Showing posts with label pledging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pledging. Show all posts

Friday, January 17, 2020

Here’s How Grace Church Uses Its Pledge Income

One day in 2013, as I was doing repair work in the undercroft, I noticed that the window sills in the vesting rooms were dirty. Not just a little dirty—disgustingly, filthy dirty. As in not cleaned for several years. Layers of dead flies, dust, and pieces of cut grass that had been blown through the increasingly decrepit windows by the lawn mowers, together with water stains and more.

I took the following photo and sent it to Bob Malm by email, asking who was responsible for cleaning the vesting rooms. (Given that the parish has a paid sexton, one would think he would do it. But then, having caught him sleeping in the building on one occasion, and having been unable to locate him in the building on other occasions when he was supposedly working, that may be an unwarranted assumption.)

Predictably, Bob didn’t bother to respond.

So I asked parish administrator Charlotte Payne Wright who is responsible for cleaning the vesting rooms. Her telling response, “I’m not sure anyone is.”

The upshot is no one knew or cared. And yet Bob Malm subsequently claimed in writing that “no one at Grace is shirking their responsibilities,” despite the fact that it clearly had been at least four and a half years since anyone had bothered to clean the vesting rooms, as evinced by the date of the bulletin from the Great Vigil of Easter.

That begs the question: What does this utter indifference to the care of the physical plant suggest to members? To visitors? What does it say about the role of the building in divine worship? About stewardship of the money and resources entrusted to the church?

And what does Bob Malm’s non-response and claims that he actually was doing his job say about him? About the vestry? Does this sort of conduct warrant a $200,000 annual compensation package and a 2014 annual bonus of $100,000?

Nor is this the only example of ignoring basic standards of cleanliness and maintenance. Indeed, such examples are myriad. And in another instance, when I brought up similar issues, Bob’s response was, “I have neither the time nor the interest.”

Given Bob’s annual month at the beach, his week for the Boston Marathon, and his many trips “out of town,” I have no doubt perjuring priest Bob Malm was telling the truth when he said he didn’t have the time, and he clearly had zero interest.

This sort of feckless leadership and the fact that it was acceptable for so many years at Grace Church surely is worth keeping in mind if you are considering getting involved in the church, or making a pledge to the church.

Caveat emptor!

Filth in the vestry rooms, left untouched for 4.5 years.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Reflections as We Enter the Final Days of the 2020 Pledge Season





As we get ready to move into a new year, the Grace Church vestry has the unenviable task of preparing the parish’s 2020 budget. Similarly, members may be contemplating year-end gifts to the church. With those factors in mind, here are my thoughts on those issues.

On the one hand, the parish now is free of the deleterious effect of perjuring priest Bob Malm, at least on a daily basis. Michael Guy appears to be much more grounded in actual faith, and less in outward image.

That said, the church has yet to make peace with its past and Bob’s baleful influence. This is still a spendthrift church—one that pays $100k bonuses to a feckless rector, while cutting employee health benefits. A church that refuses to save for the future. A church that does next to nothing to grow, yet expects membership to miraculously increase. A church that claims to be a center for “outreach and healing,” yet puts very little money toward these goals. A church that tries to drag the dying into court, where members urge people to commit suicide, and where the rector commits perjury with impunity. In fact, the church named part of the building after its former Perjurer in Chief. A church that has to borrow to keep the HVAC on, but draws $3,000 out of savings for a party.

Even better, the church has the chutzpah to claim that it’s been careful with its funds. Leaving aside $100,000 bonuses and the more than $2 million cost to the church of Bob Malm’s personally owned rathole of a house, I guess that’s true. After all, those expenses don’t leave room for much else.

All of that points to a larger issue, which is how much longer will people provide funding for this toxic mess? The fact that Bob Malm can commit perjury with the full support of the vestry, Sugarland Chiow, the staff, and the diocese, then get part of the building named after him for his troubles, demonstrates that this is a church and denomination that is utterly broken and dysfunctional. Yes, the optimists among us think some of these issues will be addressed in another generation, but collapsing attendance, baptisms, and other indices of church health suggest that neither the denomination nor the parish have another generation during which to fiddle with the deck chairs.

If we look at Europe and the role of organized religion there, it seems unlikely that church ever will make a comeback. Once-bitten, twice shy applies, and this is a dog that’s bitten far too often to get any benefit of the doubt.

So, if you are a member of Grace Church, or of the Club Mayo crowd, my message to you is this: It is time for radical change. And if you can’t or won’t make that happen, it’s time to say goodbye. Grace Church, the diocese, and the Episcopal Church simply are no longer relevant.

And as the vestry plans for 2020, I’m here to tell you that more of the same isn’t going to work. No one wants to subsidize the lifestyles of the rich and famous, let alone the perjurious.


Monday, December 16, 2019

Grace’s Claim that It’s Been Careful With Expenses in Amusing, Disingenuous


One of the amusing things is the claim in Grace church publications that it’s been careful with expenses, and thus people should fulfill their pledges. That’s not only a partial truth, but it’s disingenuous as well.

Let me be clear: Over the past couple of years, the parish indeed has been careful with cash flow. In saying that, I am choosing my words carefully.

But over time, the parish has been anything but prudent. 
  • It way overpaid for Bob Malm, a feckless rector if there ever was one. Indeed, Bob was overpaid by 40-70K a year and compensated more highly than the bishop in charge of pastoral development at church headquarters. And Bob did a whole lot less work, of that you can be assured.
  • It tore down the rectory, an asset worth roughly $700,000, instead tossing a ton of cash at Bob Malm, totaling more than $1 million during Malm’s tenure.
  • It wrote off $100,000 in debt that Bob owed the church, giving it to him as a bonus.
  • It contributed $3,000 from savings for Chris Byrnes’ farewell party, a silly and wasteful extravagance at a time when church employees got a sheet cake at coffee hour as their good bye.
  • It cut employee health care benefits to “balance the budget” at a time when it was paying Bob Malm a $100,000 bonus.
  • It has consistently deferred maintenance, resulting in costly after-the-fact repairs.
  • It has consistently underpaid its commitment to the diocese, while claiming that it is a “center for outreach and healing.” I call bull on that.
  • It lost thousands of dollars via stale checks that disappeared into the parish administrator Charlotte Payne Wright’s office, only to be found after the latter’ s departure. And you cannot convince me that people didn’t call to ask why their checks hadn’t been cashed. 
  • It failed to establish a finance manual as required by denominational policy, which if done properly would have established policies and procedures sufficient to prevent the loss of funds described above.
Moreover, it failed to account for the cost of Bob Malm and Sugarland Chiow’s misconduct. Nothing in life is free, and Bob’s committing perjury, Sugarland’s false courtroom statements of law and fact, their efforts to drag a dying woman into court, all carry with them a cost. The cost is that people are departing the parish for less toxic environs, while the Sugarland Chiow’s, Lisa Medley’s and Alison Campbells of the parish cling like barnacles to the hull of a sinking ship. The result is declining revenue and attendance, and to date I have seen no meaningful effort to address these issues.

Speaking of Lisa Medley, Bob’s conduct also served as a benchmark for parishioners, and I believe that it was he who made people like Lisa think that their childish, hateful behavior was okay. Indeed, Leslie Malm proved to be every bit as childish, deceitful and hateful as Lisa, and that is saying something. 

So, this pledge season, remember: This is not only a parish where people urge others to commit suicide, it’s a church where Lisa Medley thinks it’s okay to publish details on people’s giving on social media. 

And as you contemplate those facts, consider: The parish has been careful with its funds only because it’s run out of funds to squander. If there were funds left to blow, Bob Malm would have had a party that would have made Chris’ pale by comparison.





Friday, November 8, 2019

It’s Pledge Season at Grace Church — Please Give Generously!

We depend on your generosity to pay those $100,000 clergy bonuses! Doesn’t your rector deserve a month on the beach every year? Please give generously!


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Reminder: Grace Episcopal Publicly Discloses Confidential Giving

With pledge season off to a slow start at Grace Episcopal Alexandria, it’s time for an important reminder. Specifically, while the church will tell you that giving is confidential, it is not.

I repeat: Your giving to Grace Episcopal Alexandria is not confidential. In fact, some imbecile may decide to post that information on social media.

Doubt it? Here’s proof in the form of a screen cap from The Wartburg Watch, in which a parishioner, believed to be Lisa Medley, shares the fact that someone in my family wrote a check to the church in the amount of $.02.

For the record, true to form the poster has her facts wrong. Leaving aside other lies in her post, the check for $.02 was neither giving to the church, nor written by me. Yet the fact remains: Individual giving is not supposed to be shared with other parishioners, nor posted to social media. The fact that the idiot behind this post doesn’t recognize this makes clear just how thoroughly toxic the parish is.

Unless you want to risk your personal data being posted to social media, it is best to avoid pledging to Grace Episcopal Alexandria.

Grace Episcopal Publicly Discloses Member Giving
Grace Episcopal Posts Details of Member Giving to Social Media

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.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Speaking of Money....

As you consider pledging this fall, here are a few questions you might ask:
  1. Why, when a previous parish administrator left, was more than $1,000 in loose cash found in her office, as well as numerous stale checks?
  2. Why were these issues not detected in advance of her departure?
  3. What safeguards have been implemented so that this cannot happen again? “I trust Beth,” is NOT a safeguard, by the way.
  4. Why does the parish not have a finance manual as required by canon law, even after 28 years of Bob Malm?
  5. What do the answers to these questions tell me about the parish? About Bob Malm’s job performance? About the vestry? About respect for people and resources?
Last but not least, if you cannot get straight answers to these questions, or feel safe asking them, my advice is to cut your losses. Don’t pledge until you get answers to these questions.