Worship is our highest calling, and the public worship of God’s people is the clearest expression of this eternal purpose. One of the central ways that God calls us to respond to Him is through music. Martin Luther said, “Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, hearts, and spirits.”
Our original organ was built in 1928 as part of the new building after the great fire earlier that year which destroyed the previous sanctuary. It was built by the Hinners Organ Company, founded by John Hinners in 1879. They produced nearly 3,000 pipe organs and 20,000 reed organs in their 55 years of existence. Our organ was rebuilt in the 1950’s by Mutchler Organ, who added a 3-rank mixture and 4’ Quintadena. They also electrified the organ and built a new console. Our organ had 2 manuals, 3 divisions, 19 stops, and 15 ranks with 1030 pipes.
By 2015, the organ was showing signs of age and the console was at the end of its useful life. In response to the news that our 87-year-old pipe organ was in serious need of repair, the worship committee, under the direction of the church council, appointed an organ committee. After much education and discussion, speaking to numerous organ companies, going on multiple field trips, reviewing all the options and considering all the bids, they came back with a recommendation. Several things were obvious. First, the cost of simply replacing the organ console was an inefficient use of resources. Second, the cost of a new pipe organ for our building would be financially unfeasible. Third, our current organ was not able to express the full range of colors, dynamics, and tones to effectively inspire worship for years to come. Due to space constraints, the addition of enough additional ranks of pipes was not a possibility without major renovations. We therefore examined the options for improving the pipe foundations, and in particular the very limited foundational principal ranks, and combining that with digital ranks into a ‘hybrid’ instrument for our church. This would dramatically increase the range of our instrument.
Thanks to generous donations, all the funds for the organ were raised in very short order. The Phoenix organ company, a British company whose North American headquarters are on Peterborough, Ontario, was contracted to build a new organ console and supply the digital additions. Don Haan was contracted to do all the pipe work, including the addition of five repurposed Schantz principal ranks from a 1954 instrument of similar American Symphonic tone, significant repairs to wiring and the wind chests, and the addition of shades to the great chamber. All the work was completed by the summer of 2017.
We dedicate this instrument to God. May he bless it to His praise in the worship of this congregation for generations to come.