Pastor compensation package sparks suit

April 22, 2009 3:37:21 PM PDT
One of the most famous churches in New York is now in the middle of a nasty battle with its own congregation. Members of Riverside Church are suing to block a several hundred thousand pay package for the new senior pastor. In the middle of a recession, it's much more than the man he replaced.

It's become the stuff of tabloid headlines. It's a battle over money and control at one of the city's largest and most respected religious institutions.

Reverend Brad Braxton, Riverside Church's new senior pastor, will receive $250,000 in salary and an $11,500 monthly housing allowance, reportedly nearly twice what his predecessor, Dr. James Forbes, was being paid after 18 years.

Diana Solomon-Glover is one of the long-time church members questioning that compensation package. She's joined other congregants in a lawsuit seeking to force the new pastor and church council to answer a list of questions as stipulated by church bylaws.

No one representing Riverside would go on camera, but in a statement, the church council said, in part, that "the package Reverend Braxton receives is in line with compensation packages of other religious leaders in Manhattan who minister to congregations of a similar size and scope."

Critics insist, though, that this is about much more than the money.

"The compensation package is simply one of a long standing and underlying difficulty," attorney Richard Stone said.

Stone and Solomon-Glover say one of the overarching questions is the future direction of a church historically known, and beloved, for it's inclusive, social justice-based philosophy.


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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