Yesterday was an important day in the calendar for vestries and parish administrators across the Episcopal Church. It was the day that annual parochial reports were due for many, and early results show that 2020 was nothing short of catastrophic for Grace Church.
Leaving aside for a moment the fallout from perjuring priest Bob Malm’s misconduct, shock and dismay still reverberating over Bob’s $100K bonus at a time when the church was already struggling, Kelly Gable’s defamatory comments and more, last year Grace did not make a pledge to the diocese. Moreover, coming into the last quarter, the parish had only sent $30K to the diocese. That’s a dismal sum, surpassed by many of the smallest churches in the diocese, and a sure sign of profound financial difficulties for Grace.
Coming into 2021, the parish is still looking at a potential budget deficit, even after cutting loose a raft of major expenses. These include funding for Chrissie Crosby’s position — a position that is essential if the parish is to remain family-friendly. And frankly, having seen the mess that Grace volunteers make of many programs, having a dedicated staff person is essential if parents don’t want a hot mess on their hands.
And while the church vestry is moving towards a better understanding of its role pursuant to Episcopal polity, versus serving as a rubber stamp for perjuring priest Bob Malm, signs do not augur well for the future:
- There remains zero sign of recognition, remorse, or accountability within the church for its past actions, with people instead preferring passive-aggressive silence.
- Many of the same folks who gave away $100,000 in church funds to already overpaid Bob Malm — funds that had their genesis in a bequest to the church — are still on the vestry and other leadership positions.
- The dark triad of Kelly Gable, Alison Campbell, and Lisa Medley remains active and convinced that their behavior is appropriate. And why anyone would entrust their children to Kelly is beyond me — I’ll leave it at that.
- There are idiots who remain active in the parish including Lisa Medley, who wanted to give Malm a $200,000 bonus, versus the $100,000 one the vestry approved in 2014. That, coupled with Lisa’s willingness to publish church giving information on social media, speaks volumes about the state of affairs within the parish.
- While the church is happy to send courtesy resolutions to the diocesan annual convention about perjuring priest Bob Malm’s allegedly wondrous 30-year stint at Grace, the reality is much of his tenure was a hot mess, marked by lack of staff supervision, bad conduct by parishioners, feckless stewardship of church resources (one out of every five dollars that came in the door went to Bob, and that was BEFORE his bonus), and lack of accountability. Nor is the church willing to discuss Bob’s perjury and other misconduct with same alacrity as it does Bob’s purported accomplishments. But the two deserve equal air time. To do otherwise is to lie by omission.
By late August, the parochial report results will be public, and we’ll officially know just how bad 2020 was for Grace Church.
But as things stand, the church appears to be in major trouble, and on the verge of further staff cutbacks.