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, January 23, 2020

Bob Malm’s Perjury

Below is Bob’s written statement, made under oath during the discovery phase of our litigation, in which he committed perjury. Mom has NEVER made an appointment with him—of that I am certain. If nothing else, she loathes him. Why would she even want to meet with him? Nor has anyone made an appointment on her behalf or claiming to be her. Period.

Nor is Bob’s perjury inconsequential. Instead, it goes to the very heart of his lies about how he’s been threatened, as he cites this as part of the basis for his conclusion that Mom’s blog actually is mine. So Bob is either guilty of perjury, or he is innocent of perjury by virtue of the fact that he is so mentally ill that he cannot differentiate between truth and his lies.

Bob Malm Perjury












And here is where Bob swore that this statement was the truth; he took his oath before Jane Rosman on April 5, 2018. Jeff Chiow’s signature follows.




And when Bob Malm inevitably tries to lie his way out of this, simply ask him for evidence to support his claim. He has none.

Bob Malm’s statement is a lie. 

Bob Malm’s statement is perjury.

Bob Malm, perjuring priest.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Eighty-five Percent of Millennials Who Don’t Go to Church Say it’s Hypocritical. They’re Right

Did you know that 85 percent of millennials who don’t go to church say they believe church to be hypocritical? Well, they’re right.

The statistics are found in the recent Barna studies, with the relevant results available here.

That doesn’t bode well for Grace Church. With a rector, Dysfunctional Bob, who commits perjury by lying under oath, who thinks it’s okay to try to drag the dying into court, and who has repeatedly lied in other settings, both Dysfunctional Bob and the church serve as the poster children for hypocrisy. A similar approach pertains with former vestry member and church lawyer Jeffery Chiow, who repeatedly proffered false statements of fact in court, and whose descriptions of other church members would have enraged Jesus. 

Things don’t get any better with the vestry, which is nothing but a rubber stamp for Dysfunctional Bob, and which also lies to people with its facially false talking points about our conflict. 

The altar guild also has its fair share of bullying, with Linda Waskowiscz allegedly having reduced more than one of her fellow altar guild members to tears over the years. Then there’s Alison Campbell, with her seeming belief that she gets to choose who is a member of Grace Church, using her fun and games/manipulative behavior with the altar guild as her enforcement mechanism.

Similarly, the choir is well known for its bad behavior, including bullying. Then there’s the office staff, as well as our buddy the Princess Porcine, aka Lisa Medley, with her lies, bullying and other antics. And you have several independent actors, including the obviously troubled Jan Spence, whom Bob Malm refers to as an “asshole.” Yup, the love of Christ runneth over.

Nor does the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia want to get involved, so it’s also a part of the problem. 

In short, the Episcopal Church in Virginia appears headed for a resounding crash as its existing membership evaporates through attrition. Of course, the Bob Malm’s of the world don’t care—their pension checks will continue regardless. But the Virginia branch of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement appears to be moving in one direction only: Down the toilet.

How very sad that a church with so many things going for it is so utterly incapable of getting its act together.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

To All the Christian Friends I Could Not Keep


On May 21st, 2013, my life changed forever. My house church in Redlands, CA, became a cult, put me on trial, and tried to coerce me to sign a contract that forbade questioning the leadership. They called such questions “slander.”
The antinomian teachings of Hyper Grace had taken hold of this fifty-member community, and they ultimately shunned me, along with their families, friends, and other house churches in the area.
I was devastated, because I knew that this sort of thing—authoritarian dictators running rampant with impunity—happens often in churches. I had been studying it and learning about it. I knew it even had a name: spiritual abuse. I determined to warn others and speak out, even when my vocabulary and composure couldn’t keep up.
As my friends went from drunkenness to drug use, from marijuana to heroin, from twisting the Scriptures to ignoring them entirely, the apathy of so many parents and pastors and onlookers in Redlands matched what I came to understand was the larger Christian world.
Like every victim, my entry into the survivor community was unexpected and involuntary, and every plea for help became a silent scream into a vacuum where no answers come.
Those were my “all caps days,” when I wrote status after status on Facebook—never in a dignified way—seeking to share my experiences of abuse. I thought that if you heard from a person you knew, speaking about how abuse is thriving in churches, you would understand what has been happening for far too long.
I thought you would understand what I was saying about Bill Gothard, Doug Philips, Mark Driscoll, Perry Noble, Tony Jones, Bill Hybels, Andy Savage, Tullian Tchividjian, C.J. Mahaney, James MacDonald, and too many others to mention. I thought you would understand how these leaders and the culture that enables them are not unique or isolated incidents but part of a hellish pattern.
I thought you would see this pattern and understand my burden to stop it.  
I was wrong.
Maybe I was naïve, thinking Christians were different from the average person. Your preaching about love and family and commitment gave me the impression you knew what you were talking about. But when push comes to shove, it has actually been the non-Christians in my life who treated me better than the Christians.
The biggest lesson being your friend taught me is how I should not try to persuade people to love me who are committed to misunderstanding me. I will no longer negotiate my worth. Even if you disagree, I deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion because I am created in the image of the invisible God.
Yet you’d rather make me “unhinged,” nothing more than garbage, a Peter who cries “wolf,” rather than consider I may actually know what I’m talking about. 
I wish you understood.
I wish you knew what I did about how unsafe Sunday really is.
I wish you knew the many people I do, whose lives stand in sharp contrast to your own. 
The subtle biases many of us face is a web of indifference. It is that attitude, that mindset hiding in plain sight, that the Church is somehow immune from evil and that abuse does not happen there.
Instead, the soul-crushing truth is that abuse would not thrive in the Church if it weren’t for the indifference of those whose privilege has isolated them from reality.
I wish instead of invalidating our experiences you could just listen. When we tell you that women experience the Church differently than men, how vulnerable children and the disabled are, how harsh the punishment is for disagreeing with a pastor, or what it’s like when you tell the truth in a community that professes to love truth, you cannot just disagree.
Not only is this insulting, it is dehumanizing. Your denial robs us from the very thing we need the most—a community where we can heal.
Instead, the survivors of the Church have become so numerous that we now have formed a community of our own. I believe it is another revival, but instead of God bringing people to the institutional church, He is rescuing people from it. The industry, the celebrities, the publishing houses and radio stations—the big money that comes from playing along—none of it glorifies Jesus, because there is nothing sacred about an institution that hides evil.
You see these survivors in such places like conferences on abuse—the Courage Conference, the Conquer Conference, the Valued Conference, or smaller get-togethers that are not so public.
You’ll find them in #Exvangelicals, #ChurchToo, and #EmptyThePews. Some of the voices are strident or openly heretical, but I understand that is what happens when faith hurts.
Far from hating the Church or you, I do love you. I wish you were still my friend. But your lack of presence demonstrates the fact you had no empathy to begin with. I was an enigma that you tried to solve, a curiosity you tried to manage, a problem—but never a person to be loved.
You’ve never applied yourself to deeply love the broken or wounded on the roadside. Deep down, you’re so afraid that you could be vulnerable to abuse or assault that you assign blame to the victimized. The randomness of life is so terrible a thing to contend with that somehow we “deserved” what we experienced.
Maybe that’s why you never reached out and said, “Help me understand.” Maybe that’s why you never called to ask “Are you okay?” Your mind was already made up about us, even as we trusted you to love us.
Instead you asked, “Why are you so bitter?” “Why aren’t you going to church?” “Why aren’t you reading your Bible?”
You claimed “no church is perfect,” asked if we were “working toward reconciliation,” and accused us of gossip and slander.
You act as though there is no reason to be angry or hurt by this. You are surprised Bible verses dispassionately recited can harm people. You are offended when we say we aren’t troublemakers because there is already trouble inside your community. The people you are called to love, you refer to as slanderers, divisive, and renegades.
And you say we can go to you for anything.
We see the contradiction. We see no urgency to care. We see you’re just looking for reasons to shove us away and then wonder why we never come to church.
I learned the hard way that when abuse happens in religious communities, a steadfast commitment to truth can be a relational death sentence. Often it is the people in power who abuse, and often it is those very people you cannot question.
The clearest indicator that a community is in dangerous territory is when we cannot question our leaders. Our demeanor does not matter, nor how we frame our words, because this isn’t about how we say it—it is about what we are saying that makes us, somehow, unworthy of your time.
As the years have passed, I not only gained the vocabulary for knowing what has happened to me and others, but I feel what Emily Dickenson wrote when she said, “There is a languor of life, more imminent than pain. ‘Tis pain’s successor, when the soul has suffered all it can.” I understand what Brené Brown wrote when she said, “You can choose courage or comfort but you cannot choose both.” I understand what Fred Rogers meant when he said, “Listening is one of the most important things we can do for one another.”
Far from being angry with you, I read our last emails and messages and sometimes look you up. I often dare to wish you a Merry Christmas or Happy Birthday. I have many such messages in my draft folders. But I know you have not reexamined your position, because you have not reached out to me.
You are enshrined in your certainty that you are right and the many survivors who are speaking out are wrong.
There are so many of us in the Church who remain outside of the sanctuary on Sunday, yet our absence means nothing to you. The show must go on, because pretense matters more than our presence.  
In so doing, you scoff at people’s pain. Your silence in the face of our pain makes you complicit for so much of it.
Now, tell us truly: who is the hateful one? Who is the divisive one? Who is the slanderer? Who is unsafe?
I didn’t destroy our friendship. It broke my heart to learn you were not incapable—just unwilling—to truly love me and those like me. When you walked away, I had to learn to do the same. But I never wanted to do that.  
If you ever returned to me, having looked into these matters and with a sincere apology were ready to fight for a world without abuse, I would love to have you back. 
Sadly, I believe the next time I will see many of you is during the end of all things, when we all stand before Him before whose face the earth and heavens will fade away. There He will tell us that when we gave a drink to the thirsty, when we welcomed the stranger, when we clothed the poor, and when we visited the prisoner, we were doing it to Him.
He will pierce us with His fiery gaze and see when we failed to love others. You will ask when you failed.
And then I imagine He will gesture to us. Those of us who hungered for righteousness and thirsted for justice but were not fed. Those of us who were exiled from our church families and never welcomed back. Those of us who stood naked and ashamed when shame was not ours to bear and yet were not clothed and protected.
Those of us who languished under the weight of chains from oppressive abusers and were not visited or freed, but were looked upon with indifference, if we were ever seen at all.
I’m not sure what will happen next for you at that moment—if punishment comes for those who say they are Christ’s yet lived as though they were not. But I do hope you will then realize what I’ve been trying to tell you all along.
Your brother,
Ryan

Ryan Ashton is a survivor, advocate, and graphic designer with a BFA in Graphic Design. He is the Director of Technology and Social Media for GRACE and the Creative Director for The Courage Conference. Ryan currently volunteers with Greenville (SC)’s Julie Valentine Center as a sexual assault victim advocate.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Holy Week Hypocrisy at Grace

In just a few short days, Grace Episcopal will celebrate the Easter Vigil, which marks the high water mark of Holy Week. And despite the church’s faltering finances and reputation under the “leadership” of Dysfunctional Bob, the place will be awash in flowers and other symbols of the resurrection. That begs the question, “How can it be Holy Week when Dysfunctional Bob and Sugarland Chiow think it’s okay to drag a woman, slowly suffocating to death, into court?”

The answer is that there’s nothing holy about Holy Week at Grace Church.

Holy Week is, of course, the culmination of Lent, a time of introspection and repentance. But folks at Grace continue their vendetta, replete with accusations of “domestic terrorism” and Bob Malm’s perjury under oath. No sign of repentance, no change of behavior.



So where does that leave us? It leaves us with a Holy Week that is nothing but a notation on the calendar, an expensive bunch of hoo-ha replete with smelly flowers, incense, candles, and a noisy bunch of brass musicians hammering away, perched in the choir loft. Meanwhile, the whole sordid, hypocritical farce will be presided over by Dysfunctional Bob, who has worn out his welcome and stayed so long that he can barely conceal his eagerness to get home following command performances like Easter.

In short, Easter at Grace Church is a joke. 

If you really want to celebrate Easter, celebrate the miracle of the resurrection. Give life to the hopeless, care to the needy, friendship to the lonely. Don’t conflate the real meaning of Easter with Bob Malm’s tawdry, noisy contrived spectacle of the Great Vigil.


Saturday, April 13, 2019

Todd Ousley and the Big Brush-Off

Remember when I posted that the Episcopal Church is morally bankrupt? Well, today’s email from Todd Ousley, the national intake officer for complaints against Episcopal bishops, confirms it.

Previously, I contacted the Diocese about Bob Malm’s perjury. Sure enough, the Diocese brushed off my concerns without even investigating. So, I kicked things upstairs to Todd Ousley. Sure enough, his response was essentially that as long as the diocese invokes Title IV in its response, that’s all that’s required. This, no matter how outrageous the conduct, the Diocese is free to dismiss it in this manner.

In my case, proving Bob Malm’s perjury is very simple. All the Diocese has to do is ask Bob for proof of his claim that Mom made multiple appointments with him—a claim at the very heart of his recent court case. But it refuses to even lift a finger.

Proof that The Episcopal Church is irretrievably dysfunctional.




Bishop Susan Goff Knowingly Permits Clergy to Lie Under Oath



Friday, April 12, 2019

Harvest Bible Chapel Lawsuit Goes Live

Some time ago, I referenced the exploding scandal at the Harvest Bible Chapel over abuse of power, misuse of funds, spiritual abuse, intimidation and more. Today, things reached a new level, as a website launched that provides information for those who may wish to join in the lawsuit against the church.

You may recall that the church tried suing bloggers for defamation, as part of an effort to shut down criticism. In other words, it tried pulling a Bob Malm.





This Easter, Boycott Grace Episcopal



Is Church Safe for Children?

Is your church safe for children? Probably not if, like Bob Malm, you take no meaningful action when faced with parishioners who have boundary issues with children.




Thursday, April 11, 2019

BobMalm.com Surges Past 70,000 Hits

Exciting news! In the little over 16 months that this blog has been open, as of the wee hours this morning, it has garnered more than 70,000 hits. Traffic remains strong, with daily traffic continuing to climb.

As I’ve mentioned before, this blog is the smallest part of my efforts. For example, even small social media posts garner 6,000 or more hits. Big ones, like the tweet announcing the Wartburg Watch article, have been seen more than 100,000 times. Paid advertising also remains strong, and we will surge ads during Holy Week. Leafletting also continues apace, and we will have leafletted at least another 500 homes before Easter.

Check it out!




Bob Malm and Grace Church’s Failed Internal Controls



I’ve previously written about the breakdown in Grace Church’s internal financial controls during Bob Malm’s watch. These breakdowns include:
  • Overpaying one employee for many months, allegedly due to an accounting error.
  • Thousands of dollars of cash and stale checks found in the church office following the resignation of a previous church administrator.
  • Facially inaccurate financial reports.
  • Failure to provide the vestry with school financial reports as required by law and written church policy.
  • Failure to follow written church policy on the issuance of credit cards, with rector Bob Malm allegedly carrying a card in violation of church policy.
  • Failure to follow canonical requirements for a finance manual. (As the longest reigning rector at Grace Church, Bob Malm surely has had ample time to make that happen.)
In recent days, the burgeoning scandal at Harest Bible Chapel involving Rolex watches, cars, and motorcycles underscores the need for effective church governance. Yet, while it is clear that Beth Calaman has done an admirable job in cleaning up the mess that Bob created, it is not clear that the underlying problems with transparency and disclosure have been addressed. It is time that this happen.

These issues are doubly important in light of two factors:
  • The expenditures now under way for the HVAC project.
  • Reduced transparency by the church following Bob’s decision to stop publicly releasing vestry minutes. (BTW, if Bob’s goal was to keep me from seeing those, he failed miserably. I see them on a regular basis.)
Nor should folks be lulled into a false sense of security by stupid, illogical comments like Lisa Medley’s claim that “there is complete financial transparency.” If there were indeed complete transparency, then it logically follows that Lisa and other vestry members knew about the funds that disappeared into the abyss of the church administrator’s office and chose to ignore the problem.

Folks, it’s your money we’re talking about, and faithful stewardship of these resources is a sacred responsibility. Bob’s complete indifference to these issues is grave violation of your trust, and it’s time to demand accountability.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Bob Malm: Mentally Ill?



Is Bob Malm mentally ill? I don’t know the answer to that question, but believe there are factors that suggest the answer is yes. Among them:
  • Bob’s seeming need for adulation, combined with constant efforts to secure more.
  • His focus on power and control, and his use of forceful diction to try to create an impression of power/authority.
  • His focus on superficial image and appearance.
  • His carefully hidden insecurity.
  • His ability to present a guileless exterior, while exhibiting behavior behind the scenes that is vile, vicious, and vindictive.
  • His seeming need to live up to parental and other expectations.
  • His apparent treatment of his children as an extension of himself.
  • His sometimes over-the-top rages when he perceives himself to be criticized, or those close to him.
  • His profound resistance to supervising staff and performing other essential components of his job.
  • His belief that he’s a great supervisor and priest, when facts suggest otherwise.
  • His stated beliefs that he is invincible, and doesn’t need others.
  • His strong verbal skills.
  • His lack of real empathy for others.
  • His often practiced/rehearsed conduct, combined with oddly “flat” behavior when he cannot play a rehearsed role.
  • His refusal to address conflict.
  • His professed religious beliefs, which often stand in marked contrast to his conduct.
  • His dismissive remarks about his wife and others whom he claims to care about.
  • His seemingly shallow emotions.
  • His ability to lie as needed, making stuff up as needed to suit his purposes.
  • His lack of a notion of objective truth/reality.
  • His projection of his own attributes on others.
  • His willingness to lie and commit perjury, while loudly decrying my assertion that he has done so, all while ignoring written evidence of his deceit.
  • His apparent inability to see any conflict between his professed values and his conduct.
  • His willingness to ignore church policies and requirements when it suits him.
  • His ability to manipulate the perceptions of others.
  • His increasing paranoia, including his belief that he is pursued by “domestic terrorists.”
  • His becoming disoriented in his own home, resulting in a serious fall and hospitalization in 2014.
  • His tendency to address issues/conflict through manipulation, versus open dialogue.
  • His unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions.
  • His seeming belief that he is special or unique and should only associate with others who are special.
  • His deep-seated but carefully hidden prejudices on certain issues.
  • His seeming tendency to cultivate those who are wealthier or may otherwise confer perceived status on him.
  • His dismissive attitude towards those who may have nicer belongings than him.
  • His irrational conduct towards me and indifference to the damage it is causing to Grace Church and its members.
  • His apparent belief that criticizing his conduct is somehow abusive or illegal.
  • His stated belief that he can use the judicial system as a way to discipline former church members.

Monday, April 8, 2019

See for Yourself: Despite Scandal, the Catholic Church is More Ethical than The Episcopal Church

As those familiar with my conflict with Bob Malm already know, in July 2015 the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia dismissed my Title IV complaint against Bob Malm. What does that mean in real-life? It means that my allegations, which included potential workplace harassment and clear retaliation by Bob for complaining, are not, per the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, even arguably violations of church canons. Indeed, even with the recent change to Title IV, which specifically forbids retaliation, the diocese does not view Bob’s conduct as being within the aegis of conduct unbecoming clergy, and thus actionable.

Before going further, you should note that the this decision was communicated in writing by the Rev. Carolyn Parkinson, then the diocesan intake officer.

That’s also really troubling.

Not only is retaliation illegal at publicly traded companies, but Bob’s conduct would expressly violate Catholic written “safe environment” policy, which requires inter alia that:
  • Clergy refrain from creating or permitting an environment in which harassment of any sort is allowed.
  • Clergy treat all persons with dignity and respect, and avoid intimidation, including verbal and written.
  • Clergy provide an environment marked by fairness and justice.
  • All involved take allegations of harassment seriously.
Guess that would preclude stating that harassment is not a violation of church canons, yelling at volunteers in front of others, permitting staff to do so, lying about parishioners, committing perjury, calling your parishioners “domestic terrorists,” or trying to drag the dying into court.

It is a sorry state of affairs when the Catholic Church takes the moral high ground versus the supposedly inclusive Episcopal Church.

The following screen caps are from Catholic Safe Environment policies:






Sunday, April 7, 2019

Lies from the Grace Vestry

Here’s another example of lies coming from Grace Church, this time from the vestry.

The first screen cap shows the vestry’s talking points, in which the vestry claims that I left the parish voluntarily. (Gotta love those “specific security measures,” — far better than “inchoate security measures.” And heaven knows—protesters are a HUGE risk to our national security. Who was the moron who came up with the First Amendment?)





The second is a written timeline from Dysfunctional Bob in which he states that I was removed from various church volunteer activities. That begs the issue—if I had already left “voluntarily,” why the need to “remove” me?



And here is Bob Malm’s email telling me to get lost, which tellingly includes Mike:



Apropos Bob’s denial of bullying behavior, the very fact that he’s lying about me and others entrusted to his pastoral care, and referring to me as “sick,” “twisted,” and “dysfunctional” disproves his assertion. Moreover here, for example, is a text message from Peter Barnes, after an incident of Bob’s bullying behavior at a church personnel committee meeting:




As to bullying generally, one need only look to the post from a college-aged parishioner urging me to kill myself to see just how dysfunctional and sick Grace Church really is:


It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when even the church vestry lies. If the vestry as a group can’t be counted on to tell the truth, what’s left? And saying, “Well, I don’t want to get involved,” doesn’t cut it—the vestry is responsible for the church’s temporal affairs.

Grace church, toxic church.


Saturday, April 6, 2019

Imagine if the Church Said, “I’m Sorry”

I saw this op-ed on the Chicago Sun-Times. It is reprinted with permission.

Imagine if the church said, ‘I’m sorry’

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Imagine if the church said, “I’m sorry.”

Imagine the collective of Christian churches across America creating, even for just one day, a safe space for those who have been abused in the church, or by the church, to say openly before the assembly — without condemnation that something happened to them in this the most sacred of places we hold so dear.

Imagine …

Imagine if the church ceased from telling church-wounded brothers and sisters to simply “get over it.” Imagine if the church stopped scolding or shaming those countless “victims” over their inability to simply move on. Imagine if the church had a Me Too moment.

OPINION

Imagine a church that no longer attempted to whitewash sins inflicted by the clergy upon the laity — often in secret and shrouded by a form of godliness, though purely evil and often criminal.

The lesser sins: The backbiting from the pews, the shaming, denigration and legalism from the pulpit, the misuse of power. The abuses almost too incomprehensible to utter that have left the sheep bruised and scarred, battered or barely breathing, bitter, until finally turned off to the church and to God, as the church abides mostly in complicit silence.

It is a pervasive silence that has swept over the church at large like a thick fog that obscures the truth and reality of life, love, joy and pain within the age-old institution.

The church. It has been co-opted by a 21st century bling-bling Gospel, by prosperity doctrine and the emergence of the mega church. It is today a much more insular church than the church of old, intoxicatingly focused on building temples of brick and mortar rather than “community” and the temple called the souls of men.

A made-for-TV church, it is a semblance of the church it was commissioned to be many centuries ago — enraptured by political correctness and with befriending the powers that be rather than speaking truth and practicing a social Gospel that is disruptive and also transformative. It is a church adept at seeing the speck in others’ lives but inept at detecting the beam in its own.

But imagine. … Imagine if the church’s stiff-necked denials and knee-jerk reaction to criticisms from within or without was no longer to circle the wagons but instead to deal circumspectly with those criticisms, with the myriad tales of untold abuse, and to take measures to prevent it.

Imagine the bold confessions of a repentant loving church: An admission that church leadership has indeed looked the other way amid glaring evidence of abuse. That the church is guilty of being MIA at times of great crisis and that it remains mostly mute about the scourge of murder, claiming black lives in genocidal proportions, and other social issues.

Imagine a church that concedes that Pentecostals and Baptists and Methodists have no less sin than Catholics or those of other faiths who hide behind the collar and the cross while serial abusers devour the unsuspecting and vulnerable who once checked in safe at the House of God.

Imagine a church that confessed that the church has brought shame to the name of Christ. A church that does not excuse the perpetrator or the flawed institution itself but seeks to heal and to protect the least of these.

Imagine a church that said: “We are sorry that happened to you. … We believe you. You have every reason to never want to go to church again. Please forgive us and please accept our deepest regrets on behalf of the church.”

Imagine that 2 Chronicles 7:14 is calling the church itself to repent.

Now imagine if we, the church, don’t.

Bob Malm: Yet Another of His Lies

Here’s another good example of Bob Malm’s lies and misrepresentations.

The first screen cap is a message I sent to Bob when things heated back up in the summer of 2017, after several communications from parishioners that were hateful and homophobic. Note that I discuss the importance of publicly saying that bullying is not okay, and of reminding people that both sides had put the matter behind us. What the email does NOT include:
  • Any discussion of a public forum.
  • Any discussion of an apology from Bob.
Moreover, this is the only email I sent to Bob on this subject.


Now, in Bob’s subsequent email to Bishop Shannon and Canon Pat Wingo, see how Bob describes my email. Note his references to a public forum and an apology, and his claim that I asked him to take responsibility for the conflict. These are, to be blunt, lies.


I’d add that apropos Mom and other family members, several of whom have independent grievances against Bob, Bob indeed has made no effort to resolve their concerns. In fact, he has never discussed the matter with them. And, of course, there is Bob’s little antic of taking words out of context roughly one-third of the way through his endless run-on sentence.

Meanwhile, Bob’s email underscores an important point: Bob Malm is a liar. Or, to use Sugarland Chiow’s phrase, a “serial liar.” 

As such, Bob should not be serving as a priest, and you can quote me on that.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Another Lie By Bob Malm

Here’s another lie by Bob Malm. In this email, sent to parishioner Easter Thompson, Bob Malm tells her that no one who knows Grace Church takes me seriously. That’s an interesting and false claim; discussion below the break.




  • On the one hand, Bob’s email tries to throw shade on my concerns by essentially saying that no one in the know agrees. Yet those concerns repeatedly have been experienced by others, including those “in the know.” For example, the Rev. Anne Turner, who once served as Bob’s assistant rector, has provided pastoral care to a member of the altar guild who allegedly was bullied by Linda Waskowiscz. During her time at Grace, Anne also experienced outbursts from the church office staff. Thus, bullying within the church and by office staff is well-substantiated, and has been experienced by someone intimately familiar with the parish.
  • On the other hand, Bob’s statement also contradicts his later assertions that people are “terrorized” by me. If no one takes me seriously, how are they terrorized?
The third aspect, of course, is that this illustrates the crux of Bob ‘s bullying. Not only does he play people against each other, but his comments are decidedly contrary to the values set forth in the gospels, and inappropriate as a pastoral matter. (Screen caps from “Ten Signs Your Church is Bullying You,” found here.)






Indeed, dismissing concerns from church members is itself a form of bullying.



Or, put another way, the more Bob tries to brush off my concerns, the more he proves that they are warranted, including that Bob himself is toxic, and that his behavior is inappropriate. Meanwhile, the fact that parishioners like Easter Thompson can receive emails like the one in question and not see anything wrong with Bob’s conduct makes clear that the church has become toxic at every level. (Easter’s comments also are noteworthy in that she’s never said anything directly to me, despite the fact that she has my contact information. Triangulation, anyone? And how she sees any connection between writing generally on church abuse and Grace Church is beyond me. Perhaps it’s time for Easter to reduce her consumption of alcohol.)

Lastly, as I have stated in previous posts, no agreement to “follow the bishop’s....directives,” was made in Fredericksburg. That is a bold-faced lie — and nonsensical, as well, for I was not a member of the diocese of Virginia by the time Bob wrote this email.


Check it Out: Dysfunctional Bob Malm Earns More Than Billy Graham

Few who are familiar with Bob Malm’s history as rector of Grace Episcopal Church would argue that he’s busting his butt. Yes, Bob shows up for most vestry meetings, as well as a few other command performances. But being gone more than 2 months out of the year on various forms of vacation and leave, and never getting involved with ministries like the food pantry, Bob is not exactly breaking a sweat.

It may therefore come as a surprise to learn that Bob Malm earns more than Billy Graham did. With a compensation package that, including fringe and indirect, tops $200,000, Bob is nothing if not well compensated.

Below is a screen cap from Newsweek that reveals that Graham, responsible for a world-wide ministry, never exceeded $150,000 a year in compensation.

Must be great to be Grace Church and awash in a sea of cash! 




Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Grace Church Members to Renew Baptismal Vows at Easter. I Call BS

Okay, so I’m a little slow at times.

Bob Malm and many others will be part of the Easter Vigil at Grace Episcopal this year, where inter alia they will renew their baptismal vows.

So how exactly does that work? Bob Malm commits perjury, tries to drag a dying woman into court, goes after innocent family members, lies repeatedly, and refers to people entrusted to his pastoral care as “sick and twisted,” and yet he’s standing up there in front of hundreds proclaiming the Gospel and renewing his vows to “respect the dignity of every human being?”

Given Bob’s track record, he should put a sock on it. Jesus may be Lord, but Jesus has nothing to do with Bob’s conduct, nor Jeff Chiow’s actions, nor much of the church’s behavior.

So, while Bob proclaims “Jesus is Lord,” I proclaim, “Bob Malm is a fraud.”



Grace Episcopal Now Hiring: Assistant Rector Wanted



Good Article on Attorney Obligations to Verify “Facts”

One of the most troubling things about this case is Episcopal Church attorney Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow’s false statements of fact to the courts. For those who may be unfamiliar with the details of my case, Jeff Chiow, a former vestry member of Grace Church, repeatedly made false statements in his pleadings, including false statements of fact. These include:
  • That I had never practiced law.
  • That I never served as a police officer.
  • That I violated the existing court order.
While Jeff and his clients (Bob Malm and Grace Episcopal Church) may argue that they did not intend to mislead the courts, the first two are statements of fact. As such, it is not sufficient to simply say, “Well, my client told me.” There is an affirmative duty to conduct reasonable independent inquiry. In this regard, even a cursory review of publicly available data would have made clear that these statements were fabrications,.

Apropos the third claim, violating the court’s order, nothing in the law, the facts, or Sugarland’s pleadings themselves supports this conclusion. Intentionally misleading the court in this matter is a serious violation of an attorney’s ethical obligations as an officer of the court.

As one attorney and author states, “zealous advocacy is not synonymous with recklessness or indifference.” Meaning one cannot simply toss assertions out there and hope that something sticks, as Jeff Chiow has done.

Of course, in doing so, Jeff is doing so as the church’s representative, so as an organization, Grace Church is equally culpable.

Read the full article, published in the New York Law Journal, at https://www.stroock.com/siteFiles/Publications/NewYorkLawJournal.pdf.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Best Description I’ve Seen for Bob Malm






Disgraceful Waste: Bob Malm Flushes $2 Million of Church Funds Down the Toilet on His Personal Residence

Speaking of dysfunction, in 2014 the Grace vestry decided to write off half of the value of a loan it had made 10 years earlier to Bob Malm. The loan had been provided so that Bob could purchase a private residence. But writing off half the loan, especially at a time when the church was in relatively dismal financial condition, was a bad and irresponsible decision, as we’ll see below. And before you ask, as a vestry member, I was the sole person to vote no on the forgiveness, which amounted to $100,000 of a $200,000 loan.

But there’s more to it than just the loan. As we’ll see below, the loan is just the tip of the iceberg in a series of spectacularly ill-advised business decisions made by the vestry at Bob Malm’s urging. In this matter, Bob placed his perceived personal interests ahead of those of the parish he claims to serve, while the vestry lost sight of its fiduciary obligations.

First, an important disclaimer, which is that a loan for a personal residence is the one exception to the canonical prohibition on churches lending money to their clergy. Thus, there is nothing inherently wrong about a church lending its rector money for the down payment for a personal residence.

That said, it is important to note that, at the time Bob decided to buy a personal residence, he resided in a perfectly livable rectory, much larger than his current home. Yes, it needed work, perhaps as much as $200,000 worth, but it was comfortable, convenient, and owned free and clear by the church.

But Bob appears to have had it in his head that if he had his own place it would be a nest egg for retirement. That of course, presupposes adequate maintenance and upkeep—neither of which has happened in practice. Thus, Bob traded a large, poorly maintained home for a small, poorly maintained home, all while spending a small mountain of donated cash. Nice move, Bob. 



So, despite considerable misgivings and resistance on the part of the vestry, Bob bludgeoned a proposal through the vestry to help him buy a private residence. This he did by dint of much noisy argument, and by remaining present during the vestry vote on the matter, with the result that more than one vestry member feared that, if they voted no, they would face retaliation. Yes, imagine that.

But the proposal went further. At Bob’s urging, the church tore down the rectory, an asset with a value of roughly $700,000, at an all-in demolition cost of about $200,000. (Such projects are surprisingly costly.) Thus, the parish was down about $900,000, of which roughly $200,000 was a wash versus the cost of updating the rectory.

To get Bob into his new residence, the parish extended what was then a $100,000 loan for the down payment, and boosted Bob’s total compensation via a housing allowance and other perks from a little more than $70,000 a year, plus the use of the rectory, to a total well more than double the original figure.

To make matters worse, the original loan amortized accrued interest. In other words, the loan just sat there like Jabba the Hut, getting bigger and bigger over time, with no payments or interest due. Thus, Bob’s personal residence needed to increase in value by 7% every year if the loan was not to erode any potential profit that Bob would make at the time he resold the house. Hardly a done deal in the best of times, and a very tall order indeed for a small, older home with few updates and much deferred maintenance.



Jabba would look better with a hair transplant, don’t you think?

When the note first matured in 2009, Bob already had signaled that he would likely seek another position, one in a different church. But it appears that Bob did not find another church willing to match his insanely generous compensation package, nor provide a laissez-faire governance regime in which, to closely paraphrase one of Bob’s former assistant rectors, “Bob could get away with murder.” So, in true Grace Church fashion, the vestry decided to add insult to injury for all parties and kick the can down the road. The maturation date on the loan was set back another five years, conveniently ignoring the deferred maintenance and interest that was piling up on Bob’s personal residence and thus eroding the parties’ equity in the property.

By this time, Bob still had made not a single payment of interest or principal. Making monthly payments, regardless of the imprudent terms of the loan, would of course have been sensible, but Bob has never been one to let such niceties intrude. As a result, when the loan matured in 2014, the value of the loan had ballooned to $200,000, double its original size.

So, in 2014, the vestry decided to “solve” things by writing off $100,000 of the loan, in recognition of Bob’s years of “service,” and requiring repayment of the original loan over a five-year period. That’s right—the church walked away from the original deal and gave Bob a $100,000 bonus. Keep in mind, too, Bob is far from stupid. He knew full well what he was getting into. So, why should he not have been held to the terms and conditions to which he agreed?

There are, of course, circumstances under which this may have been appropriate. For example, if the parish were awash in a sea of cash. Or if Bob’s job performance were exemplary. As in, if he adhered to the terms of his letter of agreement. Or grew the parish. Or had regular mutual ministry reviews. But the reality is that, while Bob can be engaging on an interpersonal level, he views being a priest as, in the words of someone close to him, “Just a job.” So no need to get too caught up in notions of Christian charity—that’s not part of Bob’s worldview, and I can tell you firsthand he doesn’t extend that approach to others.

Bob Malm’s Mediocre Job Performance

Moreover, Bob’s attitude towards being a priest is reflected in his work performance. Consider:
  1. For years, parish business records were a hot mess. 
  2. One of the parish registers has gone missing. 
  3. For more than a decade, church financial records were facially disorganized, and no audit was done, nor was any meaningful effort made to clean up the books. (The parish does an agreed-upon procedures review, which has no external attestation value. In other words, it doesn’t prove anything, but instead recites information provided by the client.) 
  4. Staff has often behaved badly, and one staff member was a hoarder. Bob consistently refused to address these issues.
  5. There still is no strategic plan.
  6. Bob comes and goes pretty much as he pleases; there have been times when he has taken leave far in excess of that permitted under his letter of agreement, and without vestry approval.
  7. Basic canonical requirements, such as a written finance manual, are still not in place, more than 25 years after Bob started his job. (See the Manual of Methods in Church Business Affairs for this and other requirements that Bob has conveniently ignored.)
  8. Even his sermons have become pointedly short, and more than one parishioner has said that Bob seems thoroughly burned out. Bob has become both increasingly lackadaisical and autocratic, while appearing convinced that he is somehow special. Yes, he can turn on the superficial charm when he chooses to, but that’s all it is — superficial charm. I mean, if Bob really cares about the church and its people, as some members claim, why the dysfunction and the indifference? And it’s not like there’s any dearth of folks who’d be willing to help fix things; many parishioners are both intelligent and highly skilled.
Where does that leave things? As things stand, Bob is paid better than a great many Episcopal bishops. For example, below are 2017 salaries for bishops on the staff of the presiding bishop, including Todd Ousley, the bishop in charge of pastoral development:

Nor does locality account for Bob’s overly generous compensation. See, for example, data below for priests in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, which has some of the highest salaries in the country:


Another data point is reflected below, which is the Church Pension Group’s (CPG) 2016 salary survey of Episcopal churches of Province III, which reveals that Bob is compensated at annual rate more than 40 percent higher than comparable clergy in the region (look at the Program category)—and that is without factoring in his $100000 bonus in 2014! (CPG’s numbers include housing and any bonuses paid; the imputed value of a rectory is included).



Bob has about another year of payments left on the original $100,000 loan; meanwhile, the church (including its component entity, the school) is preparing to spend $1.2 million on HVAC improvements that will primarily benefit the school, with half the money coming from the church. The faux slate roof needs to be replaced, the stained glass windows need costly restoration, the parking lot needs repaved, and the original elevator needs to be overhauled.

The Debacle by the Numbers

Total Loss to Grace Episcopal Church, 2004-2018
Total
-$2,000,000.00
ItemCost
Loss of equity, rectory$700,000.00
Write-off, accrued interest$100,000.00
Total compensation increase, 14 years$1,200,000.00
Avoided costs, rectory repairs$200,000.00
Rectory tear-down costs$200,000.00

These numbers become particularly compelling when we look at the capital expenses and extraordinary costs the church will face in the next few years:

Anticipated Capital and Extraordinary Expenses, 2018-2021
Total
-$1,137,500.00
ItemCost
Miscellaneous HVAC repairs$45,000.00
HVAC replacement, church share$600,000.00
Elevator refurbishment, church share$30,000.00
Stained glass restoration$60,000.00
Parking lot repaving, church share$25,000.00
HVAC blueprints, church share$22,500.00
Faux slate roof replacement$60,000.00
Replace failed double-pane windows$40,000.00
Replace exterior rotted wood trim and rake boards$40,000.00
Replace obsolete fire alarm control panel$15,000.00
Contingency funds (needed for HVAC replacement and other major projects in light of facility age)$200,000.00

Outcomes

Keep in mind that, when all this work is done, there still will be major challenges with the building. For instance:
  • The nave still will not be able to maintain temperature during hot summer days or major events. 
  • Plumbing will still be obsolete, with piping in original parts of the building at actuarial end of life (for the record, copper pipes, which comprise most of the plumbing in the building, do not have an indefinite lifespan). 
  • Neither elevator will meet modern Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. 
  • There still will be no ADA-acessible entrance. That means not just a ramp, but Braille signage and an electro-mechanical door opening system to assist wheelchair users and others of limited mobility.
  • Interior directional signage will remain crude and non-ADA compliant.
  • Interior finish, notably much of the 1994 renovations, will still be at end of life. 
  • The commercial kitchen will still be obsolete.
  • Several local HVAC units will remain out, including the one in the rear fire tower.
  • The lower hallway under the original narthex will still lack adequate HVAC.
  • Humidity and temperature control in the undercroft will remain spotty at best due to poor air flow control and the oversized, 20-ton unit that services the space. As a result, summer humidity levels routinely exceed 70 percent, which is neither healthy, nor good for the grand piano and other musical instruments in the choir room.
Nor is the HVAC work likely to come in under budget. Builders are doing well right now, and with the third floor of the building out of service, it will be clear to bidders that the church has little leverage. Further, older buildings such as Grace’s physical plant have one consistent characteristic, and that is their ability to throw curve balls into the path of anyone doing capital improvements. In short, procurement under duress rarely is the most cost-effective procurement, and even more so in a building that is now more than 60 years old.

Nor do things look much better for Bob Malm. Although comparable homes in the area have appreciated by about $200,000 since the date of this purchase, the extent of deferred maintenance on Bob’s private residence, the antiquated layout, the very small size, the perilous exterior steps, the lack of landscaping, the original windows and the obsolete bathrooms leave Bob in a position where he will be lucky to break even. Moreover, despite the influx of donated cash, Bob’s penchant for lengthy vacations, expensive private schools for his children, cosmetic procedures, and other indicia of keeping up with the Hillers left the family in precarious financial condition for many years. See, for example, the judgment recorded in 2010 by Suntrust Bank,  now a matter of public record, six years after the church’s original loan, against Bob’s wife Leslie, for what appears to be an unpaid personal loan; it appears the default occurred on August 2009. (Source: Alexandria General District Court public records)



Similarly, public records reveal what appear to be unpaid dental bills for two of Bob’s children at about the same time; the cases were scheduled for hearing on 12/15/10, but the cases dismissed. My opinion: Getting your kids sued for medical bills is not cool. Actually, it’s pretty damned dysfunctional.  (Source: Fairfax County General District Court public records)


Rising interest rates, bad credit history, and the fact that the original mortgage has an adjustable interest rate also suggest that the house will get more costly over time. A re-fi may take some finagling, and terms for a new loan likely will not be great. So the entire transaction winds up looking even worse with the passage of time, not better.

At the end of the day, Bob engaged in a highly speculative real estate transaction, and now has been bailed out by the church for his remarkably bad business decision. It also is troubling that the loan to Bob was recorded off the books, not showing in the financial reports, for the first ten years. This raises some disturbing issues concerning financial transparency, candor, and accuracy of financial reports. If nothing else, why did the church’s “auditors” not insist that the underlying receivable be reflected in the financials? It is a basic premise of good governance that insider deals such as this be reported publicly. Again, why was this allowed to happen?

Summary

In summary, the church’s current financial posture is best described as a hot mess. Over time, Bob has increased the church’s carrying costs, while reducing its assets and eroding both giving and attendance. Yet the decline in the church’s financial position would be more than adequate to pay cash and carry for upcoming expenses, and even more so had the cash involved in underwriting Bob’s desired lifestyle been appropriately invested.

Meanwhile, the church is placing itself in existential peril, for its continuing declines in giving and attendance could well result in its being unable to meet its financial obligations as this wave of capital expenses hits in the coming years. And regardless of the ultimate outcome, the parish is out more than $2 million dollars as a result of Bob’s self-serving lack of business acumen. At the same time, it is shocking, appalling, and outrageous that Bob Malm should get both a 2014 bonus of $100,000, and annual compensation that exceeds that of many Episcopal bishops, given his feckless job performance. Even his decision to pursue a personal residence, at a time when he couldn’t so much as come up with a down payment, shows a remarkable lack of concern for the wellbeing of the parish and a dearth of common sense.