The Music Program at St. John’s

Music plays a significant role in the worship and life of St. John’s. Sunday worship includes instrumental and choral music carefully selected by Music Director Michael Pekel, in collaboration with our minister, Reverend Mitra Jafarzadeh,  Piano accompaniment is provided by Adam Petersen.

Three out of four Sundays per month, the St. John’s Adult Choir sings an anthem during the service. On the fourth Sunday, special music is performed by invited musicians from our choir, our congregation, our community, or by accompanist Peng Cheng He.

Pianist Peng Cheng He and our choir bade music director Michael Pekel fond farewell as he left us in May to pursue doctoral studies.

St John’s Music Series

We held a Jazz & Justice Music Series in 2016-17.

In the 2017-2018 year, we did not offer the Jazz & Justice Series, but we held a wonderful Spirit & Music Weekend in September 2018. Artists who performed and delighted us were the the Northern Kentucky Brotherhood gospel singers, Ron Esposito, Baoku Moses, and Finn Magill and André Tempera.


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Dr. Catherine Roma Scholarship

On January 29, 2006, St. John’s celebrated and honored our former minister of music, Dr. Catherine Roma, for 20 years of service and building a beloved community. At that service we announced the establishment of the Dr. Catherine Roma Scholarship – a way to honor and perpetuate her work in the arts and social justice.
The scholarship is open to graduating seniors from the four Unitarian Universalist churches in Cincinnati and all schools in the Greater Cincinnati Area.

Last year, the annual award was offered to up to two deserving graduating seniors in the Greater Cincinnati community who exemplify outstanding achievement in the areas of academics, arts, and social consciousness. Winners will be given a monetary award of $2,500 to help offset the cost of tuition, books, and other necessary supplies as they pursue collegiate studies in the year to come.

If you know someone who excels in these three areas, please have them send application materials to by Mar 31st, 2018.

Materials required from all applicants include the following:

  • Scholarship Application Form.
  • One-page letter from the applicant describing her or his interest in and qualifications for the scholarship.
  • Résumé, which should include the student’s GPA, list of accomplishments, and activities.
  • One letter of recommendation from a teacher/mentor/adviser in the arts that highlights the student’s qualification, also addressing the student’s work in the area of social justice.

NOTE: This letter can be emailed directly by recommender, if preferred.

All those who apply will be notified of the committee’s decision no later than April 30, 2018. Those who are awarded a scholarship will be invited to accept their award at an event in early summer.

We look forward to receiving nominations from your students and supporting the ongoing work and legacy of Dr. Catherine Roma.

If you have any questions, please contact us at

Recipients have included:
2006 ~ Katherine Alexander from Heritage Universalist Unitarian Church.
2007 ~ Jessica Muni, St. John’s.
2008 ~ Ann Cheng of Walnut Hills High School.
2009 ~ Haley McDaniel of Walnut Hills High School.
2010 ~ Will Wagner of St. John’s.
2011 ~ Ryann Patrus of Clark Montessori High School.
2012 ~ Alexandra Wilson of St. John’s.
2013 ~ Laine Kolesar of Walnut Hills High School.
2014 ~ Elena Jordan-Keller of Clark Montessori High School.
2015 ~ Elly Kolesar of Walnut Hills High School.