Showing posts with label Grace Episcopal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grace Episcopal. Show all posts

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Papal Law on Reporting of Abuse Underscores Problems in The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia



Earlier today, the pope issued a decree mandating various changes to abuse reporting in the Catholic Church. Among the changes:
  • Anyone in the church, lay or clergy, who believes or suspects that abuse has occurred is required to report it to church officials.
  • Required reporting of coverup, defined as “actions or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid” civil or canonical investigations.
  • Whistleblower protection, albeit limited in scope.
  • An increase in the age of consent from 16 to 18.
  • The inclusion of possession of child pornography in the list of offenses.
  • Reporting to civil authorities per local law.
  • The ability to report to regional metropolitans in situations that may implicate a bishop.
  • The ability to report coverup and other abuse of power directly to Rome.
  • The requirement that victims be treated with respect.
These measures, while well-intended, are likely to be ineffective, and every bit as useless as Title IV as implemented in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

As it stands, the Episcopal Church’s Title IV does not prevent retaliation against whistleblowers. Instead, it provides for anonymity in the complaint process, and ostensibly protects opposition to practices prohibited by Title IV. This protection is almost entirely illusory, however, as it provides no definition of prohibited conduct. Thus, shunning and other retaliation such as Bob Malm’s conduct towards me and my family almost certainly would be ignored. Moreover, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia refuses to see retaliation as within the penumbra of “conduct unbecoming,” so it refuses to address retaliation occurring before the effective date (January 1, 2019) of the recent changes to Title IV. Further, thus far the diocese is ignoring the whistleblower provisions, as evinced by its identifying me to Bob Malm in its most recent correspondence. (In fairness, my opposition to Bob’s conduct is hardly a secret, but some effort to adhere to the requirements of Title IV would have been appreciated. Moreover, it’s laughable that the diocese tried, in its correspondence with me, to insist on confidentiality, even though the letter itself violated confidentiality.)

Another issue with Title IV is that there is no meaningful appeal beyond the diocesan level. As it stands, +Todd Ousley and the rest of the crowd at 815 (church headquarters) may, if pushed, go through the motions of a Title IV case against a bishop, but unless he or she intentionally runs you over in a church parking lot (witnesses required), you can bet your bottom dollar that nothing will come of it.

As to treating victims with respect, that falls within the purview of Title IV’s entirely illusory “pastoral response,” which is required any time a complaint is made to a Title IV intake officer. Thus far, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia consistently refuses to implement that provision, even in cases where a parish is traumatized by a successful Title IV removal of clergy. (Yes, I am thinking of St. Thomas’ McLean. In that case, the diocese did next to nothing to care for the parish. While +Shannon later apologized and said that its refusal to get involved was based on the advice of legal counsel, the damage is done. And this effort at protecting the organization at the expense of laity who support it is damning in the message it sends to those of us in the pews.)

Similarly, reporting to Rome sounds good on paper, right up until you consider that George Pell, the former number 3 at the Vatican, also was an abuser. Does anyone really think that some fat cat in Rome, immersed in the system, is really going to do anything about abuse in some remote corner of the world?

Equally problematic is the requirement that coverups be reported. Great idea, but with no sanctions or penalties set forth in the statute, including for dioceses that fail to implement the new provisions, this one is every bit as toothless at Title IV.

The heart of the problem, both in The Episcopal and Catholic Churches, is neatly summarized in the comments of Cardinal Cupich, who said of the new law, “this past year has taught us that the systematic failures in holding clerics of all rank responsible are due in large measure to flaws in the way we interact and communicate with each other in the college of bishops.” This tendency in all hierarchies to minimize problems and to see criticism of individual conduct as criticism of the organization is alive and well in both churches, and I see no signs that either organization is doing anything to change this phenomena. Indeed, it will only be when churches recognize that this tendency is destroying organized religion from within that they will again find secure footing.

In other words, the more things change, the more they stay the same, and the creaking, shuddering constructs that make up the Episcopal and Catholic churches continue their rapid unraveling.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Sources Say....

Recently, I had dinner over at VTS. It was fun—although I joined a friend, it was with the understanding that I was going incognito. So, as I chowed down, I had the chance to ask seminarians and others about life in DioVA.

Never being one to miss an opportunity for some fun, I asked several seminarians about the situation over at Grace Church, aka St. Dysfunction. It’s interesting—between the issues with previous office staff, Fanny Belanger’s abrupt departure, and Bob’s vendetta against me, Mike and Mom—word on the street is that Grace Church is bad news. Or, more specifically, Bob Malm is bad news.

To be sure, Bob was never popular within the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies at Mayo House. But while Bob and his sycophants (you know who you are) have been vigorous in promoting the whole, “two sides to every story” line, there’s one bit of irrefutable evidence: Bob’s vendetta and related misconduct have been going on for four years. Or, as one former warden put it, “Bob can hold a grudge longer than anyone else I know.”

Then there’s the issue of trying to drag the dying into court. If nothing else, even a cursory review of state law would have told Sugarland Chiow that Mom can’t be dragged into court absent leave of court. Having devoted what he claims is more than $100,000 to the litigation, you’d think Sugarland would have taken the time to do a little research on that topic. I guess that’s part of the whole $49.99 optional annual protection plan.

Of course, that segues neatly into the notion, expressed by multiple third parties, that, “This attorney is coming at you with a personal vendetta.” How a personal vendetta fits in with being a Christian escapes me, but apparently for Dysfunctional Bob, Sugarland Chiow, and the Diocese of Virginia, it does.

The cherry on the top is, of course, Bob’s multiple lies to the court. While he may claim that he was mistaken, nothing in his pleadings suggests to the court that his statements to the court were conjecture or speculation. They are presented as facts, when in fact they were fabrications.

It will be interesting to see who the poor slob is who eventually takes the assistant rector position. All I can to is to quote Judge Smails from Caddy Shack, “Remember, the world needs ditch diggers, too.” Which is not to express disrespect for that person — just to say they’d  have to be pretty damn desperate, or foolish, to land on Planet Malm.







Friday, March 1, 2019

David Crosby Misses Mark With Recent Sermon

David Crosby preached last Sunday, offering a sermon on loving your enemy. Since many denizens of Planet Malm now consider me an enemy, I feel somewhat qualified to comment on the sermon. 

I call BS.

To be sure, it wasn’t a badly written sermon. But it suffered one flaw. A big one. The flaw is that it’s hard to preach on this topic with a straight face when you have Bob Malm as a role model. Or, if you can deliver the sermon with a straight face, then you fall down the rabbit hole of hypocrisy.

I mean, who’s going to take you seriously when you have Dysfunctional Bob repeatedly lying, committing perjury, going after Mike, engaging in smear campaigns, and more? If nothing else, people are going to inevitably conclude that it’s okay just to give lip service to these ideals when they see Dysfunctional Bob in action.

And of course there’s Leslie Malm with her lies, Lindsey Malm with her hateful homophobia, the Medleys with their urging me to commit suicide, and Alison Campbell with her petty bitch games. And there are plenty of others who could join the list.

Of course, you then get Lisa Medley’s comeback, which is to brush these issues off by saying that she’s a sinner. Of course, that’s no excuse; claiming that you’re immune from criticism on the basis that you’re inclined to behave badly is a facially obvious logical fallacy. But then, Lisa was never known for being bright.

At the end of the day, the only way Grace Church ceases to be a toxic church is by making a conscious decision to be healthy—all day, every day. No exceptions, no excuses, no explanations. There’s simply no legitimate role for the bullying, the gossip, the lies and more that go on at Grace.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Grace Episcopal: More on the HVAC Project

One of the earliest lessons I learned was the benefit of saving. By digently putting money aside, I was able to comfortably retire more than a decade before most people, with more than enough to meet any conceivable future financial need. How did I do it? By minimizing expenses, living beneath my means, avoiding luxuries like vacations and fancy clothes, by doing without, and by working two jobs for most of my career. Yes, it was tough, especially those first few years post-law school, but very much worth it.

Today, Grace Episcopal confronts a different reality, which is that for years it has refused to save. As a result, the church plans to borrow $540,000 to pay for its half of the replacement cost of the HVAC systems in the building. The other $135,000 will come from reserves. 

The first issue, of course, is that most of the money goes to subsidize the school, which far and away uses the lion’s share of the building. At a time when the church is rapidly shedding pledging units, and the average age of church members is much older that of the surrounding population, taking on this expense is foolish, and doubly so when most of the money is borrowed.

The second issue, previously discussed on this blog, is that this day has been coming since 1994. Did the church make any meaningful effort to save? No, it didn’t, and indeed in 2014 gave Bob Malm $100,000 of church resources as a bonus, as a reward for staying too long.

Third, the church remains perilously short of reserves, even without this expenditure. To be safe, it should have 3-6 months operating expenses in reserves, or roughly $500,000. This leaves the church perilously short of cash in the event of a major expense or decline in giving. And as discussed previously, restricted funds don’t count, as repurposing them without donor permission is illegal.

Fourth, this expense is being treated from a purely reactive, tactical perspective. There is easily an additional $500K in work that needs to be done, ranging from replacing the parking lot, to replacing the new narthex roof, to dealing with rotting wood trim and the need to refurbish both elevators. (Replacing the original elevator would, however, be stupid. A metal box is a metal box.  No need to buy it twice.) To date, the church has no meaningful game plan to address these issues, and lacks the financial means to address anything beyond minor needs.

Fifth, there is the issue of this being an old building. Old buildings, regardless of architectural style or age, share one thing in common: They throw you curve balls. As a result, costs inevitably go up, and it is a safe bet that the church will discover surprises along the way. (Just wait until folks discover the leak inside one of the exterior walls of Merrow Hall. It’s plumbing-related, has been there for years, is slowly causing extensive damage, and is going to be a bear to fix. $100 says there’s not a person in the parish who knows what I am talking about.)

Sixth, assuming a five-year amortization, the church will be paying on the loan when Dysfunctional Bob retires, which he must do by age 72 by canon. Retirements can throw a monkey wrench into even the healthiest churches, and Grace is far from healthy. Just ask Holy Comforter in Vienna what happened to the numbers when Rick Lord retired. (He at least had the common sense to know when it was time to go.) Thus, I can safely say there are shoals in the waters ahead, and a real risk that the church will be unable to repay the loan.

Seventh, the observant will notice that costs already have escalated. Not that long ago, vestry members were predicting that the total project cost would come down once the project was bid out, the cost of which was then forecast at $1.2 million. Today, that forecast is $1.35 million, and knowing the extent to which existing systems are cobbled together, and the vagaries of the building, it’s a safe bet things won’t come in under budget. And this isn’t like the 1994 building project—you can’t downgrade the ceiling panels or go for cheaper light fixtures to reduce costs. Nor is it wise to cheap out on hardware—less expensive compressors, for example, typically operate less efficiently, meaning that what you save upfront, you lose over time as the utility bills come in.

Eighth, if this is anything like the 1994 project, folks will conclude nothing more needs to be done for the next 10 years, and preventive maintenance will be ignored. That both increases total costs, and leads to debacles like the mold problems in the parish office record closet, which were ignored for many years and was a hell of a mess to resolve. Ditto for the HVAC-related mold in the vesting rooms, the bird filth in the attic over the sacristy, and more.



Ninth, Bob Malm, true to form, will try to wash his hands of these issues, but he appoints the executive committee, and nowhere do we see the sort of full-court press that occurred when Bob wanted the church to buy him a house. In short, Bob talks out both sides of his mouth on these issues, but it is the church that pays the price.

In short, it’s time for Grace Church to quit following the Bob Malm live-life-large model, and start taking a prudent approach to it’s long-term financial health. Yes, the trust fund is a start, but there is much, much more to it than that.

It’s time for Grace to get its financial and governance acts together.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Will Grace Episcopal Close? It’s Looking More and More Likely

Estimates suggest that 60 percent of church buildings constructed after WWII will close in the next decade. Currently, 100-200 churches close every week, with most of those closing focused primarily on the needs of their members, versus reaching out into the community. Indeed, less than 20 percent of Americans attend church regularly—yet Bob Malm’s response when members leave is, “Why should I give a fuck?” (Yes, his exact words. There were witnesses.)

Will Grace be a church that closes?

Events of the past few years, the church’s refusal to confront the economic and other realities facing it, and the conduct of both clergy and some members suggest Grace will be among those closing.

As one long-time parish employee once said to me (herself an Episcopalian);

“I would never belong to your church, and it’s because of the way people talk to each other, and it goes right to the top. And I’ll tell you right now, Bob will never say anything about it. And because he engages in a certain amount of it himself, he shows it’s okay”

At the time, I foolishly took Bob’s side. I have since admitted to that person that she was right; I was wrong.

Abandoned Episcopal Church

One thing is clear to me: If Grace is going to survive, drastic changes need to happen. Otherwise, it does not have long to go. Simply doing the same thing, day in, day out, year in, year out will result in more of the same—a rapidly declining church. No surprise there.

Some good articles on church closings:








https://www.episcopalcafe.com/top-ten-things-to-remember-when-closing-a-church/




(Check out my naive comments at the end!)


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

See for Yourself: Grace Parishioners Continue Their Efforts to Destroy Their Church

It is comments like this that underscore my point: Grace Episcopal Church is a toxic church.

And if you send your child to Grace Episcopal School, keep in mind that this is the caliber of conversation that goes on behind the scenes.

Lastly, if you are contemplating pledging for 2019, this is the sort of discourse you are supporting.




Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Grace Episcopal: Photos of Thanksgivings Past

In yet another sign that St. Dysfunction, aka Grace Episcopal Alexandria, is coming unraveled thanks to Bob Malm’s weird claims of being threatened by “domestic terrorism,” the church has announced that there will be no Thanksgiving meal this year. Dinner at the church, for anyone who wanted to come, was a tradition Mike and I started and for which we paid all basic expenses. Sadly, the tradition survived our departure by only a few years.

Here are some photos.




















Sunday, November 18, 2018

See for Yourself: Grace Episcopal Now Claims Armed Guards are Needed at School Due to “Domestic Terrorism”

One of the downsides of Bob Malm’s efforts to shut down criticism by use of inflammatory rhetoric is that someone might actually believe him. That appears to be the case in recent comments by a Grace parishioner, who claims that a family at the school (she calls it a “day school,” which is ironic, as the school has repeatedly said it does not wish to be referred to as such) has asked for armed security guards at the school. This would appear to mesh with Bob Malm’s fabricated claim in court documents that Grace is threatened by “domestic terrorism.”

More narcissistic games on Bob Malm’s part.






Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Grace Episcopal, Church of the Domestic Terrorist

You know, it’s not every day that churches get in the news. In fact, these days, with the declining role of churches in society, it’s hard to get coverage, except in the local community rags.

But Grace Episcopal in Alexandria has a very special claim to fame. Per rector Bob Malm, and his attorney Jeff Chiow, the church has been threatened by “domestic terrorism.”

That’s right. That shows how important the church is, as the only other church here in the US that has been threatened by terrorists is the National Cathedral. (There, some wackadoodle from the Islamic State issued a threat during Christmas 2017, showing the Cathedral erupting in flames and suggesting he or she would show up in Manhattan. The latter somewhat diminished the credibility of the threat to the Cathedral, located in DC).

So, in recognition of Grace’s unique status, here’s a meme that Bob Malm can use next time he’s in touch with the news media.




Friday, October 26, 2018

Protests this Weekend

Planning to get an early start on the weekend with some protesting outside the Emmanuel-on-the-Hill pumpkin patch. I may also make an appearance at Bob Malm’s favorite, which he refers to as “Dysfunction Junction.”

On Sunday, I plan both to protest, and to leaflet certain high-value audiences. In addition, making plans now for extensive social media coverage and protests in the run-up to Christmas. 

Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

See For Yourself: This is How Members Of Grace Episcopal Talk to Others

Ever wonder just how toxic Grace Episcopal really is under Dysfunctional Bob Malm? The following screen cap is just one of many similar examples that answer that question.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

This Week

Assuming Jeff Chiow hasn’t yet again bollixed his filings, Wednesday will mark the most recent and possibly final effort by Jeff to bully his way to victory in the courts. Specifically, the court will hear arguments over whether to grant my decision to dismiss.

True to form, someone closely connected to Bob Malm has been on Fairfax Underground, prattling on about how the court won’t grant my request, yada, yada yada. Obviously, confidentiality is an issue for the church, especially when you have someone foolishly speculating in public like that. Of course, Jeff continues his efforts to deceive the court by claiming that it somehow is illegal for me to write about my experiences. Par for the course. What else would you expect from Grace Church and Bob Malm?

In the meantime, I am making plans to continue protesting, writing, and telling others about my experiences at Grace Church. These efforts will continue for so long as the protective order is in place, and possibly indefinitely. Of one thing I am certain: Jeff Chiow should not send over any more settlement proposals. Given the various lies, the inflammatory rhetoric and the bad faith shown in discovery (Bob still refuses to specify exactly how he was “threatened,”) there is zero chance that I will agree to anything. Or, to use Bob Malm’s expletive in a slightly different context, “Why should I give a f***?” 

I’ve also been busy behind the scenes preparing for further media coverage, which will be coming in early November. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the defamatory stuff continues from members of Bob’s family, including the false bit about self-dealing with vendors while serving as junior warden. That should be interesting—whether I bring suit or not, or someone else files suit, falsehoods like that, coming from someone close to Bob (and most likely one of his daughters) are a powerful disincentive to other volunteers, and yet another sign that the church is experiencing an ongoing organizational meltdown.

My hope is to get out to see Mom again before the winter flu season hits. No one, herself included, thought she’d still be here now. That said, even a mild cold or flu likely would be deadly, so I am hoping to make the trip.

I am considering fully retiring in the coming months—it just depends on a variety of factors. Paradoxically, I have even toyed with the idea of going back to practicing law, maybe on behalf of victims of church abuse. Heaven knows there’s plenty of work to go around. If I do fully retire, I may find some sort of volunteer work that is meaningful. If nothing else, there is a church near me that needs a ton of repairs....that might be something to keep me busy for a few years.

More to come!




Saturday, August 25, 2018

See for Yourself: Bishop Shannon Letter With Multiple Falsehoods

Here is a copy of the letter that Bishop Shannon Johnston sent to Grace Church some time ago. It’s notable for several reasons:
  1. At the top-most level, the bishop expresses suppport for clergy who have engaged in shunning and retaliation; the latter is now specifically grounds for clergy discipline under church canons. You’d think a bishop of all people would hold to a higher standard, but you’d be wrong. No wonder things are a hot mess at Mayo House and Bishop Shannon is headed for the hills.
  2. The letter falsely claims that these matters were investigated and resolved long ago. That’s facially untrue. The intake officer has no investigatory authority, but may make such inquiry as is needed in order to “understand the matter complained of.” (That is the exact wording.) Having dismissed my complaint outright, having failed to provide the pastoral response required under the canons, and having allowed Bob Malm to disclose the matter to Jeff Chiow, Jeff Aaron, and others in violation of the canons, the matter also was not resolved. Not from the perspective of canon law. Not from a practical perspective.
  3. Given that Bob out-and-out lied at one point during our meeting with the Bishop, I’d hardly say he’s to be commended. His exact falsehood: “Having resigned from the vestry, you were no longer eligible to serve as a trustee.” Too bad none of the trustees have been vestry members (nor should they be, as a practical matter).
  4. In my one-on-one discussions with Bishop Shannon, he acknowledged that the matter was not appropriately handled. Yet here, he claims that it was and everything is copacetic. So which is it? Sorry, you can’t have it both ways.
#fakechristians




Friday, August 24, 2018

Upcoming Wartburg Watch Article

Lots of back and forth today, with an emphasis on a renewed social media push to coincide with the start of the program year. With that in mind, The Wartburg Watch will be running an update this fall on my experiences at St. Dysfunction aka Grace Church, with the tentative release date for mid-October.

Many thanks to Dee Parsons for being a loyal friend.

Email Confirming Bob Malm’s Instructions to Parish Staff to Shun Us

As Bob Malm and Grace Episcopal Church continue to falsely claim that I left the parish on my own, there is ample documentation to prove otherwise. Among these are the following email, in which I established that Bob had, in fact, instructed church staff to exclude us. Needless to say, no one on staff, from Bob Malm on down, has ever disputed the accuracy of this communication.

So, if you are told that Mike and I left the parish on our own, ask these questions:
  • If I did indeed leave the parish on my own, why did Bob feel the need to issue such instructions to church staff?
  • Why would Bob feel the need to include Mike, who had been received into The Episcopal Church just 16 months earlier?
  • Why would Bob reference Mike in this email when, to this day, Mike remains a member of the parish?
  • Do you know of other situations in which Bob Malm has taken a personal interest in church membership at this level?
  • Why would Bob issue such an email when I had not requested a letter of transfer at the time the email was sent? (I am delighted to report that I did send such a request in July of 2017.)
The fact that neither Bob Malm, nor the church vestry, have been honest in their comments about this situation illustrates how dysfunctional the parish is.