A year after vestry members tried unsuccessfully to get Reverend James Cooper to step down as head of Trinity Wall Street, and two days after a congregant sued Cooper and other church leadership over alleged voting improprieties, Cooper announced late today that he will be stepping down.
The announcement, made on the church’s website, comes in the form of a letter Cooper wrote to the church’s vestry dated February 8.
But Cooper’s retirement won’t be immediate, he says in the letter.
“In fulfillment of my commitment to serve at least ten years as the 17th Rector of Trinity Wall Street, and in confidence that Trinity is well positioned for the future, I write to request that you accept my intention to retire from Trinity February 28, 2015.”
The letter acknowledges that Cooper’s tenure has included “some difficult decisions that required deep listening and rigorous analysis,” but otherwise makes no mention of his conflict with the vestry or the looming lawsuit. Instead, it is largely a catalog of the rector’s achievements in office.
Considering that this week’s lawsuit alleges both an opaque election system and a system of financial reporting so secretive that only Cooper himself, the vestry and the church wardens are allowed to see the books, Cooper’s critics may find this paragraph especially jarring:
“As I begin the next phase of my work at Trinity, I am pleased to observe that we are operating with increased transparency in governance, financial reporting, and grantmaking.”