Smoke fills St John the Divine on Palm Sunday


In between services at St John the Divine in New York City on Palm Sunday, smoke filled the sanctuary from a fire in a crypt under the church as reported in a Facebook post yesterday.

Undeterred, the Cathedral staff quickly began setting up for the next service outside and even figured out how to offer their regular soup kitchen.

From the NY Times;

Clergy, staff and volunteers promptly brought out a wooden altar to the cathedral’s expansive pulpit lawn and propped up hundreds of chairs as scores of firefighters assessed the situation.

 The 11 a.m. service went on as planned, choir and all, even as smoke spilled out of the church doors and into the Morningside Heights neighborhood. Even the soup kitchens, a fixture every Sunday, were set up outside.

 “Given the circumstances, everyone had a good time,” said Dean Clifton Daniel III, the cathedral’s leader.


The cause of the fire is unknown, but the space where the fire occurred is a storage are for many art objects, a number of which were badly damaged or destroyed according to the Dean.


Some were likely reminded of a much more devastating fire that occurred in 2001 that caused a great deal of damage to the building requiring a lengthy cleanup and repair program.

“I don’t believe in any divine messages here,” said Dean Daniel. “It was just one of those things that happened. Thank God that nobody got hurt and the cathedral is there today. That’s the message.”



image: Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

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C.R. Russell

Well, days later a guy has been arrested for bringing gasoline and such into the other big cathedral there.

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Fred Loving
Fred Loving

I moved my membership from the Baptist church I grew up in soon after I joined the volunteer fire department. Not long after, a small fire broke out of all times during the Sunday morning service. The preacher was up there giving them a fire and brimstone sermon and was not aware smoke was rolling up behind him. He had no clue until the ushers came forward. On the serious side , if it had happened any other time when nobody was there they probably would have lost that building.

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