Economic Stimulus From God

riversideI’m clearly in the wrong denomination. The headline in today’s New York Daily News reads: “Furor Over 600G Pastor.” Turns out there’s some controversy over the compensation package of the new senior pastor of Riverside Church.

According to church insiders, the Rev. Brad Braxton’s  salary 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.
  • Much of this is standard fare for clergy of mainline denominations. Except the maid. And perhaps the private school tuition. And the scale of it all. He also hired a second-in-command at $300,000. Why didn’t I see that job posted anywhere?

    Clergy have always had an odd relationship with money. We’re not called to poverty (just ask our spouses for clarification) but neither did we go into this line of work for the AIG-like bonuses. The mixed messages are abundant: Many of us are embarrassed to talk about money, yet Jesus talked about money more than any other topic. Many of us don’t want to see the specific pledge numbers of our parishioners, yet financial stewardship is an integral piece of spiritual wellness. Many of us don’t want to “get our hands dirty” with church financial matters, yet budgeting and raising money is a critical part of what we do.

    Part of me thinks Braxton’s salary is outrageous given the long history of social justice at Riverside. And given the current economic climate you could make the argument with words like “unconscionable.” But a small part of me thinks, “More power to him!” His position is fraught with unimaginable stress, he’s running a small corporation, and he’s a leader in his “industry.”

    Or maybe I’m just jealous. At least of the full-time maid — I could surely use one of those. Preferably one who could craft poignant, witty, and profound sermons.

    The actual Riverside Church (see comments).

    The actual Riverside Church (see comments).


    8 Comments on “Economic Stimulus From God”

    1. Andrew Dill says:

      Just a head’s up, that picture is actually Union Theological Seminary, which is across the street from Riverside

    2. Father Tim says:

      Really?? That’s an impressive error. At least I didn’t post a picture of the new Yankee Stadium.

    3. Seneca Foote says:

      Brad Braxton’s compensation is a disgrace. I felt almost sick when I heard it. The responsible members of the church were bullied when they attempted to protest. Braxton is NOT someone to be jealous of, guys. We have a short life here on earth and who really wants to carry the burden of conscience that goes with such greed.

    4. Father Tim says:


      This sounds like quite a divisive issue and time at Riverside. I’ll keep all of you in my prayers.


    5. […] 2, 2009 A few months ago I bloggedabout the controversy surrounding the new pastor at Riverside Church. The Rev. Brad Braxton had made […]

    6. I wouldn’t mind a little stimulus right now either. 600Gs, wow.

      –Terrace Crawford

    7. Bob says:

      He probably found a better paying job.

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