Showing posts with label Bob Malm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bob Malm. Show all posts

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Bob Malm: Club Protest Membership Countdown


By virtue of trying to shutdown criticism by going to court with his facially false claims that he had been threatened, pseudo-priest Bob Malm and Grace Episcopal signed up for the two-year membership at Club Protest. No refunds, late payments result in an extension of membership. And his decision to include Mike in his vendetta, his multiple lies in court, and his efforts to subpoena a dying woman, all mean Bob gets the special VIP add-on package — my online presence will continue ad infinitum. That’s right, Dysfunctional Bob gets the lifetime virtual membership. Hey, Bob always did think he was special. Well, he’s right.

So, this countdown timer doesn’t mark the countdown to an end to open hostilities. But it does mark the payout of Dysfunctional Bob’s basic Club Protest membership.That said, I have always believed in under-promise, over-deliver, so I will no doubt extend Bob’s basic membership well beyond his original contract. And Grace Episcopal gets in on the action, for free.

Hey, if he behaves, maybe we can even spot Bob some core body fitness tips. Heaven knows he’s been looking rather well-fed in recent years. And it fits — Grace Church aka St. Dysfunction is looking a whole lot leaner and meaner these days.

See you at Dysfunction Junction aka Malm Square(d)!

Monday, December 9, 2019

Just Like the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and Bob Malm, Church Ignored Warning Signs in Brian Boucher Case



Before we go further, let me say up front: To my knowledge, Bob Malm is not accused of any form of sexual impropriety.

That said, the case of convicted Canadian pedophile priest Brian Boucher sounds alarmingly similar to my experiences with Bob Malm and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, both in terms of Boucher’s manipulative, possibly sociopathic, behavior and the diocese’s efforts to avoid dealing with the real issues. Indeed, in Boucher’s case, the diocese appears to have taken the matter more seriously than has the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, for the former at least spent time and effort addressing the more obvious signs that Boucher was maladjusted.

In reviewing the Boucher media coverage, the first thing one notices is Boucher’s attention to his physical appearance. Even when headed to jail, Boucher consistently looks put together and carefully pressed. This is very similar to Bob Malm, who often appears inordinately consumed with keeping his SUV clean and polished, his tan, his hair color, and even his efforts to conceal his hair loss via transplants.

Then one transitions to Boucher’s conduct, in which, much like Bob Malm, he attempts to manipulate the world around him to suit his needs. Those of importance to him get attention and flattery, while those unimportant to him get ignored. Similarly, those who expressed concern about Boucher’s conduct found themselves denied access to the church and rectory buildings. Indeed, Boucher attempted to fire one parish employee who spoke out, and multiple families left Boucher’s parish, rather than comply with his manipulative behavior. Such conduct is strikingly similar to that of Bob Malm, even down to trying to deny access to the church building to critics.

Similarly, critics feared Boucher’s temper, which sounds suspiciously like the classic narcissistic rage. Boucher’s attempts at domination and control, much like Malm’s behavior, also seem to witnesses to be antithetical to his alleged calling as a priest.

Then we read about Boucher’s divisive conduct, in which he surrounds himself with a circle of loyalists who protect him and alert him to criticism from within the parish. Again, very similar to Bob Malm.

Turning to the diocese, we see that time and again officials turned a blind eye to the myriad warning signs of trouble. Yes, the church may have spent considerable time and trouble to deal with Boucher’s controlling behavior, but it never was willing to delve further into the issues, including assessing root causes behind the behavior. Indeed, even prior to ordination, those who feared Boucher was unsuited to the priesthood were ignored and brushed off.

This sounds very much like Bob Malm, where some parishioners, even as early as his calling to the church in Portsmouth NH, appear to have recognized that something was not right. For example, when Bob was in New Hampshire, one parishioner allegedly ran for vestry solely in order to see what Bob was “going to do to my church.”  While seemingly innocuous and easily dismissed, that sort of gut reaction to Bob should have been a warning sign.

Similarly, the ongoing flight of pledging units and the departure of numerous former leaders from Grace Church should be more than a warning sign to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia; it should be the equivalent of Cheyenne Mountain’s air raid siren blaring in the night. People don’t pack up and leave a church in which they’re invested for trivial reasons. Instead, when they leave in droves, it’s because something is seriously wrong.

Will the church vestry and the diocese ever comprehend the real issues here? I doubt it. Between thirty years of Bob’s manipulative behavior, the organizational narcissism in the parish, and the inconvenience that would come with addressing Bob Malm’s misconduct, there are little reason for optimism.

For more on Boucher and the church’s attempt to avoid dealing with the real issues, visit the CBC’s investigative report at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/brian-boucher-history-investigation-1.5383177.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

If Grace is Such a Slice of Paradise, Why is it Shedding Members? Further Reflections on the Church’s Organizational Narcissism

One of the noteworthy things about my conflict with Bob Malm and Grace Episcopal Church has been the extent of organizational narcissism in the church. This has been typified by the reactions of parishioners, who remain clueless about how their behavior appears to outsiders, while continuing to think that somehow it benefits the parish.

For example, consider the conduct of Sally Schneider, who rolled up to me one day and said, in her typically saccharine way, “Shame on you, Eric Bonetti,” repeating this several times. Sally has zero first-hand knowledge of the conflict, yet thinks she can wade in and pass judgment. Yet I’d be prepared to bet that she would not regard Bob Malm’s perjury as kosher, nor his attempt to drag a dying woman into court.

Similarly, Lisa Medley, who doesn’t even have the backbone to post comments under her own name, preferring instead handles like, “Long-time parishioner,” still can’t figure out why third parties look at her ad hominem attacks on me and respond with comments like, “This group of parishioners is circling the wagons and while they seem sane to themselves, they seem immature and hateful to outsiders who are looking at their behavior.”



The same holds true for Alison Campbell, who tells people that she is “just the messenger,” even as she uses the altar guild and others to try to cause trouble within the parish. She may think that somehow she’s benefitting the parish, Kelly Gable, or others, but the reality is she’s simply showing herself to be childish and hateful, while underscoring that Grace is toxic. 

Then we come to the Kemp Williams and Jean Reeds of the place, who are happy to gossip within the church about others and their perceptions of them, yet see no need to discuss those issues directly with the persons involved. Just spend a few minutes searching this blog and you will find examples of their truly ugly comments.

Also among the better examples of toxic behavior at Grace Church are the comments from a twenty-something in the parish, who urged me to commit suicide in the post below.





And of course, we cannot forget Sugarland Chiow, with his multiple false statements of law and fact to the courts, his inflammatory rhetoric, and his various courtroom fabrications, including that I never practiced law. Jeff claims that the church is threatened by “domestic terrorism,” yet brings his wife and children there on a regular basis. 

Nor can we forget Big Bad Bob, with his lying under oath (aka perjury), his lies to parishioners, and his false police reports. Truly, the ugly stuff rolls downhill.

Even more problematic is the fact that this sort of behavior is, for many, acceptable within the church. This underscores the organizational narcissism that exists at every level in the church. Yes, attendance and giving are at record lows in the parish, and yes, one-third of pledging units have stopped pledging in recent years. And many have left the parish altogether, preferring somewhere where the Ten Commandments aren’t just a bit of arcane trivia. But the fact remains that many continue to provide financial and other support for this toxic mess. Nor have any of the people identified above ever taken responsibility for their own conduct.

Thus far, parish leaders also have ignored the many things that could be done to address these issues. For example, the vestry could adopt a statement of normative behaviors, making clear the type of conduct that rightly should be present in any church. It could specifically address bullying. It could bring in outside experts in addressing conflict. Yet none of these things have happened, nor have they been discussed in any meaningful way.

Will Michael Guy and the vestry be up to the task? Can they drain the swamp that is Grace Episcopal? 

I doubt it.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

A Shout Out To St. Gabriel’s, Marion Massachusetts



If you are a member or friend of St. Gabriel’s parish in Massachusetts and you are reading this, good for you. While I can’t guarantee that you’ll agree with the opinions in this post, my hope is that they will be helpful to you.

If you’ve come across this blog, you may be wondering where to start, and what this blog means.

Before we go further, let’s acknowledge something: Bob Malm can turn on the charm when he chooses to. He is intelligent, he can be engaging, he is articulate. He’s adept at telling people what they want to hear. Indeed, has has said that he would have chosen to be a politician if he had not become a priest, and he has many of the attributes needed to be successful as a politician.

At the same time, I believe you have a problem on your hands, one that places your church at risk. Far too often, churchgoers conflate friendly with faithful, but the two are not coterminous. Indeed, they may be opposites, and therein lies the danger.

Right behind Bob’s engaging demeanor exists a very different reality, which is that Bob is a priest in name only. In the past, he has lied under oath, attempted to drag my mother, dying of COPD, into court, lied to parishioners and his vestry, and more, all in the name of trying to shut down public criticism of his misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance during his time as rector of Grace Episcopal Church, his last job. 

Apropos his lies to his parish, he falsely stated that I left the church on my own. That is a lie, as evinced by the email, which you can find on this site, in which he directed my husband Mike and me to find a new church. You also will find a copy of my confirmatory email to Mike Jones, a fellow parishioner, in which Mike confirmed that Bob had contacted him to direct him to exclude me from the life of the parish. And Bob acknowledged during a meeting with bishop Shannon Johnston in Fredericksburg Virginia that this was a lie saying, “I don’t know what planet you live on, but when someone does something to me, I do something to them.” Also present in the room was Canon Pat Wingo.

Bob was also largely indifferent to the wellbeing of Grace Church. During his time as rector, the church office and business records were a shambles. Cash went AWOL without explanation, with thousands of dollars in loose cash and stale checks found in the parish administrator’s office after she left; she was a hoarder, and her space could best be described as a death trap. Additionally, church staff bullied parishioners, including me, Deborah Crabtree, and others, while Bob consistently turned a blind eye. Nor was Bob compliant with church canons—during my years at the church, the parish did not have a church finance manual as required by canon, despite Bob having been rector for more than 25 years. And yet Bob claims no one shirked their responsibility. 

Behind the scenes, Bob also causes unhealthy church dynamics, referring to parishioners as “assholes,” and “spies,” and other disparaging comments. In short, Bob models a lack of respect for the baptismal covenant that has caused more than one person to say, “I would never belong to your church, and it’s because of the way people talk to each other.”

Apropos these comments, Bob tells people that I am mentally ill, that I threatened him, and a whole bunch of other hogwash, all of which is part of a larger smear campaign on his part. Yet there is ample documentation of his misconduct on this site.

Most telling is the fact that during the last 5 years of Bob Malm’s tenure at Grace Church, the parish shed one-third of its pledging units, going from 317 units in 2014 to 208 last year.

Bob can lie and try to diminish criticism all he wants, but if Grace was such a slice of paradise under Bob Malm, why are people leaving?

I’d also note that, to my knowledge, Bob has no formal interim training. That is troubling, because a good transition minister has some very specific tasks ahead of her or him. I do not believe Bob is capable of achieving these goals.

Please do yourself a favor: Do your utmost not to let Bob Malm trash your parish. He’ll smile, give you hugs, and tell you that your church is a holy place, but behind the scenes he may well cause profound damage to your parish.


Monday, December 2, 2019

See for Yourself: Perjuring Priest Bob Malm’s Original Request for a Protective Order Shows the Real Grace Church

This one is great. In it, we see Bob’s facially inadequate claims of threats,  which have, thus far, enjoyed Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow’s professional support. In addition, more of Bobs intimations of mental illness (including multiple personalities, a disorder closely associated with severe abuse), as well as his facially irrelevant letter from the bishop and his references to blogging. Note too that Bob lies in his chronology about the meeting in Fredericksburg; at no time was there any discussion about “following the bishop’s guidance.” To the contrary, Bob agreed to stop his bullying. It’s also noteworthy that Bob lied in front of the bishop, falsely stating, “Having resigned from the vestry, you were no longer eligible to serve as a trustee.” To which I replied, “Why then, are none of your current trustees vestry members?” Bob had no response to that.

Check it out.

Meanwhile, as interim pastor Michael Guy talks about preaching the Gospel, this is how Grace Church preaches the gospel in real life. As in, “by their fruits you shall know them.”

Pastor Guy, welcome to Grace Episcopal, the clergy perjury parish.


















Saturday, November 30, 2019

Reflections on Friendly Versus Faithful


One of the things I learned from my experiences with perjuring priest Bob Malm and toxic Grace Episcopal church is that many people conflate friendly with faithful. As in, “Bob’s a good guy,” or “you’ll be welcomed with open arms.” Yes, Bob Malm is an ostensibly friendly guy. Yes, Grace Episcopal is a seemingly friendly church. But right behind both exist layers of toxic behavior that are contrary to the real meaning of Christianity.

It’s interesting: From friendly, people attribute ethical qualities. As one chucklehead at Christ Church said, “Why would you say that about a good man like Bob Malm?” referring to my assertion that Bob Malm committed perjury. Yet it doesn’t take much interaction at all to discover that Bob is a man who lies under oath, tries to drag the dying into court, deliberately misuses funds, directs church staff to exclude others, and goes after innocent family members in pursuit of his vendettas. In short, he is the antithesis of what one should expect of a priest.

My advice to anyone sizing up a new church or a new clergyperson: Take your time. Watch their actions. Ignore the flattery, smiles, hugs, and other window dressing.

I’d also point out that Bob’s comments about others are inappropriate for clergy, or anyone for that matter. Referring to Jan Spence as an “asshole,” or Lisa Doelp as “like a little spy,” is wrong. Nor do I believe his comments about Lisa. Nor do these sorts of comments build up others.

Similarly, folks can talk all they want about what a friendly church Grace is. but that doesn’t justify things like the bullying, gossip, and other inappropriate conduct that come from office staff, the choir, and the altar guild. Nor is there ever any excuse for urging people to commit suicide, Alison Campbell’s fun and games, or Lisa Medley’s toxic behavior. The fact that Bob Malm turns a blind eye to this sort of conduct and allows folks like this to serve in leadership positions reveals just how thoroughly broken Grace Church is. Grace, like many spiritually abusive churches, is like a yew, with pretty red berries. Yes, they are beautiful on the surface, but if you partake of them, you will find that they are toxic.

These issues extend to the diocese itself, where there is zero concept of accountability and no clergy discipline, unless the alleged misconduct involves sex. It is sad that The Episcopal Church is locked into a Madmen-era notion of misconduct in which only sex counts.

Lastly, to young people who turn their back on organized religion due to issues like this, I say this: You are spot on. Any church or denomination in which this sort of thing is okay is not one you should support. You won’t find Jesus or God in the midst of these modern-day Scribes and Pharisees.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Disgraceful Waste: Bob Malm Flushes $2 Million of Church Funds Down the Toilet on His Personal Residence

Speaking of dysfunction, in 2014 the Grace vestry decided to write off half of the value of a loan it had made 10 years earlier to Bob Malm. The loan had been provided so that Bob could purchase a private residence. But writing off half the loan, especially at a time when the church was in relatively dismal financial condition, was a bad and irresponsible decision, as we’ll see below. And before you ask, as a vestry member, I was the sole person to vote no on the forgiveness, which amounted to $100,000 of a $200,000 loan.

But there’s more to it than just the loan. As we’ll see below, the loan is just the tip of the iceberg in a series of spectacularly ill-advised business decisions made by the vestry at Bob Malm’s urging. In this matter, Bob placed his perceived personal interests ahead of those of the parish he claims to serve, while the vestry lost sight of its fiduciary obligations.

First, an important disclaimer, which is that a loan for a personal residence is the one exception to the canonical prohibition on churches lending money to their clergy. Thus, there is nothing inherently wrong about a church lending its rector money for the down payment for a personal residence.

That said, it is important to note that, at the time Bob decided to buy a personal residence, he resided in a perfectly livable rectory, much larger than his current home. Yes, it needed work, perhaps as much as $200,000 worth, but it was comfortable, convenient, and owned free and clear by the church.

But Bob appears to have had it in his head that if he had his own place it would be a nest egg for retirement. That of course, presupposes adequate maintenance and upkeep—neither of which has happened in practice. Thus, Bob traded a large, poorly maintained home for a small, poorly maintained home, all while spending a small mountain of donated cash. Nice move, Bob. 



So, despite considerable misgivings and resistance on the part of the vestry, Bob bludgeoned a proposal through the vestry to help him buy a private residence. This he did by dint of much noisy argument, and by remaining present during the vestry vote on the matter, with the result that more than one vestry member feared that, if they voted no, they would face retaliation. Yes, imagine that.

But the proposal went further. At Bob’s urging, the church tore down the rectory, an asset with a value of roughly $700,000, at an all-in demolition cost of about $200,000. (Such projects are surprisingly costly.) Thus, the parish was down about $900,000, of which roughly $200,000 was a wash versus the cost of updating the rectory.

To get Bob into his new residence, the parish extended what was then a $100,000 loan for the down payment, and boosted Bob’s total compensation via a housing allowance and other perks from a little more than $70,000 a year, plus the use of the rectory, to a total well more than double the original figure.

To make matters worse, the original loan amortized accrued interest. In other words, the loan just sat there like Jabba the Hut, getting bigger and bigger over time, with no payments or interest due. Thus, Bob’s personal residence needed to increase in value by 7% every year if the loan was not to erode any potential profit that Bob would make at the time he resold the house. Hardly a done deal in the best of times, and a very tall order indeed for a small, older home with few updates and much deferred maintenance.



Jabba would look better with a hair transplant, don’t you think?

When the note first matured in 2009, Bob already had signaled that he would likely seek another position, one in a different church. But it appears that Bob did not find another church willing to match his insanely generous compensation package, nor provide a laissez-faire governance regime in which, to closely paraphrase one of Bob’s former assistant rectors, “Bob could get away with murder.” So, in true Grace Church fashion, the vestry decided to add insult to injury for all parties and kick the can down the road. The maturation date on the loan was set back another five years, conveniently ignoring the deferred maintenance and interest that was piling up on Bob’s personal residence and thus eroding the parties’ equity in the property.

By this time, Bob still had made not a single payment of interest or principal. Making monthly payments, regardless of the imprudent terms of the loan, would of course have been sensible, but Bob has never been one to let such niceties intrude. As a result, when the loan matured in 2014, the value of the loan had ballooned to $200,000, double its original size.

So, in 2014, the vestry decided to “solve” things by writing off $100,000 of the loan, in recognition of Bob’s years of “service,” and requiring repayment of the original loan over a five-year period. That’s right—the church walked away from the original deal and gave Bob a $100,000 bonus. Keep in mind, too, Bob is far from stupid. He knew full well what he was getting into. So, why should he not have been held to the terms and conditions to which he agreed?

There are, of course, circumstances under which this may have been appropriate. For example, if the parish were awash in a sea of cash. Or if Bob’s job performance were exemplary. As in, if he adhered to the terms of his letter of agreement. Or grew the parish. Or had regular mutual ministry reviews. But the reality is that, while Bob can be engaging on an interpersonal level, he views being a priest as, in the words of someone close to him, “Just a job.” So no need to get too caught up in notions of Christian charity—that’s not part of Bob’s worldview, and I can tell you firsthand he doesn’t extend that approach to others.

Bob Malm’s Mediocre Job Performance

Moreover, Bob’s attitude towards being a priest is reflected in his work performance. Consider:
  1. For years, parish business records were a hot mess. 
  2. One of the parish registers has gone missing. 
  3. For more than a decade, church financial records were facially disorganized, and no audit was done, nor was any meaningful effort made to clean up the books. (The parish does an agreed-upon procedures review, which has no external attestation value. In other words, it doesn’t prove anything, but instead recites information provided by the client.) 
  4. Staff has often behaved badly, and one staff member was a hoarder. Bob consistently refused to address these issues.
  5. There still is no strategic plan.
  6. Bob comes and goes pretty much as he pleases; there have been times when he has taken leave far in excess of that permitted under his letter of agreement, and without vestry approval.
  7. Basic canonical requirements, such as a written finance manual, are still not in place, more than 25 years after Bob started his job. (See the Manual of Methods in Church Business Affairs for this and other requirements that Bob has conveniently ignored.)
  8. Even his sermons have become pointedly short, and more than one parishioner has said that Bob seems thoroughly burned out. Bob has become both increasingly lackadaisical and autocratic, while appearing convinced that he is somehow special. Yes, he can turn on the superficial charm when he chooses to, but that’s all it is — superficial charm. I mean, if Bob really cares about the church and its people, as some members claim, why the dysfunction and the indifference? And it’s not like there’s any dearth of folks who’d be willing to help fix things; many parishioners are both intelligent and highly skilled.
Where does that leave things? As things stand, Bob is paid better than a great many Episcopal bishops. For example, below are 2017 salaries for bishops on the staff of the presiding bishop, including Todd Ousley, the bishop in charge of pastoral development:

Nor does locality account for Bob’s overly generous compensation. See, for example, data below for priests in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, which has some of the highest salaries in the country:


Another data point is reflected below, which is the Church Pension Group’s (CPG) 2016 salary survey of Episcopal churches of Province III, which reveals that Bob is compensated at annual rate more than 40 percent higher than comparable clergy in the region (look at the Program category)—and that is without factoring in his $100000 bonus in 2014! (CPG’s numbers include housing and any bonuses paid; the imputed value of a rectory is included).



Bob has about another year of payments left on the original $100,000 loan; meanwhile, the church (including its component entity, the school) is preparing to spend $1.2 million on HVAC improvements that will primarily benefit the school, with half the money coming from the church. The faux slate roof needs to be replaced, the stained glass windows need costly restoration, the parking lot needs repaved, and the original elevator needs to be overhauled.

The Debacle by the Numbers

Total Loss to Grace Episcopal Church, 2004-2018
Total
-$2,000,000.00
ItemCost
Loss of equity, rectory$700,000.00
Write-off, accrued interest$100,000.00
Total compensation increase, 14 years$1,200,000.00
Avoided costs, rectory repairs$200,000.00
Rectory tear-down costs$200,000.00

These numbers become particularly compelling when we look at the capital expenses and extraordinary costs the church will face in the next few years:

Anticipated Capital and Extraordinary Expenses, 2018-2021
Total
-$1,137,500.00
ItemCost
Miscellaneous HVAC repairs$45,000.00
HVAC replacement, church share$600,000.00
Elevator refurbishment, church share$30,000.00
Stained glass restoration$60,000.00
Parking lot repaving, church share$25,000.00
HVAC blueprints, church share$22,500.00
Faux slate roof replacement$60,000.00
Replace failed double-pane windows$40,000.00
Replace exterior rotted wood trim and rake boards$40,000.00
Replace obsolete fire alarm control panel$15,000.00
Contingency funds (needed for HVAC replacement and other major projects in light of facility age)$200,000.00

Outcomes

Keep in mind that, when all this work is done, there still will be major challenges with the building. For instance:
  • The nave still will not be able to maintain temperature during hot summer days or major events. 
  • Plumbing will still be obsolete, with piping in original parts of the building at actuarial end of life (for the record, copper pipes, which comprise most of the plumbing in the building, do not have an indefinite lifespan). 
  • Neither elevator will meet modern Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. 
  • There still will be no ADA-acessible entrance. That means not just a ramp, but Braille signage and an electro-mechanical door opening system to assist wheelchair users and others of limited mobility.
  • Interior directional signage will remain crude and non-ADA compliant.
  • Interior finish, notably much of the 1994 renovations, will still be at end of life. 
  • The commercial kitchen will still be obsolete.
  • Several local HVAC units will remain out, including the one in the rear fire tower.
  • The lower hallway under the original narthex will still lack adequate HVAC.
  • Humidity and temperature control in the undercroft will remain spotty at best due to poor air flow control and the oversized, 20-ton unit that services the space. As a result, summer humidity levels routinely exceed 70 percent, which is neither healthy, nor good for the grand piano and other musical instruments in the choir room.
Nor is the HVAC work likely to come in under budget. Builders are doing well right now, and with the third floor of the building out of service, it will be clear to bidders that the church has little leverage. Further, older buildings such as Grace’s physical plant have one consistent characteristic, and that is their ability to throw curve balls into the path of anyone doing capital improvements. In short, procurement under duress rarely is the most cost-effective procurement, and even more so in a building that is now more than 60 years old.

Nor do things look much better for Bob Malm. Although comparable homes in the area have appreciated by about $200,000 since the date of this purchase, the extent of deferred maintenance on Bob’s private residence, the antiquated layout, the very small size, the perilous exterior steps, the lack of landscaping, the original windows and the obsolete bathrooms leave Bob in a position where he will be lucky to break even. Moreover, despite the influx of donated cash, Bob’s penchant for lengthy vacations, expensive private schools for his children, cosmetic procedures, and other indicia of keeping up with the Hillers left the family in precarious financial condition for many years. See, for example, the judgment recorded in 2010 by Suntrust Bank,  now a matter of public record, six years after the church’s original loan, against Bob’s wife Leslie, for what appears to be an unpaid personal loan; it appears the default occurred on August 2009. (Source: Alexandria General District Court public records)



Similarly, public records reveal what appear to be unpaid dental bills for two of Bob’s children at about the same time; the cases were scheduled for hearing on 12/15/10, but the cases dismissed. My opinion: Getting your kids sued for medical bills is not cool. Actually, it’s pretty damned dysfunctional.  (Source: Fairfax County General District Court public records)


Rising interest rates, bad credit history, and the fact that the original mortgage has an adjustable interest rate also suggest that the house will get more costly over time. A re-fi may take some finagling, and terms for a new loan likely will not be great. So the entire transaction winds up looking even worse with the passage of time, not better.

At the end of the day, Bob engaged in a highly speculative real estate transaction, and now has been bailed out by the church for his remarkably bad business decision. It also is troubling that the loan to Bob was recorded off the books, not showing in the financial reports, for the first ten years. This raises some disturbing issues concerning financial transparency, candor, and accuracy of financial reports. If nothing else, why did the church’s “auditors” not insist that the underlying receivable be reflected in the financials? It is a basic premise of good governance that insider deals such as this be reported publicly. Again, why was this allowed to happen?

Summary

In summary, the church’s current financial posture is best described as a hot mess. Over time, Bob has increased the church’s carrying costs, while reducing its assets and eroding both giving and attendance. Yet the decline in the church’s financial position would be more than adequate to pay cash and carry for upcoming expenses, and even more so had the cash involved in underwriting Bob’s desired lifestyle been appropriately invested.

Meanwhile, the church is placing itself in existential peril, for its continuing declines in giving and attendance could well result in its being unable to meet its financial obligations as this wave of capital expenses hits in the coming years. And regardless of the ultimate outcome, the parish is out more than $2 million dollars as a result of Bob’s self-serving lack of business acumen. At the same time, it is shocking, appalling, and outrageous that Bob Malm should get both a 2014 bonus of $100,000, and annual compensation that exceeds that of many Episcopal bishops, given his feckless job performance. Even his decision to pursue a personal residence, at a time when he couldn’t so much as come up with a down payment, shows a remarkable lack of concern for the wellbeing of the parish and a dearth of common sense.

Grace Episcopal, the Clergy Perjury Parish



Response: Why Does the Diocese Defend Bob Malm and His Perjury?

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia: Mad Men Revisited

Someone recently asked me why the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia continues to defend Bob Malm, his perjury, and Grace Episcopal’s attempts to game the legal system. Of course, only the diocese knows for sure, but I believe I know why.

In large measure, it’s the same paradigm, I believe, as led diocesan officials to support Bishop Bruno, despite clear evidence he’d behaved badly on multiple occasions. Specifically, trust in people known to the diocese, combined with arrogance, complacency, and a psychological paradigm in which questioning one’s preconceived notions intertwines with fear of questioning one’s faith. On top of that, there’s evidence to suggest that diocesan chancellor, JP Causey, gives folks bad legal advice, in which he urges diocesan officials to take a hands-off approach in order to minimize potential liability, despite canonical requirements to the contrary and larger ethical issues. And there’s the gut instinct to protect the institution at all costs, even when doing so actually results in lasting damage.

Of course, it is this same confluence of factors that leads churches to ignore sexual abuse. The Catholic church has been handling issues this way for decades, with predictably disastrous results. And the church adheres to a Madmen-era definition of abuse: Unless it involves children or sex, it doesn’t count.

At the same time, the one thing that can be said for the vestry at Grace church and the diocese is that Christianity has nothing to do with their conduct. Even a rudimentary review of the evidence would make clear that Bob Malm misused the legal system, lied to the courts, and committed perjury during discovery. But the diocese doesn’t want to go there, as doing so would uncover these inconvenient truths. And parishioners continue with their laughable, “Bob Malm wouldn’t do that,” routine.

In short, no matter how things play out in court, it’s important to realize that this situation illustrates a larger truth, which is that there is simply nothing Christian about the diocese of Virginia or its officials. Yes, there are churches in the diocese that do hold to a real faith, but they face profound challenges when they send money to an utterly broken and corrupt diocese.

So, if you are looking for real Christian faith, my advice is to look elsewhere. Otherwise, you may wind up wasting a lot of time, money and energy on an utterly illusory situation.