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 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 also will no doubt extend Bob’s basic membership well beyond his original contract.

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, February 21, 2019

Protesting with SNAP

I had so downtime today, which I happily spent with members of the local chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP). Great group, and I spoke to the media about my childhood experiences with a sexually abusive member of the clergy, as well as the non-sexual abuse I experienced at Grace Episcopal in Alexandria. Coverage on WTOP, NBC, and Fox News, including a statement by chapter president Becky Ianni.





Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Grace Episcopal Alexandria Auditors, Beware: Documentation of Intentional Misuse of Funds

Grace Episcopal Alexandria financial auditors, beware! Shortly after Dysfunctional Bob Malm issued his Edict of Shunning against me and Mike, Bob Malm deliberately misused restricted donations by using them in a manner other than that specified in the solicitation. Such use is at best breach of contract, and at worst, fraud. Bob accomplished this by instructing church staff that our names were to be omitted from all church publications. Later, he tried to weasel out of things, stating in writing that the funds were “properly recorded.” But that is a red herring, as they were solicited with the express understanding that they be recognized in the church bulletin.

As a result of Dysfunctional Bob’s actions, we filed a complaint with the Fairfax County Office of Consumer Protection, where we prevailed.

So, if you’re considering giving money to Grace Episcopal Church, just know that Bob Malm has few scruples in this space. So, ask yourself what would prevent a similar situation from happening to you.

The answer? Nothing.




Good Comment About Church Abuse

One theme that underlies every aspect of this conflict is Bob Malm’s efforts at gaslighting. The term gaslighting refers to trying to blame the cite of abuse by claiming that they are the abuser—as in claiming that I am a “domestic terrorist.” Gaslighting is, itself, considered a form of abuse, and it’s something I’ve seen Bob Malm engage in multiple times, including his multiple lies under oath (like claiming that my mother has made multiple appointments to meet him).

It’s interesting, too — Leslie and Lindsey Malm both try this tactic, as do Lisa and Lucy Medley. Further confirmation that Grace Church is toxic.

Here are comments on the topics of gaslighting and abuse posted by the Rev. Andrew Kadel in response to my recent article on Episcopal Cafe. See if it sounds familiar.

Eric, This is excellent in every way.  One thing that tends to muddle discussion and understanding of this, is under the rubric of "believe victims." One element of abuse is gaslighting, and an element of the gaslighting can be that the abuser poses as a victim. In the cold light of day, and when one steps back outside of the situation, it becomes clear that it is absurd, but for those who have an interest in shielding the abuser, it provides a rationale that is difficult to refute in heated situations. It's important to give credence to the stories of the abused which takes attention & compassion. The abusers, their sycophants & allies will always do things to make that difficult to do, including claiming that the victim is the abuser, or that the abuser is the victim.

The work of Wade Mullen, a baptist seminary professor, is very good on this. 
This is his Twitter: Wade Mullen @wad3mullen

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Attending Ash Wednesday Services at Grace Episcopal Church?

If so, be sure to ask Dysfunctional Bob Malm and Sugarland Chiow what Jesus thinks about bullying the dying by trying to drag them into court.

And if you’re not seeing repentance from both, have the courage to admit you’ve been played, that it’s just a job for Dysfunctional Bob, take a pass, and move on. Either find a real church, versus a religious club, or take a pass on organized religion altogether.




Check it Out: Me and Bunch of Other “Fake” Police Officers on the Police Unity Tour

In Bob Malm’s written court pleadings, he made various statements of fact about me that were fabrications, otherwise known as lies. One was that I had never served as a police officer.

Below is a photo I took during the Police Unity Tour as we were setting off from Norfolk. And yes, you must be a sworn law enforcement officer to ride, or retired from such a position.

The fact that Bob would lie to a court in his written pleadings tells you all you need to know about Bob, his lack of Christian faith, and the ethical standards of his attorney, church member Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow. 

For that matter, Bob’s lies tell you all you need to know about Grace Church.

Caveat emptor!




Saturday, February 16, 2019

Grace Governance Gaps: Trouble in the Offing

In previous posts, I reported on the various governance gaps at Grace Church. With the church presently working towards replacing its HVAC systems, and to obtain funding for this project, I believe it’s timely to revisit these issues. Most importantly, I want to flag for readers a big issue, which is that there’s a huge governance gap in the breakdown in communication between the school board and the vestry.

To begin, serving on the vestry creates a fiduciary legal obligation on the part of vestry members. This means putting aside one’s own interests and acting according to the highest legal and ethical standards in the interests of the beneficiary. In this case, the beneficiary is the parish itself.

This obligation, which includes the obligations of due diligence and reasonable inquiry, is reflected (albeit poorly) in written parish policy, which requires that the executive committee see school board minutes and the school’s financial reports. This in itself does not go far enough, for the school is part and parcel of the parish, and has no existence independent of the church. Thus, the fiduciary obligation of vestry members extends to all vestry members, not just those on the executive committee.

That said, the practice in recent years has been to ignore those requirements, with only Dysfunctional Bob Malm seeing these school documents. That’s hardly reassuring, as Dysfunctional Bob allowed church financials to become a hot mess over a period of years, as acknowledged in the vestry’s own minutes more than a year after Charlotte Payne Wright’s departure as parish administrator. Nor was he alert to potential problems; director of music Richard Newman was overpaid for many months before the matter was discovered by then-director-of-parish-operations Jeff “Airhead” Aaron. As a result, Richard was forced to repay the sum, despite the fact that he was hardly overpaid at the time. Moreover, the news may have had a deleterious effect on the relationship between Dysfunctional Bob and Jeff, as shortly after Jeff broke the news things appear to have gone south for Jeff, and a few months later he transitioned to a new job.

Of course, Dysfunctional Bob is quick to say, “Well, I see them.” But that’s exactly the point: Leaving Dysfunctional Bob in charge of money or financial reporting is worse than no supervision at all, for it gives the illusion of security, despite the evidence that Bob is feckless at best when it comes to these issues.

To make matters worse, when I brought the matter up, the vestry subsequently decided it didn’t need to see these documents, as it might make the school board feel that it’s not trusted. Big mistake. One cannot readily delegate away one’s fiduciary obligation as a vestry member, and saying, “Well, I trusted Bob and the school board,” isn’t going to cut it. Too bad Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow didn’t wade in on this issue — it would have been a far better use of his time versus subsequently trying to drag dying people into court. And yes, I am referring to my mother.

So what exactly is the risk? My take on it is that school internal controls are good—certainly vastly better than the almost non-existent controls at the church. Instead, issues are more likely to come up in the context of errors, omissions, and misunderstandings. For example, I have heard school board members glibly say of the parish budget, “We won’t have a deficit if we move money over from reserves.” Well, yes, you will still have a deficit. Money from reserves is not income, and you will still have a deficit, no matter how you choose to cover the bills.

So what could happen? I’d say the biggest risk is that the school incurs liability that could attach to the church. For instance, an incident of child sexual abuse would, even if covered by insurance, prove devastating for both church and school. And heaven knows, there are gaps a mile wide in both the church’s and the school’s prevention efforts. So while Dysfunctional Bob stirs the pot with fears of an active shooter (a phrase that he likely didn’t even know in 2014), the far greater threat is internal misconduct.

Similarly, a bad investment decision by the school could result in liability for the church. To use a real-life example from another non-profit with which I am familiar, suppose the school took out a loan containing a derivative. These are surprisingly common, and if the school’s loan contained an interest rate swap, versus a cap or collar, it could soon be on the hook for millions of dollars in payments. As I said, this happened to one prominent northern Virginia non-profit, with devastating results, and all because the executive director did not have adequate board supervision.

Needless to say, these risks are exacerbated by the church’s present precarious financial position. As I have said many times, cash reserves are far too thin for comfort and structural costs far too high, including the fact that 1 out of every 5 dollars the church pulls in goes into Bob Malm’s pockets. What’s really telling, too, is that the church has lost more than a third of its pledging units at a time when the Northern Virginia population is growing. Thus, the church is in a period of precipitous decline, despite the fact that the community around it is burgeoning.

As I have said before, Grace’s woes are compounded by the fact that Dysfunctional Bob must, under church canons, retire within the next few years. Such events are inevitably problematic, but all the more so when, as here, 1) Bob has stayed for more than 30 years and 2) Bob has created a narcissistic paradigm that focuses people’s attention on him and the church, versus on God. Pull Dysfunctional Bob out of the toxic crock of goo and there will be a hot mess on the diocese’s hands in record time.

To make matters still worse, the parish has very few real leaders. Real leaders tend to leave once they understand the problems at Planet Malm, replaced by sycophants, enablers and admirers who allow Bob to pretty much do as he pleases — a paradigm that Dysfunctional Bob both encourages and exploits. Thus, with Bob gone, there will be no meaningful plan B. And the true leaders in the parish simply don’t have the sway to influence the Planet Malm drone population.

So, a shout-out to candidates for assistant rector and potential lenders everywhere: Look before you leap. Things are gonna get ugly on Planet Malm in the next few years. Guaranteed.






Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Gossip at Grace: Another Sign of an Unhealthy Church

Remember when I posted the comment by a parish employee about how Bob Malm, aka Dysfunctional Bob, not only permits inappropriate discourse, but tacitly endorses it, by engaging in a certain amount of it himself? Well, in addition the the spectacularly bad example he and Sugarland Chiow have established in dealing with me, the reality is that, right behind the scenes, there’s lots of ugly discourse at Grace Church. 

To be fair, if you just show up on Sundays and hang out at coffee hour, you may never run into it. But I assure you, it’s alive and well. And its presence serves as a bellwether for the overall health of the parish.

A few good ones that I’ve heard:
  • Comments and speculation about one parishioner having a penile implant. (Seriously.)
  • Rumors about a recently married parishioner actually being gay — which is interesting, because that person is not a particularly good choice when it comes to defamation. I’ll leave it at that.
  • The endless speculation about infidelity and adultery in the parish.
  • Leslie Steffensen’s comments about me and money. Needless to say, I know who the source of those comments is.
  • Kemp Williams’ stupid comments about me.
Then there’s the use of gossip as a weapon, as I observed first-hand with Alison Campbell’s efforts to cause problems for me within the altar guild. And Lisa Medley’s post on The Wartburg Watch about my alleged $.02 donation. Yes, there was such a donation, but no, it was not mine, and it was not to the church. One would hope that Lisa would at least get her details right.

That said, the upshot is that when people use gossip as a weapon, that’s telling, for it’s only an effective weapon if people are receptive to it. And those who engage in it clearly have little concept of the damage they do to the church as a whole.

Sadly, it only takes a few to cause lasting harm to the parish.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Another Sign Dysfunctional Bob Has Stayed too Long

Some time ago, I touched on Joe McKeever’s excellent article, “Ten Signs the Pastor or Employee has Been There too Long.” While written from an SBC perspective, its key points hold true, regardless of denomination. And the tenth point, which I didn’t previously discuss, is particularly true in Dysfunctional Bob’s case. That point is that it’s time for the rector to go when he or she is willing to destroy the church in order to protect themselves. (Those interested may find the full article here.)

In Dysfunctional Bob’s case, his efforts to get at me, by his own admission in his written settlement proposal, have damaged the church. At this point in time, it’s hard to gauge how lasting the harm will be, but given the demographics of the parish, Bob’s lack of initiative, and the extent conflict lurking right below the surface in the church, it’s difficult to see things getting better for the church any time soon. Indeed, within the next 20 years the vast majority of the current congregation will be dead and gone. And long before that point numbers will soon drop to where the overhead associated with the  building will be more than the parish can sustain.

That begs the issue: Why, after almost 4 years, is Bob still pursuing his vendetta? Why has he included Mike in his vendetta? And my mother, now very close to the end of life?

The answer, I believe, is that Bob is a priest in name only. Jesus modeled health, wholeness, reconciliation, and welcoming the oppressed. Bob models none of these things, but rather their opposites.

Nor will Bob’s departure readily repair things. Over the years, Bob has taught parishioners a model of conduct that includes threatening and bullying others, urging people to commit suicide, and in the case of Kirk Steffensen and members of Dysfunctional Bob’s family, threatening people’s jobs. One has only to look at the smug, self-satisfied emails of parishioners like Kemp Williams and Easter Thompson to see how thin faith really is at Grace Church. Nor do these or myriad other examples indicate that parishioners actually have enough introspection to recognize their facially shallow faith. That said, I’ll drop a hint: If you haven’t taken steps to resolve this conflict, you should be asking yourself some tough questions. Second hint: If you’re okay with Bob giving Mike the heave-ho, then you’ve really got issues. Third hint: Trying to drag the dying into court. 

Of course, it’s a pretty sad state of affairs when Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow, hardly a model of ethical conduct with his inflammatory pleadings and false statements of fact to the Virginia courts, occupies the high moral ground apropos Bob by virtue of having made a settlement offer on his client’s behalf. That said, Sugarland’s offer was a legal maneuver; there was no aspect of the Christian faith set forth within.

These issues will create a problematic future for the parish. Young people today have scant use for organized faith under the best of circumstances, and the ugly rhetoric involving “domestic terrorism” coming out of the parish, the pursuit of a dying woman, and Bob’s bullying evince a faith for which most young people have little use. Indeed, the decline in pledging units and Sunday attendance at Grace Church suggests that many already at Grace have little use for Bob’s religious world views, which can best be summarized as the conflation of “friendly,” with “faithful.”

Nor should one discount the disappearance of many past stalwarts of the church. Quite a few, indeed many friends, have left the church, often on relatively bad terms. Yes, the front door is wide open and you’ll be welcomed with open arms, but the back door is open far wider, and folks are just as happy to point you in that direction if it suits them—another sign of organizational narcissism.

Going forward, Grace Church would be wise to place a clause in its letter of agreement requiring 1) an annual review of the rector 2) an annual mutual ministry review 3) a requirement that the rector adhere to all canonical and local community policies and regulations and 4) face an annual secret ballot, by the vestry, on whether to continue the contract after 10 years. This should include a provision that if such a vote is not held, then the contract terminates automatically.

Term limits are good, and that’s true for both priests and presidents.


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

More Observations on Integrity and the Church

Over the past week, I’ve been working on a number of matters related to this conflict. One of the themes that keeps popping up as I review material, correspondence and other related documentation is the extent to which the church still doesn’t get it. Specifically, Bob Malm, Jeff Chiow and the rest of the St. Dysfunction crowd continue to view the issue through the lens of power and control.

In other words, if Bob had his druthers, he’d be able to push people out of the church any time he wanted to, lie whenever he wanted to, go on vacation any time he wanted to, and have no one say a thing. Unless the response was, “Thank you Sir, may I have another?”

In fact, Bob, Leslie Malm and others are still trying to find ways to shut down criticism. They still seem to think that if they just find the right strategy, or tell the right lie, somehow the criticism will stop. 

It won’t.

It’s interesting too. Not only do Bob and his family not appear to realize when they are lying, but when they are asked about it, they either try denying everything, or they don’t answer. For example, Dysfunctional Bob claims he didn’t lie during the meeting with +Shannon, despite the fact he did so in front of witnesses.

Similarly, when Lying Leslie Malm was asked about her false claim that I admitted that Mom’s blog is really mine, she simply didn’t respond.

In short, St. Dysfunction is a seriously toxic church, and things are going to get worse as it becomes obvious to more and more people that this is the case.

Tough times ahead for the church.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Grace Episcopal: More on the HVAC Project

One of the earliest lessons I learned was the benefit of saving. By digently putting money aside, I was able to comfortably retire more than a decade before most people, with more than enough to meet any conceivable future financial need. How did I do it? By minimizing expenses, living beneath my means, avoiding luxuries like vacations and fancy clothes, by doing without, and by working two jobs for most of my career. Yes, it was tough, especially those first few years post-law school, but very much worth it.

Today, Grace Episcopal confronts a different reality, which is that for years it has refused to save. As a result, the church plans to borrow $540,000 to pay for its half of the replacement cost of the HVAC systems in the building. The other $135,000 will come from reserves. 

The first issue, of course, is that most of the money goes to subsidize the school, which far and away uses the lion’s share of the building. At a time when the church is rapidly shedding pledging units, and the average age of church members is much older that of the surrounding population, taking on this expense is foolish, and doubly so when most of the money is borrowed.

The second issue, previously discussed on this blog, is that this day has been coming since 1994. Did the church make any meaningful effort to save? No, it didn’t, and indeed in 2014 gave Bob Malm $100,000 of church resources as a bonus, as a reward for staying too long.

Third, the church remains perilously short of reserves, even without this expenditure. To be safe, it should have 3-6 months operating expenses in reserves, or roughly $500,000. This leaves the church perilously short of cash in the event of a major expense or decline in giving. And as discussed previously, restricted funds don’t count, as repurposing them without donor permission is illegal.

Fourth, this expense is being treated from a purely reactive, tactical perspective. There is easily an additional $500K in work that needs to be done, ranging from replacing the parking lot, to replacing the new narthex roof, to dealing with rotting wood trim and the need to refurbish both elevators. (Replacing the original elevator would, however, be stupid. A metal box is a metal box.  No need to buy it twice.) To date, the church has no meaningful game plan to address these issues, and lacks the financial means to address anything beyond minor needs.

Fifth, there is the issue of this being an old building. Old buildings, regardless of architectural style or age, share one thing in common: They throw you curve balls. As a result, costs inevitably go up, and it is a safe bet that the church will discover surprises along the way. (Just wait until folks discover the leak inside one of the exterior walls of Merrow Hall. It’s plumbing-related, has been there for years, is slowly causing extensive damage, and is going to be a bear to fix. $100 says there’s not a person in the parish who knows what I am talking about.)

Sixth, assuming a five-year amortization, the church will be paying on the loan when Dysfunctional Bob retires, which he must do by age 72 by canon. Retirements can throw a monkey wrench into even the healthiest churches, and Grace is far from healthy. Just ask Holy Comforter in Vienna what happened to the numbers when Rick Lord retired. (He at least had the common sense to know when it was time to go.) Thus, I can safely say there are shoals in the waters ahead, and a real risk that the church will be unable to repay the loan.

Seventh, the observant will notice that costs already have escalated. Not that long ago, vestry members were predicting that the total project cost would come down once the project was bid out, the cost of which was then forecast at $1.2 million. Today, that forecast is $1.35 million, and knowing the extent to which existing systems are cobbled together, and the vagaries of the building, it’s a safe bet things won’t come in under budget. And this isn’t like the 1994 building project—you can’t downgrade the ceiling panels or go for cheaper light fixtures to reduce costs. Nor is it wise to cheap out on hardware—less expensive compressors, for example, typically operate less efficiently, meaning that what you save upfront, you lose over time as the utility bills come in.

Eighth, if this is anything like the 1994 project, folks will conclude nothing more needs to be done for the next 10 years, and preventive maintenance will be ignored. That both increases total costs, and leads to debacles like the mold problems in the parish office record closet, which were ignored for many years and was a hell of a mess to resolve. Ditto for the HVAC-related mold in the vesting rooms, the bird filth in the attic over the sacristy, and more.



Ninth, Bob Malm, true to form, will try to wash his hands of these issues, but he appoints the executive committee, and nowhere do we see the sort of full-court press that occurred when Bob wanted the church to buy him a house. In short, Bob talks out both sides of his mouth on these issues, but it is the church that pays the price.

In short, it’s time for Grace Church to quit following the Bob Malm live-life-large model, and start taking a prudent approach to it’s long-term financial health. Yes, the trust fund is a start, but there is much, much more to it than that.

It’s time for Grace to get its financial and governance acts together.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Bob Malm Attends PB Sermon “Love is the Only Way”

Here’s an amusing one. 

Dysfunctional Bob recently was sighted over at Episcopal High School, where he listened to a sermon by the presiding bishop, Michael Curry, “Love is the Only Way.” 

Trying to drag the dying into court? Calling your former members “domestic terrorists?” Lying in court? Perjury?

I doubt Bob even saw the irony.

Bob and the PB were a year apart in divinity school.




Tuesday, January 29, 2019

See for Yourself: Bob Malm Contradicts Himself in Email Exchange With Easter Thompson

Here’s another good one from Bob Malm. On the one hand, Bob went to court, claiming that folks at Grace were “terrorized” by my Mom’s blog, which he claims I wrote. Yet in this email exchange with parishioner Easter Thompson, he claims no one at the church takes me seriously. So which is it?

Of course, Bob made a similar statement in January to the bishop, in which he said that his wife and daughter both take this more seriously than they should.

In the meantime, that begs the question: How did Easter Thompson get it in her head that my assertions are not based on fact/truth? Leaving aside the fact that I don’t recall God assigning Easter the role of “judge of all men,” there is written documention of almost every issue, ranging from Bob’s illegal use of restricted solicitations, to his bullying, to his order to parish staff to shun and exclude us, to his courtroom perjury. Nor do I see Easter making any effort to resolve the conflict, yet she proclaims herself a Christian.

Interesting that Easter is so comfortable passing judgment on others when she has no firsthand knowledge of the matter. It’s perhaps telling too that Bob felt no need to invoke the vestry prior to his decision to shun us. It’s only when he got pushback that he decided to pull in the vestry—a vestry that he has, on more than one occasion, apparently lied to, as evinced by the vestry’s “talking points,” in which he claims that we left on our own. If that’s the case, why then did Bob admit to the contrary during the meeting with the bishop?

No wonder people are abandoning organized religion. And you surely have to wonder what Easter’s objection is to the Anglican Consultative Commission’s work.

In the meantime, Easter, if you’re sick of stuff like my work on the Anglican Consultative Commission’s efforts, don’t friggin’ read it. And if you object to my actions, Easter, how about having the integrity to share your concerns directly with me, versus triangulating with Bob? It’s called having a spine. 

Ditto for Kemp Williams and his comments.






Monday, January 28, 2019

See for Yourself: Mike’s Title IV Disciplinary Complaint Against Bob Malm

Here’s a good one: Mike’s Title IV disciplinary complaint against Bob Malm, after Dysfunctional Bob removed Mike from church membership rolls in order to get at me. Also attached is the church directory from that fall, Mike Jones’ email confirming Bob’s role in these matters, and Bob Malm’s email announcing his decision to force Mike out of the church.

True to form, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia declined to do anything.

Any priest who would try to force a parishioner out of the church who had been received into The Episcopal Church 15 months earlier is trailer park trash. And yes, that means Bob Malm aka Dysfunctional Bob.

Any attorney who would support Bob in those efforts is trailer park trash. And yes, that means Jeff Chiow aka Sugarland Chiow.

Any vestry that would support Bob and Jeff in these efforts is trailer park trash. And yes, that means the Grace Church vestry.

Meanwhile, Bob will be pleased to know he got his wish. Mike has renounced the Christian faith. No interest in what he terms Bob Malm’s “invisible friend,” or winding up the sort of person that Bob Malm is.










Just Help Pay for the Air Conditioning...

We’ll take good care of your investment.

Photo taken summer 2013 of a vesting room window that hadn’t been cleaned in 4 years; the date on the Easter Vigil bulletin confirms this.

I sent this to both Bob Malm and the parish admin. The latter said she wasn’t sure that anyone cleans the vesting rooms. Bob Malm didn’t bother to respond.

On a related note, the existing double condensing boilers were not properly maintained following Mike Hix’s death, with the water line additive that prevents premature corrosion of the boilers allowed to run out. Additionally, the HVAC maintenance company that serviced the building until 2013 didn’t even do commercial properties and had no idea how to use the building control system, while Chris Byrnes repeatedly screwed the system up by manually opening and closing HVAC valves operated by the building control system. Does the word “cluster,” come to mind?

Your pledges at work!




Sunday, January 27, 2019

Coming Soon: Body Cam Footage

Late next week, I plan to release a very special treat for readers: Body cam footage. That’s right—your chance to see the good christians of Grace Church yelling the f bomb, flipping me the finger, and more. And yes, I include names and license plate photos. And yes, it is legal to film in a public arena, before you ask. Speaking of, I have a couple of juicy audio recordings of key people dropping the f bomb, lying and more. (Virginia is a one-party consent jurisdiction, before folks go running to Sugarland. And yes, I or another relevant party consented in all cases.)

Nor is Grace Episcopal School (GES) excluded. In fact, some of my best footage comes from GES parents. Release of this will be delayed for a few weeks while I work on my unofficial “Begin With Grace” video. Depending on how busy the next few months are, I may also do a “God’s Grace for All,” video about the church. But all this depends on several variables beyond my control.

So, not only will those be posted in a special gallery, but they’ll be out on social media, for all the world to see. Folks from Bill Eckel to Amy Medrick, and several more.

Fun times on Planet Malm!

Ministry? Or Business?

Very true. Grace Episcopal is a business, not a church, and a badly run business at that.




Saturday, January 26, 2019

Just Imagine if Bob Malm Were Really a Christian

There’s an interesting story in the news that underscores a key question in this conflict: What would it be like if Bob Malm really were a Christian?

The story involves St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Regina, Canada. Overnight, vandals broke in, breaking glass, topping statues, and otherwise damaging the church.

Here’s what one Catholic official said:


Of course, that contrasts profoundly with Dysfunctional Bob and Sugarland Chiow, where even independent third parties remarked that “this attorney is coming at you with a personal vendetta.” Additionally, Bob and Sugarland repeatedly lied in court, misrepresented facts, and even subpoenaed a dying woman.

In short, even with the scandal that has beset the Catholic Church, in many ways it is more truly Christian than the fast-dying Episcopal Church.

Small wonder that Grace Church is imploding.


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Check it Out: Questions for Assistant Rector Candidates

With the parish’s annual meeting now only a few days away, Grace church has said it hopes to begin the search for a full-time assistant rector shortly afterwards. With that in mind, and recognizing that this controversy likely will come up during the interview process (and should!), here are some insider’s questions that candidates can use when they meet with Bob Malm.

  • Have you personally reached out to Mr. Bonetti and his family to resolve this conflict? Have you spoken directly with his mother about these issues? His spouse? How did that go? 
  • It looks like you made a settlement offer to Mr. Bonetti. If accepted, how would a settlement ensure your safety and that of the parish?
  • I see that you refer to Eric as “dysfunctional,” “sick,” and “twisted” in your emails to the diocese. How does that comport with your vows as a priest and the baptismal covenant?
  • You claim that random words, like “psychological torture,” taken out of context are a threat. Can you help me understand how these are threats?
  • You included Eric’s spouse in your email instructing them to find a new church. Why was that necessary?
  • It looks like Mr. Bonetti attempted to resolve this matter with you in January 2016. Why did you say no?
  • I understand the church attempted to subpoena Eric’s mother, who is dying of COPD. Can you explain to me why that was necessary?
  • You have stated on multiple occasions that you believe that Mr. Bonetti is mentally ill. If that’s the case, what steps did you take to get him help? Have you ever discussed your concerns directly with him?
  • Do you think Grace Church’s internal dynamics are healthy? If so, why?
  • Why did Fanny Belanger abruptly leave with two years left on her letter of agreement?
  • How do your actions as rector reflect the baptismal covenant to members of the church?
  • What effect has this conflict had on the church and its finances, and what is your plan for resolving these issues?
  • The church has lost more than a 100 pledging units since this conflict arose. Why do you think that is and how do you plan to address those issues?
  • How do you feel about the fact that Eric and his entire family have left the Christian faith over this conflict?
  • What do you see as the ultimate outcome of this conflict?
Of course, some of these are tough questions to ask during an interview. But candidates who don’t ask these questions run the risk of being dragged into a situation that damages their careers and diminishes their own faith. 

One further caution: If you interview for this position and choose to explore issues related to this conflict, make sure you get actual answers to your questions, then “trust but verify.” Don’t be taken in by Bob’s usual routines of denial, evasion and charm bombing.

My advice to candidates: Learn as much as you can,  make your own decision, proceed at your own peril. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

See for Yourself: The 2016 Confidential Settlement Proposal that Dysfunctional Bob Malm Rejected

With Grace Episcopal Church set to hold its annual parish meeting Sunday the 27th, here’s a potentially useful inflection point. Specifically, in January 2016, through my attorney, I offered to settle the matter in exchange for nothing more than Bob Malm’s written agreement to act like a priest. That’s right — simply stop disparaging me and stop interfering in my participation in the church. Additionally, I asked that the matter be treated as confidential. All things that should be normative for a priest.

Through Sugarland Chiow, Bob rejected my offer, including my request for confidentiality. (I wasn’t aware clergy could pick and choose. Beware.)

As a result, I launched my social media campaign, which continues to this day, and will do so indefinitely. This has proven effective, although I may soon augment it with additional litigation.

Of course, that also underscores a key point: Even when faced with possible litigation and other actions with the potential to seriously damage Grace Church’s standing in the community, Bob Malm, with the advice of Sugarland Chiow, put his own perceived interests ahead of those of the church. Bob wanted revenge for my asking the diocese to mediate our dispute, and he didn’t care what that meant for Grace Church. And today we see the results, with church revenue and attendance down sharply, and all indications suggesting that things will only get worse over time. In fact, he still doesn’t give a red rat’s rear end about the church; his only interest appears to be shutting down criticism long enough to get the hell out of Dodge with his generous retirement in place.

In that vein, now that people understand what really does on behind the scenes at Grace Church Bob, being the manipulative little weasel he is, is playing his usual games, taking words out of context, lying repeatedly, claiming he’s been threatened, and asking the Alexandria police if there is any way they can take away my First Amendment rights. Having been repeatedly told that there isn’t, Bob’s fallback has been to argue “abuse of First Amendment rights,” in his emails to the diocese. And, of course, his old standby, which is to conduct smear campaigns behind the scenes. 

In all of this, of course, Bob conveniently overlooks the fact that that is the very reason for the First Amendment—to engender accountability, including for dirtbags like Dysfunctional Bob Malm. Meanwhile,  our recent litigation included numerous requests from Sugarland Chiow for confidentiality, including his trash settlement offer with — you guessed it — a confidentiality clause. Sorry, kids, that horse has left the barn.

This also touches on the issue of Bob’s real motivations. In that realm, there’s one thing that is abundantly clear to me , which is that, for Bob, it’s just a job. Nothing in Bob’s actions in any way suggests he’s a priest or Christian in anything but name only.

Check out my letter here in PDF.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Out of Town and #Metoo

Well, it’s another road trip for the long weekend, off to sign some paperwork. More to come on that.

Meanwhile, lots of interesting conversations with the Diocese of Virginia, including one in which the church basically told me that it has no problem with clergy retaliating against someone if they complain to the diocese.

It’s conversations like that that show just how clueless The Episcopal Church really is. It carries on about #metoo and its desire to be a safe church for all persons, while at the same time adhering to a standard that hasn’t been seen in publicly traded companies in many years.

Of course, that raises the question: If The Episcopal Church is 20+ years behind the times, is there a future for it?

I doubt it. Any organization, church or otherwise, with such a low ethical bar isn’t worth the time of day.

On an unrelated note, earlier this morning the blog broke 60,000 hits. That’s chump change compared to social media results so far, but still a cool milestone. 

100,000 hits, here we come!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

As James MacDonald Tanks at HBF, There are Lessons for The Episcopal Church

As many who follow abusive churches know, things have been ugly lately at Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF), an evangelical church that, like Bob Malm, tried to use bogus accusations in the courts to silence criticism. That case recently was thrown out of court.

It’s beyond the purview of this post to rehash the details of this debacle, but our evangelical sisters and brothers have done an excellent job of parsing what needs to come next. In HBF’s case, that is repentance, which is not the same as peacemaking or reconciliation. HBF goes on to state, quite rightly, that this will only happen if the going-forward plan is “completely devoid of manipulation and avoidance.”

In my experience, these are the two words that best describe Bob Malm’s “leadership,” — manipulation and avoidance. Yet the diocese has never recognized the distinction between reconciliation and repentance when it comes to Bob’s actions, and it manifests a warped theology of repentance. “Just say you’re sorry and everything’s good,” is the approach. And Bob goes even further; in his ill-fated settlement proposal, he basically suggests the status quo, with a layer of “Jesus-babble” slapped on top.

Sorry kids, that dog ain’t gonna hunt.




Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Easter Advertising Starts This Weekend

Although Easter is late this year, we’ll be launching relevant paid advertising across various media starting this weekend, with a heavy emphasis on social media. Themes center on Bob Malm’s infamous quote, “Jesus is Truth,” Bob’s various lies and misrepresentations (including falsely telling the court that I have violated the existing court order), the meaning of Easter, and toxic churches.

Target markets include the priority, which is metro DC; Richmond; and areas with heavy concentrations of Episcopalians. Those with an interest in social justice will be a priority, as will people who are politically progressive and seeking a new church. (Yes, those advertising lists are available!). Target ages with be 20-55; older than that generally means that audiences have already made decisions about their faith community.

In addition, we’ve got some fun things going on, including a drink special at nightclubs where the Killer B’s rock band is performing. (Unlike Dysfunctional Bob and Sugarland Chiow, I don’t view the name as a case of “domestic terrorism.”)

Fun times on Planet Malm. And remember, “It pays to advertise!”


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A Blast from the Past: Third-Party Observers Describe Parishioners’ Behavior as “Hateful and Childish”

“While they seem sane to themselves, the seem immature and hateful to outsiders who are looking at their behavior.”

An excellent observation, and one that I believe applies to numerous parishioners in this situation.

Screen cap from comments on original Wartburg Watch article about Bob Malm’s abusive behavior.




A Blast From the Past: Internal Controls Checklist

As the St. Dysfunction vestry meets tonight to discuss, inter alia, the church's 2019 budget, here's a great bit of context I came across from my old blog: A completed version of the Episcopal Church's internal controls checklist. The denomination asks that all parishes complete this as part of the annual audit required under canon law.

As you can see, despite (or perhaps because of) Dysfunctional Bob's 29 years with the parish, the church's internal controls are a hot mess. More to the point, there basically are none.

Needless to say, this evinces a profound lack of respect for the generosity of church members. I mean, how the hell can Bob Malm get paid more than many bishops, but he can't be bothered with basic aspects of his job, like this?

While my normal copyright forbids any usage or reproduction of content on this site, permission is granted to church auditors, loan officers, and bankers to reprint this and use as needed.

Here it is, in PDF.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

What Does Jesus Think of Shunning?

One of the recurring themes in the Gospels is Jesus’ distaste for those who served as a stumbling block to the faithful.

Given that, thanks to Bob Malm, every single member of my family has now renounced Christianity, I wonder what Jesus would say to Bob Malm today.




Look What Just Went Into the Trash

I was doing some purging the other day at one of our digs, looking to lighten the load of detritus that we all carry through life, when I came across a particularly good candidate for the dumpster.

Check it out: Grace Church in the snow. The photo used to hang in our entrance hall. And to think I wasted money getting it framed—sheesh.




Friday, January 11, 2019

See for Yourself: Bob Malm Perjury

During discovery, Bob Malm stated under oath that Mom and other family members repeatedly made appointments with him and no-showed. This was part of his purported reason for his claim that I am, in fact, the author of Mom’s blog. There’s just one little wrinkle in all of this: Mom has NEVER made an appointment with Bob, nor has ANYONE done so on her behalf.

In other words, Bob committed perjury.

Here is what Bob wrote, again under oath:


And here is Mom’s response:




And here is my meme summarizing Bob’s perjury:


Oh, and by the way, if Bob tells you that this is defamation, ask him for proof that these meetings were scheduled.

He has none.

Bob Malm, the perjuring priest.

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




A Shout Out to the Denizens of Planet Malm

First, if you have no idea what this conflict is about, do yourself a favor and keep your mouth shut. Otherwise, you make yourself look stupid.

Second, in response to a particularly dimwitted parishioner who took it upon herself to berate me today, I have this to say to her:
  • Shame on you for supporting a priest and vestry that lie.
  • Shame on you for supporting a priest who commits perjury.
  • Shame on you for being part of a parish that thinks it’s okay to try and drag a dying woman into court.
  • Shame on you for being part of a parish that accuses former parishioners of being “domestic terrorists.”
  • Shame on you for supporting a priest who abuses his authority.
  • Shame on you for supporting a priest who falsely claims parishioners are mentally ill.
  • Shame on you for being part of a church that pays $100,000 bonuses, using donated money.
  • Shame on you for being part of a church that bullies Mike.
  • Shame on you for being part of a church that encourages people to commit suicide.
  • Shame on you for being part of a church that engages in shunning and other forms of abuse.
  • Shame on you for blindly following Bob Malm.
  • Shame on you for putting your comfortable little world of stained glass, Shrine Mont and church activities ahead of other human beings and the real message of the gospels.
  • Shame on you for being stupid.
  • Shame on you for being a hypocrite.
Shame on you, Sally Schneider

More on Bob Malm’s 2014 Bonus

By the way, when one contemplates the wisdom of paying Bob Malm a $100,000 bonus in 2014, especially in light of the church’s failure to plan for the replacement of the school’s HVAC system, it’s important to know that there were vestry members who wanted to give Bob the full $200,000. That’s right, folks, there were vestry members with so little financial common sense that they wanted to give away $200,000 of the church’s funds.

This includes Lisa Medley, whom Bob Malm later asked to serve as senior warden.

So, when Bob pulls his usual trick at the upcoming parish meeting of taking zero responsibility for the hot mess that is Grace Church, just remember: Bob appoints the executive committee. Thus, he is responsible for both its direction and its decisions. And members of St. Dysfunction have a right — and I submit, an obligation — to ask some tough questions.

All of this is donated money, and interest on donated money. Donated money should not be used to pay $100,000 bonuses. If Bob wants a bonus of that magnitude, he should get a high-level corporate position, rather than working for a non-profit church.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Grace Church by the Numbers

With Grace Church’s annual parish meeting now only a few weeks away, it’s worth looking at the effects Bob’s multi-year campaign of bullying and harassment, directed towards me and my family, have had on the parish. The data are not good.

In 2014, the year our conflict began, the church had 525 households and 317 pledging units. Total pledge income was about $850,000; there always is some wiggle room due to the late payment of pledges and pledges not fulfilled. Thus, the average pledge was approximately $2,681.

Since then, the number of pledging units has continued to fall, while the average pledge has trended upward, consistent with other churches in the diocese. In recent years, the average pledge has bumped up to roughly $3,600, while the total number of pledging units continues to fall. 

As things stand, the church hopes to pull in 220 pledging units, although 200 pledging units is a more likely number, and quite possibly not even that many. Thus, pledge income will probably end up between $700,000 and $720,000. But even with the church’s optimistic forecasts, best case is pledge income of $792,000–a far cry from past years. And many of the families that have been stepping up their pledges are clearly tapped out, with limited ability to increase their pledges further.

That doesn’t leave much room. Fixed building costs are going to remain about $150,000 annually, and likely higher as the physical plant continues to age. Additionally, should the church go ahead and hire a full-time assistant rector, it will be difficult to get total compensation costs much below $600,000. Throw in an 8 percent pledge to the diocese and guess what—we’re at roughly $814,000, which with income from the trust, investments, and cost sharing with the school, is pretty much everything. Nothing left to cover the costs of a loan for the HVAC, to save for the future, or to cover unexpected contingencies. 

Of course, part of the problem is the church’s current cost structure. In this day and age, when a church can hire a full-time rector with an Mdiv and a PhD for $100,000 all-in, paying Bob Malm almost $200,000 a year is questionable, at best, particularly given his feckless job performance — not to mention that damage he’s caused to the church and its reputation in the larger faith community through his efforts to suppress criticism.

At the same time, it’s hard to justify three additional full-time positions with full indirects, when in this day and age, so many churches use part-time employees. That’s not to say that current staff don’t do a good job—it’s just that few churches these days have any full-time employees other than the rector, and for many, even the rector is part-time or bi-vocational.

Where things get really ugly, though, is when one looks at the financial implications of the school. Producing little benefit to the church, the 50/50 split on utilities and other currently non-fungible expenses works strongly in the school’s favor. Coupled with years of Chris Byrnes’ empire building and rather lopsided approach to cost-sharing, and even with Patti’s much more collaborative approach, it’s a tough sell for many parishioners.

Freed from the school and Dysfunctional Bob’s current bloated cost structures, here’s what expenses would likely look like:

 1 FT rector, including indirects  $140,000
 1 PT music director, including indirects $45,000
 1 PT parish admin, including indirects $45,000
 1 PT accountant, including indirects $40,000
 1 PT assistant for pastoral care, including indirects $22,000
 1 PT assistant for family ministry, including indirects $22,000
 Facilities, including repairs, insurance, utilities (this is a generous number, too)  $100,000
 Diocesan pledge $55,000
 Outreach (not including diocesan pledge) $60,000
 Administrative costs $30,000
 Long-term savings $40,000
 Miscellany $40,000
 Total $454,000
 Optional: PT sexton with indirects $20,000

As you can see, the current combination of a 1970’s-vintage staffing model and the overhead associated with the school basically doubles the church’s cost structure, at a time when every indication suggests that church revenue will continue to fall in the coming years. 

Several additional factors also suggest that, if Grace is going to survive, a more modern cost structure needs to be envisioned. These factors include:
  • The fact that church membership no longer is normative in American society.
  • The lack of saving from current revenue for the future.
  • The church’s token efforts at growth and increased membership.
  • The discomfort Americans have with clericalism, and the profoundly negative effects clericalism has had on the parish.
  • The cavalier attitude towards church administration under Bob Malm, in which the entire approach for much of his tenure has been laissez-faire. Not good when dealing with other people’s donations.
In addition, the church’s lack of transparency regarding decision making, budgetary issues, and other important matters offers a powerful disincentive to younger members to give at levels consistent with those of previous generations.

In the meantime, the rapidly dwindling number of pledging units have done an admirable job of stepping up to the plate as people leave the church and stop pledging. But this trend should, in itself, cause alarm, for it is part of a very predictable pattern that occurs in dying churches. 

In short, Grace’s current cost structures and its approach to governance simply cannot continue over time.

Bob Malm and Church Discourse

As the final days of the 2019 pledge season wind down and the Grace Church vestry determines next year’s budget, it’s important to reflect on the values that Bob Malm brings to the church. Specifically, the lessons he teaches people about “respecting the dignity of every human being.” Or not.

Readers may recall the comments of one long-time parish employee, who noted the unhealthy way that people at Grace church talk to each other, and about each other, and Bob’s role in this paradigm.

Consider, for example, Alison Campbell’s fun and games with the altar guild during the time Bob Malm was out on disability, which involved stirring up the altar guild to try to cause problems for me, all while claiming that she was “just the messenger.” Leaving aside the disingenuous aspects of her actions, Alison undoubtedly felt justified due to my conflict with Kelly Gable. But in this, she overlooked both the fact that Kelly and I had resolved our differences, and the fact that it was not her place to get involved. Moreover, she ignored that fact that she never really understood that conflict in the first place, the spiritual aspects of her conduct, and the fact that her conduct has been profoundly damaging to the church.

And so it is with others, including Lisa Medley and her childish antics.

At the same time, Bob Malm has played a major role in these problems. For example, he saw no irony in saying to me, “There are people who have it in for you,” apropos issues with the altar guild. Of course, that aligns with Bob’s notion that people should solve their own differences—an odd idea when it comes to harassment, bullying, and other abusive conduct.

Of course, Bob also likes to stir the pot, and by doing so sets a bad example. For instance, I have personally heard him refer to Jan Spence as an “asshole.” Lisa Doelp he has referred to as, “like a little spy, always trying to find out stuff.” And the list goes on, including Peter and Cheryl Barnes and others, often postured as Bob taking you into his confidence. And folks, if you think you’re not included, I suggest you look up the word “delusional.”

It’s interesting too. Bob says that people should solve their own problems one-on-one, yet look at the many emails he has sent to diocesan officials, including Pat Wingo and Bishop Shannon; as well as to the Alexandria police department; and to Patti Culbreth, the head of school. And let’s not forget his messages to my friend Dee Parsons, and his use of Sugarland Chiow in court. All of these are replete with manipulative language, as well as references to me as “sick,” “twisted,” and “dysfunctional.” But the one person Bob has never contacted directly in an effort to resolve this conflict is me. Nor has he ever contacted my Mom. Nor has he contacted Mike, except as part of our now-abandoned agreement to end our conflict.

Healer, heal thyself.

Bob no doubt will read this and start his usual fun and games with Sugarland Chiow about defamation. But these issues are well documented, and parishioners can name many more incidents in which Bob has behaved badly. This includes his statement, allegedly made to Phil Smith and others as well as to me, about the former office staff, in which he said multiple times, “Don’t worry about it. They’ll be retiring this year.” Needless to say., many years came and passed, with no retirements. Where but a church can an employee like Bob lie to board members about important HR issues and keep his job? That’s right—nowhere.

By now, you’ve probably concluded that I believe Bob Malm to be toxic. If so, you’re correct. 

The larger question, though, is how much longer the church is going to pony up roughly $200K a year for this sort of conduct. 

If it doesn’t take action, I believe there will soon come a time where they will no longer be a Grace Episcopal Church, as it will have disappeared while wallowing in its own hypocritical filth. 

“Thy own words shall impeach thee.” Sound familiar?

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Bob Malm: My Full Pleading, With Exhibits

Later today, I’ll post additional highlighted excerpts. But for now, here’s my entire pleading, filed last summer at the end of my litigation with Dysfunctional Bob. In it, we see:
  • Dysfunctional Bob ordered by the court to specify which blog posts he claims to be threatening. Should have been a simple matter, right? Note that Bob never did comply with the court’s order.
  • Dysfunctional Bob and Sugarland Chiow get called out for lying to the court about my having been licensed as an attorney, and having served as a police officer. The great irony is these lies are contained right after a phrase in which Dysfunctional Bob and Sugarland Chiow refer to me as a “serial liar.” 
  • Sugarland Chiow’s typical, unprofessional inflammatory rhetoric, which was in part the reason that an independent attorney said of Sugarland, “This attorney is coming at you with a personal vendetta.”
  • Sugarland’s billing records, which reflect:
    • Bob Malm’s efforts to come after Mike Smith and get a protective order against him.
    • Sugarland’s repeated efforts to find a cause of action for defamation and defamation per se, despite the fact that Dysfunctional Bob is a limited purpose public figure under the law. (Meaning it’s quite hard to defame him, even if I wanted to. I mean, why bother? The truth is plenty ugly as is.)
    • Sugarland’s efforts to obtain a criminal referral.
Folks, if this is how your almost $200,000 a year in compensation for Dysfunctional Bob gets spent, you have an issue. And you still have to deal with the fact he’s going around telling people that Grace is threatened by “domestic terrorism.” That must do wonders for attendance. Not to mention it’s probably no super helpful when applying for an HVAC loan.

As the old saying goes, “If only Bob Malm had half the common sense God gave a goat.”

Here’s the entire file, in PDF.

In the meantime, I have some protesting to do.


Bob Malm Ordered to Say Which Blog Posts Were Threatening

As readers know, Grace Episcopal rector Dysfunctional Bob Malm has been going around claiming that he and the church are victims of “domestic terrorism” (his words, not mine). So it should be a pretty simple matter for him to point to specifics, right?

Well, apparently not.

After months of discovery during last summer’s legal battle, Bob still refused to come right out and answer this pretty basic question. This led to the court ordering him to do so—an order with which he never complied. Does that tell you anything?

Here’s the relevant court order:


In my next several posts, I’ll publish evidence of Dysfunctional Bob’s efforts to go after Mike Smith, Dysfunctional Bob’s multiple lies to the court, and his efforts to obtain a criminal referral in conjunction with his lies and misrepresentations. And I’ll publish Jeff Chiow’s billing records, so you too can see what legal services you get at Rogers, Joseph O’Donnell for what is allegedly more than $100,000.

As an added bonus, you’ll get to see firsthand Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow’s inflammatory rhetoric and facially un-Christian conduct. And you’ll get to see firsthand the involvement of the church’s executive committee in these lies and misrepresentations.

Stay tuned!


Monday, January 7, 2019

Will Grace Episcopal Close? It’s Looking More and More Likely

Estimates suggest that 60 percent of church buildings constructed after WWII will close in the next decade. Currently, 100-200 churches close every week, with most of those closing focused primarily on the needs of their members, versus reaching out into the community. Indeed, less than 20 percent of Americans attend church regularly—yet Bob Malm’s response when members leave is, “Why should I give a fuck?” (Yes, his exact words. There were witnesses.)

Will Grace be a church that closes?

Events of the past few years, the church’s refusal to confront the economic and other realities facing it, and the conduct of both clergy and some members suggest Grace will be among those closing.

As one long-time parish employee once said to me (herself an Episcopalian);

“I would never belong to your church, and it’s because of the way people talk to each other, and it goes right to the top. And I’ll tell you right now, Bob will never say anything about it. And because he engages in a certain amount of it himself, he shows it’s okay”

At the time, I foolishly took Bob’s side. I have since admitted to that person that she was right; I was wrong.

Abandoned Episcopal Church

One thing is clear to me: If Grace is going to survive, drastic changes need to happen. Otherwise, it does not have long to go. Simply doing the same thing, day in, day out, year in, year out will result in more of the same—a rapidly declining church. No surprise there.

Some good articles on church closings:








https://www.episcopalcafe.com/top-ten-things-to-remember-when-closing-a-church/




(Check out my naive comments at the end!)


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Grace Episcopal: Lack of Accountabilty

One of the recurring themes in my experiences with Grace Episcopal, aka St. Dysfunction, is lack of accountability. Lack of accountability by Bob Malm, by the vestry, by parish “leaders,” by Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow, and more. As I’ve said many times, where but church can a key employee, Bob Malm:

  • Lie to vestry members about important HR issues (“don’t worry about it, they’ll be retiring this year,”)
  • Lie in court
  • Fail to  adhere to basic organizational policies (like the canonical requirement that the vestry elect its officers)
  • Lose track of thousands of dollars in funds (like those found in the parish administrator’s office)
  • Generate facially inaccurate financial reports
  • Deliberately misuse funds (like our memorial donations)
And still keep their job? And get a $100k bonus on top of that?

I was happy to see that my sentiments about churches generally were recently echoed by my friend Dee Parsons, who tweeted this:




60,000 Hits, Here We Come!


Although my blog is the smallest part of my social media efforts, I’m pleased to report that the blog is getting ready to reach the 60,000 hit mark. That’s small potatoes compared to my Twitter and Instagram presence; Twitter alone has has scored more than 1 million hits.

The part that Bob Malm and Grace Episcopal Church doesn’t get, though, is that few people my age and older are on Twitter. Instead, it’s 20- and 30-somethings, many of whom are very resistant to organized faith to begin with. Indeed, one Pew survey revealed that 1/3 of 20-somethings are indifferent to organized religion, while another 1/3 actively oppose it. Thus, given that the church has almost no meaningful presence on Twitter, and none at all on Instagram, it’s a safe bet that going forward local young people are going to steer clear of the parish. This is exacerbated by the fact that the church has very few twenty-something members outside those who have grown up in the church. Nor is Bob’s conduct likely to help matters much—this demographic reports that one of their big turn-offs is hypocrisy. 

That’s right. Bullying, shunning, and lying, both by Bob and by members of the parish, is a major non-starter for young people. Take note, Bob Malm, Jeff Chiow, Alison Campbell, Lisa Medley, and Jan Spence. You’re killing a church you claim to love.

Or, put in other words, unless things change drastically, it’s a safe bet that Grace Church will be shuttered within 20 years, and probably much, much sooner. Dysfunctional Bob and those who follow his example surely have done a number on the parish.


Saturday, January 5, 2019

Bob Malm’s 2014 Bonus Was 10 Percent of Annual Revenue

And that’s on top of the $25,000 parishioners donated to help Bob and his family after his accident. 




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.



Before You Pledge, Know This: 1 out of Every 5 Dollars Goes to Bob Malm




As you consider pledging in 2019, it may be helpful to look at Bob Malm’s compensation in light of the church’s overall financial condition. Here is a quick summary of Bob Malm — by the numbers.
  • Compensation as part of total parish annual budget
    • Total church annual budget: ~ $1 million
    • Total Bob Malm compensation, including indirects: ~ $200,000
    • Percentage of church revenue devoted to Bob Malm compensation: ~20%, or 
1 out of every 5 dollars goes to Bob Malm!
  • Highest paid bishop on presiding bishop’s staff annual income, including housing, per DFMS annual financial report:
    • $166,519
    • Bob Malm annual compensation: Higher!




  • Annual compensation versus local average
    • Alexandria mean annual family income per CityData: $89,200
    • Bob Malm annual income: Almost twice this number
  • Annual leave
    • Average annual leave for employees with 20+ years’ experience, nationally: 20 days (16 days actually used)
    • Average annual leave for Bob Malm: 35+ days (all used) (does not include sabbatical)
  • Average annual bonus
    • Average annual bonus per Monster: $1,797
    • Bob Malm average annual bonus, based on $100,000 bonus paid in 2014: $3,333
  • Average Alexandria home value:
    • $476,900 per US Census Bureau
    • Bob Malm home value: $734,263 per Zillow (note that this number is probably high due to deferred maintenance on Bob’s home, lack of improvements)
Keep in mind, too, that Bob’s almost $200K in annual income is not the same as your $200K, or my $200k. 

Why is that? 

It’s because federal tax law treats Bob’s housing allowance AND his mortgage as both deductible. When this double dip is factored in, Bob’s putative compensation is well north of $200K.

So, before you give sacrificially, consider this: 1 out of every 5 dollars you give does NOTHING to fund the church, but instead subsidizes Bob Malm. And even as the church’s financial position continues to deteriorate, Bob gets paid no matter what. Ministries may lose funding, but by gummy, the gravy train and the good life continue for Bob Malm, even though church governance has been a train wreck for much of his time with the church.

Caveat emptor.




Bob Malm Allegedly Ignored Bank Complaints that Church Deposits Were Repeatedly Off

Almost 200K a year in compensation and he can’t be bothered to find out why? And why were several thousand dollars’ worth of undeposited cash and stale checks found in a former parish administrator’s office when she left? Why was this not detected before she left? Why after almost 30 years as rector does the church STILL not have the finance manual required by church canons? Why did Bob Malm not realize for many months that Richard Newman was overpaid? Why were church financial reports facially off for many months?

Why?


Thursday, January 3, 2019

My Comments On TWW Summarizing the Problems that Churches Cause Themselves When They Go to Court

Following are my comments on the appalling situation at Tenth Presbyterian in Philadelphia, which appears to be pulling a Bob Malm as it tries to sue critics into silence.

The full story and my comments are at:

http://thewartburgwatch.com/2018/12/31/what-in-the-world-is-going-with-the-lawsuit-at-10th-presbyterian-church-philadelphia/

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As a former lawyer, I realize that attorneys often forget that the best solution to such situations is rarely a legal one. Indeed, going to court has no upside for the church, even if it prevails. One has only to look at my very similar case to predict what will transpire:

1) Phil will be seriously ticked off, perhaps so much so that reconciliation is impossible. As a result, the church will cement the current conflict in place.
2) Being unable to speak directly with Phil will prevent any further attempt at resolution.
3) Phil and others will take to cyberspace, resulting in tremendous damage to the church’s reputation.
4) Phil’s protests will move right down the street, and continue unabated, and others will join him, me included.
5) Tenth Presbyterian will gain a reputation as unhealthy, and unable to resolve conflict in a healthy way.
6) As has been the case at my former church, attendance will drop, as well as giving. (Average Sunday attendance at my church is down 17%, and it has lost roughly 1/3 of its pledging units at a time when it faces massive unfunded capital expenses.)
7) Assistant pastors and others will avoid working at a church mired in conflict and whose reputation may reflect badly upon them.
8) As frustration rises, the church will make stupid, unethical decisions, like lying in court about what transpired, and resorting to inflammatory rhetoric. In my case, the church’s attorney foolishly referred to the situation as one of “domestic terrorism.”
9) Denominational officials, who otherwise would serve as serve as a brake on stupid conduct at the church level, will sit on their hands, saying that they can’t get involved in a court case. As a result, the whole situation will be exacerbated and reflect poorly on the denomination.
10) Phil eventually will hire an attorney on a contingency fee basis and pursue claims for the intentional infliction of emotional distress, abuse of process, defamation and invasion of privacy. Discovery will reveal dozens of unsavory comments and emails by church employees and members, all of which will eventually get to cyberspace, and those involved will come out looking ugly, manipulative, and hypocritical.
11) Referring to Phil as mentally ill, the favorite smear tactic of churches called on the carpet, will simply solidify his resolve to stand up for himself, and rightly so.
12) At some point, once they realize they’ve painted themselves in a corner, folks at the church will try to settle, but they’ll take a litigation-based approach, including a confidentiality clause. No one who’s been through what Phil has endured would say yes, and he will reject the offer outright.

So, just ask the the Rev. Bob Malm of Grace Episcopal in Alexandria VA how all this will turn out if you don’t believe me. But if they choose to proceed, the good Christians of Tenth Presbyterian can’t say they weren’t warned. They will end up causing themselves lasting and possibly irreparable reputational harm.