The wife of a prominent local clergyperson, and friend of mine, once shared with me some wisdom derived from almost 50 years of serving different churches. Her comment: “There are two types of clergy: Ones who want to serve you, and ones who want you to serve them.”
Perjuring priest Bob Malm clearly was the latter. To my knowledge, Bob never once turned up at the food pantry, helped at the homeless shelter, or led by example at the hypothermia shelter.
It was this approach that I believe led perjuring priest Bob Malm to some of his uglier decisions, like his pushing for a costly personal residence. Or his perjury. Or his decision to try to force people out of the parish.
It’s also this approach that led to Grace’s decline, for people do not want to subsidize the cushy lifestyle of a feckless priest like Bob Malm. Folks work plenty hard trying to make it in Northern VA without supporting perjuring priest Bob Malm’s month at the beach every summer—particularly when Bob won’t do even basic aspects of his job, like ensuring accurate financial reports, or supervising staff.
That begs the question: What would it be like to have a priest who was actually engaged? Who led by example? Who was honest and trustworthy? Who was a person of faith, versus profession?
Only Grace can answer that question.