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Trinity Wall Street Vestry’s 1% Connections

December 15, 2011, 2:30 pm | Posted by Nick Sementelli

Trinity Wall StreetAs Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church has continued to resist providing the Occupy Wall Street movement access to the vacant Duarte Square, their explanations have seemed increasingly obscure.

In his most recent statement, Trinity’s Rector Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper casually dismissed Occupy’s argument for generic “health, safety and security problems,” and he denigrated the protesters he allowed to be arrested, saying  “they were not seeking sanctuary; they were seeking to be arrested.”

The reasoning has raised questions among many in the New York faith and Occupy communities about whether Trinity’s real opposition stems from being too culturally and organizationally too aligned with the 1%.

An analysis of Trinity’s vestry (the governing board that manages the parish’s affairs) lends some significant weight to these concerns. Marked as up-to-date as of May 6, 2011, the vestry list reads as a who’s-who of the rich and powerful in New York, including Wall Street bankers, media and real estate executives, and in the most telling case, a former executive vice president of Brookfield Properties, the company that owns Zuccotti Park and pressured the city to evict the occupiers in the first place. (See the full list below).

Importantly, in the Episcopal polity, the parish vestry has full legal control over property — which is a big deal for a church that reportedly has $10 billion in real estate assets. It also means that this small group of people (many of whom are not members of Trinity) are making the final decision about whether to open Duarte Square.

This new information puts Trinity’s ongoing decisions and communications in a new light.

Click here for a full list of the Trinity vestry (pdf):

Wendy Boyce
Manager, Retirement Plans, AIG, Inc.

Porter Fleming
Partner, Frommer, Lawrence & Haug LLP

Thomas Flexner
Global Head of Real Estate, Citigroup

Stefan Ford
General Counsel, Energy Intelligence Group

Dr. Michael Gilligan
President, Henry Luce Foundation

Lawrence Graham
Executive Vice President (Retired), Brookfield Office Properties

Joseph Hakim
Chairman of the Board of Directors, Park Agency, Inc.

Chester Johnson
Chairman (Retired), Government Finance Associates, Inc.

Leah Johnson
Founder and CEO, LCJ Solutions

Lorraine LaHuta
Vice President for Development and Communications, The New York Academy of Medicine

Andrew Lynn
Director of Planning and Regional Development, Port Authority of NY and NJ

Dr. Westina Matthews Shatteen
Managing Director (Retired), Merrill Lynch

Andrew McMaster
Deloitte LLP

Christopher McCrudden
Vice President (Retired), Princeton University

Jon Meacham
Executive Editor, Random House

Peter Ng
Partnership Officer for Asia and the Pacific
The Episcopal Church Center

Jean Phifer
Associate, Thomas Phifer and Partners

Dennis Sullivan
President and CEO, Church Pension Fund

Betty Whelchel
General Counsel-CIB Americas, BNP Paribas

Mary White, MD
Medical Director, Weill Cornell clinic for Human Rights, Weill cornell Medical College

Photo credit: wwritter, Flickr

4 Responses to “Trinity Wall Street Vestry’s 1% Connections”

  1. Mary O'Shaughnessy says:

    What you have conveniently ignored is that Trinity is also a parish committed to the work of the diocese to which it belongs.

    Trinity pays far and away the largest assessment (church tax) in the Diocese of New York. Much of that money goes to the support of some of the poorest and most isolated churches in the diocese–and thereby funds food pantries, shelters, tutoring programs, soup kitchens, and other kinds of work that folks are insisting should be the work of churches.

  2. John McDougal says:

    Yes, but what would Jesus do? Would he stand with those seaking fairness and equality or the wealthy elite?

  3. Leah Gregg says:

    I’m confused how someone can be a member of the vestry and not the church. Is this due to Trinity Wall Streets dual identity as a church and real estate holder? Does anybody know if there is a diversity of opinions on the church’s vestry? I imagine there must be.

  4. Gd Hawthorne says:

    Nowadays, whenever I hear someone say, “What would Jesus Do?”, my first thought is, “Which Jesus?” Is it the Jesus of our own imagination and creation or the Biblical Jesus? Is it the Jesus that we have formed to conform to our agendas or the One who had only one agenda – to do the will of Him who sent him? Life is funny; so much so that, when we are really faced with the reaping whirlwind of the Jesus of our machinations, we are flummoxed. Here are a few scriptures that might help to focus the lens, encourage the heart, and strengthen the resolve to follow the Leader [the Biblical Jesus]:
    Matthew 11:16-19
    •16 “To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends,
    •17 ‘We played wedding songs, and you didn’t dance, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t mourn.’
    •18 For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’
    •19 The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”
    It seems that the actions of Trinity Wall Street may fall within the category of verse 17, essentially, not performing to the dictates of other persons’ agendas. Ironically, it seems that the answer to the question, “What would Jesus do?” in this situation, is NOT what the rhetorical twist to the question implies.
    • He would not have acquiesced to the extortionary “pipings” or manipulative “tears” of this particular group of children playing in the market place [OWS].
    • Actually, according to verse 19 he would most probably have been hanging out with the fictitious, vilified “1%” [a rubric applied by this article to the vestry of Trinity Wall Street].
    Hope this helps. ( – :