The pastor of Riverside Church, a long-time center of social activism and liberal theology, has resigned after only two months in the job.
The Rev. Brad Braxton notified the Upper West Side church's board of his decision last night.
He has been criticized for his $600,000-plus salary package, which included a $250,000 annual salary and an $11,500 living allowance. The package was approved by church members.
Dissidents unsuccessfully tried to block his April installation by seeking a court order charging that the church's board had been too secretive about finances. They also said his compensation package strained the church's budget. Critics also feared that Dr. Braxton would move the church to a more conservative agenda.
The cathedral was built by John D. Rockefeller and made its reputation as a bastion of progressivism, often pushing a pacifist agenda.
A church spokeswoman said Braxton's "end date will be determined after further discussion with church leadership." In his resignation letter, the pastor said he hopes his departure will help the congregation "address its internal tensions."
Longtime members ascribe some of the tension to changes in the racial makeup of the 2,700-member congregation, which was once about 60 percent white and 40 percent black, and now is roughly the reverse, The New York Times reported.
The official announcement, obtained by the Times, said that "Dr. Braxton’s decision to step down has illuminated the need for our Church community to gain clarity on our shared mission, and the Church Council is looking forward to engaging with the congregation in the deep soul-searching and conversations that will allow us to move forward as a stronger, more unified congregation."