Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Grace Episcopal aka St. Dysfunction Shows More Signs of Impending Trouble

Amidst the recent appeals from Dysfunctional Bob Malm for money, there are ongoing warning signs that the parish financially is tapped out. Thus, there is reason to believe both that additional revenue may not be forthcoming in the final months of the year, and that next year’s pledges likely will decrease.

Consider:
  1. Attendance at Shrine Mont, the Altar Guild Tea, and other pay-for-play events is down sharply, and has been for several years.
  2. Average Sunday Attendance, or ASA, a key barometer of church health, now is down for four years running.
  3. Grace Episcopal School continues to suffer declining enrollment.
  4. Bob Malm’s vendetta with me continues, and even Dysfunctional Bob recognizes its deleterious effects on the church, as evinced by the recitations in his settlement proposal, which I have rejected.
  5. Cash reserves are quite low, and the church will have difficulty coming up with the 20% downpayment required for a commercial loan. The same holds true for the costs of a full audit, which is typically required for a commercial loan, and the origination and processing fees.
Meanwhile, the church continues its refusal to implement best governance practices, including:
  1. Implementing the finance manual required by church canons.
  2. Adopting a strategic plan.
  3. Adopting a long-term financial strategy.
  4. Incorporating, so as to reduce the possibility of director and officer liability, as well as potential liability in tort or contract by individual members.
  5. Obtaining a blanket sales tax exemption—meaning that most of the church’s purchases cost 6 percent more than they should. (Must be nice to have money to burn, eh?)
  6. Sharing information in an open, collaborative fashion, including the real reasons for Fanny Belanger’s departure. Let’s face it — only an idiot would believe it was because she was bored, or just wanted to serve as supply clergy in EDOW. Moreover, Dysfunctional Bob’s settlement proposal sounds very much like Catholic abuse settlements: “Just keep silent and tell people we’re moving forward in ‘love and healing’ and we won’t make up any more fake stories about how you threatened us.”
Into this environment we have a rector, Dysfunctional Bob, who is compensated at a level that surpasses that of most Episcopal bishops, including the two who directly report to the presiding bishop. At the same time, even Bob’s most generous allies allow that he is not, to put it tactfully, an administrator. In other words, church administration has been a cluster for years, and Bob has resisted change tooth and nail, despite the fact that it is neither his parish, nor his place to tell the vestry how to manage the church’s temporal affairs.

In short, it’s looking like Grace Church is poised to move into a phase of massive upheaval. And Dysfunctional Bob’s legacy will be a church mired in conflict, abusive conduct, and un-Christian behavior.