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Thread: In defense of Trinity Church -

  1. #1
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    Default In defense of Trinity Church -

    I understand the frustration with the coming demolition of that building behind Trinity and its replacement by something ordinary. Deteriorated on the inside, which is one of the "justifications" I recall being mentioned - isn't that what "gut renovation" is all about? But there have been some mean-spirited comments in general, which I think need some comment in reply.

    I should note that I am not a parishioner of Trinity Parish, although still (technically) Episcopalian, haven't been to a church service myself in over 20 years.

    But Trinity does a great deal of good with its resources. When I was in law school at Columbia in the late 70s, and involved with the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, I recall seeing the financial reports from the Episcopal Diocese of New York. And back then - I can't imagine the ratio has changed much since - Trinity was responsible for something like 1/4 to 1/3 of the entire financing for the Diocese. And a lot of that money filters down to parishes in poorer areas which have few resources, but often very expensive (and landmark) buildings to maintain bequeathed to them from a different time. Just think of St. Philips, and St. Martin's, and St. Luke's in Harlem, wonderful buildings all, to name a few. I'm sure the correspondents on this site wouldn't want to seem them "go". And remember that the diocese isn't just Manhattan - it's Staten Island, Manhattan, the Bronx and a number of upstate counties. It's not all Trinity Parish and St. Thomas Fifth Avenue. Who do you think pays for the diocese's ministries in Spanish and Chinese and Haitian Creole (and I think there may be one in Malayalam).

    Closer to home, Trinity sponsors a brilliant music series, which is very expensive and many of its events are free. It may not be your sort of music, depending on what you like, but it is very intelligently and creatively programmed, and performed to the highest professional standards. And unlike series (like Lincoln Center) which tend to program to a taste of rich donors (which is often ultra-conservative and boring, witness the NYPhilharmonic and the Met Opera), Trinity has done an extraordinary service with its recent series for Benjamin Britten's anniversary, to take one example, and rare Stravinsky liturgical works (none of which would have brought in big-bucks donors uptown). This is a great gift to the city.

    On a VERY much more mundane level, there was a Times article several weeks ago about Trinity simply providing available restrooms in both Trinity itself and St. Paul's chapel a few blocks north, which is now something of a 9/11 shrine church, to the thousands of people walking around this area who will necessarily need that service from time to time. I have to say I find Trinity useful that way myself when on a long walk. But it does cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, just in maintenance and supplies and proper cleanliness. It may be basic, but we all need it, right?

    Don't want to make this too long, but they also host international forums on human rights and give grants to 3rd-world humanitarian projects, and provided a lot of support for Archbishop Tutu in his fight again apartheid.

    OK, so you don't think the rector deserves quite so much money and a fancy townhouse in Soho. Those are legitimate questions. But keep things in perspective, please.

  2. #2
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    Then who will we hate?

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    If Trinity has such abundant resources and does so many wonderful things with its money, then why doesn't it give back to its own community via architecture? Why would it not realize that restoring beautiful old buildings improves quality of life vs. building generic modernist trash? Why would it act as a profit-maximizing Solow or Macklowe rather than keep its surroundings civilized?

    Sorry, but I don't buy the above. Trinity is a real estate developer, not a church or charity, and as such it should have its non-profit tax status revoked.

  4. #4
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Well, at least they're not obscenely wealthy like the Vatican. And you'd think that being religious, they'd be more preservation-minded by definition.

  5. #5
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    I'm with you on that architecture front - that building should have been restored. It's worth noting that their commercial properties are not tax-exempt, according to their financial summary they paid $23 million in taxes to New York City in 2012.

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