Showing posts with label ethics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ethics. Show all posts

Thursday, April 9, 2020

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Integrity, Bob Malm and Jeff Chiow

Following the decision by the Venango Court of Common Pleas to block Bob Malm’s abusive attempt to subpoena my mother, who is in the final stages of COPD, there’s been a flurry of legal skirmishing. I won’t go into details, but I will share a few observations:
  • Jeff Chiow claims to have been unaware that Mom has end-stage COPD. That’s a curious claim, as 1)  It’s discussed on Mom’s website and in various posts on my website. 2) He and Bob Malm are known to have discussed the topic on multiple occasions, going back to at least February 2018. Thus, Jeff’s memory appears to be spotty, at best.
  • Jeff Chiow also has complained of lack of notice. However, there is no evidence he notified Mom’s attorney, Hank Gent, of the impending subpoena. At a minimum, most would consider this to be professional courtesy. Having apparently failed to do so, it is disingenuous in the extreme for Jeff to now claim that HE lacked notice apropos the response of Mom’s litigation attorney.  Thus, it is ironic that Jeff now both complains about the results of his own actions, and is forced to engage in speculation as to when Mom received notice. Of course, if I am wrong, Jeff no doubt will have a copy of the certified letter or other documentation by which he notified Mom’s attorney.
  • Jeff Chiow appears to be painfully, even excruciatingly, unaware of the relevant rules of civil procedure. (Note to self: Never hire a contracts attorney to do trial work!)
One also is reminded of disciplinary rule 4.1, which provides:

Rule 4.1 Truthfulness In Statements To Others

In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly:
(a) make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person; or 
(b) fail to disclose a material fact to a third person when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client, unless disclosure is prohibited by Rule 1.6.
No doubt Jeff would contend that his various inaccurate statements to the courts, including his claims that I never practiced law and never served as police officer weren’t made knowingly. He just didn’t bother to do any research, so he just took a little detour to Sugarland and made stuff up.

Hey, why not? It’s just his personal and professional integrity. What’s wrong with that?

Friday, June 29, 2018

Two Years Later, Workplace Culture in The Episcopal Church is Still Broken

In 2016, the Episcopal News Service, reporting on the wake of the firing of several top-level Episcopal Church officials, ran an article outlining findings that workplace culture in Episcopal Church headquarters were seriously troubled. Among the findings reported: That employees found it difficult to do what the considered to be ethical. 

Despite that, two years later the church still permits retaliation for filing a Title IV complaint, for example. 

That begs the question: Why isn’t the issue getting more attention at General Convention? Why, for instance, is there no action on codifying whistleblower protections in church canons?

Here is the original article, found at https://livingchurch.org/2016/09/15/fear-mistrust-resentment/.

The Episcopal Church Center has a workplace culture marked by “fear, mistrust and resentment,” according to staff and directors who answered a survey in the wake of a misconduct scandal and two high-level firings.

In the survey, released Sept. 15 at the House of Bishops meeting in Detroit, employees said they face expectations to avoid confrontation, withhold input, and strive to make good impressions, rather than do what’s right. Another theme: staff find it difficult to maintain personal integrity while working for the national church.

“I’m not sure I found a sadder finding, except for the score on people not feeling that they were well-respected,” said the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies.

Consultants from Human Synergistics, a human resources firm, shared the results with bishops gathered for their fall meeting and with members of the House of Deputies, who tuned in via webcast. Presenters laid bare how the workplace culture at 815 Second Avenue in New York City is exactly opposite of the collaborative, constructive one the employees say they want.

“This is tough stuff,” said Tim Kuppler, director of culture and organization development at the consultancy. “These are the things standing in the way of accomplishing what we’re talking about with the Jesus Movement.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry brought in Human Synergistics after an independent, four-month investigation found misconduct by two senior administrators, Sam McDonald and Alex Baumgarten, had gone unaddressed before Bishop Curry took office on Nov. 1, 2015. McDonald and Baumgarten were fired in April, and the nature of the misconduct has not been disclosed.

In announcing the firings, Curry said the work ahead “is not primarily organizational and structural, but deeply cultural and spiritual.” The survey begins a retraining process that will include every employee of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.

Survey results pointed to dynamics in which misconduct and other misbehavior could fester. Staff said, for instance, that when they have concerns, they’re expected to keep those to themselves and not speak up.

For his part, Curry sought to reassure bishops and deputies that their church’s staff problems do not make it an outlier.

“The Episcopal Church is no different than any other church, all right? — so don’t get depressed,” Curry said. “Christianity is dysfunctional. That’s just the name of the game. I mean, it’s called being human. How do we get from where we are to where Jesus the Christ is actually calling us to be?”

Consultants also reassured church leaders that an organization’s culture can change. Staff, supervisors, and executives will be encouraged to adopt behaviors that show respect and help achieve the culture they say they want.

Resolving to do better has already begun. President Jennings said the officers — Curry, Jennings, General Convention Executive Secretary Michael Barlowe, and Treasurer Kurt Barnes — along with three canons to the presiding bishop have made a series of commitments to one another. Among the pledges: to make decisions by consensus.

“We have committed to one another and to those with whom we work to find healthy, productive, frankly non-threatening ways to deal with those times when we are in conflict or disagree with one another,” Jennings said. “Disagreement is one of the ways that we can experience resurrection and new life.”

Last spring, an independent audit found the Episcopal Church needs new policies and procedures in order to protect whistleblowers. In Thursday’s two-hour session, none of the speakers mentioned misconduct or how a reformed culture might include new whistleblowing safeguards.