Why This Blog

This blog is a successor to a previous blog detailing the outrageous antics and abusive behavior of Episcopal priest Bob Malm, rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Alexandria.

That blog was written by a family member of ours, and was taken down as part of a ceasefire arranged through the kind efforts of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. That site reopened when Bob Malm falsely accused my son of making terroristic threats via this blog.*

However, the authors of this blog do not believe it was appropriate to take down that blog. While none of us are, or have been, members of Grace Episcopal Church, Bob has caused lasting harm to our family members, to the community, and to the church itself. He has denied accountability at every turn, lied about his past actions, and done as little as possible to resolve the problems he has caused. To be clear, problems at Grace Church go back many years, and include a shocking disregard for the financial resources entrusted to the church; bullying and abusive behavior by clergy, staff, and laity alike; and an almost complete lack of regard for church canons and the terms and conditions of Bob's letter of agreement. Or, as one former assistant rector puts it, "Bob has been getting away with murder for years."

Moreover, Bob Malm's decision to shun and ostracize two members of our family -- a campaign that went on for two years -- is unacceptable. Shunning has, or should have, no role in The Episcopal Church. Never. Under any circumstances. No excuses. No explanations. Or, as the hearing panel ruled in the Bishop Bruno case, "These actions are incompatible with the Episcopal Church's role as an inclusive church where all are welcome." And parishioners who come to Bob's defense by lying, engaging in smear campaigns, engaging in shunning themselves, and more, do neither him, nor themselves, nor Grace Church, any favors.

Note too that Bob's behavior would be illegal if he were part of a public school in Virginia. The state's public school anti-bullying statute defines emotional bullying as including, "persistently excluding others from a group or activity (shunning); ignoring and lying." Bob has demonstrated all these behaviors towards members of our family. Thus, he is a bully, and one of the worst kinds: A clergy bully.

We note as well that one of the two family members included in Bob Malm's edict of shunning has renounced Christianity as a result of Bob's actions. In cases of clergy misconduct such as this, that news comes as no surprise. Yet we are deeply troubled by this result, and even more so by the lack of concern at all levels about this outcome. If the role of an Episcopal vestry indeed is as a missional partner to the rector, the silence coming from Grace Church is a telling indictment of the parish and its members.

We therefore believe it is important that information on these issues be available to the public, and we are publishing this blog to meet that need. Moreover, since the Google review of one of the contributors to this site keeps getting pulled down, this site serves as the successor to that review. Maybe next time the persons behind that effort will think twice before trying to censor others.

For the record, a real apology is essential to any sort of reconciliation. Per the Christian faith, this would require:
  • An acknowledgement of wrongdoing.
  • A recognition of the harm that has been caused.
  • A genuine turning away from that behavior.
  • Restitution towards those harmed.
For many of us hurt by Bob's actions, none of these things have happened. Nor have we been positively impressed by Bob's interaction with other family members. Particularly offensive are his nonapologies, his lies about his past actions, and the failure of his former assistant rector, Leslie Steffensen, to take responsibility for her role in this matter. The latter included directing staff to deny family members access to church building, and impugning the integrity of family members.

Or, as one family member said:

"If this is what the Body of Christ is all about, you can keep it."

Other family members, including some who are Jewish, believe that it is too late for apologies. Bob Malm has deliberately hurt others, and done the one thing in Judaism that can't be forgiven, which is deliberately damaging the reputation of others. Moreover, there is an obligation to resist injustice and oppression--two words that readily come to mind when evaluating Bob Malm's behavior.

We also would add that parishioners and the community at large have every right to expect high standards of professional and personal behavior from Bob Malm. He is entrusted with considerable financial resources and the trust that comes from being a member of the clergy. His repeated violation of that trust is, itself, grounds for outrage.

Nor do Bob's excuses hold water. Nonsense about how he couldn't take action to address issues in the parish because there wasn't a personnel committee and other silliness simply doesn't cut it; Bob is more than willing to take personal action against those who criticize him, as we know from his campaign of shunning, harassment and abuse directed at our family.

Meanwhile, there has been no apology from church staff, clergy, or the vestry, despite the fact all participated in and supported Bob's campaign of hatred towards us.

So, absent any sign that these individuals understand why shunning, bullying and harassment are wrong, we believe it appropriate and necessary to warn others that these behaviors are acceptable at Grace Church. Again, clergy, vestry, staff and volunteers have all participated in this outrageous  and unethical conduct.

Lastly, we are aware that Bob Malm sooner or later will visit this site. With that in mind, we have this to say to Bob Malm: 

We are not now, nor ever will be, part to any reconciliation with you. You may be able to lie, bluster, and bully your way out of accountability with others, but we refuse to take part in your games. Nor do we care that we are, "hurting your ministry." Any "ministry" in which your conduct is acceptable is a fool's paradise and not worth having.

*We acknowledge with gratitude the efforts of Bishop Shannon and other diocesan officials in attempting to resolve this conflict, but believe that Bob Malm has walked away with next to no accountability for his despicable actions. We further believe that, were he able to do so and get away with it, Bob Malm would readily again engage in conduct of the sort described in this blog.