the same well over time results in stale water, and the parish really needs to pull in some vibrant new personalities and perspectives. It needs to be willing to turn over a new leaf on every front and to ask the tough questions.

People tell me Bob Malm is gone to try to incentivize me to stop my criticism of the church and its conduct, but the reality is the church itself has done nothing to shift away from its worship of Bob Malm and his feckless years as rector. In just a few years Falls Church went from 115 members to being larger than Grace Church in every respect, while perjuring priest Bob Malm pulled in his 200K a year, played golf, jogged, and spent a month at the beach every summer. All while parish financial records were a shambles, governance a disaster, and the church continued to watch its budget, ASA, and membership shrink.

Fourth is the fact that, as my conflict with the parish drags on, it becomes increasingly clear that the emperor has no cloths. The Lisa Medleys, Sugarland Chiows, David Crosbys, Lisa Gardners and other sycophants and enablers can engage in all the ad hominem attacks they want, but the reality remains unchanged: This is a church where it’s okay for:
  • Clergy to commit perjury.
  • Clergy to lie to their parish and bishop.
  • Members to engage in defamation per se (yes, that would be Kelly Gable),
  • The church to try to drag a dying woman into court in violation of state law, and more. 

And one has only to look to the numerous emails from perjuring priest Bob Malm, the ugly rhetoric from Sugarland Chiow, the utter unwillingness of Bishop Goff to provide adult supervision, and the blithering cluelessness of David Crosby with his whole “two sides to every story,” to realize just what a hot mess Grace Church is. 

I have said it before, and will say it again: There are NOT two sides to every story. 
  • There is no such thing as a good racist, nor are there good people on both sides.
  • There is no excuse for bullying Mike out of the church. 
  • There is no acceptable explanation for clergy perjury. 
  • There is no excuse for defamation per se. 
  • There is no excuse for urging others to commit suicide.
  • There is no excuse for trying to subpoena a dying woman in violation of the law. 
  • There is no acceptable reason for Sugarland Chiow’s courtroom fabrications and ugly rhetoric. 
  • There is no acceptable reason for clergy like David Crosby to make excuses for these behaviors. It’s time for David to grow a pair and say no to misconduct in the parish.
So will David Crosby and other purported parish leaders “man up” and act like Christians? I doubt it.

Grace Episcopal Alexandria
Sorry, David, there are NOT two sides to every story. And you should not use this line, particularly if someone has been abused in any manner whatsoever. That includes spiritual abuse. In other words, as a priest, you are a clueless dolt.

Meanwhile the church faces the grim reality that most insurance policies don’t cover punitive damages. And with multiple claims for punitive damages lurking, the parish faces the possibility of losing the trust fund, the building and more. Not to mention that, not being incorporated, Grace church offers parishioners no shield from personal liability. That means that if insurance does not cover judgments against the church, individual members could personally be on the hook, including a new rector. (This should not come as a surprise to members. Vestry members have a moral and legal obligation to provide accurate, timely information about governance issues to church members. So if you are hearing about this for the first time from this blog, you should be asking tough questions of the vestry and the diocese. I’d add that I long ago urged Bob Malm to explore setting up a corporate entity for the church. You can see how that turned out. Meanwhile, Kelly Motormouth Gable continues to insist that her claims are truthful. Talk about a great way to tick off both a plaintiff and the courts.)

Nor are parish leaders unaware of the peril facing Grace Church. For example, the discussion about hiring Chrissie until January, when the church will know more about its budget and its new rector, speaks volumes about the current state of affairs. The reality is that the parish may not have the money to have someone in that slot next year, and every indicator suggests that giving will continue to trend down. That trend will accelerate should we see COVID-19 related deaths in the parish.
Meanwhile, there’s one given, which is that the current state of affairs is likely to continue for the indefinite future. And that includes my opposition to abusive, hypocritical conduct at Grace and those who enable it by turning a blind eye.

I am not going away any time soon. I will not be bullied into silence. I will not be bought. Meanwhile, my blog is a few days away from zooming past 200,000 hits—many more hits than the church website garners.

Grace Episcopal Alexandria

Grace Church surely is in a bad way. And the old joke about any club that would have me as a member isn’t one that I would join holds true: Any priest with the skills to fix Grace Church likely is smart enough to stay away.

Or as one priest, a noted author, canonically resident in DioVA said to me, “You couldn’t pay me enough.”