September 13, 2019: Homecoming 2019 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

From Fr. Steven

This Sunday is Homecoming, when we "kick off" our new program year with a brunch after the 11am service in the Cathedral Nave. Sharing food in our stunning space, with enough time for leisurely conversation (unlike the hurried greetings of a regular coffee hour), gives us the chance to reconnect to one another more deeply. I hope you can join us.

This kind of "deep hanging out," as the Very Reverend Professor Martyn Percy, the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford calls it, is essential for the life of the church. It might even be the primary activity of the church.

To understand why this might be so, Dean Percy offers this striking image from Bruce Reed's book The Dynamics of Religion:

If bees could talk, and we came across them busy in a flower garden and enquired what they were doing, their reply might be: "Gathering nectar to make honey." But if we asked the gardener, he would most certainly answer: "They are cross pollinating my flowers." In carrying out their manifest function to make food, the bees were performing a latent function of fertilizing flowers. The mutual dependence of bees and flowers is an analogue of churches and society.

In other words, underneath the "deep hanging out" of Homecoming Sunday and the manifest activities of eating, drinking and conversing together, there is a powerful latent activity we are engaging in too: forming community among people who are profoundly different.

Because even though we may not share a common social or economic class, and may not work in the same field, and may not vote for the same leaders, we can still connect to one another in a deep way. We can still form an authentic community.

What a hopeful vision for our nation in these fractured times!

The Rev. Steven Lee

St. Francis Day 2019

This year, due to a fire in the crypt on Palm Sunday and the intensive cleaning it has necessitated, the Cathedral’s traditional St. Francis Day Festal Eucharist and animal procession will not take place. The regular Sunday Eucharist services will be at 8 AM, 9 AM, 11 AM with Evensong at 4 PM.

A St. Francis Day Fair with Pet Blessings will take place 12:30 – 3:30 PM outside on the Pulpit Green featuring pet blessings, children’s activities, food trucks, and more. At 2 PM the Great Animal Costume Parade will take place: all in costume will be invited to circle the Cathedral grounds showcasing their fantastic animal costumes to the community, culminating in a ceremony awarding prizes in seven categories and celebrating Best In Show! If you are interested in making a donation to support the fair, please contact Priscilla Bayley, Director of Development, at or 212.316.7570.

From Marsha and Tim

This Sunday! Homecoming and Potluck Sunday, September 15 in the Cathedral nave, 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.

Come and reconnect. Greet old friends and meet new members. It would be lovely if you could bring a dish to share. Such items as hummus with crudités, chips and salsa, cheese and crackers, slice hard salami, salads (green, pasta, etc.) with vinaigrette dressings, no mayonnaise please, well done quiche, fruit, cakes, cookies--nothing that has to be heated. Bring your contribution to the tables that will be set up in the nave before the 11:00 a.m. service. Our usual Second Sunday fellowship lunch will resume in October.

Unburdening - learning and using contemplative meditation in today’s distracted world

This six session series led by congregation member Mark Dilcom is designed for the person who wants to learn about the ancient tradition of contemplation used in all major faith traditions, to build a deeper relationship with the Divine, explore one’s innate spirituality, and sense life’s flow all around them. Each session will feature gentle body movement, silent meditation, discussion, and practicing some of the prayer forms. There will be light snacks and drinks afterward. Sessions will meet on the second and third Saturdays of September 14/21, October 12/19, and November 9/16. Stop at the Visitors’ Center as you enter the Cathedral and you will be told where the session takes place. (Because of the cathedral cleaning project the location is liable to change from week to week.)

Victoria Sirota to be installed as Rector of St. John’s Church Getty Square, Sunday September 22.

Sunday September 22 at 4 p.m. is an historic occasion as Bishop Mary Glasspool institutes the Rev. Canon Victoria Sirota (former Vicar of the Congregation of Saint Saviour) as Rector of St. John’s Church, One Hudson Street, Getty Square, Yonkers, the first female rector in the 326-year history of that parish! Says Mother Vicki, “I am profoundly moved by all of this, and especially by all of the great musicians (including our son Jonah and daughter Nadia!) who will be joining us for the occasion. Thanks to Jason Slayden who is composing up a storm of special music! You won’t want to miss this. Bring your friends!”

Congregation Retreat at Holy Cross Monastery October 25 – 27. Sign up by September 30

The Congregation has been sponsoring retreats at Holy Cross monastery ( for at least 20 years. These small group (15 people) events are a wonderful chance to be quiet and lay aside responsibility for a few days. The retreats are structured around the monks’ daily offices which are chanted in their chapel. All are welcome to join the brothers in these meditative sessions. Between the offices, the retreat group meets in a comfortable room and is led in conversation and prayer by the retreat leader. This fall retreat is led by Jennifer Allen, our seminarian intern at the Cathedral. She has chosen Visio Divina as her topic—contemplation through visual arts and images. More information at the welcoming table or email

Cathedral Schola Cantorum: An Exciting music opportunity for children in middle and high school

The Cathedral has recently created a new choir open to all youth in middle and high school from all areas of the local community and beyond. This ensemble will share in the great Cathedral tradition of choral singing that has been a hallmark at Saint John the Divine for nearly 120 years. The Schola Cantorum will rehearse once a week on Thursdays from 4 – 5 pm and will sing at select liturgies and concerts throughout the year. The Schola Cantorum will frequently perform in collaboration with the Cathedral Choristers, an ensemble made up of students from the Cathedral School, and with the other ensembles in residence at the Cathedral.

For more information and to schedule an audition, please contact Bryan Zaros, Associate Choirmaster, at

Blessings from Tim and Marsha