Thursday, April 11, 2019

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.