BEULAH — When St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Beulah was built 20 years ago a balcony was constructed with the dream that it would someday house a pipe organ.
“The dream became a reality when they were able to pay their mortgage off about a year and a half ago,” said church organist Tim Quist.
Quist, a retired elementary school teacher, has been playing the organ for 56 years — the last three of them at St. Andrews.
The pipe organ replaces an electronic one and the difference will be huge, Quist said.
“An electronic organ boasts that it sounds just like a pipe organ, but the pipe organ is real,” Quist said.
Quist said that in this day and age of churches closing their doors or consolidating, pipe organs are becoming more available. Recycling organs, he said, has become as big as building new ones.
The St. Andrews organ, originally built in 1993, came from a church in Bradenton, Fla. After being purchased by the Beulah church it was rebuilt by the Reuter Organ Company in Kansas.
“It’s going to be a great addition to our worship service,” said Marilyn Skold, a founding member of St. Andrews.
Skold donated the electronic organ — which is now past its prime — to the church when there wasn’t enough money in the budget to purchase a pipe organ. The new organ was funded through donations collected over the summer, she said.
“It was amazing the support we got from the congregation,” Skold said. “It’s amazing the people that came out of the woodwork and are passionate about organ music ... It’s a forever investment.”
The organ has 1,600 pipes, each of which is a handmade musical instrument with its own unique note.
Pastor Anne Hebert is excited to have the organ, which she says is a dream come true for the church. The music it produces will be something that is not just heard, she said.
“You can feel the sense of it in the room, the vibration,” Hebert said. “It will enhance worship all the way around ... It adds to the worship of God.”
Quist visited the Reuter company several weeks ago and described a scene of 30 or more workshops on the factory floor, each dedicated to a different piece of the organ.
The organ is cleaned in acid baths and re-leathered, he said. Leather, which is used to keep parts of the organ airtight, deteriorates over time and is replaced with new leather that is buttery soft, he said.
The company also built a new wooden case for the organ that matches the architecture of the church, which is fashioned after the X-shaped cross of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland. Some of the pipes are 16-feet-tall and soar into the church’s rafters.
“It’s visually fabulous,” Quist said. “Even I was a bit taken aback by the grandeur of it — and we haven’t even heard it yet.”
Installation of the organ took about two weeks, but it can’t be played until it is voiced, which means each pipe must be manipulated to play the proper tone and volume. Pipes must also be adjusted to sound good in the room in which the organ is located, which is something that makes every instrument unique, Quist said.
“That’s another magic about pipe organs — the room is part of the instrument,” he said.
Parishioners will hear the organ for the first time at the Nov. 24 morning service, when there will also be a short dedication. A Thanksgiving service will be held at 2 p.m. the same day, with the community welcome to attend.
“The congregation has seen all the pipes, but they’ll hear it on the 24th,” Hebert said.
Two or three as yet unscheduled dedication recitals will be held in the spring, Quist said.