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Van Buren United Methodist Church, Van Buren, IN

Background

Van Buren United Methodist Church's small, 5 rank "garden variety" M.P.Moller organ was installed at this 19th century church in 1929. Many hundreds of similar instruments were built during the '20s and '30s for churches all over the country. Of special interest is the voicer's handwritten notation on Middle C of the Gambe dating completion of his work on October 29, 1929...The day of the infamous stock market crash!

Scope of the Rebuild Project

This electropneumatic organ had served its congregation well for nearly 60 years, without having ever been rebuilt, when members began considering a renovation in 1987. After raising funds over the next five years, the 80 member church engaged the firm Reynolds Associates Organ Services, Inc. of Marion, IN to renew and improve the instrument. The seven week long rebuild project included:

  • Replacing an original Diapason with a new Principal and the Stopped Diapason with a Gedeckt;

  • Revoicing all remaining pipework.;

  • Installing a new three- rank Mixture;

  • Upgrading the control system to Peterson OrgaPlextm switching and Duo-Settm combination action as part of a complete console renovation;

  • Recovering the reservoirs;

  • Replacing the original, leather note actions with Peterson electromechanical actions;

  • Adding new chimes to the organ (in 1996).

Other Highlights

This successful project at a small-town church near Fort Wayne, Indiana is a good example of how a small instrument can be rebuilt on a limited budget to have a distinguished sound, avoiding the compromise of a digital or hybrid instrument.

In a newspaper article soon after the organ project was completed, Van Buren UMC's organist Pat Stanley is quoted as saying "I've heard people say that they come to the church for the music. The music livens up the atmosphere and adds the feeling of grandeur...The feel and sound of a pipe organ spoils you from the standpoint of not wanting to play on an electronic organ." Commenting on the resources of the complete organ, Ms. Stanley said, "There are a lot more sounds that have been added, and the sounds are more vibrant. The instrument has a lot more flexibility and potential."

After the project was completed in the Spring of 1991, a rededication ceremony was held featuring a performance by Dr. John G. Maher of Indiana Wesleyan University.

Reynolds Associates Organ Services, Inc. is a family business offering a full line of pipe organ services throughout central and northern Indiana. Organbuilders Thad and David Reynolds may be reached by telephone or fax at (765) 662-3108, or by email at reyassoc@indy.rr.com. Organists Pat Stanley or Jackie Duggan can be contacted through Van Buren United Methodist Church at (765) 934-2031.

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