Saint Thomas Church Appoints Two Clergy Staff

The Rector and Wardens are pleased to announce the appointment of two priests beginning Sunday, September 8, 2019. Mother Alison Turner begins her new, full-time position as Associate Priest for Children and Family Ministry.

The first appointment is of the Reverend Alison Joan Turner to the position of Associate Priest for Children and Family Ministry. Mother Turner has been on the staff of Saint Thomas Church in a part-time position as Director of Children and Family Ministry since the Summer of 2018. This appointment is a promotion to full-time and will include, alongside the regular liturgical responsibilities of a parish priest, specific responsibilities for pastoral care of young people and families as well as organizing and managing ministries for the children of our parish, including Sunday School and Nursery. She will also explore opportunities for building links with students and staff from other schools and colleges in our area.

Mother Turner was born in southeast England and has always been committed to parish life, especially in the areas of education and catechesis, liturgy, and music. She has a bi-vocational ministry, as both a teacher and priest.

Her education was rooted in Roman Catholic and Anglican multicultural schools in East London. She studied for her first degree and teaching qualifications at St Mary’s University College, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham (University of Surrey). She then received her MA in the area of Theology and Adult Education. Subsequently, she became a Head of School in two schools in Devon, the first in a rural setting and the most recent being Exeter Junior School, a large independent city school. In 2015, she joined her husband, Fr. Turner, in New York.

Mother Turner’s ministerial formation was based in Cambridge, and she was ordained priest in the Diocese of Chelmsford, at Michaelmas 1998. Her most recent ministerial position in the UK was as Priest Vicar in Exeter Cathedral, where she had particular interest and oversight of the nurture and catechesis of children and young people at local and Diocesan level.

Mother Turner recently graduated with a Masters in Sacred Theology from the General Theological Seminary in New York City. Her focus of study was Children’s ministry in the Episcopal Church. She has also completed further studies in Spiritual Direction.

Mother Turner tells us:

I look forward to this creative opportunity of sharing in this ministry with colleagues, families, and children. And, in the light of the strategic planning process, I also anticipate discovering new ways of belonging, exploring lifelong learning, and growing in faith together in worship, nurture, and service.

Our second announcement is that the Reverend Patrick S. Cheng, J.D., Ph.D. has been appointed to join the clergy team of Saint Thomas Church as Theologian in Residence. In this part-time position, Fr. Cheng will have specific responsibility for teaching and/or coordinating all adult Christian formation opportunities, including classes on Sunday mornings and weekday classes, lectures, and other events. He will also join the clergy team in our liturgical life and will develop programs of spiritual formation, including support for spiritual practices in our daily lives.

Father Patrick Cheng is a theologian and a priest of the Diocese of New York. Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Father Cheng practiced law as a Wall Street tax and employee benefits lawyer prior to beginning his theological studies. He holds a B.A. in English literature from Yale College (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa), a J.D. from Harvard Law School (magna cum laude), and a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. Father Cheng’s doctoral adviser was the late Dr. James H. Cone.

From 2010 through 2014, Father Cheng served on the faculty at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As the Associate Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology, he taught courses on church history, systematic theology, and pastoral care. While at EDS, he also served as the Pastoral Assistant at Emmanuel Church in Boston, Massachusetts.

Since 2015, Father Cheng has served at the Church of the Transfiguration (also known as The Little Church Around the Corner), an historic Anglo-Catholic parish in Midtown Manhattan. Currently the Associate Rector at Transfiguration, Father Cheng is responsible for, among other things, the parish’s Christian education and formation programs.

Father Cheng is the author of three books on contemporary theology, one of which has been translated into Chinese and Japanese, and another into Korean. In addition to his parish ministry, Father Cheng works at a national agency of the Episcopal Church. He also serves as a trustee of the Anglican Theological Review.

Father Cheng has been with his spouse, Michael Boothroyd, since 1991. Michael is the Director of Admissions for the Flatiron School, a coding bootcamp that trains software engineers. Michael also acts from time to time on television and the stage. Father Cheng and Michael presently live in Manhattan.

Father Cheng writes:

It’s an honor and a blessing to be called as the new Theologian in Residence at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue. I’m humbled by the invitation to teach and learn with this remarkable community. As a priest of the diocese, I’ve admired the parish’s commitment to excellence and intellectual rigor. And, as a systematic theologian and a former seminary professor, I look forward to exploring the riches of the Christian theological tradition with parishioners from all backgrounds and walks of life.

The Chair of the Adult Education Committee, Professor Jeremy Waldron writes:

Father Cheng will be a wonderful addition to the Saint Thomas team. Learned, thoughtful, and considerate, he will add richness and depth to the theology side of our educational program.

Please join us in a prayer of gratitude for both of our newly appointed priests as they undertake their ministries with us. May God bless us, also, as we welcome Father Cheng and his family into our community, and may the Spirit of God prepare us all for the many ways in which the presence of both priests will enrich our common life and ministry in this holy place.


The Wardens of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue

Kazie Harvey
Jesse Adelaar

A Message from the Rector

Although it is unusual for clergy couples to work in the same parish, it is not unheard of, and has become more commonplace in recent years. Since we first met, 34 years ago, Alison and I have supported one another in our work and in our church life; we have worked together as priests many times. Although the Canons of the Episcopal Church give the Rector the sole responsibility for calling priests, nevertheless, I have always worked closely with the Wardens and the Vestry. To ensure that there was proper discernment, the Wardens invited Mother Turner to apply for the position and she was interviewed by a panel without me present. Mother Turner and I have always worked hard to ensure that we observe appropriate professional boundaries; she will continue to report directly to the Associate Rector and her annual appraisal will be supervised by the Wardens. It is worth stating that we are not ‘co-Rectors!’ I am delighted to be working with her in this capacity and this call has my full support.

Father Cheng will bring many gifts to our parish and I am excited about the future of education and formation over the coming years and that he and Mother Turner will work closely together so that education and formation is for all ages. Like his predecessors, he is a member of the Society of Scholar Priests. He speaks several languages fluently, including Mandarin and French, and enjoys reading texts in their original Hebrew, Greek, or Latin. Possessing a deep spirituality, the interview panel were impressed, not only by his wisdom and maturity, but also his humility. He has an engaging way of teaching and I am delighted that he will be part of our parish moving forward.

Best wishes,


your priest and Pastor