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US Congress & The Legislative Branch Discuss Brooklyn pastor's wife wants church proceeds at the Political Forums; Brooklyn pastor's wife wants church proceeds In a case that may be the first of its kind, the wife of ...

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Old 11-17-2007, 06:37 AM
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Default Brooklyn pastor's wife wants church proceeds

Brooklyn pastor's wife wants church proceeds

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In a case that may be the first of its kind, the wife of a pastor from Baldwin is hoping to win assets from her husband's church in their divorce proceedings, saying he uses the church as his "personal piggy bank" and that any money he makes from it is partly hers.

In a decision published this week, state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Diamond agreed to hear arguments at trial in Mineola about whether Grace Christian Church in Brooklyn should be considered a marital asset, and ordered that it be appraised. It is one of the first times in New York State history -- if not the first -- that someone going through a divorce has tried to call a religious institution a marital asset, lawyers in the case said.

"I've been working in New York 16 years, and I've never seen a court award an appraisal on a church," said the husband's attorney, Eleanor Gery of Williston Park.

Because the case involves a divorce, the names of the husband and wife were redacted from the decision.

According to Diamond's decision, the wife says her husband, to whom she was married 31 years, operates Grace Christian Church like a business and profits from it as such. She said he put $50,000 of the couple's savings into it when he started it, and that the church property, which includes a catering hall that is rented out for events, is also partly hers. She claims her husband hides church finances from the church elders, determines his own income and dismisses anyone who challenges the way he keeps the books, according to the decision.

She says her husband spends the church tithes on whatever he likes, and that he paid his mistress either $750 a week or a month out of the church funds, according to the decision.

The pastor, in turn, says that he is merely an employee of the church, and that the church's money does not belong either to him or to his wife, Diamond's decision said.

"My client can't own the church," Gery said. "The church is separate."
I think the overall issue of whether or not the church's finanical aspects can be viewed as the pastor's assests is a little unclear, but this is clear...

The church elders DID consent to him having the funds available...THEY should the ones putting him up on fraud if the accusations are true...The wife should not include the assets in the divorce...
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