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Grace Episcopal Alexandria

In just a few days, it will be one year since perjuring priest Bob Malm left as rector of Grace Episcopal Church. Thus, it is appropriate to consider his toxic legacy, and the effect of his legacy on Grace Episcopal, the clergy perjury parish.

First, there’s some good news for St. Gabriel’s: Even as perjuring priest Bob Malm lives out a lie by standing up every Sunday and bloviating about peace, community, love, and forgiveness, while lying under oath, trying to drag a dying woman into court, and more, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Most interim positions last for 12-16 months, so St. Gabriel’s may be about to cut perjuring priest Bob Malm loose before he causes any lasting damage.

But at Grace Church, the damage of thirty years of perjuring priest Bob Malm continues unabated. At Grace Church, defamation is still okay. It’s still okay to bully and mob people. It’s still okay to be a priest and commit perjury. In fact, part of the building is named after a perjurer: The Malm Narthex. That’s great—all the church needs now is a children’s area named after a pedophile. And why not? If perjury is okay and enjoys the support of the diocese, surely there’s no issue with child abuse.

Nor do we see any move towards accountability or cleaning up perjuring priest Bob Malm’s mess. Yes, Michael Guy reminds people that saying you’re a Christian while turning a blind eye to misconduct and injustice is at best hypocrisy, but the response at Grace is pretty much, “Okay. Whatever.” Meanwhile, we still see people like Kemp Williams and Kelly Motormouth Gable talking about people, instead of to people, otherwise known as gossip and defamation.

Meanwhile, Grace Church also is about due for a new rector. Whether it is successful in that endeavor remains to be seen. I suspect, however, that few qualified clergy are going to be interested in a parish where it’s okay to urge others to commit suicide, or where details on donations are posted on the internet. Nor are they going to be particularly eager to have me protesting outside Sunday services. And protest I will, ‘til the cows come home.

There’s also a trend under way in the parish that bodes ill for the future, and that is the parish’s increasing exclusion of outsiders. The website says that all services are cancelled, but that is not true. Indeed, two services are now being held outside every Sunday: One for La Garcia, and one for the main parish. The only issue is that they are pretty much by invitation only. Similarly, multiple persons have told me that their requests to be added to the church’s email distribution list have been ignored. Maybe the new parish administrator is too busy decorating the now empty office to bother with potential new members. Or maybe the church simply isn’t interested in new members. Or maybe they are worried that some critic like me will access their secret gnosis. But actions speak louder than words, and the reality is that the church can’t be bothered.

It’s interesting, too. One of my fellow writers for Episcopal Cafe, George Clifford, wrote 9 years ago about how the Episcopal Church is mired in 19th century churchmanship, fusty tradition, and rampant clericalism. 

Since George wrote his article, nothing has changed. The denomination still clings to the stupidly expensive Madmen-era heap 815 Second Street as its headquarters. The church continues to try to maintain a costly and ineffectual hierarchy. Clericalism continues unabated. And the church continues its precipitous decline in membership, baptisms, and weddings.

Ironically, Grace is the epitome of these phenomena. Clutching at a pretty but antiquated building, a costly, obsolete, and sometimes ugly clericalism, and a collective faith that is best summed up as “be friendly and don’t get arrested for DUI,” Grace increasingly appears a sad anachronism, the last hurrah of 1970’s organized religion.

But rest assured, one constant remains: Bob Malm and Grace Church will continue what I call the Three L’s: Lie, litigate, and lose members. And even as the church continues its slide towards closure, no one at the church or within the diocese will ever acknowledge their role in making this happen. Instead, like true narcissists, they will blame anyone, everyone, and everything but themselves.

Of that, you may be certain.