Organ Restoration at FPCW

Restoration made possible through fundraising, donation & grant

by Pastor Mike Birbeck – October 26, 2018

Our organ was made by M. P. Moller Pipe Organ Company – a premier pipe organ builder at the time. Moller built organs for the three primary military academies and many major city cathedrals. Our Moller organ was installed in the early 1960’s (likely installed in 1962 and officially dedicated in January 1964). It was part of a three phase building project that started in 1962. The last phrase of that project was the complete renovation of our sanctuary, which included the installation of the Moller Piper Organ we now have.

Organs that have pneumatic actions have leather pouches under each pipe that hold air pressure, keeping a pallet under the pipe hole closed and not sounding until played. This leather has a useable life expectancy of 40-50 years; ours are 55 or more years old. Other parts are wearing out too, resulting in potentially expensive short-term repairs and periodic, temporary loss of use of the organ for potentially long period of time, and perhaps even leading to disrepair. Our organ, arguably the best in the area, has served us well and it’s time to reinvest in its preservation to assure continuing quality music for the next several decades. In addition to restoring the organ to near installation condition, the organ console will be upgraded to a digital console – which is now the industry standard. We will also be adding a windchest and trumpet extension.

Music ministry has long been an important component of ministry at FPCW, with notable music directors directing our music groups throughout our 175 year existence. Our organ is one of the tools that we use to worship God; it enhances our worship and enables us to head the many biblical exhortations to “Praise the Lord!” in a powerful way (e.g. Psalm 100, Colossians 3:16).

Patrick Murphy and Assoc. LLC will be doing the organ renovation and restoration work. Our fundraising goal for the project is $175,000. This includes the work being completed by Patrick Murphy and Assoc. and upgrades to the organ chambers to better insulate the chambers, protect the organ pipes, and enhance the quality of sound coming out of the chambers.

Through the generosity of our congregation (over $90,000) and a generous grant from the Sweet Foundation, we have a little less than $7,500 yet to raise to meet our goal. Donations continue to come in, and we are confident in God’s provision to help us reach this goal.

Some people have not directly asked but have wondered if the $175,000 could have been spent better. A certain account of Jesus in Mark 14 has helped me make sense of this endeavor. It was the week that Jesus was going to be handed over to the authorities and executed. He was reclining – presumably for a meal – in a house only a couple miles from Jerusalem. A woman came in. She’s holding an alabaster jar. It’s filled with very, very expensive perfume, worth a year of wages for the average Joe. She breaks open the jar and pours the perfume down Jesus’ head. Those who saw this were indignant, “How could this woman waste such a valuable perfume? Couldn’t be sold and the money given to help the poor?” But, Jesus commends her action. Three times Jesus had predicted his death, but no one comprehended. Yet, this unnamed woman poured on Jesus the perfume customarily used to prepare a body for burial. The shards of such a alabaster jar were customarily left in the tomb of the deceased. She alone realized the significance of Jesus’ ministry. She came, and she did all that she could do for Jesus.

Jesus does not dissuade giving to the poor in this passage. Both in Mark 14 and throughout his ministry, Jesus was dogmatic about caring for those in need. We as a congregation are dogmatic about caring for the poor to. In the last eight years we have given over $300,000 to missions, much of which directly meets the needs of the impoverished. Because of a renewed commitment to missions giving, 20% of our budget will go to missions in 2019. If we stay the course, in ten years, we will have given half a million dollars to missions. Yet, we see this organ restoration and renovation project as an opportunity to pour perfume over Jesus’ head, to be a congregation that both gives to the poor but also enhances our worship to Christ, by use of a organ that will be able to serve this sacred function for another 45+ years.

Credits:
Idea/Concept: Mike Grace
Videography: Andrew Moore, Tim Crane
Video Editing: Ethan Chabala
Writing: Mike Birbeck
Correspondent: Rhonda Pearson

Produced by Vogt Media
Funded by Penn Wells, Arcadia Theatre

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