Gods & Mobsters
Eight years ago, a former Whitey Bulger henchman joined a well-to-do Beacon Hill church, where he quickly ingratiated himself with a group of influential congregants. But as allegations about the ex-con piled up, some members began to wonder: Just how reformed was Eddie MacKenzie?
By that fall, MacKenzie’s faction was back in control of the church, and the board of trustees quickly ousted Ellis from his post as the church’s pastor, a position he’d held for 26 years. Two years later, still jobless, Ellis is trying to pay down the medical debts incurred from his wife’s cancer treatments. He refuses to discuss the church where he spent so much of his life.
MacKenzie, though, continues to manage the church’s operations — and continues to draw controversy. The case against MacKenzie, Kennedy, and the church brought by the Wellesley developer who claims $500,000 was paid in deposits on the church’s apartment building is still pending. Barring a resolution, it will go to trial sometime in 2011.
If nothing else, the Church on the Hill has become a much different place than the one Eddie MacKenzie entered eight years ago seeking redemption. One day this past spring, a reporter visited the church hoping to talk to the man who has been at the center of so much controversy there.
The visit was a short one. Once a sanctuary open to all — a place that embraced an ex-con with open arms — the church has now become the kind of place where people asking uncomfortable questions are escorted from the building.