Saturday, February 1, 2020
Saturday, December 21, 2019
As we move into 2020, signs abound of financial trouble at Grace church. These include further declines in pledging, which I believe are due in large part to a growing awareness of just how toxic Grace Church has become.
Over the past two weeks, the number of pledging units has stalled out at 160, for a total just shy of $561,560. That’s a bad sign, for a variety of reasons:
- In the past, pledges have continued to come in throughout the final weeks of the year. The lack of an increase during the past two weeks suggests that the pledge campaign has largely run its course.
- While there are always a few additional pledges in the new year, the increase historically has ranged from 20-40 units. In recent years, the number of pledges has tended towards the lower end of that range. Moreover, late pledges tend to be smaller pledges. Thus, even assuming 30 additional pledges at an average of $3966, that’s only $118,980, for a total of $680,540. That’s a far cry from the $895,000 or more of past years, and leaves the church with gross annual revenue of approximately $830,540. Thus, the parish faces the prospect of draconian cuts to an already tight budget.
- The underlying causes of the church’s decline remain unaddressed, which include a systemic culture of toxicity evinced by behavior that includes:
- Bob Malm’s perjury
- Suing members and calling them “domestic terrorists”
- Sugarland Chiow’s multiple courtroom fabrications
- Trying to drag a dying woman into court
- The childish, malicious conduct of people like Alison Campbell and Lisa Medley
- Members urging others to commit suicide
- Unhealthy ways at every level of dealing with conflict
- It will not be possible to begin the process of addressing these issues any time soon, as it will take some time for Michael Guy to settle in.
- The legacy of 30 years of Bob Malm’s feckless and dysfunctional “leadership” won’t be erased overnight, or even in a year.
- The transition process isn’t cheap, and Grace really needs to bring in paid outside experts to address its toxic culture. Even then, Bob Malm’s various misrepresentations about the underlying issues make change problematic, for it is hard to parse the challenges facing the church when prior leadership has engaged in manipulative conduct.
- Real leadership is perilously thin in the parish. Indeed, when confronted with a toxic culture like that of Grace church, real leaders typically move on, versus turning a blind eye to unethical conduct such as bullying. And even those regarded as leaders in the parish have no qualms in talking about other people, versus talking to other people. That’s a big problem, and one has only to look at some of the comments from Kemp Williams and Jean Reed to see use how bad things have become in that department.
- It can be difficult to ask members to increase giving when so much money has been squandered in the past on Bob Malm’s inflated salary, his $100,000 bonus, the tear-down of the rectory, his overly generous leave, and silliness like taking $3,000 from savings for a farewell party for Chris Byrnes—a Head of School that many teaching professionals do not regard as having been particularly effective, and who spent much of her time engaging in divisive empire building.
- Things are complicated by well-intentioned but disingenuous comments like Jason Roberson’s statement in the November edition of Grace Notes, in which he falsely claimed that the church is “growing and flourishing.” It is doing neither, and such comments undercut confidence in the messaging coming from church leadership.
- As discussed in previous posts, if the church really is to be a center for “outreach and healing,” it could start by contributing its fair share to the diocese. $80K a year is ridiculously low and far beneath the norms established by the diocese. Going forward, less money wasted on feckless clergy and more spent on outreach would be a good start.
Of course, financial issues are just one small outward manifestation of larger, structural issues. In other words, the church’s financial woes will only be resolved when it solves its spiritual and ethical woes. And with diocesan leadership that is prepared to support Bob Malm and Sugarland Chiow in their misconduct, it’s unlikely that this is going to happen.
The future looks grim indeed for Grace Church.
Monday, July 15, 2019
One of the reasons it’s best to think twice about going to court is that your business winds up in the public eye. That’s a basic tenet of our legal system: That things are done in the light of day. Not in Star Chamber. Not in secret.
Of course, had Bob used an attorney who actually does civil litigation, he would have attempted to negotiate confidentiality during discovery. In this case, no effort was made to do so, nor would I have been receptive to that, given Jeff Chiow’s unprofessional resort to inflammatory rhetoric and various falsehoods in the documents that went out with his signature on them, including references to a fictional church shooting in the equally fictional town of “Sugarland Texas.”
And that is the case here. Having blundered into court, largely clueless, Bob Malm has exposed the inner working of St. Dysfunction, aka Grace Episcopal Church, and the results are not pretty.
Here’s an email exchange between Bob Malm and one the two coordinators for the ushers, Kemp Williams. The correspondence is interesting for multiple reasons, including Bob’s initial email, which appears to be an effort to stoke fears, and Kemp’s response, where inter alia, he falsely claims that I have visited the National Cathederal at some point in the last several years. I have not, having not been there since prior to the earthquake. In fact, on the day in question, I was at work, and have dozens of witnesses, as well as time records, to prove it.
Moreover, you see Kemp blundering into discussions of mental illness, even though he and I haven’t so much as spoken in the last several years. Nor did I ever have any sense that Kemp has much knowledge of mental illness, such that he could speak intelligently to the issue.
And nowhere do you see anything even remotely Christlike in the conversation, Jesus-babble notwithstanding. Instead, it’s the usual narcissistic St. Dysfunction mindset of, “It’s all about us and our needs.” Nowhere do you see anyone ask the question, “How can we work together to solve our concerns?” Nor do you see any concern for people who are assumed to be mentally ill.
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Here is the follow-on email from Kemp Williams to Bob Malm; it is the successor to the exchange previously posted.
Here, we see some possible paranoia on Kemp’s part, as he references the Legacy Society, which comprises those who have remembered the church in their wills. (Mine used to, as it named the church as my contingent remainderman, but rest assured, that provision is long gone.)
At any rate, this email brings forth the alarming proposition that I may still know what’s going on day-to-day at the parish. Horrors!
And I can assure you: Bob and Leslie Malm are among my most avid readers. I have the access logs to prove it, LOL.