More on the tense relationship between the Rector of Trinity Wall Street and some current and former Vestry-members. Some members have resigned in protest over Cooper’s leadership.
Cooper was supposed to be the guardian angel of Trinity. Instead, former board members say his dictatorial style of leadership and grandiose ambitions have fomented insurrection in the staid Episcopal community. They accuse him of undermining Trinity’s mission of good works since taking over as rector in 2004.
Instead of helping the poor, Cooper’s helped himself — with demands for a $5.5 million SoHo townhouse, an allowance for his Florida condo, trips around the world including an African safari and a fat salary.
Rather than building an endowment, he is accused of wasting more than $1 million on development plans for a luxury condo tower that has been likened to a pipe dream and burning another $5 million on a publicity campaign.
Cooper, 67, whose compensation totaled $1.3 million in 2010, even added CEO to his title of rector. He began listing himself first on the annual directory of vestry members.
The atmosphere has become so poisonous that nearly half the 22 members of the vestry, or board, have been forced out or quit in recent months.
As with any church conflict, there are those who want the Rector to stay.
A current board member, Susan Berresford, said the 600-member church has “full confidence in the leadership of Trinity’s rector.”
“Even during these challenging economic times, Trinity’s ministries are strong, flourishing and addressing a full range of social and spiritual needs,” said Berresford, former president of the Ford Foundation.
But the Post reports:
Instead of concentrating on the endowment, Cooper began planning for a grand development on Trinity Place. He proposed tearing down two Trinity-owned buildings across from the church. One, a 25-story tower at 74 Trinity Place, housed the church offices, its preschool and a gathering place for parishioners.
Cooper wanted to build a luxury condominium tower, with church offices on the lower floors. He also looked at buying the adjacent American Stock Exchange and demolishing it, even though the building has long been considered for landmark status.
One former board member called the plan insensitive and too big for the area. Others questioned the need for such a development, which would involve borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars.