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 and Grace Episcopal 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)!

Friday, August 23, 2019

An Example of a Church Far More Courageous than Grace Church or the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

Here’s a real-life example of just how thoroughly broken Grace Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia are.

In this letter, Swansboro Methodist Church speaks out about against a member’s effort to “fat shame” another member. The incident allegedly occurred in a bathroom in the church.

The approach of Swansboro Methodist is the polar opposite of that of the Diocese of Virginia, which decrees that such matters are not “of weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church,” then ignores the canonical requirement of a pastoral response. A “pastoral response” is exactly what the letter from the Methodist church reflects.

Indeed, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia ignores efforts by Bob Malm and Grace Episcopal Alexandria to drag a dying woman into court, as well as Episcopal priest Bob Malm’s readily verifiable perjury. Apropos the latter, it says it will only get involved if a priest is convicted of criminal charges. This, despite the fact that church canons specifically forbid clergy from engaging in fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.

No wonder the Episcopal Church is collapsing. And with ethics like that, good riddance.

And for those of you who’d like to see the original video, here it is: https://twitter.com/roo_jenna/status/1145418354498461698?s=21

Bishop Susan Goff, Sven vanBaars, Mary Thorpe, Melissa Hollerith, Bob Malm, Jeff Chiow, Alison Campbell, Lisa Medley, Jan Spence and others: This is exactly the sort of thing that goes on behind the scenes at Grace. You know it. I know it. 

You just don’t have the integrity to admit it, or that you are a part of those issues.









Sugarland — Bob Malm’s Fantasy Life

Here’s a repost of another great window into the spiritual life of Grace Episcopal, Jeff Chiow, and Bob Malm.

In this request for admission, Jeff Chiow and Bob Malm reference a non-existent shooting the fictional city (one word, if you please) of “Sugarland” Texas. They also invoke the hashtag “clearthepews,” which I have never used.

Of course, as an attorney, Jeff Chiow submits pleadings with the express understanding that they are true to the best of his knowledge and belief, and after making reasonable effort to ensure same.

So where did Jeff come up with a non-existent city? Either he’s spectacularly oblivious to the need to proof his work and to act with integrity as an officer of the court, or he’s a liar. I leave it to readers to decide which. Same for his client, Bob Malm.

And if Jeff really believes the church is threatened by terrorists, why does he continue to bring his kids to church? Wouldn’t that be placing them in harm’s way? Or are Jeff’s pleadings and actions dishonest and unethical?

You decide.






Grace Episcopal Still Doesn’t Get Why It’s Imploding



See for Yourself: Vestry Talking Points Demonstrate Questionable Veracity

When you elect people to a church vestry or board, you expect them to be honest and diligent, right? Well, in the case of the Grace Church vestry, you’d have just cause to ask tough questions about the former.

Attached is the vestry talking points document circulated about this conflict. In it are several questionable assertions:
  1. The document asserts that I left on my own. If that’s the case, why did Bob Malm feel the need to send an email to me and Mike, telling us we are unwelcome? And by did he instruct church staff and volunteers to exclude us? For the record, I didn’t transfer my membership until 2017. And it was not until 2018 that Mike and I asked to have our names removed from all Episcopal church records.
  2. If there is no truth to my concerns, why then do I have messages like the one that follows, from Peter Barnes, then senior warden, which was sent after one of Bob’s spates of inappropriate behavior. In it, Peter is very clear: “It’s Bob, not you.”
  3. As discussed elsewhere, at no point have I threatened anyone at Grace Church, and Bob knows it. Indeed, his actions, in which he tries to use his role as clergy to discredit me, claim that I am mentally ill, and stoke fears within the church prove the accuracy of my underlying contentions. 
  4. The use of inflammatory, prejudicial rhetoric in his pleadings, including his references to a non-existent church shooting in the equally non-existent town of “Sugarland Texas,” together with his treating this as a personal vendetta, underscores Jeff Chiow’s questionable ethics.
And, while I’m engaged in what Jeff  “Sugarland” Chiow delicately refers to as “ranting and raving,” for the love of the almighty, the header doesn’t get a question mark. Just because it references a question doesn’t make the clause a question. Sheesh.

#fakechristians









Thursday, August 22, 2019

Webs of Deception: How abusers weave threads to capture the truth.

The following, used with the permission of the Rev. Wade Mullen, is an excellent piece on how abusers weave webs of deceit to hide their actions. I believe it well describes Bob Malm’s smear campaigns directed at me, as well as his efforts to convince people that they are threatened by “domestic terrorism,” — a phrase directly from Bob’s pleadings to the Venango County Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania. The pleading was filed in conjunction with his effort, in contravention of state law, to drag my mother, dying of COPD, into court.




A primary goal of the exposed abuser is to capture the truth in a web of deception. It’s a highly deceptive process intended to control your perceptions so you see only what the deceiver wants you to see. 

The ability to weave a web of deception is never put on display as much as it is when the deceiver is confronted or exposed. I’ve seen abusive individuals deftly spin a web of deception around the truth in a matter of minutes. They do this by weaving threads between themselves and issues or people indirectly related to the central truths. These tactics of deception are similar to what is described in the field of sociology as “impression management by association.” I see these associations made all the time by abusers in my advocacy and research.

Using the metaphor of a spider web, here are 8 hard to recognize threads:

  1. The exposed abuser might create a thread between themselves and others people view favorably. They draw attention to another person or group and then boast in their positive connection to them. They will bask in the reflected glory of someone else’s values when their’s are questioned. One of the most common examples of this is seen in the abuser who seeks to highlight a positive connection with God or a spiritual leader.
  2. They will then spin a thread around more serious examples of wrongs and boast in how they are not like such people and have never engaged in such horrible behavior, and that they would even go out of their way to oppose such behavior. You are then led to believe they should not be connected to the less serious actions they are accused of. The individual who abuses verbally and psychologically might draw comparisons to other types of abuse they deem more serious and promote how they are not like such people.
  3. They might thread together their life’s work and their contribution to that work. This is often seen in response to a specific question about a specific behavior. Rather than address the details of their behavior, they spotlight their life in general because it is easier to defend. This tactic subtly diverts attention away from any specific words or actions they know are more difficult to explain.
  4. If they can’t escape addressing the story, they will weave together an effective fiction. This new version is said to provide clarity when in fact it produces confusion. Nobody, even the abuser, seems to possess an accurate recollection of events, so everyone moves on because they grow tired of trying to see through the fog.
  5. Abusers quickly identify who their supporters are and then use flattery, compliments, and expressions of appreciation to thread themselves to their supporters. They will publicly enhance their positive attributes in order to bolster the credibility of their judgement. The more people view with favor the people the abuser is positively connected to, the more likely they are to believe the abuser.
  6. They will quickly identify who their critics are and then thread their criticism to fabricated or exaggerated negative attributes like hatred, bitterness, and revenge. Criticism is then viewed by others as malicious and misguided, and perhaps even evil. The more people view with disfavor the people the abuser is negatively associated with (critics), the more likely they are to believe the abuser.
  7. Abusers may go so far as to add their family members to this portion of the web. By connecting the accusers to the perceived negative effects the allegations are having on their family, the abuser pours more condemnation on their critics & requests more help from supporters. This is a common tactic in which the innocent are used as a shield to protect the abuser. 
  8. If necessary (and only if necessary) an abuser will spin an apology. This apology will not be threaded to the truth of their actions, but to unintended mistakes that resulted in unintended harm. The apology is a deception that seeks to retain legitimacy and avoid shame. The words “I’m sorry” can be used to disarm those who are seeking to free the truth from the web. 

Abusers will keep creating these connections, and will spin so many threads that their supporters will be convinced of their innocence. They then become objects as well that the abuser can attach threads to in an effort to strengthen their claims of innocence. These supporters fail to see they are trapped in the web themselves, having simply conformed to the pattern they were weaved into.

Those who do escape the web walk away bewildered, unsure of how to address an issue that once was as clear as day. To the abuser’s satisfaction, they soon forget that behind all those threads is an entrapped truth, a truth that could have freed others had it remained free itself.

The truth-seeker must have the patience and wisdom to see each thread, understand its purpose, and then detach it from the truth it is seeking to capture. For example, when asking a specific question about a specific behavior, the abuser might respond by saying, “Listen, I’ve always treated people with respect.” That thread needs to be removed by drawing attention back to the specifics. And nothing frustrates the deceiver’s attempt to spin a web more than the person who keeps removing each thread.


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Upcoming Protests and Leafleting

With Shrine Mont coming up, back to school, and perjuring priest Bob Malm’s upcoming retirement, there’s lots to do in the coming weeks. With that in mind, I’ll be leafletting a few remaining homes in Potomac Yards tomorrow, weather permitting, and protesting in several places this week.

Plans also include protests for the first day of classes at Grace Episcopal School, Dysfunctional Bob’s last Sunday and the bishop’s visit, and more.

Stay tuned!

P.S. Oh, and keep in mind it’s not perjury if Bob Malm didn’t know it was a lie. If he can’t tell the difference between truth and a lie, it’s not perjury!




Friday, August 16, 2019

Bob Malm: Safe Around Children?



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.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Bishop Plans Appearance at Dysfunctional Bob’s Retirement Service



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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