The Anglican Cathedral of St. John The Divine is the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of the North Eastern Caribbean and
Aruba (NECA). This ‘church within a church’ is the third house of worship to be erected on the site. The first, a wooden one built in 1684 was described as being ‘totally destitute of beauty and comfort.’ When this church fell into disrepair it was replaced in 1725 by a stone edifice, which was destroyed in the Great Earthquake of 1843. The structure that we see today, was opened for worship on 10th October, 1847 and consecrated as a cathedral on 25th July 1848. Mindful of the threat of hurricanes and earthquakes to both wooden and stone structures, the design of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine consists of an external stone structure that houses a wooden shell within. Though its neo-Baroque architecture and style were described disparagingly by early ecclesiastical architects as, ‘a pagan temple with two dumpty pepper-pot towers’, the cathedral has withstood an earthquake of 7.5 on the Richter scale in 1974, and several hurricanes of above category 4 strength. This cathedral, dear to many hearts, now faces its greatest enemy – time. As our brothers and sisters in St. Croix said about the restoration of their church, also called St. John,Time respects neither persons nor things. None – not even imposing buildings and monuments – can withstand the passage of time unscathed without at least some help. The cathedral was closed in December 2009 when one of the stone floor slabs collapsed. It is ironic that until this incident, restoration efforts had been focused upward, on the roof sheathing which had been in place since the reconstruction of the cathedral. Circumstances forced our attentions downward to the sagging and cracked stone slabs, which were no longer able to support the various and important activities of the church. In addition to the replacement of the roof sheathing and the stone slabs for the aisles, the pews are showing signs of extensive termite damage. Furthermore the interior wooden walls are water damaged from the leaking roof and many of the exterior stones are crumbling. It must be understood that once work begins, there may be additional urgent needs that are now neither visible nor assessable. Work has been divided into the following phases:
Phase one: Roof, aisles and pews
Phase two: Interior and exterior walls, electrical works
Phase three: Toilets, stairs and doors
Phase four: Churchyard and surrounding walls
In these economically depressed times, the restoration of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine may seem like a gigantic task. However just like David when he faced Goliath we are empowered by the magnitude and power of God, for we know that through Him all things are possible. If you would like to make a donation towards the restoration of this landmark please phone 462 0820 or see www.stjohnthedivine.com.

Categories: Antigua

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