A friend of mine recently asked me how this will end. The answer could be one of several outcomes, but none of them are likely to be good for Grace Church.
In the best case scenario, the diocese or vestry decide to provide Bob Malm with a little adult supervision. In that case, we return to the agreement forged in Fredericksburg, which essentially was that we leave each other alone, and recognize the fact that none of us have the ability to control third parties, including my mom. Perhaps we could even work on seeing her concerns (and those of others) addressed, but there is no guarantee after more than two years of conflict that this can be accomplished.
In that case, I’m happy to again shutter my website, as I have better things to do with my life, including looking out for my mother. That said, I have never agreed to non-disclosure, and I will continue to reserve my right to share my experience with others.
In the worst case scenario, things continue as they are. In that case, I will continue to blog, and to protest on a regular basis for at least the next two years. There will be additional coverage in the media and on major blogs, and family members will continue to support my efforts, even after mom is gone. As a result, Grace Church and the diocese of Virginia will face continued reputational harm, and church budgets and attendance will continue to be negatively affected. In this case, time is on my side, for new parish members are relatively few and far between these days, and typically give at lower levels than long-time members. Thus, as people pass away, retire, or leave the area, Grace Church will continue to decline. In a good year, attrition is normally about 30 people, but in recent years it’s been much higher.
The same friend asked me if I feel badly about the declining fortunes of Grace Church. The answer is no. While I feel no malice towards members of the parish, the reality is someone should have called out Bob Malm’s bad behavior long ago. Recall: A former assistant rector of Bob’s has said, “Bob has been getting away with murder for years.” (Geez, maybe I should be afraid for my life. Could it be that she means that literally?) So, sup with the devil, do dishes with the devil.
Did you notice what is not mentioned in this post? Yes, you got it: No mention of reconciliation. There’s no requirement of reconciliation when someone abuses you, and I’ve seen enough of Bob Malm to know how vile, vicious and vindictive he is at his very heart. So I am taking a pass there. With some people, it’s just best to go no contact and leave it at that.
Do I miss Grace Church? Not really. I knew some wonderful people while I was there, and the worship indeed is beautiful. But I’ve come to understand that all that glitters is not gold, and right beneath the bright shiny exterior (whitewashed, as Jesus would say), the place is rotten to the core. Yeah, things like Shrine Mont were fun, but I still go to Shrine Mont, only now in an environment where bullying is not okay.
Or, as one commentator at The Wartburg Watch, put it: “That’s one toxic church you have there, Eric.”
How right she was!