The breaking point came for the Rev. Jeffrey Brown at a meeting of black ministers at Peoples Baptist Church in Roxbury in summer 2004, when youth workers employed by the Rev. Eugene Rivers asked Brown to step outside.
One of Rivers's workers physically threatened him on orders from Rivers, Brown said in a recent interview. Brown reentered the meeting and told the Rev. Ray Hammond about the incident. Hammond said he, too, had been threatened and that others had been too.
''I walked over to Eugene and said, 'How dare you send this man to threaten me?' " Brown recalled.
Rivers told the Globe there were no threats, only ''misunderstandings," but the youth worker and Hammond both corroborated Brown's account.
It was a pivotal episode in what Brown calls ''Boston's clergy wars." A series of disputes and rivalries has shattered the alliance of the powerful black Boston ministers -- Hammond, Rivers, and the Rev. Bruce Wall -- who founded the Boston Ten Point Coalition in 1992 and took to the streets to combat, face-to-face, an unprecedented wave of youth homicides.