Trinity Wall Street, the powerful Episcopal church and real estate giant wracked by internal disagreements over the leadership of Rector James Cooper, is scheduled to hold an election on Tuesday.
The vote is held annually to elect members of the vestry--the Episcopal equivalent of a board of directors for the church. But ever since the last election, when Cooper used the election to purge the vestry of his remaining critics, the election process has been the subject of controversy. Jeremy Bates, a member of the congregation, sued Trinity's leadership in February, alleging that elections are rigged; Cooper's nominating committee only selects as many candidates as there are available positions, and ballots only offer congregants the opportunity to vote "yes."
Bates told the Voice he filed the suit to try to make sure that this year's election wouldn't be another sham, but his suit is concerned with more than just voting protocol -- he also wanted the church to open its books to the public, rather than keeping Trinity's finances secret.
Since Bates filed his suit, two interesting things have happened: First, the church announced that Cooper intends to step down as rector -- in 2015. Then, on Friday, the church published an audited financial report for 2011.More »