Episcopal priest makes a name for himself in New York City nightclubs

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He shows up at the hottest clubs in the wee hours and spends thousands on top-shelf liquors, doling out five-figure tips like silver dollars.

He'll send bottles of Dom Perignon to tables around him on a whim, or take a waitress out on the town for a shopping spree.

His name isn't Diddy. He doesn't show up in the gossip columns or the Fortune 500. He's not even a celebrity at all.

The mystery man whose bottomless pockets have made him a legend in clubland is a young Episcopal priest from northeastern Pennsylvania.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)

27 Comments
Posted December 28, 2008 at 4:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Jim of Lapeer wrote:

My, my. This seems a little creepy.

December 28, 10:06 pm | [comment link]
2. padreegan wrote:

You know, as a priest, I have always felt that clergy need some time to get away from the grind of the parish life.  Of course, I usually think of spending time with my family or reading or watching hockey and yes even enjoying a cold glass of beer once in a while, but come on?  This is the behavior I would expect from a college student, not a man of the cloth?  Yes, we are all sinners, but at least we should make an attempt to live as examples for others.  I think my parish would be highly upset if they found out I was out on Friday night getting drunk and dropping thousands of dollars on the bar instead of helping bring food to the hungry, clothing to the naked, hope to the hopeless, etc.  I would hope that this behavior is brought to an end by the diocesan bishop.  Whether conservative or liberal this behavior is contrary to the Gospel!

December 28, 10:35 pm | [comment link]
3. The_Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

He appears to be a man of the cloth without the cloth.

December 28, 10:38 pm | [comment link]
4. A Senior Priest wrote:

Oh, please, friends… what is wrong is that his mode of entertaining is getting so much publicity. He’s young and he’s rich, and he tips well. He’ll settle down someday. Anglican clergyman aren’t supposed to be monks of the Order of Minims, and they don’t take a vow of poverty. Perhaps he ought to go to classier, quieter places where people don’t talk so much. I’m glad there are some cool clergy around having fun. It’s very much part of our tradition to have one or two around.

December 29, 12:39 am | [comment link]
5. Betty See wrote:

Matthew 6, verse 24
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

December 29, 2:30 am | [comment link]
6. rugbyplayingpriest wrote:

sorry, spending thousands on chapagne is sinful. One could spend 30 and give the rest to mission, charity etc…This is decadence, hedonism -call it what you will. I wonder how many priests in the third world get by without vestments, bibles etc whilst this man throws his money away - tipping bar staff? I wonder how many church’s in poorer areas of America cannot afford to heat their buildings, pay for a priest etc..

Accountability. That is the word I think this brings to mind
Priest in name only methinks.

December 29, 4:22 am | [comment link]
7. drummie wrote:

The mere fact that this thread is discussing the facts of his behaviour should give you pause to think. Should a priest be living what many consider a scandalous lifestyle? NO. Is this man reflecting Christ in his actions? NO. Christ did mingle with, talk with, and convert all kinds of people. I do not think this priest is trying to convert the people he meets, nor is he reflecting Christ in his lifestyle, he just want’s to party and throw money around to impress people, and it is not about his money, but his choices of what he does. No one can mirror Christ adequately, but it doesen’t appear this man is even trying. So, he is denying his ordination vows, and that calls in to question everything about him. Denying his vows puts him in the same position of VGR et al, but for a different reason. He is blasphemous in his actions. They speak far more than his words.

December 29, 7:15 am | [comment link]
8. Br. Michael wrote:

I can’t but help think of St. Francis.

December 29, 8:04 am | [comment link]
9. dcreinken wrote:

This certainly isn’t my life style, and it seems his money is coming from his business profession so he’s not all that different from other successful business owners except that he’s ordained.

I don’t recall that the article mentioned Father Greg getting drunk, nor do we know how much money he gives elsewhere.  All we know is what his clubbing lifestyle is like.

Is it sinful to buy a $50,000 car when a $22,000 Corolla will do?  Is it sinful to buy a McMansion after growing up in a modest 3 bed / 2 bath that was perfectly adequate?  Is it sinful to take a multi-thousand dollar vacation to lie on the beach in some exotic location when Florida or the Caribbean will do just fine? 

I recall being told once that the reason the Bishop of New York lives in a huge mansion is that J. P. Morgan felt the pastor should live in the same condition as his flock.  In a capitalist society, even the occasional priest can be financially successful.  If he’s tithing, then isn’t he fulfilling the Biblical requirements?

Dirk Reinken

December 29, 8:39 am | [comment link]
10. Old Soldier wrote:

Well, at least he is not throwing his money away on MDGs.

December 29, 9:29 am | [comment link]
11. libraryjim wrote:

Ah, and some wonder why the term “Whiskeypalian” came into play to describe the Episcopal Church.

December 29, 10:47 am | [comment link]
12. Irenaeus wrote:

In Graham Green’s novel, The Power and the Glory, a dissipated “Whiskey Priest” brings the sacraments to poor folk who would otherwise have to go without. Here a fit, cheerful Whiskey Priest ministers to the spiritous needs of the dissipated.

I just want to know whether Malia parties at the Limelight, the former Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion that became a sacrilegious, drug-laced nightclub.

PS: Clerical use of the Limelight is perhaps all the more fitting since KJS would rather have ECUSA’s surplus sanctuaries used by nightclubs than by Anglicans.

December 29, 11:31 am | [comment link]
13. Irenaeus wrote:

Well, at least he is not throwing his money away on MDGs

Better to practice good stewardship and further the MDGs by giving money to superb organizations like Anglican Relief and Development. The MDGs, although no substitute for the gospel, are quite reasonable in themselves. And contrary to what many people think, the MDGs do not call for channeling contributions through governments. Give to AR&D;!

December 29, 11:52 am | [comment link]
14. Karin Rosner wrote:

FYI: The Limelight became Avalon, and has been closed for quite a while; Malia isn’t partying there, at least not recently. Coincidentally, I did get into one event at The Limelight a zillion years ago, and I’m now a member of the parish that it got absorbed into. wink

December 29, 2:06 pm | [comment link]
15. Albany+ wrote:

Well, the good news is that it will help folks to continue not to take TEC seriously.

December 29, 2:54 pm | [comment link]
16. Old Soldier wrote:

Irenaeus #13
Agree.  AR&D;is worth our giving.

December 29, 4:32 pm | [comment link]
17. Choir Stall wrote:

Sounds like the apt candidate to assist Terry Martin in his journey of self-discovery masquerading as TEC’s Evangelism Office.

December 29, 6:23 pm | [comment link]
18. Choir Stall wrote:

Senior Priest chided:
“It’s very much part of our tradition to have one or two around”.
It’s also part of our tradition to take the $35,000 for a “round or two” and relieve human misery and suffering. If this lout has THIS much throw-away income, he should be making headlines for opening a shelter, a feeding program, a day school, or something OTHER than the opening of a bottle.

December 29, 6:26 pm | [comment link]
19. Larry Morse wrote:

Is it not true that a priest’s behavior, regardless of his wealth, should be marked by self restraint, self disicpline? Larry

December 29, 6:33 pm | [comment link]
20. teatime wrote:

This isn’t a “young man,” relatively speaking. He’s about my age and I don’t consider myself a “young woman,” LOL. Really, this is the picture of a man who moonlights as a priest engaging in a well-funded mid-life crisis. It shouldn’t be celebrated or explained away just because he’s a part-time cleric.

December 29, 7:43 pm | [comment link]
21. Betty See wrote:

Mark 10: 24-27
24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
26 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?
27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

December 30, 1:15 am | [comment link]
22. John Wilkins wrote:

Larry, there is no reason to think he’s not being self-disciplined.  He’s going to a club and tipping well.  What is self disciplined?  Owning just one house?  Or 4?  Gettin a bottle of cheap wine, or one that is $500?  Why not let capitalism dictate it?

December 30, 2:46 am | [comment link]
23. John Wilkins wrote:

It’s much better that he is spending it than hoarding it.  Spending is Capitalism’s form of charity….

December 30, 2:56 am | [comment link]
24. Irenaeus wrote:

Spending is Capitalism’s form of charity

But not the only form. Wise capitalists from Carnegie, Morgan, and Rockefeller to Gates and Buffett know the satisfaction of wise giving.

December 30, 11:54 am | [comment link]
25. Billy wrote:

It seems to me that there is a conflict in this matter between a civil right or privilege for one to spend his money how he pleases (as long as it is not illegal) and the tradition of the church and the call of St Paul for priests to be temperate and examples for their flocks.  Giving out large tips and buying persons at the next table expensive drinks is no necessarily intemperate, depending on one’s income.  But for a priest it may be intemperate, regardless of his income.  Nevertheless, for this priest’s Bishop to inhibit him without talking to him on the basis of the newspaper article for intemperate spending is inexcusable, in my opinion, especially when the example of +VGR’s admitted habitual visits to certain nightclubs in NYC garnered great publicity, apparently with approval of Bp Marshall and the HOB, since no one said anything otherwise.  The Bishop did say that he tried to call this priest, but he did not return his phone call.  So I can see inhibiting him for failing to maintain communication with his bishop, at least until he contacts his bishop.  Otherwise, there seems that there may be a double standard of conduct here for +VGR and for this priest.  But, am I mistaken, or is there a double standard of conduct for homosexual priests and heterosexual priests?

December 30, 5:41 pm | [comment link]
26. Betty See wrote:

LUKE 21:
1.  And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
2.  And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.
3.  And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
4.  For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

December 30, 10:45 pm | [comment link]
27. sophy0075 wrote:

Several comments:

He is the divorced father of two. If he is spending thousands of dollars on Champagne, etc, how can he afford (on a priest’s salary, especially after tithing, which I assume/hope? he is doing) to pay child support? Has he alimony responsibilities? If so, is he current on the same?

If he is spending so much time in the clubs, and in driving from Wilkes-Barre to NYC, what time has he to devote to his priestly duties? Every Episcopal priest I have ever known (and not all of them are disaffiliated with TEC and part of ACN) has a schedule packed with visits to sick parishioners in hospitals, nursing homes, or home, meetings with parishioners at church, vestry meetings, meetings with local government/charity officials to coordinate support for the local poor and needy, participating at funerals, scheduling conferences with those who wish to marry (and helping them to ascertain whether they are appropriate spouses for each other) and the arduous work of preparing sermons, etc. (I apologize, Kendall, for leaving out everything you must do - I am only a layperson who has benefitted from the help and assistance of my clergy through my life). For that matter, is he spending time with his children? Or has his wife been given sole custody?

His secretary stated “He does a lot of pro bono work.” Excuse me, but I thought that part of the role (see above) of the priesthood was to reach out and comfort the afflicted.

January 1, 9:29 pm | [comment link]
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