Thursday, April 12, 2012

Trinity Church Goes to the Polls Amid Controversy Over Leadership

From New York-

Congregants at Downtown's troubled Trinity Church slammed the church's leadership Tuesday as they cast ballots for a new vestry, or board of directors.

Congregants criticized the Rev. James Cooper, the church's rector, for lavishly overspending on music programs while neglecting the poor, and some accused the church of rigging the annual election to quash a grassroots push for change.

Tom Mazza, a member of the 314-year-old Episcopal church for nearly five decades, called the election undemocratic and said he voted against the slate of 22 vestry members because they were chosen at a closed-door meeting and are largely loyal to Cooper.

"I wanted to send a message that you shouldn't rig elections," said Mazza, a retired lawyer and West Village resident.

Despite Mazza and others' complaints, Trinity announced Tuesday evening that the slate of vestry members had been confirmed by a majority vote. The vestry is now about evenly split between veterans and the newcomers who replaced the 10 former vestry members who resigned in protest of Cooper's leadership over the past eight months.

Jeremy Bates, past president of Trinity's Congregational Council, also voted "no" to all 22 of the vestry candidates.

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