Why are we having this campaign? What work needs to be done?

Our beautiful sanctuary and organ are 45 years old, and while it may not be apparent, age has taken a toll. As lovely as our organ sounds, the behind-the-scenes truth is that components and systems are worn and failing. Throughout this space we love, existing lighting and sound systems are wearing out, too, with replacement parts hard-to-impossible to find. Our hope? To commit today to restoring our organ and other integral building systems to full function and beauty, so that this space may continue to lift us God-ward for generations to come.

Why do we need to restore the organ? It sounds beautiful to me.

The River Road Church Möller Opus 10590 organ was built in 1970, traditionally constructed then as it would have been 50 years earlier. Although it has been well maintained, the electrical control system that connects the keyboard console with the rest of the organ is mechanical and wearing out. The large electro-pneumatic memory system that provides for the setting of stops is also mechanical, limited in memory storage, and at the end of its life. Several large zinc pipes are collapsing. Solder seams have split. Tuning scrolls are worn. Forty-five years of dust soon will affect pipe speech and tuning ability. Integral leather materials, including bellows, are worn and weak. Quite simply, to continue to ensure the beautiful music so integral to our worship experience, our organ must be restored. You may wish to read the Organ Renovation Committee Complete Report, available as a PDF.

How long will we be without an organ?

Only about three weeks — the time needed to install the new console. Once adequate funds are raised and the console design approved, console construction will take seven or eight months. Although plans could change, we anticipate console installation sometime in the first half of 2015, when we when we would expect to be without an organ for three Sundays. Once the console is installed, we hope to complete the restoration of the pipes and other internal mechanisms in two stages, leaving lectern-side pipes in service, for example, while
pulpit-side pipes are cleaned and repaired. Restoration will take about six months for each section. Depending on when restoration begins, we would anticipate completion sometime in 2016 or early 2017.

psalm-150-3-4Why are the lights a concern?

The sanctuary lighting system is original to the building. It is a mechanical system, housed in a cabinet filled with motors driving wheels that turn to dim or brighten the lights. When one of the motors failed in 2012, it could not be repaired; fortunately, a replacement was located on eBay. Existing light fixtures are erratic and use expensive, short-lived bulbs that generate enough heat to wear out the sockets. A planned LED system would provide even lighting with cooler fixtures and considerable savings in energy costs.

What upgrades are needed to the sound system?

The sound system has been a challenge since the first service in the Sanctuary on October 12, 1969. While the Sanctuary is a wonderful environment for music, reverberations in lofty spaces can make the spoken word unintelligible. Although the current system is adequate for most in the pews, there are “dead spots” in the nave, where the ministers sit, and in some locations in the choir pews. Those sitting in the transept seats at times cannot hear clearly. Current technology offers improvements and will be carefully evaluated once adequate funds are received to undertake the upgrade.

How long will the whole project take?

That depends on the success of our three-year capital campaign, and how and when funds are given. By vote of the church, as contributions are received, we have pledged to fund the restoration of the organ first. After organ restoration costs are paid, we will next make upgrades to sanctuary lighting, followed by sound system upgrades, with any remaining funds used as prioritized by the Building and Property Council and approved by the congregation.

What happens if we don’t raise all the money?

Work will not begin on any phase of the organ restoration until sufficient funds are committed to complete the work. Lighting, then sound, and other upgrades will only be made once those additional funds are committed.

What are you asking me to do?

Before embarking on this capital stewardship campaign, we have taken steps as a church family to determine what God is leading us to do. We have agreed as a church to ask for sacrificial gifts to raise $1.5 million over the next three years to restore our organ and worship space. We will make the journey together. So first, pray — for our church family and for God’s guidance as we prepare for Commitment Sunday on June 8. Study materials to support you as you consider your own gifts are provided in the campaign booklet as well as online. As a church family and as individual stewards, we hope to grow closer to God as we Rejoice & Give Thanks.