One Single NYC Church Is Worth Two Billion Dollars; Rector Rakes In Monthly Salary of $40K

A church rector with an annual compensation package of 1.3 million dollars?

Welcome to Trinity Church in Manhattan, whose assets, the New York Times revealed today, are valued at more than $2 billion.

The Episcopal parish, known as Trinity Wall Street, traces its holdings to a gift of 215 acres of prime Manhattan farmland donated in 1705 by Queen Anne of England. Since then, the church has parlayed that gift into a rich portfolio of office buildings, stock investments and, soon, mixed-use residential development.


The church funnels enormous chunks of that fortune into shelters and soup kitchens.

Just kidding. In 2011, Trinity Church earmarked all of three million dollars for “philanthropic grant spending” — less than 0.15% of its total worth.

It reported $158 million in real estate revenue for 2011, the majority of which went toward maintaining and supporting its real estate operations, the financial statement indicates. Of the $38 million left for the church’s operating budget, some $4 million was spent on communications, $3 million on philanthropic grant spending and $2.5 million on the church’s music program.

Then there are the earthly rewards enjoyed by the Rev. James H. Cooper, who has been the church’s rector since 2004. He gets a salary of almost $40,000 a month,

…which rises to a total compensation of $1.3 million [annually] when his pension and the estimated cost of his residence in a $5.5 million, church-owned SoHo town house are added.

The Times article details that the church board  — the “vestry members” — fight with the Reverend Cooper all the time

…over whether the church should be spending more money to help the poor and spread the faith, in New York and around the world. Differences over the parish’s mission and direction last year led nearly half the 22-member vestry — an august collection of corporate executives and philanthropists — to resign or be pushed out, after at least seven of them asked, unsuccessfully, that the rector himself step down.

One longtime vestry member who resigned last year alleges that Cooper was part and parcel of “a glaring atmosphere of deceit.”

Sounds like a den of vipers challenging work environment. One can only hope that Cooper’s compensation package makes up for the hardship.

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