Rector's Column May 2016

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?

We do not yet know how much this project will cost. Three different organ construction firms have been invited to provide proposals concerning price and duration of work, and those bids should arrive very soon. We do know that virtually all of the instrument, especially the pipes, will need to be removed and taken to a shop in order to be refurbished, a process that will likely take at least six weeks, leaving us with the use of only a piano (and possibly other instruments) during much of the summer. And we know, as the result of an investigation by a structural engineering firm, that the foundation beneath the organ and parlor is sound.

All this information is provided in order to prepare the entire parish for the work that will take place later this year, and to let you know that we will also very soon be 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 one gift 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.

Although we do not yet have all the answers you might desire, please feel free to contact Dr. Derek Nickels.