Anne Turner, Grace’s new rector, just posted a piece on the church’s website, “From the Rector: Where We are Now.” The piece took some courage, because Anne does something rarely done before, which is to acknowledge the sorry state of affairs that is Grace.
That said, I’d like to add my thoughts, which is that Anne’s piece is a day late and a dollar short. Or maybe 20 years late and several hundred thousand dollars short.
Specifically, Grace is a hot mess. And Anne’s plan, which is to do a series of sermons on healing, is likely to be nothing more than putting the wrong shade of lipstick on a pig.
Am I disparaging preaching on the topic? Not at all. In fact, the problems in the church need to be discussed openly, and this may be a starting point.
But issues at Grace go far deeper and are structural.
The problem is that Grace for many years was built around narcissistic adulation for Bob Malm. And like all narcissists, Bob Malm can be both toxic and utterly bereft of any moral reference point — a prime example being his courtroom perjury.
Over time, churches become like their rectors, and after 30 years of perjuring priest Bob Malm Grace Episcopal Alexandria is very much like him. Ostensibly friendly and welcoming, underneath the surface roils narcissism, bullying when people don’t get what they want, the belief that the place is somehow special, the belief that you can say or do anything you want to others and still be a Christian, an absolute lack of introspection, and an inward focus in which almost every penny is spent catering to the needs and whims of members. Nor is there any accountability; even now, moronic church leadership turns to Sugarland Chiow for guidance, with his courtroom lies, his inflammatory rhetoric, his attempts to drag a dying woman into court in violation of the law, and more. And let’s not forget that the church named part of the building after a perjurer, Bob Malm.
At the end of the day, Grace faces a difficult decision. It must call a spade a spade and turn its back on the toxic legacy of Bob Malm and his narcissism, or it must accept the fact that it is a narcissistic construct with the narcissist-in-chief removed. In other words, Grace Episcopal church is imploding, and deservedly so.