A pipe organ is often compared to the human body…the air chamber is likened to the human heart, it pushes air through the pipes, just as the heart pumps life-sustaining blood through the body.
The warm, familiar, beautiful sound of music can fill the soul, and the sound of a pipe organ can fill your body with sound like no other instrument. Music lies at the heart of worship; it moves us, fills us and inspires us with its beauty. Thomas Carlyle once said, “Music is well said to be the speech of angels; in fact, nothing among utterances allowed to man is felt to be so divine. It brings us near the infinite.”
FUMC has a long, rich history of offering worshipful music in our morning worship services. When our church moved to its present location in 1930, the old organ from the Seventh and Taylor church was moved and enlarged to serve as the primary instrument in our Sanctuary.
On March 23, 1965, during the pastorate of Dr. Gaston Foote, the Music Committee, chaired by Richard Newkirk, recommended the church purchase a new organ. Mr. O. C. Armstrong was the Organ Purchasing Chairman and handled all the purchasing arrangements. He and the committee selected the Reuter Organ Company of Lawrence, Kansas to build the new organ. Members of several long-time FUMC families served on the music committee with Mr. Armstrong: Dr. Dolphus E. Compere, V. W. Boswell, R. E. Cox, Jr., T. E. Graham, G. E. Holmstrom, Dr. Sam Leifeste, Floyed Scott, Carlton Sisler, Jr., Dr. Eugene Stegall and Robert B. Thompson. Robert R. Clarke, Minister of Music, served as the staff representative.
The church entered into an organ fundraising campaign in 1965 to fund the purchase of the new organ. Mr. and Mrs. O.C. Armstrong were one of the primary donors to the 1967 organ fund, along with Nanilou Neil Blackshear, Justice E. Blackshear Sr., Miss Laura E. Hill, Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Baker, Jr., The Estate of Neil M. Stafford, Mrs. Andrew McCampbell, Mr. and Mrs. John B. Collier, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. John Morton Gause Ware, Mrs. Mary Louise Ware Rogers, Mrs. J.B. Baker, Mrs. A.R. McElreath, The Estate of Elizabeth Miller, Howard C. Harder, Jr., Sid W. Richardson Foundation, N. Alliene Harder, Vivian Harder Johnson, Maurin Harder Gafford, Howard Charles Harder, Jr., Mrs. George W. Scaling, Amon Carter Foundation, The Family of Stanley A. Thompson, Sheila and Frances Allen, Mr. and Mrs. Boad E. Hensley, Mr. and Mrs. V.W. Boswell, Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Pace, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Ralph C. Hart, Maxine Shannon Car, Verna M. Montique, Dr. and Mrs. Judge Lyle, Mr. and Mrs. William Glenn Embry, The Family of J. Clyde Jones, Mr. and Mrs. Raymond C. Gee, Mr. and Mrs. David W. Ashley, Miss Ada Wells, Mr. and Mrs. J. Marvin Leonard, Mr. and Mrs. Ben E. Schmitt, Dr. and Mrs. Harold W. Schmitt, Mr. and Mrs. R.E. Cox, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Richard C. Newkirk and Mr. and Mrs. Eugene H. Carter.
The organ took two years to build and was first played in worship on April 16, 1967. The organ currently in our Sanctuary is the refurbished 1967 organ. Over the years the organ has required repairs and modifications. In 1993 Garland Pipe Organs of Fort Worth was contracted to repair our organ. The firm's task was to bring the instrument up to 1990s standards mechanically and electrically. The organ repair, completed in 1995, was made possible by a gift given in memory of Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Sanford by their daughter Dorothy Sanford Erwin and her husband Robert Douglas Erwin. The modifications in the mid 1990s extended the life of the organ, but the organ has reached the point that it must be replaced.
Need for a New Organ
Why does First Methodist need to purchase a new pipe organ as opposed to an electronic organ? Electronic organs have been in use for the past 50 years, but they don’t compare to the sound and breadth of a pipe organ. The complex tones and overtones of the pipes can not be matched electronically. Electronic organs amount to singing along with a stereo (electronically reproduced sound). It would be similar to comparing the sound quality between a plastic and a silver flute.
It is a misconception that a pipe organ renders nothing but “old” or “traditional” music. First Methodist has had a long and rich tradition of worship which includes singing the great hymns of the church. Worship styles have evolved over the years and worship involves music of all ages and styles. Despite the many changes, the pipe organ at First Methodist has remained constant and true to the needs of the congregation.
First United Methodist Church needs a new pipe organ for several reasons.
First, it is our desire to continue a strong tradition of fine music. The organ is the primary instrument in helping the Music Ministry bring the congregation of FUMC closer to God in worship.
Second, we need a new organ out of sheer necessity. The current organ was built with an expected life span of 40-50 years – ours is 44 years old and is becoming significantly inoperable. Aaron Medina, FUMC Organist, reports that the organ is temperamental and functions inconsistently from week to week. The church needs a new instrument that will last for years to come. Organs built using today’s technology are meant to last for 80-100 years. Organs built in the past century do not have the benefits of advanced building techniques presently available. The organ at First Methodist has been in gradual decline over the years. First Methodist has been peddling along with an aged and deteriorating pipe organ. Our church deserves to have the finest instrument in the city, one that suits the long and storied tradition of worship at First Methodist.
The Role of the First Methodist Foundation
The Foundation has already made a significant deposit in order to secure the Garland Pipe Organs of Fort Worth, a nationally recognized leader in building and designing pipe organs, so that constructing, installing and voicing the new organ can be completed in 2013. In addition, the Foundation has already invested $330,000 in acoustical improvements in the sanctuary. Some of these include the slate floor downstairs, wood refinishing of the pulpit area, and the recently completed improvement of the balcony floor. Yet to be completed prior to installing the new organ is renovation of the choir loft.
Be An Organ Donor
In late August 2011 we began the "Be An Organ Donor” campaign to raise funds to replace our Sanctuary organ. Because of time constraints, First Methodist Foundation initiated the contract with Garland Pipe Organs of Fort Worth to replace the entire organ. Funding of the new organ is the responsibility of the congregation. The Sanctuary Organ Project will restore the condition of the organ. New pipes will be added to existing pipes. The console, wind chests, additional divisions, new wind supply lines, and electronics will be replaced and upgraded to meet modern standards. When the restoration is complete, the organ will contain 161 ranks, making it the second largest organ in the state of Texas.
The estimated total cost of the new organ and acoustical improvements is $2,500,000. The Foundation has committed to cover the acoustical enhancements up to $650,000. All of the components of the present organ that meet contemporary standards, such as many of the pipes, will be saved and included in the new organ.
The total cost of just the new organ is $1,850,000. Several members of the church have already given $300,000 toward the project, leaving the rest of us with the opportunity to fund the remaining $1,550,000.
We know that many individuals and families want to be part of this project. All donors will be part of a master list. Contributions may be made to honor or memorialize loved ones. In addition, the old components of the present organ will be given to donors who contribute at the levels listed below. Gifts may be made by check or credit card. Gifts of appreciated stock and a gift from an IRA are welcomed as well. Honorary memorial gifts can be made on The Organ Fund commitment card. We currently can’t accept honorary or memorial gifts online.
Our church has a wonderful tradition of great music. The new organ will both continue and enhance this tradition. Thank you for considering your part of this great endeavor.
“Be An Organ Donor” Gift Levels:
$10,000 Gift & above
Each Donor Will Receive a Set of Ivory Organ Keys, One Black and One White
$5000 Gift & above
Each Donor Will Receive an Organ Stop
$1000 Gift & Above
Each donor will receive an organ pipe
Contributions of any amount can be given in honor or memory of a loved one.
Gifts of any amount to the organ fund can be paid over more than one year.
Click here to have the church mail you more information about the Organ Project