The most mournful sound at the final service in a church may well be the last hymn played on the organ.
When the concluding chord sounded on the organ of Salem United Church of Christ at Prouty Avenue and Stebbins Street Jan. 9, however, members could take solace in knowing the instrument would keep on playing.
They donated the organ to Faith Community United Church of Christ on South Byrne Road, where many of Salem's members continue to worship.
Work on merging the organs of the two churches is nearing completion and a rededication is planned for Jan. 7 next year.
The idea to preserve the Salem organ, which dates to the 1920s, and move it to a new location about four miles away originated with the remaining members of Salem. “They wanted to give it to us,” said Lorin Mohn of Faith Community UCC. “It was a very powerful organ, compared to what we had.” Faith had a smaller pipe organ from the 1950s.
Mr. Mohn urged his fellow congregants to accept the Salem organ, knowing it would require a substantial investment for moving and refurbishing. After the church received an estimate of $40,000 for the work, members figured it would take them about two years to raise the needed funds. Toledo's Muller Pipe Organ Co. agreed to move and store the instrument in the meantime.
But after the church began its “Organ Transplant Fund,” members were surprised to discover they were well on their way to reaching their goal within just a few months, Mr. Mohn said.
David Beck, general manager of Muller Pipe Organ, said the difference in the sizes of the two churches required that only portions of the Salem organ be used at Faith. About half of the pipes from Salem's organ were incorporated into the organ at Faith, allowing Faith to have exposed organ pipes for the first time.
“The neat thing about that is since nothing is surrounding them, the organ speaks right out into the room,” Mr. Beck said. This has provided a brightness and vibrancy that makes the sound more inspiring, he added.
Muller replated the Salem pipes with a spotted-metal finish and mounted them on a new wind chest that was built along with new casework to match the existing organ. Originally, the plan was to use the Salem organ console, but Muller found another console in its stock that was more appropriate for the installation and matched the woodwork better.
Mr. Beck said his company, which has been building and restoring organs since 1919, does a lot of work recycling organ components, but the Faith installation was unique in that the equipment was donated by one church specifically for use in another.
“It's been really neat to speak to people at Faith and members from Salem who have joined over at Faith. One lady told me this wonderful story about her husband who had recently passed away. He had sung in the choir his entire life at Salem. She was just really moved by the fact that Salem's organ was going to be reused and that she had a place she could go and feel close to her husband.”