Restore, Refresh, Renew

by The Rev. Dr. Jason Parkin, Rector

It has two keyboards for the hands, and one for the feet. There are 30 different "stops," each providing a unique sound or tonal color. 1,485 separate pipes rest within its chests, ranging from smaller than my middle finger to 16 feet in length. It is, including even me, the single loudest item in our church. Beloved parishioners Fran and Irv Stuebner donated the money for its commissioning and installation. It will be exactly 50 years old this summer.

As it surely obvious, I am writing about our pipe organ, the foundation of our musical life and of so much of our common worship. This instrument, crafted by the legendary Aeolian-Skinner organ builders of Boston, has supported and enhanced countless thousands of Eucharists and innumerable anthems and hymns, and inspired many people as they have prayed before and after liturgies. It has welcomed babies just baptized into God's holy family, sent forth brides and grooms about to begin their married lives together, and escorted faithful saints from this life into God's loving embrace. It has been in place through dozens of Wardens, Vestry members, and staff members, four rectors, and fully two generations of members of this church.

And it is in dire need of a complete restoration and refurbishment.

Over those 50 years of life and labor, our pipe organ has been maintained regularly, thoughtfully, and carefully. However, the wear and tear of time and the elements over the course of five decades, as well as the deferment of some significant needed repairs through the years, has resulted in the fact that we now need to undertake a thorough restoration project in order to be able to enjoy the use of the instrument for many years to come. Pipes are suffering metal fatigue and are clogged with dust and debris; leathers that govern much of the pneumatic action of the organ are cracked, dried out, or almost non-functional; certain stops are becoming unusable due to "cyphers;" other stops, and some particular pipes, will not stay in tune because of faulty or worn out parts. In short, we need to do a major overhaul to bring our instrument back to its former health and vitality. What better time to do so than during this 50th anniversary year?

Three different organ construction firms were invited to provide proposals concerning price and duration of work, and the Vestry voted to accept the bid from Berghaus Organ Builders, the company that has serviced our instrument for 14 years. The cost of the restoration will be $220,000. Virtually the entire instrument will be removed and taken to a shop in order to be refurbished, starting on June 20, a process that will take approximately 12 weeks, leaving us with the use of only a piano and a small instrument known as a "positif" organ (and possibly other instruments) during the summer. A structural engineering firm investigated the foundation beneath the organ and parlor, and these were deemed to be sound.

All this information is provided in order to prepare the entire parish for the work that will take place later this summer, and to let you know that we also undertaking a fast, focused campaign in order to raise the money necessary to do this critically important restoration. The good news is that we have already received two gifts and one pledge that will offset a certain percentage of the cost, but the Wardens, Vestry, and I want to insure that everyone who wishes to do so will have a chance to participate in this restoration endeavor (and we even hope to have a little fun as we do so). Please keep your eyes open for more information that will come out as the spring and summer unfold.

Please feel free to contact Dr. Derek Nickels  or me (jlparkin@holycomforter.org) if you have any questions or concerns, or would like to participate in any way in the restoration process. Thank you, in advance, for your patience and understanding, your generosity and support, and your commitment to our common musical and liturgical life!