During 2015, we made a number of donations to Grace Church, both for operating funds and for flowers in memory of deceased family members. None of these appeared in the church bulletin as required under the terms of the solicitation. Subsequently, when members of the flower guild investigated, they found that Bob Malm had instructed staff that we were to be excluded from all aspects of church life, and that extended to being mentioned in the church bulletin. Or, in other words, good enough to cash the check, not good enough to honor the terms of the agreement under which these funds were solicited.
In such cases, courts have varied in their treatment of the matter, ranging from breach of contract to fraud. In a prominent case from the Midwest, a Methodist church was forced to return restricted solicitations not used for the claimed purpose, with the court pointedly noting that, while it was merely ordering the return of funds, it could have treated the matter as one of fraud.
In our case, we complained to the Fairfax County Office of Consumer Protection (FCOCP), which helped arrange the return of the funds in question. Documentation provided below; note that Grace has the dubious distinction of being the only house of worship listed on the FCOCP website.
True to form, Bob now postures this as a situation in which he and the vestry tried in good faith to resolve the matter, while avoiding any admission or acknowledgement of his role in the matter, and the instructions he gave to church staff. Or, as one wag put it, “Bob’s one of those guys who believes it’s not a bank robbery if you hold the door for the nice old lady behind you on your way in.”
Notice a pattern here? Bob seems to believe that the rules that apply to others do not apply to him. And when Bob does engage in misconduct, what follows is an endless round of gaslighting, denial, avoidance, equivocation, manipulation and more. In short, what one parishioner calls, “The Routine.”