Vineville United Methodist Church gets new pipe organ

The congregation at Vineville United Methodist Church has grown accustomed to the rumble of tractor-trailers and the swoosh of speedy cars whizzing by outside the sanctuary doors Sundays.

Soon, though, the majestic sounds of a new pipe organ are sure to keep their attention from drifting.

“This may drown out some of the noise,” Senior Pastor Marcus Tripp said Tuesday, pointing to the new $796,000 pipe organ that, when fully tuned, will overshadow the cacophony of traffic.

This month, the church had a new organ, case and chamber — in the design of an 1830 New England organ played by Thomas Appleton — shipped from Indiana. A crew of eight workers is finishing installing and “voicing” the organ.

When the pedals and keys are pushed, it sends computer signals through cable wire to a chamber about 20 feet long, full of 3,212 different pipes, signaling which ones to whistle.

The chamber hides behind the organ’s “facade” of gold pipes, one reaching 9 feet tall.

The massive instrument is just part of the church’s $1.5 million sanctuary renovation about two years in the making.

“Not every church needs a pipe organ,” Tripp said. “In our commitment to the beauty of worshipping God, we felt Vineville is a church that should have a high quality pipe organ.”

The church’s 40-year-old former organ, about half the size, had run its course and was starting to drown out the choir members.

“The choir had difficulty hearing each other,” music director and church organist Dennis McCleary added.

Since January, the church sanctuary has been closed for remodeling, with Sunday services held in the Christian Life Center, where churchgoers have been welcomed by an electric organ.

The church tentatively plans to introduce its new masterpiece when it reopens the sanctuary at its July 19 service. As part of the renovation, the church carpet was stripped, giving way to wood flooring, which will improve acoustics. The bluish green walls are now a shade of butternut.

The crew from Goulding & Wood, the pipe organ builders out of Indianapolis, whipped out tools this week to adjust the volume control on the larger of the metal and wooden pipes. They plan to spend the next few weeks fine-tuning the organ.

The church, built in 1926, hadn’t had a sanctuary redesign since the early 1950s, church leaders said.

McCleary, who learned to play the organ at age 13 and has been the church organist for the past 18 years, is still learning to play the 59 sets of pipes, which can sound like an oboe, a flute and even a clarinet.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to control the different sounds from the softest to most majestic,” McCleary said, eyeing the church prize. “It’s going to sound great in this room.”

To contact writer Julie Hubbard, call 744-4331.