Cathedral of St. John the Divine Blog

Staff Spotlight: Nicole Toutounji REBECCA MERRILL MAY 15, 2018

Woman in beekeeping outfit next to hives and trees

Name: Nicole Toutounji
Title: Beekeeper in Residence
Neighborhood you live in: Upper West Side
Length of time you’ve been associated with the Cathedral: 5 years

What is your origin story?
After a long career as a photographer and photo editor at UNICEF’s New York headquarters, I took beekeeping classes, joined The Honeybee Conservancy, and apprenticed with seasoned beekeepers. I always hoped that my beehives would find their home on the grounds of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine because I have always thought of the Cathedral as being a wonderful oasis of serenity and holiness. Ray Guyette, the former Director, Facilities, and Lisa Schubert, VP, Programming and External Affairs, helped make that dream come true. We have now two beehives on the Close. One of the stones that weighs the hive down has Ray’s name carved on it. Although I’m not a member of the congregation here, I could not think of a better place for a beehive than the Cathedral. The grounds are magnificent and the Cathedral cares about sustainability. There is something very blessed here—they keep God’s creation in good repair.

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The Feast of Absalom Jones REBECCA MERRILL FEBRUARY 7, 2018

portrait of Absalom Jones

On Saturday, February 10, the Cathedral joins the rest of the Episcopal community in celebrating The Feast of Absalom Jones. At a special 10:30 am Saturday Eucharist organized by the Diocese of New York activist Ruby Nell Sales will preach. Following the service, we’ll hold a reception featuring lively music and refreshments.

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Anesthetized by Sin THE RIGHT REVEREND CLIFTON DANIEL III JANUARY 19, 2018

The following is the text of the sermon given by The Right Reverend Clifton Daniel III, Interim Dean, on January 14, 2018. You can listen to the full audio on our sermons page.

Today I am going to talk about sin. Now this is not a popular sermon subject. Most sermons on this topic tend to put people to sleep. I ask your indulgence for a couple of minutes before you go to sleep. In fact, I’m going to talk about sin in a different way – I’m going to talk about sin as anesthesia. Let me tell you why.

When I was a teenager growing up in a town in North Carolina in the early 1960s, there was a civil rights march down the main street. So four of us got in a car and parked so we could watch the march in progress. We weren’t hostile. We just sat and watched the marchers go by. We could not for the life of us figure out what they were marching about. The world seemed fine to us. Of course it did, we were asleep to the realities faced by the people passing by in the march and to our own realities. We were unaware and indifferent to that stark pageant of segregation, patriarchy, oppression marching by and we were unaware of our own white privilege and sense of male superiority. From that perspective, the world looked pretty good to us. But morally, we were asleep, unaware to the world around us, anesthetized by sin.

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Diocese of New York Announces Caribbean Recovery Fund REBECCA MERRILL JANUARY 17, 2018

This summer, hurricanes hit our neighbors in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean with a seemingly never-ending barrage of wind and rain, causing massive amounts of death and damage along the way. The Diocese of New York sprung into action for short-term assistance through Episcopal Relief and Disaster Recovery. Now, as the more intermediate and long term needs become known, the Diocese has announced its own initiative to help the Diocese of Puerto Rico.

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Staff Spotlight: David Briggs REBECCA MERRILL JANUARY 9, 2018

David Briggs sitting at organ
Name: David Briggs
Title: Artist in Residence
Neighborhood/Town you live in: NYC
Length of time you’ve been affiliated with the Cathedral: Since October 1, 2017

What is your Cathedral origin story?
I first performed at the cathedral in April 2013 for the premiere of my transcription of Gustav Mahler’s Second Symphony, the ‘Resurrection Symphony’. I completely fell in love with the wonderful Aeolian-Skinner Opus 150A organ, with it’s almost limitless resources of color and power. At that time I was Artist in Residence at St. James Cathedral, Toronto. My 5-year tenure in Toronto came to an end last summer and I’m thrilled now to be based at St. John the Divine.

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CCC Toy Drive! REBECCA MERRILL NOVEMBER 30, 2017

Calling all Cathedral friends! Help Cathedral Community Cares collect new, unwrapped toys for their annual holiday toy drive! Toys can be dropped off at the CCC offices in the Town Building through Thursday, December 21st. Donations will also be collected at Sunday services on December 3rd and 10th. All donations are distributed to the families served by CCC.

The Cathedral Gives Back REBECCA MERRILL NOVEMBER 28, 2017


Photo by Geordie Wood courtesy Magnum Foundation

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

The Right Reverend Dan Daniel quoted Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount when asked about the Cathedral’s commitment to tithing. Typically seen as a way for people of faith to give back to the church, Dean Daniel takes the tradition a step further, viewing it as a sacred obligation for the Cathedral to give back to the community.

“When I balance my checkbook at the end of the month, I can see very clearly what my priorities are and if my actions are living up to my values,” Dean Daniel said. “The same is true of the Cathedral. I want to be able to do more than just talk about the things we believe in here, but also show our beliefs in action. We do this through our programs—Cathedral Community Cares, Adults and Children in Trust, and the myriad of events that help underserved populations, but also through donating to causes that we believe in.”

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Staff Spotlight: Thomas Perry REBECCA MERRILL NOVEMBER 20, 2017

Thomas
Name: Thomas Perry
Title: Program Manager, Cathedral Community Cares
Neighborhood/town you live in: Inwood
Length of time you’ve worked at the Cathedral: 16 years

What is your origin story?
I was going to school for cooking and heard there was a soup kitchen at the Cathedral that needed volunteers. I showed up and for the first few weeks I was on dish duty but when George, who had run the soup kitchen for years, heard I was a chef, he had me start helping him with the cooking. I basically became his Sous Chef. The biggest thing I learned from George is that we want to give everyone here a restaurant experience from the food that we serve to the way that people are treated. A few years later George passed away and I came on as the part-time as Food Manager. About a year ago, I took on managing all of CCC.

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Red Sand Sculpture by Chris Pellettieri RUTH MUELLER-MAERKI NOVEMBER 16, 2017

Who among you has not wondered about the red sandstone sculpture by the Cathedral's south side door?

The red sandstone sculpture depicts a man and a boy under a large tree in which a bird is perched carved by Cathedral Artist in Residence Christ Pellettieri. At a recent lecture, Chris told the audience that it had been inspired by a story he had read in the New Yorker.

sculpture far away

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Donations needed for Thanksgiving supper! REBECCA MERRILL NOVEMBER 7, 2017

Turkey Dinner

We need you to help make our annual Thanksgiving supper at the Cathedral Community Cares Sunday Soup Kitchen a success!

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Staff Spotlight: Peter Ennis REBECCA MERRILL OCTOBER 30, 2017

headshot of Peter Ennis

Name: Peter Ennis
Title: Liturgy Assistant
Neighborhood/Town you live in: Brooklyn, NY
Length of time you’ve worked at the Cathedral: Two years

What is your Cathedral origin story?
My parish is St. Michael’s on 99th Sreet & Amsterdam Ave and a number of years ago we were invited to provide acolytes for diocesan services like the Feast of Absalom Jones and the consecration services for Bishop Dietsche and Bishop Shin. When the Canon for Liturgy & Arts at the time, Julia Whitworth, was looking for and assistant in her office, she reached out to me.

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St John in the News - Blueprint: NYC REBECCA MERRILL OCTOBER 26, 2017

We were so excited to be asked to be a part of NYC Media's Blueprint: NYC series and are thrilled with the end result, which aired last night and can now be streamed online!

Who Makes our Halloween Extravaganza? REBECCA MERRILL OCTOBER 23, 2017

We are less than a week away from one of our favorite festive events: the annual Halloween Extravaganza! In addition to showcasing our Great Organ, which will accompany this year’s screening of the silent film The Phantom of the Opera, the Halloween Extravaganza celebrates Cathedral Artist in Residence Ralph Lee and the puppets of his Mettawee River Theatre Company.

Ralph Lee and Puppet
Credit: Bernie Nunez

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This Day in History: Plague Mass REBECCA MERRILL OCTOBER 12, 2017

On October 12 & 13, 1990, Diamanda Galas performed the first of two shows of the Plague Mass live at the Cathedral. The 70-minute long work drew attention to and mourned the physical suffering caused by AIDS and was later released as a full album that you can still purchase online.

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How to Help Victims of Recent Natural Disasters REBECCA MERRILL SEPTEMBER 20, 2017

We've been feeling heartsick at the string of recent natural disasters that have struck across the world. From Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and now Maria to the Monsoons in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, to the mudslides in Sierra Leone, to the multiple earthquakes in Mexico, there is an overwhelming need for support to help in the rescue and rebuild.

Here are some organizations doing the work in these areas.

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Social Justice and Immigration Events at the Cathedral REBECCA MERRILL SEPTEMBER 18, 2017

The Episcopal Church has taken a song stand against the immigration policies proposed by the current presidential administration. Recently, in a statement supporting DREAMers, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said, “Humane and loving care for the stranger, the alien, and the foreigner is considered a sacred duty and moral value for those who would follow the way of God.”

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Last Chance to Visit A Summer of Sculpture! REBECCA MERRILL SEPTEMBER 6, 2017

We’ve loved having our summer filled with sculpture at the Cathedral, but as we ease into the fall season, it’s time to bid adieu to the much loved creatures that have graced our space for the past three months.

Sunday, September 10 will be the last day the exhibition will be on display after which the animals will migrate to another location. Make sure to stop by sometime this week to get your last look at this amazing exhibition!

A Summer of Sculpture - Circle of Friends REBECCA MERRILL AUGUST 30, 2017

Gary Lee Price's Circle of Friends sits at the center of the National Sculpture Society's Blessing of Animals. This video shows what it took to get just one of the dozens of monumental bronze sculptures that make up the exhibition into the Cathedral!

Staff Spotlight: Dana Settles REBECCA MERRILL AUGUST 28, 2017

Name: Dana Settles
Title: Manager, Group Tours and School Programs
Neighborhood/Town you live in: Washington Heights/Inwood
Length of time you’ve worked at the Cathedral: This is my fifth year.

What is your Cathedral origin story?
My background is in Art History and Museum Education. A friend of mine told me about a part-time Educator opportunity at the Cathedral teaching student and adult groups. Luckily I was hired, and eventually became the Manager of Group Tours and School Programs.

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Harlem/Havana Festival at the Cathedral REBECCA MERRILL AUGUST 15, 2017

This past Saturday, the Cathedral was honored to kick off the 2nd Annual Harlem/Havana Music & Cultural festival with a concert featuring Cesar Lopez y Habana Ensemble and the Obini Bata dancers. The festival, which takes place during the month-long Harlem Week celebration, highlights the connection between the two cities and facilitates an arts, culinary, and education exchange. (Harlem artists, chefs, and educators will travel to Havana in February 2018.)

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