BERLIN – It was clear musician Ty Thompson felt strongly about the organ, but he hesitated when asked why the immense instrument was such a vital part of Stevenson United Methodist Church.
“It’s the only instrument that brings us closer to God,” he said after a thoughtful pause. “It moves everybody who listens to it.”
That, he explained, is why he’s taken on the immense task of raising $150,000 to replace the more than 100-year-old organ at Stevenson United Methodist Church in Berlin. He’s created a Go Fund Me page for the cause and with the church congregation will host a fundraiser to support the effort Saturday.
“I know we will raise it,” he said. “We’re optimistic.”
Thompson said the Moller pipe organ was purchased in 1912 as the church was being built.
“It was the best in its day,” Thompson said.
More than a century of regular use has taken its toll, however. Even after being rebuilt in 1947 and again in 1980, the organ is nearing the end of its usable life. Thompson says the instrument, which has several dead notes, is about 50 percent playable now.
“It’s a challenge to work around the notes that don’t play,” he said.
After looking at pricing for new organs, church members agreed that the best route to take would be the purchase of a digital system that could be used with the existing organ’s pipes.
“It has such a great sound,” Thompson said, “so our desire is to keep the pipes and support it with the digital technology.”
While the $150,000 price tag is steep, it’s hoped the existing organ will last another two years. During that time, Thompson hopes the congregation can raise the needed funds. It’s hoped this Saturday’s fundraiser will be the first step in that direction.
The church will host a free Christmas concert at 3 p.m. — with music played by Thompson and mentor Jeff Thompson — followed by a dinner at 5 p.m. Tickets for the dinner are $15 per adult and $5 per child under eight. All funds raised that afternoon will go toward the organ fund.
Thompson is hopeful the community will support the cause, as the organ at Stevenson United Methodist is one of just a few left in the area. What with the difficulties of ocean air and humidity, most churches on Delmarva have gone to digital instrumentation. Thompson wants to see his church retain the use of its well-known pipes.
“I can’t say enough how it’s an integral part of our worship,” he said. “If it were to die, it really would be a loss to the church.
To donate online, visit https://www.gofundme.com/stevensonpipeorgan.