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Photo by Laura Jane Pittman - The Very Rev. Kate Moorehead had history at St. John's Cathedral before she became dean. She preached her first sermon from this pulpit during a seminary internship and said she had no idea she would return more than a do...
Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Dec. 19, 201212:00 PM EST

Workspace: The Very Rev. Kate Moorehead, St. John's Cathedral

by: Laura Jane Pittman

On any given day at St. John's Cathedral, there can be half a dozen activities happening at a time.

On this particular Thursday, workers set up tables and chairs for the weekly Clara's at the Cathedral Cafe lunch and a truck delivers band equipment from Episcopal School of Jacksonville for a Friday night Christmas concert.

Icon-painting workshop participants put finishing touches on their masterpieces in an upstairs classroom and the sound of organ practice resonates from the sanctuary.

The Very Rev. Kate Moorehead, 10th dean of the cathedral and Episcopal Diocese of Florida dean, returns from a lunch meeting to check on any new fires that may have sprung up in her absence.

Moorehead oversees her staff, a congregation of about 1,500 members and a budget of around $1.6 million. A significant portion of the budget funds and supports nonprofit organizations and pays for upkeep on the cathedral's historic building complex.

Moorehead also ministers to the Jacksonville community at large. The cathedral has long functioned to assist the homeless and the indigent who frequent its grounds and use its many community programs.

She knew the cathedral before she arrived for her first day on the job in 2009.

Years before, she preached her first sermon from the cathedral's pulpit when she interned after her first year at Virginia Theological Seminary.

Years later, someone — who still remains a mystery — put her name in the hat when there was an opening for the dean position.

"I had always loved the church and felt growing up that it was a kind and stable place," said Moorehead.

She said she initially imagined herself as the "next Meryl Streep" and even chose to attend Vassar College to study drama because it was Streep's alma mater.

"I had always been into theater and loved music, but I

began studying world religion. Then, about my junior year, the pieces of the puzzle began to fall together. I love people, and as a priest I get to dive into intimate parts of people's lives and help them see God in the midst of that. It's not always easy and I see very hard things, but I love what I do," she said.

Moorehead views the cathedral as a birthplace of ministry and said one of her passions is helping people identify their particular vocations.

She said it has inspired many of the nonprofits associated with the cathedral or its members, such as the Cathedral Arts Project, the Cathedral Foundation/Aging True and Volunteers in Ministry.

"I have always been attracted to urban ministry. Being Downtown, we are located right on the 'front lines.' Jesus hung out with the poor, and it is a powerful way to get close to him," Moorehead said.

"We have millionaires and homeless kneeling at the altar rail together, and conservatives and liberals worshipping side by side. I like to think of it as a vision of God in the world."

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