NYC Church Squabbles Over Ungodly Amounts of Cash

Documents now reveal church the Queen made rich has more than $2B
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2013 9:05 AM CDT
Updated Apr 28, 2013 5:17 PM CDT
With Trinity Church in the background, people walk on Wall Street, Monday, Sept. 29, 2008 in New York.   (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)

(Newser) – A lawsuit from an ex-parishioner has forced Trinity Church to reveal just how crazy rich it is, and that has parishioners wondering if the Episcopal parish is using its funds in a sufficiently saintly manner. The church owes its wealth primarily to Queen Anne of England, who bestowed 215 acres of Manhattan farmland on it back in 1705, the New York Times explains. It's since parlayed that into 5.5 million square feet of commercial real estate, and now says its total assets have an estimated value of more than $2 billion.

In 2011, that real estate brought in $158 million in revenue, most of which went back into its real estate operations; only $3 million went to philanthropic grants (compared to $2.5 million spent on its music program), which is what bothered the man who brought the lawsuit. He and others think more should be spent on outreach and aid to the poor. "I felt that the church was being too corporate and wasn't acting on its values," he says. The church's rector, James Cooper, says Trinity Church is striking the right balance. But Cooper—who makes roughly $1.3 million a year in total compensation—is a controversial figure; last year a resigning vestry member said he had "created a glaring atmosphere of deceit." (Read more Trinity Wall Street stories.)

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