Showing posts with label Susan Goff. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Susan Goff. Show all posts

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Reflections on Abuse, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, and the Failure of Leadership

Lately I’ve had several fascinating discussions with experts on abuse about the topic of why organizations like the Episcopal church tolerate and conceal abuse. While many of the conversations have, predictably enough, centered on sexual abuse, the underlying issues remain relevant.

To be clear, Bob Malm is not accused of sexual misconduct. Nor is anyone within the diocese. But at the same time, as far as I can tell the diocese has steadfastly refused to address Bob Malm’s perjury, or even to follow its own canons when it comes to clergy discipline.

One consistent theme in the discussions I’ve had has been that organizations tend to try to protect their reputation, even at the expense of doing something so basic as protecting children. As a result, a culture of silence grows, and group think sets in.

Another person reminded me that narcissistic personalities are often incredibly gifted manipulators, with emotional predators typically able to portray an image of kindness and compassion that is able to fool even a skilled tribunal. And so it would seem in the case of Bob Malm, who is able to portray a friendly, congenial, supportive personality, while masking a lack of genuine empathy for those entrusted to his pastoral care. Certainly, his willingness to go after Mike in his vendetta, his multiple lies to parishioners and others, his inflammatory courtroom rhetoric, and his willingness to pursue a terminally ill woman suggest that he is not someone who should have ever been ordained in the first place. 





But the most important thing I have heard and read suggests that a failure in leadership goes right to the top. In that regard, +Shannon and +Susan have both repeatedly shown that they do not understand the dynamics of abuse. nor do they have any real desire to address it, beyond those situations in which doing so is absolutely unavoidable. And given that the bishops have taken a pass on misuse of funds and perjury, it is difficult to imagine that much other than sexual misconduct would ever get their attention. Indeed, it was laughably ironic when Caroline Parkinson said, in response to my concerns about the alleged child molester in the parish. “Now you’re talking about something that actually matters.”

In fairness to diocesan officials, that also illustrates the very limited training clergy actually have in mental health and abuse prevention. But then, given the number of toxic clergy I have encountered, perhaps it is best that they not get further access to this sort of information. Indeed, some authors suggest that narcissists often treat counseling as nothing more than training sessions in which they learn how to become more adept at getting away with misconduct.

But no matter how you parse it, it is clear to me that the failure of leadership in the diocese extends all the way to the top. And it is that very failure that leads to communication like the one that follows, from a young adult member of Grace Church. Tellingly, Bob Malm tried to claim in court that this was a threat against him. The sad reality, though, is it’s an indictment of him, the parish and the diocese.






Saturday, November 16, 2019

This Christmas, Remember the Meaning of Christmas

This Christmas, remember the true meaning of the holiday: Compassion, kindness, love.

Boycott Grace Episcopal, the clergy perjury parish, where clergy lie under oath with impunity and it’s okay to drag the dying into court.



Reflections on the Diocesan Annual Convention, Inclusion, and Integrity




With the 225th diocesan annual convention winding down later today, it’s fitting to reflect on lessons learned from protesting outside the meeting and related questions.

What is most notable about the convention is that, with all those dog collars roaming around, not one person asked me about my protests. Not one. Yes, there were a ton of hits on the blog, and a few people took my photo, but nothing beyond that.

The lack of communication is telling. As a modern-day metaphoric leper at the gate, my situation underscores one of the great myths about the church, which is that it is inclusive. It is not. Most often, it’s just indifferent. That’s sad, because it directly contradicts Jesus’ message about “as you have done to the least of these, so also have you done unto me.”

If nothing else, when I have seen demonstrators, persons with car problems or other issues outside my church, I’ve always made it a point to welcome them in. Many say no, fearing that the invite is a recruitment effort. But quite a few also have found that, even if the church doesn’t meet a need for a spiritual home, it’s at least a safe place to shelter from the vicissitudes of life.

My inclination would also be to learn more and see if there is anything I could do to help. If nothing else, I’d be concerned about the church’s reputation, and eager to do what I can to at least soften the conflict.

(It’s also amusing to see Episcopalians pretending they don’t see you. It’s like a Monty Python movie:

“It’s a bloody protester.”

“No, you daft bastard, it’s bloody terrorist. Why, he’s even carrying a sign.”

“Blimey, and I thought he was a protestor!”

“Well, I can’t see him. Can you?”)

That also points to underlying integrity issues with the church. How can the church be healthy and whole when it ignores problems literally at its doorstep? Hardly loving, liberating or life-giving.

That also raises the more tactical question: Will the diocese and its attorneys have the integrity to admit that Bob Malm committed perjury? Or will they try to defend conduct that is utterly indefensible?

If past results are any indication of future performance, they will do their utmost to avoid addressing the elephant in the room.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Breaking News: Grace Episcopal, the Clergy Perjury Parish, Set for Court December 17

Predictably enough, neither diocesan chancellor JP Causey, nor Grace Episcopal, have responded to my request to honor the court’s subpoena, signed by the judge, directing them to permit inspection and copying of documents relevant to my case. I asked that they do so by 5 PM today.

As a result, I have filed a motion to compel against both Bishop Goff and the parish. Motions court is set for December 17 at 1:30 PM. The date is somewhat delayed due to the fact I have arranged for personal service on the defendants. This seems a sensible precaution in light of the previous lack of professionalism and ethically questionable conduct displayed by both the parish and the diocese, which includes Bob Malm’s perjury and Sugarland Chiow’s various false and misleading statements to the tribunal.

Given that the court date falls squarely within Advent, this all seems appropriate.

A copy has been emailed to diocesan officials as well as the parish.




Friday, November 1, 2019

My Comments on Religion News Service

Following is my response to an article on Religion News Service “Christianity as We Know it is Dying.”

The death of organized religion comes as no surprise when, as in my case, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia (including Bishop Susan Goff and Melissa Hollerith, wife of Randy Hollerith, dean of the National Cathedral), can tell me with a straight face that courtroom perjury against me by my former priest, Bob Malm of Grace Episcopal in Alexandria VA, is okay on the grounds that he didn’t face criminal charges for it. (And for the record yes, I know what defamation is. I also know that truth is an absolute defense.)

Finally, after wasting a whole lot of time and effort trying to get the diocese to drain its own swamp, I have filed suit in the Virginia courts for abuse of process and breach of fiduciary duty). Among the respondents are the diocese, Susan Goff, and my former parish. It will be interesting indeed to see how they respond to my request for evidence in support of Bob’s perjury. Of course, if they were Christians, they would come right out and, after conducting their own investigation, admit that there is none. But I do not believe that level of integrity can be found in The Episcopal Church. And even were I to lose based on procedural or other grounds, I am still happy to call a spade a spade.

Meanwhile, members of my former parish engage in smear campaigns against me, fire off the old one-gun-salute to Jesus as they roll past, threaten me, attempt to interfere with my employment, and more. And then they wonder why the parish is imploding.

If you want to learn more about my abuse at the hands of a church that I once loved, my blog is located at http://www.gracealexwatch.org.

In the meantime, I’ll add only that the author is spot on: If the church wants to survive, it needs to start being the church.

Find the original at: http://disq.us/p/25asarz




Saturday, October 26, 2019

Second Lawsuit


Steps are now under way to file a second lawsuit against Grace Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, Susan Goff, and several other parties, including multiple church staff, volunteers, and independent contractors. I anticipate the suit will be filed in Pennsylvania and will involve multiple plaintiffs. Several of the defendants will be added once the initial suit is filed.

Not a great time for Planet Malm

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Will Susan Goff Tell The Truth?

Will Susan Goff put her money where her mouth is and admit that Bob Malm committed perjury? Or will she continue to deny the truth and show all the world what is becoming increasingly obvious, which is that The Episcopal Church is morally bankrupt, interested only in its fast dwindling power and prestige? Will she put into practice Jesus’ teaching that, “As you have done to the least of these, so also have you done to me?”

Safe money says she will continue to act as an enabler, endorsing Bob Malm’s perjury by refusing to address it or offer restitution for the harm her actions have caused.

Susan, this is your chance. Lead by example. Demonstrate integrity.



Subpoenas Issued

Earlier today subpoenas went out in my lawsuit against Grace Episcopal Church, Susan Goff, and the diocese. Most likely, Grace will receive its subpoena tomorrow, while Susan Goff’s subpoena may take a day or so. Both are for the production of documents.

Following is the email I sent to the diocese and Grace church’s vestry. In a nutshell, the earlier fraud that the church perpetrated on the court by taking words out of context, by committing perjury (including Bob Malm’s false claim that my mother, or someone claiming to be her, contacted him repeatedly, which he cited as a major part of his claim that Mom’s blog is really mine) will not be tolerated. Same for Jeff Chiow’s inflammatory rhetoric and fabrications, including his falsely telling the court that I had never been licensed to practice law. And no, the whole, “I didn’t bother to research it,” line of argument doesn’t cut it.  Should this happen again, I guarantee major media coverage. 

Moreover, Grace Church will discover the more it lies, the more it trots out the bombastic rhetoric, and the more it tries to play hard ball, the more quickly people turn their backs on the church.

Here is the letter I sent to the diocese and the church, in which I encourage them to act like Christians.

Yes, I know. Shocking proposition.

# # #




Thursday, October 17, 2019

Breaking News: Demand Letter Sent to Episcopal Bishop Susan Goff and Church Pension Group

Breaking news: As I prepare to file suit against the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and other parties relevant to Bob Malm’s vendetta against me, I have sent the following demand letter to the diocese and its insurer, in which I ask the diocese to admit that Bob Malm committed perjury. That would, at a minimum, be the Christian thing to do, but I have little doubt that the diocese will continue its abusive conduct.

Stay tuned for further developments.






Thursday, August 15, 2019

Bishop Plans Appearance at Dysfunctional Bob’s Retirement Service



Among the guests at Dysfunctional Bob’s final service at Grace, slated for September 29, is the Episcopal bishop of Virginia. That may be a good sign, but it carries with it enormous risks. It also underscores the diocese’s role in supporting and covering up Bob Malm’s repeated incidents of misconduct, including his perjury.

On the one hand, the presence of the bishop may indicate that the diocese is taking the ungodly mess at Grace seriously. If Grace Church is to become healthy and survive, there’s a tremendous amount of work to be done, and the diocese needs to be a missional partner in making that happen. 

At the same time, the messaging here is both tricky and vital. The bishop cannot be seen to be dissing Dysfunctional Bob, but at the same time must be careful not to praise the many problems within the church, including bickering, shunning, and the utter disregard for the baptismal covenant evinced by many, including Dysfunctional Bob, Sugarland Chiow, and the parish vestry. Indeed, my conclusion is that Grace is not a church, but instead a religion club, with dynamics modeled on a college fraternity or sorority. Thus, the task at hand is not just to recover from the problems of Bob Malm’s tenure—it’s actually to build a church from what is now a social organization.

Complicating matters is the fact that Bob continues to try to tug on people’s heartstrings in order to convince them that his departure is a great loss, on a par with the stages of dying identified by Dr. Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross. This, from a priest whose response when people leave the parish due to conflict with him is, “Why should I give a fuck? People transfer all the time.” But the reality is the same goes for clergy, and Bob’s departure is long, long overdue. Moreover, while Bob would not agree with this statement, the years of dysfunction in the parish office, his refusal to supervise staff, his efforts to avoid dealing with staff issues by lying to vestry members, his failure to comply with denominational requirements like having a parish finance manual, his ongoing violation of church canons, and his sense of superiority and entitlement render Bob’s track record as rector sub-par, at best. And to parallel Bob’s statement about departing parishioners, priests transfer all the time, except that in healthy parishes it doesn’t take 30 years for this to happen.

As a result, the bishop can help by providing a vision of the future that focuses on hope, growth, unity, and cooperation. While Bob’s goal may be to pull in every last bit of adulation, the bishop can temper things by pointing people’s focus towards things that matter.

The wrinkle in things, of course, is that the diocese still refuses to recognize or address Bob’s multiple incidents of misconduct, including his perjury, but instead insists on covering them up. Thus, no matter how skillfully the diocese handles Bob’s retirement and the subsequent interim period, there remains an elephant in the living room. No one will take Grace Church, the diocese, or the bishop seriously as long as diocesan officials cover up Bob Malm’s perjury. Yes, parishioners may defer to the bishop, but the larger outside world still sees a dysfunctional organization that has lost any claim to ethical relevance.

Meanwhile, the bishop’s presence reinforces the hypocrisy of diocesan officials. Grace Church is important enough to warrant a visit from the bishop at Bob’s farewell, but not important enough to address Bob’s perjury or the other severe problems that lurk right behind the scenes. It’s also fair to point out, as previously discussed, that the diocese’s track record when it comes to clergy transitions is mixed, at best. And when it bollixes things, often due to bad advice from J.P. Causey, the diocese has shown an unparalleled ability to leave a disaster in its wake.

I can also assure all involved that my efforts to publicize Bob’s misconduct and the diocese’s ensuing cover-up will not stop with Bob’s retirement. People need to understand that while the diocese talks a good game, and likes to gas on about the baptismal covenant, there is no substance to any of it, The reality is that even criminal activity such as perjury is okay for Episcopal clergy, as long as they’re not convicted. 

So, the bishop can roll through, pointy hat and crozier in tow, and put on a good show, but it does nothing to correct the underlying moral bankruptcy of the parish, the diocese or The Episcopal Church. These issues cannot be ignored, glossed over, or be treated as matters that hopefully resolve themselves over time. Only when these issues are addressed will there be any hope for the future.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Bishop Susan Goff

Remember, bearing false witness only counts if you’re convicted! Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Your Sister in Christ,

Bishop Susan Goff








Thursday, June 27, 2019

Bishop Susan Goff: Does She Also Approve of Sexual Abuse Absent a Criminal Conviction?

Bishop Susan Goff approves of perjury

Today’s post examines Bishop Susan Goff’s ludicrous decision to cover-up Bob Malm’s perjury. Specifically, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia recently held that it will not address Bob Malm’s perjury in our court case unless Bob is convicted of the crime of perjury. This is an absurd outcome and demonstrates the diocese’s true motive, which is to avoid dealing with Dysfunctional Bob’s spiritual abuse.

In a decision drafted by the Rev. Sven vanBaars, rector of the unfortunate Episcopal parish in Abingdon Virginia, the diocese held that it cannot conclude that Dysfunctional Bob committed perjury, as he hasn’t been convicted of the same.

That, of course, is the logical fallacy of appeal to ignorance. An example of such an argument is: 1) People believe in God. 2) The existence of God has never been proven. 3) Thus, God does not exist.

Similarly, the fact that Bob has not been convicted of perjury doesn’t mean he didn’t commit perjury. 

The other side of Sven’s argument, which is that the canons prohibit illegal conduct, also is a logical fallacy. Yes, they prohibit illegal conduct, but they also expressly prohibit conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, or misrepresentation.

Of course, it may be that Sven is merely the clueless wonder when it comes to forming a logical paradigm. That’s where Bishop Susan Goff comes in, who must also sign off on any dismissal of a Title IV complaint. Being a bishop, one would hope she could organize her thoughts in a logical manner, or show a little integrity. Obviously, that didn’t happen here.

So, that’s where the Rev. Melissa Hollerith, our favorite ethics instructor and chair of the Diocese of Virginia Disciplinary Committee, comes in. But she too doesn’t see a problem with this approach either, which would suggest that logic and ethics aren’t the real issues. I mean, we’re batting three for three. Collusion and coverup, anyone?

Thus, if follow the diocese’s logic in this case, and apply it to other cases, where does that leave us?

In the case of child sexual abuse, for example, the underlying conduct is illegal. It’s also specifically proscribed by the Episcopal church clergy disciplinary canons. But assuming that the diocese follows its new rule that clergy misconduct won’t be investigated absent a criminal conviction, it is virtually impossible to do anything about clergy who engage in such conduct. And in fact there probably is no need to: Any priest already convicted of criminal sexual conduct likely faces jail time or other serious impediments to serving as a priest. Thus, the entire Title IV clergy process is irrelevant.

So, how do you feel about a church/school where clergy apparently are free to engage in any form of misconduct at all as long as they’re not convicted? Or where the diocese provides no protection whatsoever against clergy misconduct?

For the record, Bob Malm has not been accused of sexual misconduct. But the fact that the diocese is unwilling to address his perjury should be cause for alarm on multiple levels.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

My Response to Susan Goff, Melissa Hollerith, and Sven vanBaars: Your Next Pharisee Merit Badge Awaits!

As I’ve said many times, one of the positive things about my kerfuffle with Dysfunctional Bob is that it has made clear that, at every level, The Episcopal Church is morally bankrupt. I mean, where else can you find a bishop, a priest who teaches ethics, and a parish rector, all of whom are prepared to conclude that perjury by clergy is actionable only if there’s a conviction? Or who don’t have a problem with a priest who is so much a bully that he drives up to former parishioners, climbs out of his vehicle, then screams and makes threats? Who think it’s okay to try to drag a dying woman into court? 

It’s good to know what the church is really about, before I waste any more time or money on it.

With that in mind, here is my response to Bishop Susan Goff, Disciplinary Chair the Rev. Melissa Hollerith, and the Rev. Sven vanBaars. I was on the road when Melissa’s letter came through, so it has a few typos and mechanical issues, but it does the trick. 

And yes, just like the Scribes and Pharisees, all three are utter hypocrites. They are invested in the business of The Episcopal Church, look forward to generous defined benefit plans in retirement, and can feel good about their largely meaningless support for LGBTQIA+ rights and other social issues. But when it comes to actually living a moral life, resisting injustice and oppression, ensuring the ethical and mission integrity of the church, and following Christ, forget it. All three are full of crap, and you can quote me on that. The sooner The Episcopal Church goes away the better the world will be.

Oh, and lest you had any doubt, no pastoral response this time, either. So the CANA/GAFCON crowd can say in all fairness that they are entitled to ignore Episcopal canons. After all, the Episcopal church itself ignores its own canons when it finds it convenient to do so.

A final observation: The best way to avoid being criticized for being a hypocrite is to not be a hypocrite. When you lie under oath, make false representations of law and fact to court, try to drag a dying woman into court, go after Mike, engage in smear campaigns, and lie to parishioners (like claiming I left Grace church on my own), you can only go on so long before people call your bluff. 




Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Mom’s Response to the Diocese’s Announcement that Perjury is Okay

Here’s mom’s response after struggling through my response to Melissa Hollerith’s decision that perjury is acceptable conduct for Episcopal clergy.

It’s pretty bad when even hospice patients tell the diocese that it’s ethical trailer park trash.

#fakechristians

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Rev. Melissa Hollerith Confirms that Perjury is Okay for Episcopal Clergy Absent Conviction

Check it out: Melissa Hollerith, wife of the Dean of Washington National Cathedral, today confirmed in writing that perjury is acceptable conduct for Episcopal clergy in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. Here is her memo:

And here is my response:



It is small wonder that, with so little ethical reference point, the Episcopal Church is collapsing. Indeed, the world will be a better place without it.


Friday, January 11, 2019

Episcopal Church Suspends Statute of Limitations for Clergy Abuse, I Call BS

As many know, The Episcopal Church has lifted the statute of limitations on clergy abuse. The Diocese of Olympia therefore has invited victims to come forward.

My advice: Think twice! Per Bishop Shannon Johnston AND Bishop Chilton Knudsen, retaliation is not actionable on the basis that it is “not of weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church.” I have it in writing from both of them, and Shannon Johnston has even sent a letter saying he supports Bob Malm in his retaliation. And Bishop Susan Goff hasn’t even deigned to respond to my emails about this issue, so it’s a safe bet that she supports retaliation as well.

Check out this misleading article and my response at https://www.seattlepi.com/local/politics/article/Episcopal-Church-to-victims-of-clergy-abuse-13527177.php




Saturday, January 5, 2019

A Working Covenant: Bishops’ Promise Proves Hollow

Last summer, the bishops of The Episcopal Church, having heard the #churchtoo testimony, entered into a covenant to work for justice and inclusion for all. A copy of the covenant follows.

So is this covenant consistent with my experience with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia? Answer: It isn’t.

Engaging in retaliation for asking the diocese to mediate a dispute with clergy? One that involves workplace harassment? Clergy committing perjury in court? Illegally misusing funds? And telling me that the matter isn’t of “of weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church?” If that’s the case, what on earth qualifies? Rape, mayhem and murder? 

Let me just say this: Thus far, The Episcopal Church has shown that it is utterly broken and hypocritical at every level. And that includes both Bishop Susan and Bishop Shannon. Their only interest to date has been in protecting the reputation of the church.

Here is the text of the covenant that Bishop Goff presumably voted to approve, emphases added:

A Working Covenant for the Practice of Equity and Justice for All in The Episcopal Church

Giving thanks to God and listening deeply to the recent outcry expressing pain and brokenness in our church, we recognize the urgent need for change. The church as both community of faith and workplace is not immune to abuse, harassment and exploitation of people of varying gender, racial and cultural identities. As pastoral and prophetic leaders of the church, we bear the responsibility to continue the healing and transformational work that has yet to be fully realized. Together, we commit ourselves in our local contexts to strive daily, transforming the culture of our church into a more just, safe, caring and prophetic place for all. We are grateful for the substantial and insightful memorial offered at General Convention, 2018 by Gathering the Next Generation, 2016. We seek to shift our institutional life from one which benefits a few at the expense of others, and more determinedly live our baptismal vows following the way of Jesus.

Leading with greater awareness of God’s dream, deeper courage and integrity, we plan to engage our diocesan cultures and structures in the following ways:

Recognize and respect the official as well as unofficial power given to us by our office, exercising it with humble care and in loving service with all God’s people;

Participate in regular self-examination and seek amendment of life in our personal and systemic use of authorized, relational and positional power;

Increase our awareness of, listen to, and take to heart the stories that reflect the biases deeply embedded in our structure;

Create a culture of empowerment, giving space for leadership based on equity, not tokenism;

Make room for varying cultural and gender-based leadership practices, nurturing an ethos of cooperation and collaboration, exploring and supporting a broad range of leadership models;

Eliminate pay and benefit inequities among all persons;

Create and enforce equitable parental leave policies;

Utilize formational opportunities for congregational search committees to examine bias and make responsible choices regarding their selection and call of clergy into ministry with them.