New York AG Files Complaint against Pastor for Allegedly Unlawfully Selling Historic Church

  Amanda Casanova | Contributor | Tuesday, November 30, 2021
New York AG Files Complaint against Pastor for Allegedly Unlawfully Selling Historic Church

The New York Attorney General has filed a complaint against a New York pastor who allegedly sold church property to an inexperienced developer and profited on the deal.

According to The Christian Post, Bishop Kevin Griffin is accused of selling the Harlem-based Childs Memorial Temple Church of God in Christ and its property. The historic church was where Malcolm X was eulogized after his death in 1965.

Neither the church nor Griffin has responded to requests for comment.

In the complaint, New York Attorney General Letitia James says that Griffin “steered his Church to sell its sanctuary to the Developer, who had no prior track record with church development deals.

“The Developer received title to the Church’s property in exchange for $2 million in cash, construction of a new $2.5 million facility for the Church, and future income of approximately $1.2 million,” the complaint says.

The complaint adds that Griffin then received nearly $900,000 in benefits from the deal.

According to news reports, Griffin received some $440,000 in “finder’s fees” from the developer for introducing the pastor of a sister church to the developer. The developer, Vahdat, later bought that church. Griffin received another $450,000 when the sale of his church closed, and his wife also received $100,000. He did not disclose the payments to the state.

“Griffin signed Childs Memorial’s Verified Petition for approval of the transaction, which he knew was false because the Petition did not disclose, as required, that Griffin was receiving benefits personally from the Developer or that a substantial portion of the sale proceeds were going to be paid to Griffin.”

The sale happened in 2014, and in 2018 the building was demolished. Since the demolition, the Childs Memorial church congregation has held worship at a local storefront. There has also been a proposal to build apartments on the site.

Photo courtesy: NeOnbrand/Unsplash 

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.