By Kirk Petersen
The rector of the richest Episcopal Church in the world abruptly resigned January 3, saying he and his wife want to “enjoy some sabbath rest to open our hearts to God’s call for the next chapter of our ministry together.”
The Rev. Dr. William Lupfer, rector of Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church for the past five years, announced his departure in a letter to the Trinity staff, which was obtained by TLC.
The church’s vicar, the Rev. Phillip A. Jackson, will become priest-in-charge on Monday, January 6, while a search begins for the 19th rector of Trinity. The vestry announced that appointment in a separate letter, saying the move was made “with the full support of the Vestry” by the Rt. Rev. Andrew Dietsche, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.
Trinity Wall Street was founded in 1696, and a few years later received a grant from Queen Anne of more than 200 acres of what became Lower Manhattan. Some of the land has been sold over the years, but the church controls a portfolio of land valued at $3.5 billion, and total assets of $8 billion.
The New York Times reported in February that Trinity is building a $350 million glass tower that “will have 17 floors of office space in addition to a nine-story base devoted to parish and community use.”
In March 2019, the church reached across the country to acquire a seminary. The church pledged to invest an undisclosed amount of money to support Church Divinity School of the Pacific, based in Berkeley, California.
Lupfer, 59, is an alumnus of the University of Colorado and Yale University. He completed a doctor of ministry degree from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in 2003, writing a dissertation on “The Rector as Parish Leader: Leveraging Vestry Leadership for Spiritual Formation.” He was ordained deacon in 1993 and priest in 1994.
TLC was unable to reach a media contact for the church after business hours on Friday.
Below is the text of the letters sent from Lupfer and from the Vestry.
From the Rev. Dr. William Lupfer
Dear Trinity Staff,
When I was called as Rector of Trinity, I expected that I would retire from this role. After five years of intensive work together with the Vestry, staff, parishioners, and our other stakeholders in the community and around the world, Kimiko and I have come to the decision to step away for a time, resign as Rector of Trinity, and enjoy some sabbath rest to open our hearts to God’s call for the next chapter of our ministry together.
In a few months, Kimiko and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary and next year, I will turn 60. It’s a good time to enter our “empty nest” years with listening hearts. While we will miss our many friends at Trinity, we are excited to incorporate the incredible learning we have been blessed with these past five years and move energetically into this next chapter of our lives. We will continue to love and cherish each of you as we take this next step.
I hope you will join me at a farewell reception in the Hamilton Room on the 8th floor of our new office on Monday, January 6, at 4pm.
A Letter from the Vestry of Trinity Church Wall Street
After five years of very intense and productive ministry at Trinity Church Wall Street, trusting that the values, vision, and strategy work is on track for the foreseeable future, the Rev. Dr. William Lupfer has decided to step away, resign as Rector, and recalibrate his ministry to discern a new call that incorporates all of what he has learned at Trinity with his love for aspects of ministry that the role of Rector did not allow him to fully engage: being in much closer contact to the faithful people worshiping in the pews, while continuing strategic work with global mission partners and institutions to invest in their values.
Dr. Lupfer has made significant progress toward the goals he set out to achieve. He has been a champion of expanding community engagement through the church’s Housing and Homelessness and Racial Justice initiatives and through the development of Trinity Commons as a convening space for the local community; he has overseen a historic renovation of Trinity Church’s nave, which re-opened on Christmas Eve; and he has led an effort to help the Anglican Communion build capacity and develop leaders who can serve the Church’s mission far into the future. We are grateful for his years of service.
Dr. Lupfer said, “I’ve absolutely loved the people and ministry at Trinity and am proud of our accomplishments. Trinity is in great hands with a strong Vestry and Congregational Council who share a clear vision for the future. With a gifted staff in place, and strong ministry partners around the world who are working peer to peer with Trinity to achieve our mission, it is Trinity’s time to shine. My wife Kimiko and I will be cheering our friends and partners at Trinity as they lead the Church into continued success. May God bless all of Trinity’s future endeavors.”
“Looking towards the future, my work at Trinity has provided an enormous learning opportunity offering the chance to incorporate all I have learned into a more nimble and agile approach to thought leadership in the Church in the continuing effort to support leaders as they seek to translate vision and values into effective and innovative leadership strategy.”
Effective Monday, January 6, and with the full support of the Vestry, the Rt. Rev. Andrew Dietsche, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, has named Trinity’s Vicar, the Rev. Phillip A. Jackson, priest-in-charge, a title which allows him to perform all the functions of Rector.
Trinity’s Vestry will conduct a call process to select the 19th Rector of Trinity, who will lead the church in its mission both as a local congregation and global parish.
Trinity Wall Street is a sponsor of The Living Church Foundation, Inc.