New Riverside Church pastor Rev. Brad Braxton's $600K compensation prompts parishioners' suit
by Juan Gonzalez
The New York Daily News
Call it the stimulus package from God.
Manhattan's Riverside Church - one of the country's most illustrious religious institutions - is paying its new senior pastor, the Rev. Brad Braxton, more than $600,000 in annual compensation.
That's twice what Braxton's predecessor, James Forbes, one of the country's best-known preachers, was getting after running Riverside for more than 18 years.
It amounts to almost 10 times what William Sloane Coffin, the legendary anti-Vietnam War clergyman, was paid in his last year as senior minister at Riverside in 1987.
Braxton was selected in a vote of the congregation last fall and is to be officially installed Sunday.
A group of church dissidents claims the members were never told about the lavish package.
Those dissidents filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court last week to stop Braxton's installation, revealing a growing divide among the church's 1,500 members.
The Wall Street-like package, the dissidents say, is outrageous for a man of the cloth - especially when you consider Riverside's long history of advocating social justice.
Church sources say it includes:
# $250,000 in salary.
# $11,500 monthly housing allowance.
# Private school tuition for his child.
# A full-time maid.
# Entertainment, travel and "professional development" allowances.
# Pension and life insurance benefits.
# An equity allowance for Braxton to save up to buy a home.
On top of that, Braxton immediately hired a new second in command at more than $300,000 a year.
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Follow up report:
Juan Gonzalez: Head of Riverside Church defends Rev. Brad Braxton's $600K annual compensation