Our Interim Rector & Staff
The Rev. Canon K. Jeanne Person
212-787-2755, ext. 0
The Rev. Canon K. Jeanne Person is the Interim Rector of Christ & St. Stephens, offering transitional leadership as the parish pursues self-study and discernment towards calling a new Rector in 2023-24.
Prior to joining us, Jeanne served as the Canon Pastor of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, assisting the Rt. Rev. Andrew ML Dietsche with his pastoral and spiritual care of clergy and their families. Previously, Jeanne was the Director of the Center for Christian Spirituality at General Theological Seminary, a learning center that educates leaders for spiritual guidance ministries, and a priest in two New York City parishes.
Her books are Where You Go, I Shall: Gleanings from the Stories of Biblical Widows, which reveals how the stories of biblical widows intersect with the experiences of widows today, and Lifting Women’s Voices: Prayers to Change the World, a collection of prayers by Anglican women addressing global poverty.
After studies at Princeton University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and careers as a young adult in journalism and investment banking, she pursued her vocation to the priesthood, earning advanced theological degrees from Harvard Divinity School and General Theological Seminary.
She enjoys cooking and hiking and has a passion for nurturing children’s spirituality, including through a personal library of picture books with religious themes built over three decades. She lives in Brooklyn and Stone Ridge, New York, with her husband Dr. Kamal Abdullah.
Executive Assistant to the Rector
Organist & Choirmaster
Eric Birk is a frequent substitute at New York City churches. As part of the Birk and Hoke Duo (with his wife, Bernadette Hoke), he has performed at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, St. Paul’s Chapel in lower Manhattan, the 2011 Baylor University Midwinter Organ Conference in Waco, Texas, and at Brick Presbyterian Church (NYC). He has served as guest organist at several notable Manhattan churches, including Brick Presbyterian Church, Church of the Holy Trinity (Episcopal), Church of the Transfiguration (The “Little Church Around the Corner”), St. Luke-in-the-Fields, and First Baptist Church in the City of New York.
He most recently served as organist and choir director of the Flatbush-Tompkins Congregational Church from 1994 until January, 2012, where he founded a graded youth choir program and conducted the semi-professional chancel choir. He supervised the refurbishing of the church’s 1966 Austin organ, completed in 2004. A native of Texas, he is a graduate of from Baylor University (B.Mus. magna cum laude) and Manhattan School of Music (M.Mus.) with degrees in piano performance. His organ teachers included Joyce Jones and Walter Hilse, and he is a Fellow of the American Guild of Organists (F.A.G.O.). While organist and choir director at First Baptist Church of New York City from 1990 to 1994, he led the FBC Chancel Choir to make significant contributions to the musical life of Manhattan’s Upper West Side with performances of major works such as Fauré Requiem, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, the Vivaldi Gloria, and Handel’s Messiah.
Eric has served on boards of the New York City and Brooklyn chapters of the American Guild of Organists, the NYC Chapter of Choristers Guild, and the Associated Music Teachers League (as President, 2008-2011).
Paul Jacobs made musical history at the age of 23 when, on the 250th anniversary of the death of J. S. Bach in 2000, he played the composer’s complete organ music in an 18-hour non-stop marathon in Pittsburgh. Today, Mr. Jacobs, hailed for his solid musicianship, prodigious technique and vivid interpretive imagination in performances throughout the United States, Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia, is widely acknowledged for reinvigorating the American organ scene with a fresh performance style and “an unbridled joy of music-making” (Baltimore Sun). In 2003 Mr. Jacobs was invited to join the faculty of The Juilliard School , and the following year, he was named chairman of the organ department, one of the youngest faculty appointments in Juilliard’s history.
Known for his “charismatic showmanship and unflagging exuberance” (Wall Street Journal), Mr. Jacobs possesses a vast repertoire spanning from the 16th century through contemporary times. He has performed the complete organ works of Olivier Messiaen in a series of nine-hour marathons in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington D.C., Chicago, where the Chicago Tribune called him “one of the most supremely gifted young organists of his generation,” and in New York, where The New York Times praised his “supple technique and vivid interpretive imagination.”
Following his debut at the Grand Teton Music Festival, Mr. Jacobs is embarking on a particularly noteworthy 2008-09 season, highlighted by debut performances with The Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, the San Francisco Symphony led by Yan Pascal Tortelier, the Phoenix Symphony conducted by Michael Christie, and the opening concerts of the Pacific Symphony’s new season with Mr. Jacobs dedicating the new Fisk organ at Segerstrom Concert Hall in a concert highlighted by world premiere of a new work for organ, brass, and percussion commissioned by the orchestra from Masterprize and Grammy Award-winner Christopher Theofanidis.
He reintroduced an unpublished prelude and fugue by Samuel Barber, performed only once in 1928, in performances in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Los Angeles, Vancouver, and in San Francisco, where he was presented by the San Francisco Symphony as part of their celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the orchestra’s Ruffatti organ. On December 10, 2008, the 100th birthday of Olivier Messiaen, Mr. Jacobs marked the occasion with the composer’s Livre du Saint Sacrement in Woolsey Hall at Yale University , Mr. Jacobs’s alma mater.
Highlights of Mr. Jacobs’s most recent season included performances throughout North America, including several in New York City: His performance of Olivier Messiaen’s 1984 magnum opus Livre du Saint Sacrement at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Times Square, was named by New York magazine as one of New York’s 10 best classical performances of 2007. This was the concluding event of three activities he presented as the recipient of Juilliard’s 2007 William Schuman Scholar’s Chair. He was also tapped by Juilliard for the conservatory’s fifth annual Jerome L. Greene concert, a series honoring the memory and legacy of one of Juilliard’s staunchest supporters and dedicated exclusively to the performance of 17th- and early 18th-century music and recently dedicated New York’s first Schoenstein organ at Christ and St. Stephen’s Church on Manhattan’s West Side, where Mr. Jacobs is the artist in residence.
Paul Jacobs began studying the piano at the age of six and the organ at age 13. At 15 he was appointed head organist of a parish of 3,500 families in his hometown of Washington, Pennsylvania. Mr. Jacobs studied at The Curtis Institute of Music , where he double-majored in organ with John Weaver and harpsichord with Lionel Party. At Yale University, where Mr. Jacobs subsequently studied organ with Thomas Murray, he received a Master of Music degree and Artist Diploma and was awarded several honors, including the Dean’s Prize, the Faculty Prize of the Institute of Sacred Music, and Yale School of Music’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Most recently, Mr. Jacobs was invited to join the Yale University Council Committee on the School of Music by University President Richard Levin.
Mr. Jacobs has captured first prize in numerous competitions, including the 1998 Albert Schweitzer National Organ Competition and is the first organist ever to be honored with the Harvard Musical Association’s Arthur W. Foote Award.
In addition to concert appearances and teaching, Mr. Jacobs has been a featured performer at national and regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists and performs frequently at festivals throughout the U.S. and abroad. He has appeared on American Public Media’s “Pipedreams” and “Saint Paul Sunday,” Bavarian Radio, Brazilian Arts Television, ABC-TV’s World News Tonight, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, NPR’s Morning Edition, and CBC Radio
Director of Concerts
Multi-faceted artist Hannah Spierman has garnered consistent praise, both for her vocal beauty -- her voice has been described as “a sweet, true soprano that falls most gratefully on the ear”, and her performance of Agathe’s lyrical Act III aria in Weber’s Der Freischütz with Bronx Opera was said to “soar to brilliant heights” -- as well as for her compelling stage presence. As Tormentilla in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ rarely-performed 20th-century opera The Poisoned Kiss (also with Bronx Opera), she was lauded by Opera News for offering “a bright characterization and some delightfully quirky line readings”, and for her “conviction and comedy” and for portraying “a three-dimensional human being.”
A frequent performer with the Bronx Opera, Hannah has also appeared with the company as Alice Ford in both Verdi’s Falstaff and Vaughan Williams’ Sir John in Love, Birdie Hubbard in Marc Blitzstein’s Regina, Countess Almaviva in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Musetta in Puccini’s La bohème, both Donna Anna and Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and Inez in the New York premiere of Die drei Pintos, a work begun by Carl Maria von Weber and completed by Gustav Mahler.
Hannah’s other recent New York-area appearances include Tatyana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, “English” comedienne Julia Jellicoe in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Grand Duke, the title role in Gilbert & Sullivan's Princess Ida, Echo in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, and Alice Ford in Falstaff with Utopia Opera; a trio of roles in Puccini’s operas -- Giorgetta in Il tabarro, Nella in Gianni Schicchi, and Mimì in La bohème -- with Long Island's North Shore Music Festival; First Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Gertrude in Hansel and Gretel with Amore Opera; and concert performances as Echo and Donna Elvira with Opera Company of Brooklyn, Maria Boccanegra in Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra and Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen with Sing Through Central, and the Second Spirit in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with the New Jersey Oratorio Society. Hannah has also performed regionally throughout the United States, most recently as Rosalinda in Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus with Oswego Opera Theater; Praskowia / Hannah Glawari (cover) in Lehár’s The Merry Widow with Northern Lights Music Festival in Minnesota's Iron Range; as Countess Almaviva with Opera Breve in Wichita Falls, Texas; and as Giorgetta with Buck Hill-Skytop Music Festival in the Poconos.
On the concert stage, Hannah scintillated as Vox Tentationis in a revival of Adriano Ariani’s lost Oratorio di San Francesco with Canterbury Choral Society. Other recent concert appearances include solos in Honegger’s Le roi David with New York Choral Society; Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music with Litha Symphony; Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem, and Merab in Handel’s Saul with Canterbury Choral Society; Handel's Messiah with the Garden State Philharmonic; Bach's Magnificat with Central Presbyterian Chorale; Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy with the Orchestra of the Bronx; and Schumann’s Requiem für Mignon with Collegium Westchester. Hannah also performs often with New York Choral Society during their popular Summer Sings, including solos in Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Mass in C, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Brahms’ Ein deutches Requiem.
A graduate of the New England Conservatory, Hannah has been in demand as a soloist in both traditional and modern classical music. In Boston, she sang the American premiere of Israeli composer Osnat Netzer's acclaimed song cycle “Light Night Songs” and was featured as The Tourist in Robert Zimmerman's concert opera 9/11 Soliloquies; in New York, she sang excerpts of the title role in Elliot Encarnación’s new opera Lilith in concert at the Manhattan School of Music. In addition to her work as an opera and oratorio soloist, Hannah excels in ensemble singing. She has been a Staff Singer here at Christ & Saint Stephen’s since 2016, and has been heard contributing her voice to such varied institutions as American Classical Orchestra, Tanglewood Festival Choir, the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, and Congregation Kol Ami in White Plains. A skilled visual artist, Hannah also designs and creates bespoke press-on nails for drag queens (and anyone else who wants them). Her work can be viewed on her Instagram @nailsforqueensnyc. She also functions as administrative assistant and social media manager for Bronx Opera. Hannah was born in California, spent her formative years in Vermont, and currently resides in The Bronx with her husband and frequent artistic collaborator, stage director Benjamin Spierman
Programs for Children & Families
Director of Programs for Children & Families
Honorary Priest Associates
The Rev. Prof. Bert Breiner
Honorary Priest Associate
ALMIGHTY GOD, you bind us to life and one another by holy and tender ties: We commend our beloved Father Bert to your eternal favor and care, that he may dwell with you in glory, and that we, being faithful to his memory here on earth, may be reunited with him in the communion and felicity of the life that is to come, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
The Rev. Canon Jay H. Gordon
Honorary Priest Associate
The Rev. James B. Hagen
Honorary Priest Associate