If ever a church could be said to provide a “mitzvah” it would be Trinity Episcopal Church at the foot of Wall Street in lower Manhattan which has opened its bathrooms to the nearly 11.5 million tourists who have visited the area since 2012 (alone). Realizing that public facilities are hard to come by (for instance memorial plaza at the World Trade Center site doesn’t have any), the Church has committed itself to a “bathroom ministry,” that not only caters to tourists, but benefits the homeless. Although the women’s restroom has only 2 stalls (each with a private sink), the men’s room has stall, urinals and a baby-changing station. Its nearby satellite chapel, St. Paul’s also iffers the use of three unisex bathrooms.
“We believe God imbues everything, so there is a spiritual component to building, a door, a bathroom, because our bodies are constructed. So anything we can do to relieve a need is good,” Trinity’s head verger David Jette told the New York Times during a recent interview.
Cost of maintaining the ministry, however, does not come cheap, especially when you realize that the restrooms are used by 3-4 million people a year. In fact, Trinity reports that it goes through “6,000 feet of toilet paper a day.” In addition, they use up to “260 liters of hand soap and 267,000 paper towels,” while St.Paul’s reported that approximately 1 million feet of toilet paper and 600,000 sheets of paper towel each year.” Costs for maintaining the and cleaning the restrooms come close to $92,000 for Trinity and $77,000 for St.Paul’s per annum. However, while this could literally bankrupt most churches, it should be pointed out that the Episcopal parish that owns the two churches is one of the wealthiest in the world, with real estate holdings worth nearly $3 billion and income from these properties and other investments brought in $193 million last year alone.