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

Monday, December 9, 2019

See for Yourself: The 2016 Confidential Settlement Proposal that Dysfunctional Bob Malm Rejected

Repost 

With Grace Episcopal Church set to hold its annual parish meeting Sunday the 27th, here’s a potentially useful inflection point. Specifically, in January 2016, through my attorney, I offered to settle the matter in exchange for nothing more than Bob Malm’s written agreement to act like a priest. That’s right — simply stop disparaging me and stop interfering in my participation in the church. Additionally, I asked that the matter be treated as confidential. All things that should be normative for a priest.

Through Sugarland Chiow, Bob rejected my offer, including my request for confidentiality. (I wasn’t aware clergy could pick and choose. Beware.)

As a result, I launched my social media campaign, which continues to this day, and will do so indefinitely. This has proven effective, although I may soon augment it with additional litigation.

Of course, that also underscores a key point: Even when faced with possible litigation and other actions with the potential to seriously damage Grace Church’s standing in the community, Bob Malm, with the advice of Sugarland Chiow, put his own perceived interests ahead of those of the church. Bob wanted revenge for my asking the diocese to mediate our dispute, and he didn’t care what that meant for Grace Church. And today we see the results, with church revenue and attendance down sharply, and all indications suggesting that things will only get worse over time. In fact, he still doesn’t give a red rat’s rear end about the church; his only interest appears to be shutting down criticism long enough to get the hell out of Dodge with his generous retirement in place.

In that vein, now that people understand what really does on behind the scenes at Grace Church Bob, being the manipulative little weasel he is, is playing his usual games, taking words out of context, lying repeatedly, claiming he’s been threatened, and asking the Alexandria police if there is any way they can take away my First Amendment rights. Having been repeatedly told that there isn’t, Bob’s fallback has been to argue “abuse of First Amendment rights,” in his emails to the diocese. And, of course, his old standby, which is to conduct smear campaigns behind the scenes. 

In all of this, of course, Bob conveniently overlooks the fact that that is the very reason for the First Amendment—to engender accountability, including for dirtbags like Dysfunctional Bob Malm. Meanwhile,  our recent litigation included numerous requests from Sugarland Chiow for confidentiality, including his trash settlement offer with — you guessed it — a confidentiality clause. Sorry, kids, that horse has left the barn.

This also touches on the issue of Bob’s real motivations. In that realm, there’s one thing that is abundantly clear to me, which is that, for Bob, it’s just a job. Nothing in Bob’s actions in any way suggests he’s a priest or Christian in anything but name only.

Check out my letter here in PDF.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Handling of Sexual Misconduct Allegations at National Cathedral Stands in Marked Contrast to the Diocese of Virginia

According to WTOP, the schools at the National Cathedral have expanded their investigation into potential sexual misconduct to include two additional schools operating on the premises, co-ed Beauvoir School and the all-girls National Cathedral School. The original investigation only involved St. Albans boy’s school and started over allegations of inappropriate activity by Vaughn Keith, a teacher at the school who later died of complications from HIV.

“Our responsibility is not only to protect children, but also to be what Isaiah called ‘the repairers of the breach,'” said cathedral Dean Rev. Randolph Hollerith. “We aim to offer healing to anyone who hurt, and to try and repair any breach of trust that was broken.”

This approach is in sharp contrast to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, which continues to refuse to even investigate allegations of perjury and other misconduct by Bob Malm, rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Alexandria. This refusal is based in part on advice from the diocesan chancellor, who also advised the diocese to ignore the canonical requirement of a pastoral response in the Title IV clergy disciplinary case at St. Thomas’, McLean.

Small wonder that the CANA/GAFCON crowd has little respect for the diocese of Virginia and church canons, when the diocese itself feels free to ignore the latter whenever it so suits.





Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Sources Say....

Recently, I had dinner over at VTS. It was fun—although I joined a friend, it was with the understanding that I was going incognito. So, as I chowed down, I had the chance to ask seminarians and others about life in DioVA.

Never being one to miss an opportunity for some fun, I asked several seminarians about the situation over at Grace Church, aka St. Dysfunction. It’s interesting—between the issues with previous office staff, Fanny Belanger’s abrupt departure, and Bob’s vendetta against me, Mike and Mom—word on the street is that Grace Church is bad news. Or, more specifically, Bob Malm is bad news.

To be sure, Bob was never popular within the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies at Mayo House. But while Bob and his sycophants (you know who you are) have been vigorous in promoting the whole, “two sides to every story” line, there’s one bit of irrefutable evidence: Bob’s vendetta and related misconduct have been going on for four years. Or, as one former warden put it, “Bob can hold a grudge longer than anyone else I know.”

Then there’s the issue of trying to drag the dying into court. If nothing else, even a cursory review of state law would have told Sugarland Chiow that Mom can’t be dragged into court absent leave of court. Having devoted what he claims is more than $100,000 to the litigation, you’d think Sugarland would have taken the time to do a little research on that topic. I guess that’s part of the whole $49.99 optional annual protection plan.

Of course, that segues neatly into the notion, expressed by multiple third parties, that, “This attorney is coming at you with a personal vendetta.” How a personal vendetta fits in with being a Christian escapes me, but apparently for Dysfunctional Bob, Sugarland Chiow, and the Diocese of Virginia, it does.

The cherry on the top is, of course, Bob’s multiple lies to the court. While he may claim that he was mistaken, nothing in his pleadings suggests to the court that his statements to the court were conjecture or speculation. They are presented as facts, when in fact they were fabrications.

It will be interesting to see who the poor slob is who eventually takes the assistant rector position. All I can to is to quote Judge Smails from Caddy Shack, “Remember, the world needs ditch diggers, too.” Which is not to express disrespect for that person — just to say they’d  have to be pretty damn desperate, or foolish, to land on Planet Malm.







Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Another Blast from the Past: Parishioner Urges Me to Commit Suicide

Here’s a post from a member of parishioner Lisa Medley’s family. Let’s just say that any family that claims to be “Christian” and thinks that BS like this is okay is one that I certainly hope will consider my name to be mud.

To make the irony even more delicious, this is something that Bob Malm attempted to assert in court somehow proved I had threatened him. If anything, it proves that Grace Church has threatened me.

Needless to say, proof that Grace is a toxic church.






Grace Episcopal Church Mocks Clergy Sex Abuse Survivors

In case it wasn’t already painfully obvious, members of Grace Episcopal Church have again demonstrated just how thoroughly ethically and spiritually bankrupt the church is.

Following are posts, most likely by Dysfunctional Bob Malm’s daughter Lindsey Malm Anders, in response to my recent decision to share the fact that I was sexually abused by an Episcopal priest as a child.

Anyone, or any organization, that thinks it’s okay to ridicule a survivor of clergy sexual abuse is not only morally bereft, but one sick individual. Or to use Bob Malm’s words, “sick and twisted.” 

Of course, with Dysfunctional Bob as a role model, no suprise there.




Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Grace Episcopal Alexandria Auditors, Beware: Documentation of Intentional Misuse of Funds

Grace Episcopal Alexandria financial auditors, beware! Shortly after Dysfunctional Bob Malm issued his Edict of Shunning against me and Mike, Dysfunctional Bob deliberately misused restricted donations by using them in a manner other than that specified in the solicitation. Such use is at best breach of contract, and at worst, fraud. Bob accomplished this by instructing church staff that our names were to be omitted from all church publications. Later, he tried to weasel out of things, stating in writing that the funds were “properly recorded.” But that is a red herring, as they were solicited with the express understanding that they be recognized in the church bulletin.

As a result of Dysfunctional Bob’s actions, we filed a complaint with the Fairfax County Office of Consumer Protection, where we prevailed.

So, if you’re considering giving money to Grace Episcopal Church, just know that Bob Malm has few scruples in this space. So, ask yourself what would prevent a similar situation from happening to you.

The answer? Nothing.

If you’re an auditor or prospective lender, keep in mind—you’re dealing with a church that has a successful consumer affairs complaint against it.

Caveat emptor.




Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Attending Ash Wednesday Services at Grace Episcopal Church?

If so, be sure to ask Dysfunctional Bob Malm and Sugarland Chiow what Jesus thinks about bullying the dying by trying to drag them into court.

And if you’re not seeing repentance from both, have the courage to admit you’ve been played, that it’s just a job for Dysfunctional Bob, take a pass, and move on. Either find a real church, versus a religious club, or take a pass on organized religion altogether.




Check it Out: Me and Bunch of Other “Fake” Police Officers on the Police Unity Tour

In Bob Malm’s written court pleadings, he made various statements of fact about me that were fabrications, otherwise known as lies. One was that I had never served as a police officer.

Below is a photo I took during the Police Unity Tour as we were setting off from Norfolk. And yes, you must be a sworn law enforcement officer to ride, or retired from such a position.

The fact that Bob would lie to a court in his written pleadings tells you all you need to know about Bob, his lack of Christian faith, and the ethical standards of his attorney, church member Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow. 

For that matter, Bob’s lies tell you all you need to know about Grace Church.

Caveat emptor!




Saturday, February 16, 2019

Grace Governance Gaps: Trouble in the Offing

In previous posts, I reported on the various governance gaps at Grace Church. With the church presently working towards replacing its HVAC systems, and to obtain funding for this project, I believe it’s timely to revisit these issues. Most importantly, I want to flag for readers a big issue, which is that there’s a huge governance gap in the breakdown in communication between the school board and the vestry.

To begin, serving on the vestry creates a fiduciary legal obligation on the part of vestry members. This means putting aside one’s own interests and acting according to the highest legal and ethical standards in the interests of the beneficiary. In this case, the beneficiary is the parish itself.

This obligation, which includes the obligations of due diligence and reasonable inquiry, is reflected (albeit poorly) in written parish policy, which requires that the executive committee see school board minutes and the school’s financial reports. This in itself does not go far enough, for the school is part and parcel of the parish, and has no existence independent of the church. Thus, the fiduciary obligation of vestry members extends to all vestry members, not just those on the executive committee.

That said, the practice in recent years has been to ignore those requirements, with only Dysfunctional Bob Malm seeing these school documents. That’s hardly reassuring, as Dysfunctional Bob allowed church financials to become a hot mess over a period of years, as acknowledged in the vestry’s own minutes more than a year after Charlotte Payne Wright’s departure as parish administrator. Nor was he alert to potential problems; director of music Richard Newman was overpaid for many months before the matter was discovered by then-director-of-parish-operations Jeff “Airhead” Aaron. As a result, Richard was forced to repay the sum, despite the fact that he was hardly overpaid at the time. Moreover, the news may have had a deleterious effect on the relationship between Dysfunctional Bob and Jeff, as shortly after Jeff broke the news things appear to have gone south for Jeff, and a few months later he transitioned to a new job.

Of course, Dysfunctional Bob is quick to say, “Well, I see them.” But that’s exactly the point: Leaving Dysfunctional Bob in charge of money or financial reporting is worse than no supervision at all, for it gives the illusion of security, despite the evidence that Bob is feckless at best when it comes to these issues.

To make matters worse, when I brought the matter up, the vestry subsequently decided it didn’t need to see these documents, as it might make the school board feel that it’s not trusted. Big mistake. One cannot readily delegate away one’s fiduciary obligation as a vestry member, and saying, “Well, I trusted Bob and the school board,” isn’t going to cut it. Too bad Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow didn’t wade in on this issue — it would have been a far better use of his time versus subsequently trying to drag dying people into court. And yes, I am referring to my mother.

So what exactly is the risk? My take on it is that school internal controls are good—certainly vastly better than the almost non-existent controls at the church. Instead, issues are more likely to come up in the context of errors, omissions, and misunderstandings. For example, I have heard school board members glibly say of the parish budget, “We won’t have a deficit if we move money over from reserves.” Well, yes, you will still have a deficit. Money from reserves is not income, and you will still have a deficit, no matter how you choose to cover the bills.

So what could happen? I’d say the biggest risk is that the school incurs liability that could attach to the church. For instance, an incident of child sexual abuse would, even if covered by insurance, prove devastating for both church and school. And heaven knows, there are gaps a mile wide in both the church’s and the school’s prevention efforts. So while Dysfunctional Bob stirs the pot with fears of an active shooter (a phrase that he likely didn’t even know in 2014), the far greater threat is internal misconduct.

Similarly, a bad investment decision by the school could result in liability for the church. To use a real-life example from another non-profit with which I am familiar, suppose the school took out a loan containing a derivative. These are surprisingly common, and if the school’s loan contained an interest rate swap, versus a cap or collar, it could soon be on the hook for millions of dollars in payments. As I said, this happened to one prominent northern Virginia non-profit, with devastating results, and all because the executive director did not have adequate board supervision.

Needless to say, these risks are exacerbated by the church’s present precarious financial position. As I have said many times, cash reserves are far too thin for comfort and structural costs far too high, including the fact that 1 out of every 5 dollars the church pulls in goes into Bob Malm’s pockets. What’s really telling, too, is that the church has lost more than a third of its pledging units at a time when the Northern Virginia population is growing. Thus, the church is in a period of precipitous decline, despite the fact that the community around it is burgeoning.

As I have said before, Grace’s woes are compounded by the fact that Dysfunctional Bob must, under church canons, retire within the next few years. Such events are inevitably problematic, but all the more so when, as here, 1) Bob has stayed for more than 30 years and 2) Bob has created a narcissistic paradigm that focuses people’s attention on him and the church, versus on God. Pull Dysfunctional Bob out of the toxic crock of goo and there will be a hot mess on the diocese’s hands in record time.

To make matters still worse, the parish has very few real leaders. Real leaders tend to leave once they understand the problems at Planet Malm, replaced by sycophants, enablers and admirers who allow Bob to pretty much do as he pleases — a paradigm that Dysfunctional Bob both encourages and exploits. Thus, with Bob gone, there will be no meaningful plan B. And the true leaders in the parish simply don’t have the sway to influence the Planet Malm drone population.

So, a shout-out to candidates for assistant rector and potential lenders everywhere: Look before you leap. Things are gonna get ugly on Planet Malm in the next few years. Guaranteed.






Saturday, January 26, 2019

Just Imagine if Bob Malm Were Really a Christian

There’s an interesting story in the news that underscores a key question in this conflict: What would it be like if Bob Malm really were a Christian?

The story involves St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Regina, Canada. Overnight, vandals broke in, breaking glass, topping statues, and otherwise damaging the church.

Here’s what one Catholic official said:


Of course, that contrasts profoundly with Dysfunctional Bob and Sugarland Chiow, where even independent third parties remarked that “this attorney is coming at you with a personal vendetta.” Additionally, Bob and Sugarland repeatedly lied in court, misrepresented facts, and even subpoenaed a dying woman.

In short, even with the scandal that has beset the Catholic Church, in many ways it is more truly Christian than the fast-dying Episcopal Church.

Small wonder that Grace Church is imploding.


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Check it Out: Questions for Assistant Rector Candidates

With the parish’s annual meeting now only a few days away, Grace church has said it hopes to begin the search for a full-time assistant rector shortly afterwards. With that in mind, and recognizing that this controversy likely will come up during the interview process (and should!), here are some insider’s questions that candidates can use when they meet with Bob Malm.

  • Have you personally reached out to Mr. Bonetti and his family to resolve this conflict? Have you spoken directly with his mother about these issues? His spouse? How did that go? 
  • It looks like you made a settlement offer to Mr. Bonetti. If accepted, how would a settlement ensure your safety and that of the parish?
  • I see that you refer to Eric as “dysfunctional,” “sick,” and “twisted” in your emails to the diocese. How does that comport with your vows as a priest and the baptismal covenant?
  • You claim that random words, like “psychological torture,” taken out of context are a threat. Can you help me understand how these are threats?
  • You included Eric’s spouse in your email instructing them to find a new church. Why was that necessary?
  • It looks like Mr. Bonetti attempted to resolve this matter with you in January 2016. Why did you say no?
  • I understand the church attempted to subpoena Eric’s mother, who is dying of COPD. Can you explain to me why that was necessary?
  • You have stated on multiple occasions that you believe that Mr. Bonetti is mentally ill. If that’s the case, what steps did you take to get him help? Have you ever discussed your concerns directly with him?
  • Do you think Grace Church’s internal dynamics are healthy? If so, why?
  • Why did Fanny Belanger abruptly leave with two years left on her letter of agreement?
  • How do your actions as rector reflect the baptismal covenant to members of the church?
  • What effect has this conflict had on the church and its finances, and what is your plan for resolving these issues?
  • The church has lost more than a 100 pledging units since this conflict arose. Why do you think that is and how do you plan to address those issues?
  • How do you feel about the fact that Eric and his entire family have left the Christian faith over this conflict?
  • What do you see as the ultimate outcome of this conflict?
Of course, some of these are tough questions to ask during an interview. But candidates who don’t ask these questions run the risk of being dragged into a situation that damages their careers and diminishes their own faith. 

One further caution: If you interview for this position and choose to explore issues related to this conflict, make sure you get actual answers to your questions, then “trust but verify.” Don’t be taken in by Bob’s usual routines of denial, evasion and charm bombing.

My advice to candidates: Learn as much as you can,  make your own decision, proceed at your own peril. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Grace Church by the Numbers

With Grace Church’s annual parish meeting now only a few weeks away, it’s worth looking at the effects Bob’s multi-year campaign of bullying and harassment, directed towards me and my family, have had on the parish. The data are not good.

In 2014, the year our conflict began, the church had 525 households and 317 pledging units. Total pledge income was about $850,000; there always is some wiggle room due to the late payment of pledges and pledges not fulfilled. Thus, the average pledge was approximately $2,681.

Since then, the number of pledging units has continued to fall, while the average pledge has trended upward, consistent with other churches in the diocese. In recent years, the average pledge has bumped up to roughly $3,600, while the total number of pledging units continues to fall. 

As things stand, the church hopes to pull in 220 pledging units, although 200 pledging units is a more likely number, and quite possibly not even that many. Thus, pledge income will probably end up between $700,000 and $720,000. But even with the church’s optimistic forecasts, best case is pledge income of $792,000–a far cry from past years. And many of the families that have been stepping up their pledges are clearly tapped out, with limited ability to increase their pledges further.

That doesn’t leave much room. Fixed building costs are going to remain about $150,000 annually, and likely higher as the physical plant continues to age. Additionally, should the church go ahead and hire a full-time assistant rector, it will be difficult to get total compensation costs much below $600,000. Throw in an 8 percent pledge to the diocese and guess what—we’re at roughly $814,000, which with income from the trust, investments, and cost sharing with the school, is pretty much everything. Nothing left to cover the costs of a loan for the HVAC, to save for the future, or to cover unexpected contingencies. 

Of course, part of the problem is the church’s current cost structure. In this day and age, when a church can hire a full-time rector with an Mdiv and a PhD for $100,000 all-in, paying Bob Malm almost $200,000 a year is questionable, at best, particularly given his feckless job performance — not to mention that damage he’s caused to the church and its reputation in the larger faith community through his efforts to suppress criticism.

At the same time, it’s hard to justify three additional full-time positions with full indirects, when in this day and age, so many churches use part-time employees. That’s not to say that current staff don’t do a good job—it’s just that few churches these days have any full-time employees other than the rector, and for many, even the rector is part-time or bi-vocational.

Where things get really ugly, though, is when one looks at the financial implications of the school. Producing little benefit to the church, the 50/50 split on utilities and other currently non-fungible expenses works strongly in the school’s favor. Coupled with years of Chris Byrnes’ empire building and rather lopsided approach to cost-sharing, and even with Patti’s much more collaborative approach, it’s a tough sell for many parishioners.

Freed from the school and Dysfunctional Bob’s current bloated cost structures, here’s what expenses would likely look like:

 1 FT rector, including indirects  $140,000
 1 PT music director, including indirects $45,000
 1 PT parish admin, including indirects $45,000
 1 PT accountant, including indirects $40,000
 1 PT assistant for pastoral care, including indirects $22,000
 1 PT assistant for family ministry, including indirects $22,000
 Facilities, including repairs, insurance, utilities (this is a generous number, too)  $100,000
 Diocesan pledge $55,000
 Outreach (not including diocesan pledge) $60,000
 Administrative costs $30,000
 Long-term savings $40,000
 Miscellany $40,000
 Total $454,000
 Optional: PT sexton with indirects $20,000

As you can see, the current combination of a 1970’s-vintage staffing model and the overhead associated with the school basically doubles the church’s cost structure, at a time when every indication suggests that church revenue will continue to fall in the coming years. 

Several additional factors also suggest that, if Grace is going to survive, a more modern cost structure needs to be envisioned. These factors include:
  • The fact that church membership no longer is normative in American society.
  • The lack of saving from current revenue for the future.
  • The church’s token efforts at growth and increased membership.
  • The discomfort Americans have with clericalism, and the profoundly negative effects clericalism has had on the parish.
  • The cavalier attitude towards church administration under Bob Malm, in which the entire approach for much of his tenure has been laissez-faire. Not good when dealing with other people’s donations.
In addition, the church’s lack of transparency regarding decision making, budgetary issues, and other important matters offers a powerful disincentive to younger members to give at levels consistent with those of previous generations.

In the meantime, the rapidly dwindling number of pledging units have done an admirable job of stepping up to the plate as people leave the church and stop pledging. But this trend should, in itself, cause alarm, for it is part of a very predictable pattern that occurs in dying churches. 

In short, Grace’s current cost structures and its approach to governance simply cannot continue over time.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Before You Pledge, Know This: 1 out of Every 5 Dollars Goes to Bob Malm




As you consider pledging in 2019, it may be helpful to look at Bob Malm’s compensation in light of the church’s overall financial condition. Here is a quick summary of Bob Malm — by the numbers.
  • Compensation as part of total parish annual budget
    • Total church annual budget: ~ $1 million
    • Total Bob Malm compensation, including indirects: ~ $200,000
    • Percentage of church revenue devoted to Bob Malm compensation: ~20%, or 
1 out of every 5 dollars goes to Bob Malm!
  • Highest paid bishop on presiding bishop’s staff annual income, including housing, per DFMS annual financial report:
    • $166,519
    • Bob Malm annual compensation: Higher!




  • Annual compensation versus local average
    • Alexandria mean annual family income per CityData: $89,200
    • Bob Malm annual income: Almost twice this number
  • Annual leave
    • Average annual leave for employees with 20+ years’ experience, nationally: 20 days (16 days actually used)
    • Average annual leave for Bob Malm: 35+ days (all used) (does not include sabbatical)
  • Average annual bonus
    • Average annual bonus per Monster: $1,797
    • Bob Malm average annual bonus, based on $100,000 bonus paid in 2014: $3,333
  • Average Alexandria home value:
    • $476,900 per US Census Bureau
    • Bob Malm home value: $734,263 per Zillow (note that this number is probably high due to deferred maintenance on Bob’s home, lack of improvements)
Keep in mind, too, that Bob’s almost $200K in annual income is not the same as your $200K, or my $200k. 

Why is that? 

It’s because federal tax law treats Bob’s housing allowance AND his mortgage as both deductible. When this double dip is factored in, Bob’s putative compensation is well north of $200K.

So, before you give sacrificially, consider this: 1 out of every 5 dollars you give does NOTHING to fund the church, but instead subsidizes Bob Malm. And even as the church’s financial position continues to deteriorate, Bob gets paid no matter what. Ministries may lose funding, but by gummy, the gravy train and the good life continue for Bob Malm, even though church governance has been a train wreck for much of his time with the church.

Caveat emptor.




Bob Malm Allegedly Ignored Bank Complaints that Church Deposits Were Repeatedly Off

Almost 200K a year in compensation and he can’t be bothered to find out why? And why were several thousand dollars’ worth of undeposited cash and stale checks found in a former parish administrator’s office when she left? Why was this not detected before she left? Why after almost 30 years as rector does the church STILL not have the finance manual required by church canons? Why did Bob Malm not realize for many months that Richard Newman was overpaid? Why were church financial reports facially off for many months?

Why?


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Plunging Stock Market May Exacerbate Grace Church’s Financial Woes

With recent stock market activity showing some striking similarities to the market crash of 1987, and the double whammy of a possible partial shut-down of the federal government, Grace Episcopal Church may well enter 2019 in dire financial condition.

As I stated in previous posts, when factoring in depreciation and amortization, Grace has been running an annual deficit for many, many years. That trend, together with several related factors, has spelled a perfect storm in the making for quite some time. These factors include:
  1. An aging parish population.
  2. A costly physical plant.
  3. A wildly overpaid rector who often appears to place his own perceived self-interest ahead of the church.
  4. Decades of slipshod governance.
  5. Facially faulty financial reports.
  6. A rubber-stamp vestry largely controlled by Bob Malm.
  7. A refusal to save for the future.
  8. A culture that of denial and avoidance that has allowed the church to avoid dealing with these pressing issues for much of Bob’s tenure as rector.
  9. American culture, in which church membership is no longer normative, and where young people increasingly oppose organized religion.
  10. The hypocrisy of church hierarchies, including that of the Roman Church, and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.
Now, with the stock market appearing poised to tank, the church faces several challenges:
  1. Year-end gifts of appreciated stock likely will be reduced.
  2. Parishioners on fixed incomes will find it difficult to maintain current pledging levels.
  3. Families directly or indirectly dependent on the federal government will face financial constraints.
  4. Investments, including the Grace Trust, which is heavily invested in the stock market, will lose value, thus reducing church revenue.
  5. Banks that might otherwise be willing to lend to the church will seek to reduce risk in the event of another major recession.
All this, of course, ties into the loss of public confidence caused by Dysfunctional Bob and Sugarland Chiow’s rather disastrous foray into court, continued misconduct and conflict within the parish, the departure of Fanny Belanger, the fact that Dysfunctional Bob will retire in the not distant future, and Bob Malm’s smear campaign against members of his own parish.

Grace church surely is poised for big problems over the next few years.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Another Dirtbag Minister Sues Church Members

In recent news, it turns out Bob Malm is not the only dirtbag clergyperson to sue his members in an effort to suppress free speech.

James MacDonald, the senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, recently filed suit against the bloggers behind The Elephants Debt, a publication that criticizes MacDonald for allegedly misgoverning the church, inflating his salary, and all the usual antics you’d expect. (Sound familiar?)

In my review of the materials on The Elephants Debt, I don’t see anything defamatory, but then I am retired as an attorney, and never practiced law in Illinois, the relevant jurisdiction. But some sounds strikingly familiar, including the efforts by the plaintiff’s attorney to run up the bill, including via claims that his motion is an emergency. Sounds like he comes from the Sugarland Chiow school of legal ethics.

Details of the situation are at https://theelephantsdebt.com/the-authors/, with great coverage on The Wartburg Watch and other major publications. Until I have time to write more, I’ll point those interested to those sources.

Note too that the defendants are facing extraordinary expenses as they defend against the lawsuit. If you wish to contribute — and I encourage you to do so — you can find the relevant GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/the-elephant039s-debt-legal-defense.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Grace Episcopal, Toxic Church





See for Yourself: Grace Episcopal Parishioner Mocks Dying Woman, Drags Family Members Into Dispute, Makes Accusations of Domestic Violence

Need further proof that Grace Episcopal Church and Bob Malm are toxic? Here’s a screen cap of comments believed to come from a member of Bob Malm’s family. I’d add that mom’s “shiner” is a growth on her right eye.

Grace Episcopal and Bob Malm are so ethically skewed they think it’s okay to mock the dying.




Tuesday, October 30, 2018

More Signs of Trouble from DioVA

As some of you know, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia recently announced that there will not be a vote on a Bishop Provisional at this weekend’s general convention. The news was released immediately following Sunday’s farewell reception for bishop Shannon, held at the Virginia Theological Seminary. 

Taken in light of recent events within the diocese, the announcement adds to the growing evidence that the diocese has serious governance issues. These include:
  1. The abrupt resignation this summer of Pat Wingo, who served as the bishop’s assistant, or canon to the ordinary.
  2. The collapse, not long after, of the search for a bishop adjutant, followed by the resignation of Bishop Shannon.
  3. Evidence of multiple bad decisions in the area of clergy discipline, including the diocese’s repeated failure to exercise appropriate supervision over Bob Malm, resulting in profound damage to the reputation of the church due to Bob’s claims of being threatened by terrorists, his decision to take a former parishioner to court, and his decision to try to drag an elderly dying woman into court.
  4. Multiple Title IV Disciplinary cases pending against Bishop Shannon, including one in which it is alleged that he acted to cover up repeated instances of sexual harassment by clergy under his supervision. (The office of the presiding bishop has refused on multiple occasions to update complainants on the status of their cases, raising the possibility of additional attempts at cover-up.)
  5. Signs of major conflict between the executive committee and the trustees of the funds. Not uncommon following litigation, such kerfuffles invariably end badly, and must be addressed immediately if they are to avoid snowballing.
  6. A bishop who, like many clergy, is conflict avoidant and tends to tell people what they want to hear. I have experienced this firsthand.
Of course, the handling of the search for a bishop provisional also is telling. The standing committee has been working on the matter since August 3, 2018, and no doubt knew it had a hot potato on its hands. Moreover, it was likely obvious from the get-go that the pool of applicants would be very limited, given that this is intended to be a three-year gig, the candidate must have previously served as a bishop, and must be under age 69 in order to comply with the canonically mandated retirement age of 72. All of this, at a time when a large number of bishop positions are open. Thus, it surely made sense to have both a Plan B and a Plan C in place, such that the diocese would not again have egg on its face if the search process ran into problems. Yet, here we sit, with the diocese now thoroughly covered in egg.

So, the more things change the more they stay the same. The diocese remains a hot mess, governance is in a shambles, and it’s the Wild, Wild West when it comes to clergy discipline within the diocese. And now, matters are compounded by a power vacuum at the top, for if there’s anything worse than an incompetent bishop, it’s governance via committee.

But the most telling sign of serious trouble in the diocese comes via the wry observation of a friend of mine, a Episcopal priest for more than 50 years. Many years ago, he said, “As a priest, you know you’re in trouble when the bishop starts saying nice things about you in public.” And so it is with Bishop Shannon, on whom the presiding bishop heaped fulsome praise following the announcement of his retirement.

Things surely are a hot mess in The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.






Friday, October 19, 2018

Grace Church: Corrupt Organization?

A family member of mine works professionally in the study of corrupt organizations. This means that he studies organizations on behalf of the government that either were formed for an illegal or corrupt purpose — like the Cosa Nostra — or have become a corrupt organization. The latter may be independent groups, like a bank that launders money, or parts of a larger organization, like the local chapter of a nonprofit that has been turned from charitable purposes to unethical or illegal purposes.

That raises the question: Is Grace Episcopal Church a corrupt organization? While I will leave it to the reader to form her or his own conclusions, there are some startling similarities between the traits of a corrupt organization and Grace Episcopal Church, aka St. Dysfunction.

For example, corrupt organizations often:
  • Are built around one central, charismatic figure, even when, on paper, offering allegiance to a larger organization or principle. In Grace’s case, I believe this would be Bob Malm.
  • Have broken lines of authority, in which boards and other persons or entitities have little real power. In Grace’s case, Bob Malm appoints the executive committee in violation of church canons. By controlling the executive committee, Bob ensures there is little independent oversight of his conduct. Moreover, Bob de facto claims the right to, for example, terminate membership in the parish in contravention of church canons.
  • Operates to the benefit of a small, select group of people, or one person. In Grace’s case, Bob Malm’s outrageously generous compensation package, which consumes about 20 percent of all church revenue, is an issue. Further, within the parish there is a real awareness of who’s “in” and who’s not, with some even going so far as to refer to an “A list,” “B list,” etc., — the very thing Jesus would have deplored.
  • Are quick to exact revenge on anyone who questions the organization, whether through shunning, legal maneuvers, or illegal conduct. In Grace’s case, Bob instructed staff to exclude us, engaged in smear campaigns, and even went so far as to try to drag my mother, dying of COPD, into court.
  • Act in ways counter to their professed values, while seeing no disconnect between the two. In Grace’s case, shunning, bullying, mobbing, and bullying a dying woman stand in marked contrast to the church’s purported values of compassion, humility, and kindness. Similarly, Bob Malm’s sermons ask questions like, “Will our children have faith?,” while he seemingly evinces very few real Christian values, and his wife and adult children even fewer such mores.
  • Engage in showy expressions of triumphalism. In Grace’s case, just listen to Bob Malm’s ludicrous video, made during a joint event with the local Methodist church, about how what makes Grace “so amazing” is how it cares for everyone. Hate to spring it on you, folks, but that should be normative for a church, and I doubt if you asked Mom she’d say that Grace Church or Bob Malm have shown any care for her.
  • Make claims about how members are participants are part of a special group. In Grace’s case, Bob Malm even talks about “taking a part of Grace with you,” but as with triumphalism, there is nothing special about the parish, at least not in a positive way.
  • Appeal to the senses via showy displays of weaponry, clothing, or belongings. In Grace’s case, the extravagant altar flower arrangements, the showy altarware, and at one time impressive vestments all operate to impress and create a sense of exceptionalism.
So, if you are thinking about pledging this year, or are sizing up Grace Episcopal Church as a possible church home, be alert to the possibility that all that glitters may not be gold. Or highly polished brass, for that matter. And ask yourself if you really want to subside a clergy compensation package of almost 200K a year, and more than a month’s annual vacation, at a time when the church is running a deficit.