July 2, 2009 | 1:32 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Remember that Manhattan pastor who was unsuccessfully sued by a faction of his church that was unhappy with his pay and compensation package of as much as $600,000?
Well, the air never really cleared for the Rev. Brad Braxton. Monday, only nine months into one of the most distinguished pulpit appointments in the country, Braxton resigned.
“The consistent discord has made it virtually impossible to establish a fruitful covenant between the congregation and me,” Braxton wrote in an email to his congregation.
But the discord was not just over his pay. In fact, that might have been more of a straw man for liberal, big-tent churchgoers who disapproved of their new Baptist-ordained minister. More on the theological battle from The New York Times:
According to dissidents, Dr. Braxton went about that by bringing elements of evangelical tradition into church services. They said he called on worshipers to come forward and bear witness to their faith, favored the gospel choir over the church’s traditional choir, and preached at times what they considered a Riverside heresy: that Jesus and only Jesus was the way to salvation.
Some members of the congregation may believe that, said Constance Guice-Mills, a member of the church. “But his focus on personal salvation, on the individual, was diametrically opposed to the tradition of Riverside. Here, we believe you achieve salvation by doing social justice. Out in the world. And we have people from all backgrounds. Buddhists.”
According to supporters like Ms. Schmidt, the council chairwoman, Dr. Braxton’s theological views were consistent with the Riverside culture. But he also recognized the great challenge facing liberal Protestants — the extraordinary growth of evangelical churches for 30 years.
That an evangelical pastor could be ask to lead a congregation with a strong contingency of members who seem somewhat Unitarian is surprising. That those members could be so influential as to force the pastor to resign against the wishes of the church majority and its board is amazing.
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