Showing posts with label Grace Episcopal Alexandria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grace Episcopal Alexandria. 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)!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Issues with Diocesan Pledge Underscore Severity of Budget Crisis at Grace Church

Remember when I posted the article about warning signs that a church may be at risk of closure? The article, written by the Rev. Thom Rainer, lists one of the warning signs as resources being focused inward, versus outward.

And so it is with Grace, particularly in the case of the parish’s annual pledge to the diocese. Specifically, for many years, the amount pledged has been less than one-half of the amount proscribed by the Virginia Plan, the diocesan proportional giving plan. That’s right—less than one half.

Under the diocesan guidelines, parish pledges are based on net operating income, otherwise known as normal operating income or (NOI).

So what is NOI? Simply put, it’s all income that is used to pay operating expenses, and it includes items that are funded off-budget, like music programs, the altar guild, and EYC mission trips.

The diocese of Newark provides a good definition:


























In other words, NOI is pretty easy to calculate. If you spend it for day-to-day operations, versus capital improvements, it’s NOI. (It’s also worth noting that the Newark definition includes the church school. Just imagine if Grace School were actually included.)

With that in mind, here’s what the Virginia Plan proscribes for parish giving:































Grace church, however, has consistently pledged at roughly 10% of pledge income. That excludes:

  • Plate and loose giving
  • Reimbursements from the school.
  • Altar guild program operating revenue.
  • Music program operating revenue.
  • Income from the trust used to pay operating expenses.
The result is that when measured as percentage of income Grace Church supports the diocese at a level consistent with a church with revenue of less than $100,000 annual income. When measured by total amount, Grace’s support of the diocese is consistent with that of a parish generating $571,428 in NOI.

For example in 2015, a year in which the church pulled in more than $1,000.000 in revenue, it gave just $85,000, per the annual report.

Income:
























Again, keep in mind that this does not include items that are off-budget, like the music program, the EYC hoagie sale, the altar guild, and other program areas.

That brings us to a recurring issue when examining life at Grace Church: Thanks to years of feckless leadership, the church has been living beyond its means for decades. It can afford to pay its rector $200K a year, offer lavish farewell parties for the head of school, and provide generous purses to Bob Malm and his family. There’s plenty of money for the annual weekend at Shrine Mont, which for many is nothing but a drunken binge. And there are mountains of flowers at Easter and Christmas (yes, although these are restricted solicitations, they are still part of NOI). Nor should we forget Bob’s 2014 bonus of $100,000.

So while Jason Roberson is bloviating about how the parish is “growing and flourishing,” let’s keep in mind that it’s been ignoring its obligation to the diocese for years. That despite the fact that the diocese apparently fully honors its commitment to the national church. 

In other words, most of the church’s funds have been going to meet its own needs and desires, and to subsidize Bob Malm, versus to actually being a church. That is, or should be, a wake-up call to the parish, whoever is foolhardy enough to become interim, and to the diocese. Simply put, it is a matter of survival.

There’s also a catch-22 that confronts the parish: In a church so organizationally narcissistic that it doesn’t see an issue with a priest who commits perjury, or with trying to drag a dying woman into court, do you choose to integrate into the life of the larger diocese? If so, how do you increase your diocesan pledge by roughly $80,000 annually at a time when the parish cannot afford its current cost structure? Yet members are likely to be highly resistant to any arrangement that interferes with the whole living-life-large paradigm under Bob Malm.

In closing, it’s worth noting that I repeatedly cautioned Bob, beginning in 2014, about the looming budget debacle, warning that absent major cutbacks the church was on a trajectory to become insolvent as early as the summer of 2016. In most cases, in true Bob Malm fashion, I didn’t even get the courtesy of a response.

Things are now at a state where the church may need to consider taking on mission status, accepting help from the diocese, and rebuilding from the ground up.

Grace church is in serious trouble.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Friday, November 1, 2019

Updated Information on Lawsuit Against Grace Episcopal, the Clergy Perjury Parish

Updated information confirms service of process on Bishop Susan Goff, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, and Grace Episcopal Alexandria.

It will be interesting to see how the good Christians at Grace Church respond to my request for documentation that mom “time after time” makes appointments with perjuring priest Bob Malm. Will they tell the truth? Will they admit that Malm committed perjury?

Somehow, I don’t see Goff, Sugarland Chiow, or any of that crowd acting in an honorable way.

Grace Episcopal, the clergy perjury parish.






Sunday, October 20, 2019

Another Sign Grace Episcopal is Dying

One sign of a vibrant organization of any sort is that it has news. Lots of it. Things happening, events taking place, opportunities to engage.

Other than Dysfunctional Bob’s departure, Grace Church has no news. None. That suggests Grace is lurching towards existential crisis and possible closure.

Before we go further, let me preempt the words-don’t-mean-what-words-mean crowd at Grace with a definition of “news” from Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary:



The key word here is “recent.”

Now, let’s take a look at the landing page of the church website. On it we see imagery from Easter. Posted sermons were last updated more than a month ago. 

So-called “news” includes:
  • Easter celebrations, dating from April
  • Foyer registration, dating from August
  • Sunday school registration, dating from early September


The rotating images are every bit as bad, including a rather dreary classroom scene from last winter. (I like educational opportunities, but the class looks excruciating.)



Turning to the church’s Twitter feed, things look no better, with where the site was not only abandoned last April, but there’s zero engagement, just announcements that a new sermon has been posted. 


In short,  Grace Episcopal may or may not be dying, but its communications efforts do their best to create the impression that death is imminent.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

New Website Launches to Cover Grace Episcopal Lawsuit

Having sent my demand letter, I have little doubt that the fake Christians of Grace Church and the Diocese will ignore it. So, as I prepare to go to court, I have launched a website to provide information on the lawsuit as it progresses.

Check it out!


Friday, October 18, 2019

Coming Soon: More Grace Church Correspondence

Fun times ahead for Grace Church! I have obtained a trove of emails and phone records pertaining to the church. While I am still wading through my find, I believe some are profoundly damning.

My plan is to begin publishing Monday, with continuing releases throughout the pledge season. Additionally, several will prove helpful in my upcoming litigation against the parish, diocese and others.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

This Fall, Withhold Your Pledge

Until the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the vestry of Grace Episcopal Alexandria renounce their support for priest Bob Malm’s perjury and his efforts to bully a dying woman, please withhold your pledge.

That’s what Jesus would do.




Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Grace Episcopal: Eight Signs Your Church May Be Closing Soon



Ed: The following could have been written expressly for Grace Church. All eight signs apply, and there are additional warning signs as well.

* * * * *

We call it the death spiral.

I know. It’s not a pleasant term. I can understand if it causes you to cringe.

By the time I am contacted about a serious problem in a church, it is often too late. The problems are deeply rooted, but the remaining members have been blind to them, or they chose to ignore them.

There are eight clear signs evident in many churches on the precipice of closing. If a church has four or more of these signs present, it is likely in deep trouble. Indeed, it could be closing sooner than almost anyone in the church would anticipate.
  1. There has been a numerical decline for four or more years. Worship attendance is in a steady decline. Offerings may decline more slowly as the “remnant” gives more to keep the church going. There are few or no conversions. Decline is clear and pervasive.
  2. The church does not look like the community in which it is located. The community has changed its ethnic, racial, or socioeconomic makeup, but the church has not. Many members are driving from other places to come to the church. The community likely knows little or nothing about the church. And the church likely knows little or nothing about the community.
  3. The congregation is mostly comprised of senior adults. It is just a few years of funerals away from having no one left in the church.
  4. The focus is on the past, not the future. Most conversations are about “the good old days.” Those good old days may have been 25 or more years in the past. Often a hero pastor of the past is held as the model to emulate.
  5. The members are intensely preference-driven. They are more concerned about their music style, their programs, their schedules, and their facilities than reaching people with the gospel. Their definition of discipleship is “others taking care of my needs.”
  6. The budget is severely inwardly focused. Most of the funds are expended to keep the lights on and/or to meet the preferences of the members. There are few dollars for ministry and missions. And any dollars for missions rarely include the involvement of the members in actually sharing the gospel themselves.
  7. There are sacred cow facilities. It might be a parlor or a pulpit. It could be pews instead of chairs. It might be the entirety of the worship center or the sanctuary. Members insist on holding tightly to those things God wants us to hold loosely.
  8. Any type of change is met with fierce resistance. The members are confronted with the choice to change or die. And though few would articulate it, their choice by their actions or lack of actions is the choice to die.
Churches with four or more of these signs have three choices. They can embark on a process of change and revitalization. Or they can close the doors for a season and re-open with a new name, a new vision, and some new people.

Of course, the third choice is to do nothing. That is the choice to die.

Thousands of churches will unfortunately do just that the next twelve months.

# # #

Original post: https://thomrainer.com/2017/05/eight-signs-church-may-closing-soon/

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on May 17, 2017. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and ten grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Report from Dysfunctional Bob’s Final Day as Rector

Before we go further, two important reminders for parishioners and staff at Grace Episcopal, aka St. Dysfunction:
  1. When I am protesting, I am filming from at least two vantage points. That means that several of you are now part of internet history, and you and your vehicle, including your license plates, are now publicly posted as you fire off those one-gun salutes to Jesus. You’re also likely to feature prominently in the second release of my video, named Begin with Grace after the school recruiting video, which provides prospective members a first-hand look into parish dynamics. So, it was with great pleasure that I filmed Lisa Medley and five other people today — keep up the good work! They’ll know you are Christians by your love! (Viewers report they especially like the juxtaposition of my sign and parishioners firing off the one-gun salute. Something about really speaking to the church’s compassion.)


  2. Pursuant to Va. Code § 18.2-60.3, I have previously notified the church in writing that I do not want any further contact from members, staff, or diocesan officials. Under that statute, those of you who feel compelled to contact me anyway may face criminal charges for stalking. And if you don’t think I’m enough of a jerk to file charges, try me. 
On that happy note, I protested outside Grace today. It was a great day, and got a chance to talk with multiple neighbors of the church. Also present was the police unit I had requested in light of Bob Malm’s previous episode, in which he drove up to me, climbed out of his vehicle, and began screaming and threatening me. Needless to say, between that and Bob’s questionable connection with reality, including his false claim that he was repeatedly contacted by my mom or someone claiming to be her, I think there is a strong possibility that Bob may be both dangerous and mentally ill.

The unit sat across Russell Road from me and convinced one profoundly foolish parishioner that picking a fight was not a great idea. Leaving aside the obvious issues, coming up to me and yelling, or flipping me off, tends to undercut Dysfunctional Bob and Sugarland Chiow’s claim that people are frightened of me; few approach someone they believe to be dangerous and flip them off.

Speaking of, it is beyond stupid to flip people off while driving. If nothing else, more than one road rage incident has been caused by the ol’ one-gun salute to Jesus, and any police officer worth her or his salt would advise you not to do it. Get a clue, kids. Don’t try this at home.



On a more macro level, the conduct from parishioners that I documented today underscores one of Dysfunctional Bob’s great failings as rector. Specifically, he not only failed to teach effective conflict resolution, but through his example (and that of Sugarland Chiow) he taught parishioners that any sort of conduct is okay if you think it will help you get the upper hand. Lying, committing perjury, trying to drag the dying into court — from Malm’s perspective, it’s all good.

Looking forward, I have several observations:
  • The more Grace parishioners revert to type with the ad hominem attacks, the middle finger, etc., the more they prove my point, which is that Grace at its heart is a toxic church. And the more they prove my point, the faster Grace Church implodes. As for those who have given generously, in some cases for decades, I offer this fair warning: If the church does not address its issues, it will not be too many more years before Grace Church collapses due to declining membership, participation, and giving. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  • Since parishioners still have not figured it out, I am going to reiterate something I’ve said many times: The church cannot force people to quit speaking about their experiences with the parish. If the church thinks that suing former members, pushing Mike out of the church, lying under oath, calling other Christians “domestic terrorists,” and trying to drag a dying woman into court are okay, so be it. But then the church must live with the consequence, which is lasting reputational damage. And discussion of your conduct is protected by the First Amendment. However, defamation by church members, including public statements accusing me of alcoholism, having AIDS, and being mentally ill, are not. And those parishioners who believe that this conduct, along with urging me to commit suicide etc., will be effective in shutting me down are delusional.
  • Whoever the church chooses as an interim is in for a rough and bumpy ride, assuming the church actually takes things seriously and doesn’t just hire a seat warmer. But if the church does not take things seriously, it will be gone in the not-distant future. No one wants to join a church that bullies the dying and where members treat other the way people at Grace do. In other words, Grace Church is a hot mess, particularly in regard to organizational dynamics, and very little in the conduct of parishioners would suggest that this is the Body of Christ.
  • Parishioners have no idea how toxic their little stained glass cesspool really is. After 30 years of Dysfunctional Bob, much that passes as normative in the church would result in shock and horror elsewhere. Moreover, given the extent of organizational narcissism, it is going to be an uphill battle for an interim to convince people that this is the case.
  • There’s a fair amount of information out there about organizational narcissism, and parishioners and staff alike would be well-advised to read it. I’ll drop one leading hint: A big component is when an organization thinks it’s special. As when Bob Malm says, “I don’t think I’m exaggerating too much, [sic] when I suggest that at Grace Church we know, we practice “true religion”. [sic](Source: Sept. 3, 2017 sermon). And if Grace Church is an example of “true religion,” no thanks. You can keep it.
With that, off for a nice cool shower and some dinner.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Signs of the Times: Malm’s Farewell Reception is Pay-to-Play



Observant members of Grace Church may have noticed something about the upcoming gala farewell reception for perjuring priest Bob Malm: It’s pay-to-pay. That stands in marked contrast to Chris Byrne’s farewell, in which both the church and the school ponied up several thousand dollars for a catered reception, with the church funds drawn from management reserves. The change highlights both the shoddy management of Dysfunctional Bob’s reign, as well as the new financial realities facing the church.

To be clear, the decision to draw on savings to pay for a farewell party for Chris was stupid on multiple fronts. First, Chris was not a particularly effective head of school. Her approach to management alienated staff, parents, and parishioners alike, and her empire building led many to question the wisdom of having a school. Second, a catered party for Chris featuring barbecue from an outside vendor sends an unfortunate message to church staff, who typically get a sheet cake during coffee hour when they left. Why Chris would warrant a $6,000 reception when church staff got a $35 sheet cake is beyond me. Third, entertainment appropriately is paid for out of free cash flow, not savings, nor from borrowing. In other words, any church with money to pay $100,000 bonuses to Dysfunctional Bob, and pay for $6,000 farewell parties, all while cutting health insurance benefits to church staff and their dependents is both seriously screwed up, and surely needs neither my money, nor yours.

Of course, the underlying point about health insurance for church employees, many of whom are underpaid to begin with and cannot afford to live in Northern VA absent a second income, continues to hold true. Church members can pony up to get smashed at Shrine Mont, and to attend a gala reception for Dysfunctional Bob, but they can’t find money to pay for full health insurance for the human beings who make their little stained glass paradise run? That is truly sad and unethical.

Meanwhile, pay-to-play underscores the new rules of the road. Grace Church needs to get its act together, its priorities straight, and start behaving like a church. That includes not wasting money on self-indulgent, unnecessary luxuries like parties.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Party With Perjuring Priest Bob Malm!

Join perjuring priest Bob Malm Friday, September 27 at Grace Episcopal for an adults-only reception, celebrating 30 years of Bob’s so-called ministry—spreading the Good News of Jesus, one beach at a time.




Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Thinking About Pledging at Grace Episcopal Alexandria this Fall?



Considering pledging at Grace Episcopal Alexandria this fall? Or thinking about becoming a member?

If so, just know before you take the plunge: This is how people at Grace Episcopal Church talk to each other. But then, in light of Bob Malm’s perjury, what’s a little defamation?

Keep in mind, too, that the Episcopal bishops of Virginia say they fully support Bob Malm and the parish. And Mike Jones talks about how Grace is a wonderful place.

If you think this sort of thing is okay, you probably do think Grace Episcopal is a wonderful place.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Grace Episcopal: Predictions for the Coming Year



Years ago, a regular at Grace Church offered the observation that he “didn’t want to be there when Bob Malm leaves.”  While I am confident that he does not consider Bob Malm to be a narcissist, nor given it a whole lot of thought, he stumbled onto something. Instinctively, he recognized that, after years of Bob Malm’s self-centered antics and manipulation of members and the vestry, taking Bob out of the mix will result in bedlam. And on that score, that individual is spot on.

As is typical in such situations, far too many parishioners regard their goal as meeting Bob’s approval. Indeed, as one former assistant rector put it, “There is such a sense of shame among those women when something goes wrong at the altar guild.” That’s both telling and appalling, for serving God should never come with shame. Yet the altar guild acts like an organizational narcissist, worried above all about how things look, and protecting its perceived collective interests, versus attending to the common good of the parish.

How does the altar guild enforce its priorities? By treating any perceived deviation as grounds for shunning, ostracism, and criticism. Hardly indicative that its true purpose is serving God.

Similarly, both the choir and the vestry far too often engage in bad behavior when members feel threatened. The same is true for church staff, which historically has had no issue with yelling at church members or otherwise engaging in inappropriate conduct. 

Nor are church members generally immune from these trends. Whether it’s gossiping about one member’s alleged penile implant, issues within Bob Malm’s family, or married members who are rumored to be conducting homosexual affairs on the side, things get ugly right beneath the surface. And of course, there are issues like Lisa Medley’s disclosure of confidential giving, documented on The Wartburg Watch, that underscore just how toxic the parish really is. Moreover, members feel it is their prerogative to wade into conflict and punish the person they believe is the offender by gossip, bullying, and social exclusion. (Yes, I am referring inter alia to Alison Campbell, Jan Spence, and Lisa Medley.)

So, from this ugly mix, the Perjurer-in-Chief, Bob Malm, is set to leave. His departure will set in motion a jockeying for power at every level. As part of this, whoever the interim is will face strong headwinds, including both being compared to Bob Malm, and when he or she does stuff that varies with “the way we’ve always done things,” being confronted with the bullying, shunning, and other misconduct that is part and parcel of life at Grace Church.

This underscores the larger issue, which is that church members will need to explore the promise and problems of Bob Malm’s tenure with the parish. Doing so will face tremendous resistance, as the traditional way the parish handles such things is to ignore them and shove them under the rug. So the problem is two-fold: Both unlearning harmful approaches to dealing with conflict, and then dealing with the underlying issues themselves. And keep in mind that these issues have had 30 years to fester; unlearning them won’t happen in three weeks, or even three years.

Then there’s the ethical component of parish life. Grace is a church is which it’s okay for the rector to commit perjury, to subpoena the dying, to file false police reports, and to engage in truly ugly rhetoric. With Jeff Chiow and Bob Malm as role models, it’s difficult to know even where to begin. Certainly, the legacy they leave serves as a dismal role model for children, and it’s going to be difficult to attract new church members with this as part of the church’s history. And Jeff remains active at the parish, which means he undoubtedly will try to defend and justify his actions, despite the damage they have caused to the parish.

Giving also wil be an issue. With more than 1/3 of pledging units gone, the remaining donors have stepped up their giving. But time and demographics are running against the parish, and the church has never understood that in order to grow, you have to make a commitment to grow. 

Nor does the parish have a vision of the future. Yes, members jealously guard their prerogatives and the things that are important to them, but beyond that, the church has an entirely tactical worldview. Even the HVAC project was simply ignored until events forced the church’s hand, despite the fact that there have been dozens of warning signs in recent years. So the church will have to decide whether it wants to grow, and what it wants to be in its future, or it can continue on in swimming in its ever smaller stained glass cesspool, blissfully unaware that the waters are toxic and it is slowly. So, this will be a point of contention, but the good old days of living for today are fast coming to a close.

Of course, all this change means that members will revert to type, so conflict will loom large during the coming year. As a result, both attendance and giving likely will decline, and some members who leave during the coming months will never return.

Will Grace Church make it? There’s reason to doubt it.

But no matter how things pan out, there will be some serious fireworks in the year ahead.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Financial Reporting and Cash Management Problems at Grace Episcopal Alexandria

I’ve written on this topic before, including the fact that the $500,000 loan from the parish to Bob Malm was recorded off the books for many years.

Here, in bulleted format, are some of the other problems with cash management and financial reporting during Bob Malm’s 30-year reign.

Before you join the church, make a pledge of financial support, serve on the vestry, or revise your will, it behooves you to ensure that these issues have been addressed to your satisfaction.