Yesterday, I had a good conversation with several people about emotional violence in church. That’s an issue that’’s all too common right behind the friendly veneer at Grace Church, and I suspect a great many other Episcopal churches as well.
To be clear, Grace Episcopal Alexandria is friendly and welcoming. But right behind the scenes, emotional violence is all too common, particularly in the choir and the altar guild.
In the case of the altar guild, for example, I experienced multiple instances of bad behavior on the part of Alison “Fluffy” Campbell, who did her best to stir up the altar guild. And while Alison now serves as junior warden, she didn’t even have the integrity to own her behavior, but instead later told EJ Legere that she was “just the messenger.” This sort of lying and other misconduct illustrates how folks like Alison claim to be liberal and inclusive, but think any sort of behavior on their part is okay. I mean, after all, Eric was mean to my buddy Kelly! Yes, I have heard all the behind-the-scenes BS before.
Similarly, Kyle Babin had myriad issues with the choir. Indeed, one choir member walked out of a practice and never came back; he now attends St. Peter in the Woods.
And then there are idiots, like Jan Spence and Lisa Medley, who think that yelling and acting like assholes is appropriate conduct, even in church. Nor did perjuring priest Bob Malm set a good example: He once referred to Jan Spence as an “asshole,” to my face.
Even the issue where Linda Waskowiscz decided to give Deborah Crabtree the silent treatment for a year over the ridiculous question of blue smocks for the altar guild—an issue Anne Turner knew about even before she came to Grace Church—simply reinforces the extent of childish bad conduct within the parish.
And yet none of these people see any issue with their behavior, or any correlation between Grace’s imploding fortunes and their behavior. Thus, the bad behavior and the church’s collapse will almost certainly continue.
To make matters worse, Grace is fast approaching an inflection point, a point of no return.
Further reductions in the budget will result in loss of a full-time music director and loss of a full-time associate rector, as these are among the last areas in which the church still can cut its budget. After that, the church would need to transition to a part-time parish administrator or volunteer, or go to a part-time rector, or both.
As to the “solution” attempted by Sugarland Chiow and perjuring priest Bob Malm, which is to claim that those who have had bad experiences with the church are “domestic terrorists,” and trying to take them to court, that is not going to fly. Far too many people have left the church, including folks who have left because of these very tactics, for that to accomplish anything. And people aren’t stupid—sooner or later they witness the childish, immature behaviors themselves and see firsthand that the problems in the church are real, lasting, and deeply entrenched.
Only time will tell, but from my perspective it certainly looks like Grace Church is nearing the end.