The embattled rector of Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan saw his pay cut — barely — as controversy swirled over his leadership. The Rev. James Cooper’s salary dropped to $339,469 in 2012 down from $352,663 a year earlier when he also got a $25,000 bonus, according to new tax filings. Cooper’s 2012 total compensation reached $1.2 million with benefits factored in. Those perks included his residence in a church-owned Soho town house, now valued by the city at $8.2 million, and a $118,675 housing allowance for his Florida condo.Perhaps now would be a good time for Fr. Cooper to take in the Rejuvenation Services at Trinity.
Cooper came under fire from members of Trinity’s governing board angry that not enough of the wealthy church’s resources were going to philanthropy and that Cooper was too focused on grandiose development projects. By March 2012, almost half of the board had been forced out or quit. Cooper had contemplated resigning in the midst of the controversy, but only if Trinity could meet his demands, which included burial in the historic church graveyard where Alexander Hamilton was laid to rest.
Every Wednesday in the summer, Trinity hosts midday “Catch Your Breath” services, catering to Financial District workers on their lunch breaks. The signs outside—beneath the Episcopal flag and next to the rejuvenation posters—advertise the services in this way:
Take a break from the workday rush. Participate in a breathing exercise, enjoy some quiet time, and listen to a short teaching before tackling the rest of your day. Bring your lunch for a supportive midday interaction.
I tried to notice my breath, but my eyes wandered around the chapel. It was built in with the restraint typical of an American neo-gothic church: no painted saints or glowing virgins. But the wood tracery adorning the brownstone walls was beautiful. And behind Ellen’s breathing body, an effigy of Morgan Dix, the church’s first warden, looked piously up to heaven, hands clasped.
Oh, the many burdens of handling a church so well endowed with nearly everything except the orthodox and catholic faith! Perhaps we could all offer a silent prayer for the conflict there between such an obviously low paid pastor and his flock. . . Or, maybe we could do a little yoga or meditation instead. It's all the same, right???????
“It’s time to face those hard emotions,” Ellen said. “As you face them, inhale all that you have of those difficult emotions. As we exhale, we will exhale the antidote. For example: fear. I inhale fear. I exhale courage. Or peace.”