Showing posts with label COVID-19. Show all posts
Showing posts with label COVID-19. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Shrine Mont Defies Logic, Suggests it Will Open Late This Year



Before we take the plunge, let me say this: I have no existing quarrel with Shrine Mont. That said, its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is straight out of “Dumb and Dumber.”

In recent communiques, the retreat says it may open late this year, and that it’s following the pandemic closely. Okay fine, but that misses the mark.

Rosslyn, the other diocesan retreat and situs of the bishop’s residence, wisely announced several weeks ago that it is closed for the remainder of the year. And while I recognize that Shrine Mont often is one of the few local jobs available for youth in the area, it needs to close too.

The reality is that we are not in the late stages of the pandemic. We’re not even in the middle stages. Indeed, based on the relatively small percentage of the population infected, we are in the very early stages.

Nor is a vaccine or effective treatment a given. While odds favor both, the reality is that viruses remain potent, nimble foes, with the ability to mutate and otherwise respond to changing medical interventions. And while some Americans are already chafing at stay-at-home directives, viruses are able to play a long waiting game, with degraded forms of viruses even found in mummies.

To make matters worse, church attendance is recognized as a super-spreading event. While I am no fan of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and its feckless approach to governance, to its credit the diocese itself recognizes this in its announcements regarding regathering.

The problem with Shrine Mont, however, is that the very things that make it unique and fun are risky. That includes:
  • Communal dining
  • Singing events
  • Sharing rooms
  • Socializing in close quarters and more,
Indeed, even check-in is risky when folks must gather in a hotel lobby, and I cannot see any way that rooms can be sanitized to a level that supports the volume of traffic that Shrine Mont experiences. Indeed, many of the rooms don’t even have adequate distancing between beds and outside windows, given that there is no air conditioning.

Moreover, while there seemingly is little community transmission of the virus in rural areas within Virginia, many of the big churches come from Richmond and NVA, both epicenters of the outbreak. Thus, Shrine Mont runs the risk of bringing clusters of cases into the Shenandoah Valley, with a very real possibility of infecting camp counselors and kitchen staff.

At the end of the day, church remains a super-spreading event, whether it occurs indoors at churches in Northern VA, or at the comparatively rural Shrine Mont. And neither will be safe for clergy and parishioners who are 65+ or who have chronic health diseases any time soon. And the risk of adverse publicity remains great, for a cluster of cases originating at Shrine Mont would garner headlines nationwide, and put the lie to the diocese’s claims of putting the needs of others first.

Then there is the issue of the unknown effects of the disease. With some patients reporting ongoing cognitive difficulties, kidney and lung damage, and inflammatory responses throughout the body, plus the recent deaths of children due to previously unrecognized manifestations of the disease, it’s much too early to think about “nice-to-have” events like Shrine Mont.

To make matters worse, Shrine Mont continues to hold out hope that it will have groups there this summer. But for the reasons referenced above, this is a profoundly bad idea, and the diocese, Susan Goff, and Shrine Mont all make themselves look stupid by hedging their bets.

But then, given that the diocese is okay with Bob Malm’s perjury on the grounds that he did not face criminal charges, and his appalling courtroom conduct, there’s little reason to suspect that it will ultimately act in a particularly ethical manner when it comes to Shrine Mont.

We’ll see.

In the meantime, Shrine Mont needs to do the right thing, quit beating around the bush, and recognize that it simply cannot ensure a reasonable level of safety in the midst of a pandemic.


Monday, May 4, 2020

Perjuring Priest Bob Malm Continues to Place Church Members at Risk of COVID-19

You have to hand it to perjuring priest Bob Malm. Not only is he reckless and indifferent when it comes to the obligations of being clergy, but he is remarkably stubborn—an ugly combination in the best of times.

Now, in the midst of a global pandemic, perjuring priest Bob Malm continues to ignore basic precautions to prevent the transmission of the virus. These measures include not touching one’s face or nose and washing one’s hands before and after if one absolutely must do so. Even more important is recognizing that singing in a choir is considered a “super-spreader” event, which aerosolizes respiratory droplets, thus making participation in a church choir highly risky.

In the attached screen cap from perjuring priest Bob Malm’s May 3rd service at St. Gabriel’s Marion Massachusetts, we see Bob yet again wiping his nose with a handkerchief, with no before or after sanitation. As a result, he places himself at risk, while contaminating vestments, altar linens, his wireless microphone and everything else he touches with any bacterial or viral cultures present.

Even more worrisome, choir members are much less than 6 feet apart. Ideally, there should be no choir members present, but if that is a necessity, they should be spread as far apart as possible throughout the nave. Not only does that not happen, but everyone at the room is considered high risk due to age.

So, my message to St. Gabriel’s is this: If you take nothing else from this blog, please be aware that if you are participating in Sunday services during the lockdown you are placing yourself, your church, your loved ones, and your community at risk. While you no doubt are well-intentioned, love of others requires that you do all you can to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

To learn more about the risks of airborne transmission during the pandemic, see https://www.crimeonline.com/2020/03/30/2-dead-45-people-infected-afte-choir-holds-practice-amid-coronavirus-pandemic/
Perjuring priest Bob Malm places church members at risk of COVID-19

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Roslyn Retreat Center Closes for Remainder of 2020

The Roslyn Retreat Center, one of two retreat centers owned and operated by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, today announced that it is furloughing employees and closing for the remainder of 2020. The move is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Per remarks for Bishop Susan “It’s Not Misconduct if there are No Criminal Charges” Goff, the news was first relayed to staff at Shrine Mont, which is still debating how best to respond to the pandemic. Curiously, Shrine Mont is currently saying that it will open for the season in late May — prior to the lifting of the governor’s lockdown, and well before the pandemic is predicted to peak in the state.

In Roslyn’s case, news of the closure is not yet posted on the center’s website. I believe, however, in light of the denomination’s aging demographics and the fact that the CDC has deemed worship services and choir practices to be “super spreader” events, that the decision to close is appropriate.

The financial implications of the closures of diocesan-related organizations will be severe. While these organizations will have relatively limited carrying costs, especially with the furloughs, grounds maintenance and other structural expenses continue, regardless of whether they are open or closed. Moreover, while the diocese historically is relatively secretive about the details of its finances, it appears to derive several hundred thousand dollars a year in income from these facilities. That’s important at a time when the diocesan budget is declining on average more than 2% every year.

My guess is that Shine Mont also will close for the year, as there’s simply no way to safely move large groups through, particularly in light of the number of persons who share rooms, and the common dining facilities. But one way or another, the diocese faces some damned rocky times ahead.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

More Evidence of the Hypocrisy of Perjuring Priest Bob Malm

One of perjuring priest Bob Malm’s least attractive qualities is his tendency to tell people what he thinks they want to hear, even when it’s not true. And this appears to be starting anew at St. Gabriel’s in Marion, Mass., where perjuring priest Bob Malm serves as interim rector.

In a local news story covering the effect of COVID-19 churches in his area, perjuring priest Bob Malm says:


That is inconsistent with his behavior as rector of Grace Church, where Bob didn’t even bother to meet regularly with church wardens. Even when, as in my case, they had his back while he was out on disability. Yet Bob never failed to get in his month at the beach, his junkets “out of town,” his week off for the Boston Marathon, and more. Indeed, Bob traveled to Massachusetts twice, and to Georgia once, while still collecting disability in 2014. Too sick to come to work, but not too sick to travel more than 3,528 miles by car and to spend six weeks at the beach.

Nor did Bob make any greater effort during his final year as rector. Indeed, like many narcissists, Bob tried to manage perceptions on the way out the door by volunteering just how feckless he had been, saying:


And given that Grace church, like most churches, pretty much recycles the same vestry members over time, this is a stunning admission.

But then, given that hanging with perjuring priest Bob Malm is not exactly a slice of paradise, perhaps the folks at St. Gabriel’s should count themselves lucky.


Thursday, April 9, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: Announcement that DioVA Is Suspending all Live-streaming from Churches Spells Additional Trouble for Grace


Yesterday, DioVA announced that it is suspending all live-streaming from church buildings and shutting church offices except on the basis of unavoidable need. The move, while morally sound, is likely to spell further trouble for Grace Church and other parishes facing challenges.

My hunch is that the diocese’s willingness to address the matter from an ethical perspective doesn’t reflect any new found organizational integrity. Rather, I believe it’s driven largely by bishop Susan Goff’s recent cancer diagnosis and the advice of her physicians, who would undoubtedly tell her she is in a very high risk category during the pandemic due to age and the immunosuppresssive effects of both cancer and radiation treatment.

Could the diocese finally be placing integrity over organizational survival? Perhaps, but its dismal track record on such things would make this a startling outcome. I mean, the whole unwillingness to even investigate Bob Malm’s perjury suggests a church every bit as corrupt as the Catholic church, and in some ways even more so.

Meanwhile, the diocese is in communication with parishes in transition, to see whether they wish to move forward or not. Those fairly far along likely will finish the process, but Grace and others just starting down that road probably will pull the plug. After all, what is left of the parish after the pandemic, including liturgical practices, may look very different. And the reality is that the aging demographics of The Episcopal Church means that it will be particularly hard hit, both in terms of the death of members and the inability of members, faced with a sharp recession, to maintain support for the parish.

Of course, in all of this, the question arises: If clergy are “working from home,” what exactly do they do? Yes, they can be in touch with parishioners by phone, and they can offer prayers for the dying via Skype. But it all sounds very much like Bob Malm “working from home” when his mother had cancer, Yes, some emails got answered and phone calls made, but my sense is that most of what got accomplished was playing golf—and a lot of it, at that.

So, with no live services, and no streaming services from churches for the foreseeeable future, why is Grace spending more than $220,000 a year on the building?

It’s a tough question to answer. And having no vision for the future does not make things any easier.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Planning to Enroll Your Child at Grace School Next Year? If So, You are Stupid


As I reported in an earlier post, experts state that COVID-19 can survive on the soles of shoes for five days. Experts express particular concern for children, who are by nature inclined to handle shoes, and to play while on the floor.

With this in mind, and in light of the numerous food-insecure and homeless people who access the main entrance to the building — the same one used by the school — parents must ask if Grace provides an appropriately clean environment.

Additionally, the increased presence of tuberculosis and other readily transmissible airborne diseases by cohorts of limited economic means places Grace Episcopal School children at risk.

Moreover, I have issues with Patti Culbreth’s personal and professional integrity. Specifically, her blind willingness to jump on board the Bob Malm/Sugarland Chiow perjury bandwagon absent any firsthand contact with me, as evinced by internal church memorandum obtained during discovery, suggests Patti is not one to make independent moral decisions. In a world disrupted by vicious tribalism and a blind willingness to follow so-called leaders, the last thing students need is a head of school who lacks critical thinking skills.

Simply put, Grace Episcopal School is not a good environment for students in various ways.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Perjuring Priest Bob Malm Remains Oblivious to COVID-18, Places Congregation at Risk

And the damned pig doesn’t even wash his hands after taking communion and before offering it to the congregation.

Don’t be surprised when members of St. Gabriel’s contract COVID-19.


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Grace Episcopal Alexandria Food Pantry Places Parishioners and Students at Heightened Risk of COVID-19

Grace Episcopal Food Pantry Creates Elevated Risk of COVID-19 Exposure to School Students and Others

Let me say upfront: I fully support efforts to alleviate poverty and food insecurity. But the presence of the food pantry at Grace Church creates serious ongoing issues of potential exposure to COVID-19 for students at the church school, as well as parishioners and staff.

The problem is that the food insecure and marginally housed or homeless persons typically lack access to medical care and testing. Further, they often are unable to maintain social distancing, and will lack access to COVID-19 testing for the forseeable future.

"This virus is quite transmissible through relatively casual contact, making this pathogen very hard to contain," says James Lloyd-Smith, co-author a UCLA study on the topic. Moreover, the virus can travel on shoes for at least five days, according to another study. This results in widespread transmission, including to areas that would otherwise seem unlikely to experience exposure.

While children may be less affected by COVID-19 than those in older cohorts, those with asthma and other preexisting conditions are at elevated risk. Further, children at Grace School may unwittingly bring the virus home and expose parents, grandparents and others in vulnerable cohorts.

The New England Journal of Medicine also reports that the virus can live for at least three days on door handles, light switches and other high-use hard surfaces. Ibid.

Thus, with the Grace Church food pantry remaining open during this period of social distancing, floors and hard surfaces in and around the Commons — which includes the entrance to the school —have the potential to spread the virus through all parts of the building, particularly via foot traffic. Given the high percentage of persons age 65 and above in the parish, this creates enormous risk when in-person worship resumes at the church.

For these reasons, all persons at high risk of infection should avoid entering the building until such time as a vaccine and wide-spread testing are available. Additionally, those at risk should pay close attention to efforts to develop some form of treatment for the disease; as things stand, all medical professionals can do is provide mechanical ventilation and other supportive measures until the disease has run its course. And the elderly should carefully contemplate the words of American Health Care Association Mark Parkinson, who said, “The grim reality is that, for the elderly, COVID-19 is an almost perfect killing machine.”

Meanwhile, parents are well-advised to avoid re-enrolling their children at Grace Episcopal School.


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Perjuring Priest Bob Malm Shows Why Social Distance Doesn’t Work at Church

These photos were taken shortly before perjuring priest Bob Malm handled several small children in preparation for baptism—no hand sanitizer in sight! And moments later, he conducts Holy Eucharist.

So much for avoiding touching your face.




Thursday, March 19, 2020

COVD-19 Hastens the End for Dying Grace Episcopal Church

While few at Grace Church, aka St. Dysfunction, are sufficiently forward-looking to recognize it, there are more COVD-19 problems in store for the parish.

Consider the theory that the pandemic will die down as the summer months approach due to increasing humidity. While there’s ample reason to be skeptical, if it’s true, the news carries with it some delayed bad news, which is that Shrine Mont likely will be closed. That’s because if the increased humidity of summer discourages the virus, the decreased humidity of fall and increased dust and pollen occurring at the time of Shrine Mont will surely bring a resurgence. Same for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Epiphany and Easter. In short, until a vaccine is developed, this is the new normal.

So, what’s left of Grace Church and its deplorable ethics should probably be realistic and recognize that the earlier predictions that The Episcopal Church will have no Sunday worshipers in 30 years no longer holds true at Grace Church. My prediction is that it’s got 5-10 years max. And given the hypocrisy and misconduct I have seen in the parish, the day Grace closes won’t be a day too soon.


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Perjuring Priest Bob Malm Finally Gets Some Adult Supervision


Perjuring Priest Bob Malm Finally Does the Right Thing and Pulls the Plug on in-Person Worship at St. Gabriel’s


Over time, there is one thing that is consistent about perjuring priest Bob Malm: He is never a leader when it comes to moral and ethical issues. Whether it’s turning a blind eye to bullying by church staff who report to him, or misconduct by parish “leaders” that he has appointed, or his own lies, misuse of funds, and other misconduct, Bob is at best amoral.

And so it is with his new gig at St. Gabriel’s, Marion. While the government is urging people to avoid unnecessary interaction, and self-quarantine for those age 65 and over, Bob Malm until now has simply ignored these suggestions. Yes, last Sunday he avoided physical contact with parishioners, but  the few attendees at services were overwhelmingly high risk.

To make matters worse, many were in close proximity to each other, thus putting themselves one cough or sneeze away from exposure and possible death. Moreover, viral exposure is an exponential thing, with one infected person potentially exposing dozens if not hundreds of others. Thus, even if you don’t care what happens to your parishioners, you risk causing harm to the larger community. This in turn deprives the church of any claim to moral legitimacy.

Fortunately, it appears that the bishop offered some adult supervision and asked the parish to stop in-person services. This is the only ethically appropriate outcome, and needs to continue for at least another month.

All I can say is it is about damned time.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Perjuring Priest Bob Malm Holds Services as Usual Despite Pandemic


As medical experts and government officials worldwide urge greater social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, perjuring priest Bob Malm continues true to form, holding services at St. Gabriel’s Marion anyway. The move comes despite the fact that Malm and many in his parish are at high risk due to age and other factors.

To be clear, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts has taken a largely hands-off approach to the issue, placing responsibility in the hands of local churches. But as I have discussed elsewhere, that decision is problematic, for it sidesteps one of the very reasons to have a bishop, which is to make choices in the best interest of the church as a whole. This is particularly the case when, as here, there will be strong feelings with parishes on all sides of specific issues. In short, there are times when it is best for bishops to take local clergy out of the line of fire.

Complicating the situation at St. Gabriel’s is Bob Malm’s tendency to view himself as invincible. Malm himself noted this trait following his accident in which he broke his neck, but I have seen no evidence to suggest that this aspect of his personality, often seen in those with narcissistic personality disorder, has diminished over time.

There are larger issues at play. As a priest, Bob’s first priority should be the wellbeing of his parish. In that respect, his decision to hold services as usual was a profound moral failure. While attendance at St. Gabriel’s was sparse, many attendees were 65+ and thus at elevated risk of death due to COVID-19.

Nor were adequate safeguards implemented. While changes were made to the service to prevent physical contact and shared communion, many in the congregation, altar party and choir were in close physical proximity to others.

With the primary route of transmission the distribution of bodily fluids via coughing and sneezing, many in the congregation were one good sneeze away from potential exposure. Thus, the situation mirrors that of Christ Church Georgetown, where the rector was careful to use hand sanitizer and to otherwise take steps to protect parishioners. Yet despite these precautions, more than 550 people are now in quarantine.

The breadth of the Christ Church quarantine underscores another ethical aspect of Malm’s conduct, which is that it implicates others beyond those sitting in the pews. Specifically, if exposure occurs, each person who returns home potentially spreads the virus to dozens of others in supermarkets, movie theaters, restaurants and more. Nor does Bob’s conduct inspire ethical conduct; folks likely will conclude that if it’s safe to go to church, it is safe to go out to dinner, the movies, etc.

In the midst of the pandemic, all involved need to put aside perceived self-interest and act for the greater good. That means doing everything possible to limit interaction with others, to reduce risk, and to protect against this most serious threat. The risk is particularly high in Massachusetts, which has a large number of cases. Moreover, many are carrying the virus but are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, and thus are unknowingly spreading the disease.

If clergy like Bob Malm aren’t prepared to lead the way, why should we think that others will do what is necessary to protect our communities? And what excuse will Malm and others give if members of the congregation do get sick and die from exposure at the church?

Yet another sad example of Bob Malm’s lack of moral leadership.


Friday, March 13, 2020

True to Form, St. Dysfunction Screws Up Its Response to COVID-19

It should come as no surprise, but true to form, Grace Episcopal has bollixed its response to Bishop Goff’s announcement regarding the suspension of church services.

Specifically, in its announcement, the church states that all Sunday worship services at all parishes in the diocese are suspended. As other churches in the area were quick to point out, that is absolutely and categorically untrue.

Here is the church’s announcement:


What the diocese HAS said is that all gatherings for public worship are suspended. That is a huge difference. Indeed, Bishop Goff is quick to point out that God will be worshipped and praised, and is encouraging parishes to offer online services. That is in keeping with what I and other have been pointing our for many years, which is that churches that wish to engage with young people must find young people where they are. That means offering interactive alternatives. Not half-baked alternatives, but joyful, engaging interaction in cyberspace.

This is confirmed in Bishop Goff’s statement, reflected below.




So rather than the usual chaos and misinformation, I believe parish leaders should get their backsides in gear, recognize that there are ways to hold services without physically meeting, borrow a tripod stand and an iPod, and get busy going about the business of the church.

For the record, church services are NOT cancelled across the diocese. Only parishes that cannot get their act together to stream a service will not be worshipping this Sunday. And given the times in which we live, churches and other organizations that survive will be those that move swiftly and respond to the changing times. 

So far, Grace Church does not appear to be one of the churches that will survive.

PS Given the demographics of the church, it is stupid to continue with small group meetings. Feel free to quote me. And if you really want to worship God, service at the food pantry or homeless shelter is a good way to start.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Bishop Goff and COVID-19: A New Wrinkle in the Pandemic


Bishop Susan Goff’s Brand of Christianity: No thanks, you can keep it.

There’s a new wrinkle in the COVID-19 pandemic and the decision to largely shutter churches in The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia for the new two weeks. That is that Bishop Goff is at high risk for the virus, and soon will be at even greater risk.

This issue, of course, is that Goff’s age places her at higher risk of infection.

Even worse, the news that she soon will begin chemotherapy for breast cancer exacerbates the risk. Chemotherapy is, by definition, immunosuppressive, thus compounding her risk profile.

Still worse, much of what Goff does involves crowds. Whether it’s ecclesiastical visits, meetings, or public events, self-isolation will be difficult.

While worrisome, the news may not be all bad. As Goff learns to adapt to a more limited in-person presence, we may see the diocese finally start to take social media seriously. For far too long, the diocese has maintained next to no online presence. Yes, it has a website and Facebook page, but it never engages with external audiences, and it has been years since Goff used her Twitter account. And forget Instagram or other emerging platforms.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Monday, March 9, 2020

BREAKING: More than 550 persons who attended Episcopal church asked to self-quarantine

Reports indicate that the DC department of health is asking all persons who visited Christ Church Georgetown on February 24, and between February 28 and March 3 self-quarantine for fourteen days following their lost visit to the church. More than 550 persons are known to have visited the church during that time. Timothy Cole, the rector, served communion during one of the services.

Among the restrictions are not attending work/school, not using public transit or ride sharing, and not attending any large or public meetings.