Fallout

When a priest behaves badly over time, others follow suit. This certainly is true at Grace Church:
  • Someone purporting to be Kirk Steffensen, Leslie Steffensen's husband, threatened a family member's employment. That said, he used the wrong blog to do so, and wound up threatening an elderly family member. Namely me.
  • Someone, most likely former senior warden Lisa Medley, showed up on The Wartburg Watch and posted confidential details of our family's giving. True to form, she got the details wrong, but why worry? Much of the other content posted by this individual was flat-out, bold-faced lies.
  • A teen in the parish -- yeah, we know who you are -- posted on another site, suggesting that a family member "go kill yourself." Nice. So Christlike.
  • Various parish officers have told third parties that a family member is "unbalanced."
  • A member of the clergy has engaged in a smear campaign, telling third parties that a family member had engaged in "suspicious activities,” and that he or she would probably not trust them with money. This differs markedly from statements made while this person was still worshipping at Grace Church. Speaking of, Bob Malm’s continuing descriptions of family members as “dysfunctional,” and “sad” represent defamation by implication.
Then you get the generic misconduct in the parish, including:
  • Group bullying by the choir and the altar guild.
  • A certain individual who, through lies and manipulation, tried to use the altar guild to bully family members.
  • Shunning and other forms of relational abuse by parishioners.
  • A well-known member of the choir trying to intimidate family members by yelling and, well, actring like an asshole.
Wonder where parishioners got the idea that this sort of crap is acceptable.

Meanwhile, the church is experiencing a sharp decline in pledging and attendance, having lost 1/3 of its pledging units from 2015 to present. No surprise there. Even if a parishioner couldn't care less about the specifics of Bob Malm's behavior, most will know an unhealthy situation when they see it, and avoid it, if for no other reason than to shield themselves from stress and anxiety. And no matter how you parse the issues, any church where behavior of this sort is okay is in deep trouble.

Our questions to parishioners: Do you really want to support an organization in which bullying, shunning, and suggesting that people commit suicide is acceptable conduct? In which it's okay to lie about other people? In which the details of your giving to the church are shared with members of the public by former vestry members?

We can only say that, if you do support Grace Church and don't demand change, you are complicit in all these things.