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Saint Peter’s, Manhattan’s “Jazz Church,” Damaged in Flood

A water main break is to blame for "significant flooding" in the building

Saint Peter's Church
The distinctive interior of Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church in midtown Manhattan

Saint Peter’s Church, the midtown Manhattan Lutheran parish also known as “the jazz church” for its close relationship with the New York jazz community, has incurred major damage to its building as the result of a water main break on January 4.

According to a statement from the church, “A city water main located under the plaza shared by Saint Peter’s Church, the Citigroup Center, and the subway entrance at the corner of 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue broke on the morning of January 4th, causing significant flooding in the church’s sanctuary and basement level rooms.”

WCBS-TV reports that water levels in the church were two to three feet high, and that the church’s organ was damaged. Unconfirmed reports on social media suggest that both the organ and the piano are beyond repair.

Senior pastor Jared Stahler has also said that the church’s archives, including artifacts of John Coltrane and Billy Strayhorn, were badly damaged.

Saint Peter’s is known in New York for its weekly Sunday evening Jazz Vespers service, directed by bassist and composer Ike Sturm. With the lockdown on public gatherings due to COVID-19, the church had begun a weekly Zoom gathering for musicians and fans called Jazz4All.

The church is also the home of the Off-Broadway York Theatre Company, whose performance space was among the areas damaged.

The flooding is the most recent setback for Saint Peter’s, which has also lost more than 60 members of its congregation to COVID-19.