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, (in non-pandemic times) 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 PengCheng He and our choir bade former music director Michael Pekel fond farewell as he left us in May 2019 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 was open to graduating seniors from the four Unitarian Universalist churches in Cincinnati and all schools in the Greater Cincinnati Area. It ran through 2018.

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 were given monetary awards to help offset the cost of tuition, books, and other necessary supplies as they pursued collegiate studies.

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.
2016-2017 ~ no award given.
2018 ~ Emma Lawrence, Milford H.S., and Maya Newman, Heritage UU Church.