GV native takes post at London’s most famous cathedral
As a student on a trip to London with the Nevada Union choir in the early 1980s, Peter McCullough slipped away from the crowd of high schoolers to make a solo visit to the iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Little did he know that almost 30 years later, he would take a high-ranking post at the 1,400-year-old church – one of the most famous in the world.
McCullough has been selected as one of three “lay canons” at St. Paul’s, and will be installed at a ceremony in mid-November.
He’ll keep his day job as an Oxford University professor, but serve as sort of a trustee for cathedral business. McCullough will attend special events, such as a celebration of American Thanksgiving featuring the U.S. ambassador, and he expects to meet Queen Elizabeth in the near future.
Growing up in Grass Valley, McCullough’s family attended First Baptist Church. His mother Lila was a schoolteacher at Seven Hills and his father Gene worked with CalTrans.
McCullough, active with NU’s choral program, attended UCLA hoping to major in music.
“I always tell people I had the greatest fortune growing up (in Nevada County),” McCullough said. “I now realize just how brilliant NU was.”
But during college, he had difficulties deciding what he wanted to do with his life. There was history, and there was theology – he was confirmed as an Episcopalian during his undergraduate years.
He eventually settled on a field that touches on all three: English, with a focus on renaissance literature.
“It was a period of such rapid change and literary brilliance,” he said. “They were rethinking the place of the arts and artistry.”
After years of studying, including a post-doctoral teaching stint at Princeton University, he followed a job to Oxford University’s Lincoln College, where he now teaches in the department of English.
He keeps busy writing a biography of preacher Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) and editing a 16-volume collection of sermons from poet/preacher John Donne (1572-1631).
Sixteen years after moving across the pond, McCullough only comes back occasionally; the last time was for Cornish Christmas.
The Grass Valley native has dual citizenship, and his two children have spent virtually their entire lives in Britain.
“They’ve gone completely native,” McCullough said.
To contact Staff Writer Michelle Rindels, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4247.
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