John Rohde, local jazz musician, to be ordained priest in Syracuse

Contact: Meredith Kadet Sanderson | (315) 569-3767 |

John Rohde, local jazz musician, to be ordained priest in Syracuse

For immediate release

[Syracuse, NY—December 12, 2019] The Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York, will ordain local jazz musician John Rohde to the priesthood at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 14 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 310 Montgomery Street in downtown Syracuse. The service will feature music from the Choir of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church as well as a jazz and pop band comprised of Syracuse-area musicians.

Raised in Syracuse and educated in the Syracuse City School District, Rohde is a professional musician and music teacher. He has performed with touring acts including Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, Natalie Cole, Frank Sinatra Jr., The Stylistics, Manhattan Transfer, Don Rickles, Clay Aiken, and more, and has been a featured soloist with the Central New York Jazz Orchestra and the Syracuse Symphony. He was a full-time music educator in the Syracuse City School District from 2008-2015, and is a co-founder and co-director of the Band Bus, a program providing instrumental music instruction in local parochial schools. He is also a beloved regular musician on Wednesday evenings at Pastabilities in Armory Square.

Rohde attended St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Syracuse and served as Canon Jazz Musician there until he began his formal training for ordained ministry, earning a Master of Divinity degree from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in 2018. Over the past year, he has been serving at St. John’s Episcopal Church in the village of Marcellus, New York alongside the church’s rector, the Rev. Dr. Steven Moore. He will begin his ministry as a priest with the people of Christ Episcopal Church, 25 North Main Street, Jordan, New York, celebrating Christmas Eve services at 9:00 p.m. on December 24th and Sunday worship services at 10:00 a.m. beginning December 22nd.

Asked how his calling as a musician and his calling to the priesthood are related, Rohde recalls playing with Aretha Franklin, and witnessing her impromptu change from a planned set list into a Gospel medley. “You can go from secular tunes to sacred, just like that!” he remembers thinking. “That’s one of the many times I’ve been reminded that the divide between sacred and secular is a false one. It’s all sacred.”

Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe, who oversees all the clergy in the 85 congregations of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York, says, “In John, God has truly blessed the Syracuse community. He has a real passion for meeting people where they are and supporting their ongoing faith journey. The whole Diocese of Central New York is looking forward to blessing and sharing in his calling, and we’re looking forward to seeing what the Holy Spirit is going to do next!”

A reception will follow Saturday’s service, and the community is invited to attend.


Established in 1868, The Episcopal Diocese of Central New York is made up of 11,000 faithful Christians worshiping in 85 Episcopal congregations and chapels, including one college chaplaincy. The Diocese is part of The Episcopal Church in the worldwide Anglican Communion. The diocese extends to 14 counties in the center of New York State: Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Seneca, Tioga and Tompkins.

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