The Cathedral of St. John the Divine opened for worship yesterday after years of cleanup from a fire that struck the Gothic cathedral (the world's largest) on December 18, 2001. The cathedral's 98-year-old Skinner organ, built in 1922 and enlarged in 1954, was played for the first time since the fire, heralding a new beginning for the spiritual home of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.
The Very Rev. James A. Kowalski, dean of the cathedral, asked at the start of his rededication sermon, “Well, what do you think?” He added: “This may be the longest Advent on record, if you count all seven years of waiting.”
Father Kowalski affirmed the cathedral’s status as a place of tolerance and diversity. “As Dr. King, who embodied hope, said, we must believe that a prejudiced mind can be changed by the grace of God, lifted from the valley of hate to the high mountain of love,” he said.
Senator Chuck Schumer spoke at the service and noted that in the 1980s, the cathedral trained unemployed and low-skilled people in carpentry and other building crafts.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was also on the program. “The rededication of this magnificent cathedral speaks to all of us with such a wonderful sense of not only resurrection and renewal, but of a recognition that through all that we have come together, there is a constant sense of resilience arising from this cathedral in this great city,” she said.
The Sunday service included a postlude, “Fanfare,” by Alec Wyton, who was the organist and master of the choristers from 1954 to 1974. Enjoy a listen to this recording from the late 1950s:
:you tube; nytimes