It took most of 2012 to refurbish and install the organ at Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church.
KINGSPORT — It took 12 years to save enough in the church’s organ fund and another year of refurbishing and installation. But, finally, on Sunday, Feb. 24, Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church will conclude this long journey with the dedication service of its first pipe organ, followed by a recital by area organists.
“Already the new organ has brought a new dimension to our worship,” said Gary Jungkeit, director of music. “It has a full sound that has depth and height to bring out the best in both congregational and choral singing. Because it is so rich and full, it is engaging both the heart and soul of the congregation.”
For many years, Colonial Heights Presbyterian used a Baldwin electronic organ, that was nearing the end of its life. The “new” organ was originally the worship instrument at First Presbyterian Church in Johnson City. With that congregation’s decision to install a different organ, the old organ became available to the Colonial Heights church.
Almost all of 2012 was spent in dismantling, refurbishing, building new parts, taking out walls for the organ’s new home, and installing the organ. For four weeks, including three Sundays, Colonial Heights Presbyterian did not have use of any organ.
“It just wasn’t quite the same to not hear the sounds of an organ as part of worship,” said Jungkeit.
The new pipe organ had its first use on Sunday, Dec. 2. However, the organ has gone through a number of tunings and adjusting the volume for the sanctuary for the Feb. 24 dedication.
The organ has 35 ranks, with approximately 2,000 pipes, and is the largest organ in the Colonial Heights area. The organ has four divisions — Great, Pedal, Swell and Choir. The Great and Pedal divisions are unenclosed and highly visible, while the Swell and Choir are enclosed in chambers to control volume.
“It has always been our goal to have an organ that is both heard and seen. An organ is beautiful to both the ear and the eye,” said Jungkeit. The organ has pipes as long as 16 feet and a few that are less than an inch in length.
R.A. Colby, Organ Builders, of Johnson City were the designers and builders of the instrument. A new, moveable console was built for the organ. From the time that installation began, thousands of parts to the organ were laid out all over the sanctuary. It was like a puzzle that had been assembled in the Johnson City organ factory, disassembled for the move, and wired and reassembled for its new home in Colonial Heights.
“I was amazed with how long it took to wire the new instrument — nearly two weeks! There is a massive amount of wiring for the console to communicate to electrical boards, then to relay to valves that open and close for air to pass through pipes. It is a much more complex instrument than I ever realized,” Jungkeit said.
The style of the organ is considered an American classic, with sounds that are imitative of horns, trumpets, clarinet, flute, oboe and strings. The volume and tone of the organ is fuller and richer than anything experienced with the former electronic organ.
The dedication worship service will take place at 11 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 24, at Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church, 213 Colonial Heights Road. At 3 p.m., a dedication recital will be held with the following organists: Carlene Eastridge from Colonial Heights Presbyterian, Louise Ammons from First Broad Street United Methodist, Laura Champouillon from First Presbyterian of Johnson City, Nancy Holland from Cassidy United Methodist, Bob Greene from State Street United Methodist of Bristol, and Dr. David Runner from Milligan College.
The dedication service and recital are open to the community. A reception to meet and greet the organists will immediately follow the recital.