The restoration of OPC's organ has officially begun!
This past week the trustees, authorized by the session, signed a contract with Sound/Organ Design. This Virginia Beach firm will be installing a new Viscount 363DK Classic Organ in the choir loft.
This begins the first phase of the organ restoration project. This new electronic organ will replace the existing consol. The Viscount organ -- as installed -- won't use any of the pipes in the choir loft. Rather, it has it's own professional-grade speaker system that provides the sound.
Sound/Organ Design will install a coupling system to the Viscount organ. This will allow us at some future date to tie in the old organ. But in the meantime, once the Viscount organ is installed, OPC will have a fully functional organ.
And there's a good chance that the instrument will be in place before Advent!
The existing organ mechanism can be connected to the Viscount organ consol. But extensive restoration work must happen first. All 1,100 pipes need cleaning and retuning. All the wiring within the instrument -- some dating back to 1910 -- needs replacement.
The mechanisms that open to provide air to the pipe are worn out. They all need replacement with simple electronic switches. A wind chest provides air to the pipes. This is from the original 1910 organ. It needs restoration to provide proper air pressure.
When phase two is completed, OPC will have a magnificent instrument. The organist can chose to play either the electronic instrument or the acoustic pipe organ. They could also choose to play both together for a truly glorious sound.
The cost for phase one from Sound/Organ Design is $99.522.00. They required a deposit of $28,856.00 to accompany the contract. $49.761.00 is due on delivery on the equipment to the church, and the balance, $19.905.00 due on completion.
The organ fund as of this posting, has over $66.000. This covers the down payment an most of the second installment. The Finance Committee determined that we have several ways to cover the balance. A substantial amount is available from Memorial Gifts, as well as the Hazard Fund.
Phase Two will cost a little more. Pebworth Technical Service has submitted an estimate of $135. 360.00. The restoration can be done in four parts. Each part would be paid for upon completion.
Part One, completely rewiring the old acoustic organ would cost $12,000,00. Part Two, restoring and retuning the pipes, would cost $16,000.00. Part Three, refurbishing the pipe chest would cost $60,390.00. Part Four, making the instrument playable, would cost $46,970.00.
- Ralph Graves
Orange Presbyterian Church has offered a Blue Christmas service for some time now. The concept is simple.
For many people, Christmas isn't "the most wonderful time of the year." It can be a harsh reminder of lost loved ones and lost opportunities. The commercialized joyousness that seems to be everywhere can add to the sorrow of those in pain or mourning.
The Blue Christmas service is one of quiet contemplation. It acknowledges those feelings and offers solace. Wednesday evening, December 20 turned out to be a very special service.
It marked the highest attendance for our Blue Christmas services. As always, most of the attendees came from outside the OPC church family.
And something special happened in the sanctuary that evening. I would say most of us felt the healing presence of God that night.
- Ralph Graves, OPC Communications Team
(Denny's homily is available below. Click on the player to listen.)
Sunday, December 17, 2023, was the Third Sunday of Advent. It was also Preschool Sunday.
On the third Sunday of every month the Orange Presbyterian Weekday School staff, students, and their families attend this special service at OPC.
The children sang some music of the season, then sat down for a word with Rev. Denny Burnette.
With Christmas fast approaching, Denny knew what was on their minds. His simple message focused on the concept of gifts -- that they're expressions of love. And how God's own gift this season is a profound expression of his love for us.
OPC still doesn't officially have a choir. But that didn't deter Music Facilitator Theresa Torian. She simply got together some talented singers and created one. The choir provided special music for the Third Sunday of Advent service.
It was a blend of both OPC members and non-members. All volunteering their time and talent to make worship more meaningful. And we appreciate their efforts!
Special thanks to Cheryl Lewis, Caryn Block, Joanna Davies, Don Davies, Leo Mallek, Pat Nabers, Betsy Smith, Tracey Stakem, Charles Torian, and Fay Utz. And of course, their director, Theresa Torian.
Below is a recording of the choir. (It's taken from the audio for the service, so sound quality isn't the best.)
The third Sunday of every month is Preschool Sunday.
The faculty of the Orange Presbyterian Weekday School (OPWS) invites the students and parents of OPWS to church.
Pastor Denny Burnette regularly visits OPWS and knows the students well.
Each Preschool Sunday he has a special message for the children. Below is the message for the November, 19th, 2023 service. Right before Thanksgiving!
Back in the 1980s, OPC hosted a stewardship dinner. A slideshow was presented after the meal, with a pre-recorded narration.
I produced that soundtrack. I interviewed several members of the church and wove their stories together. The resulting narrative is a look at the past, the present, and the future of OPC from the perspective of 1985.
Some of the people in this audio have passed on -- but several are still here, And they're still working to make that vision a reality.
If you haven't yet turned in your stewardship card with your tithe, give this a listen.
If you haven't yet committed to supporting OPC financially in 2024, give this a listen.
In 1985 the members of this congregation accepted the torch passed from previous generations and handed it forward.
Listen to their stories. They're holding out the torch to you.
Narrator: Ralph Graves
Eva Graves 0:01
Mamie Breeden 0:37
Fred Sherman 1:01
Hazel Saunders 2:08
Fred Sherman 2:54
Bob Ward, first called pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church 3:24
Lynne Clements 5:20
Denise Samuels 6:01
Lois Shanks, organist and choir director 6:37
Lois Lord 7:34
Bugs Gardner 9:30
Lynne Clements 10:43
Vibeke Ober 11:32
of May, Rev. Bill Nickels accepted a call from Orange Presbyterian Church in 1985. He would remain for the next 20 years, guiding the congregation through dark days and fair.
In the process of cleaning out the Education Wing, a cassette tape was discovered. According to the notation on the box, it's a recording of Bill Nickel's final worship service at OPC.
The other side of the tape also has a service lead by Rev. Peters, presumably from the week before.
As it turns out, these aren't Rev. Nickels' final services. They were recorded near the end of his tenure when he was granted sabbatical leave for study and reflection.
Bill Nickel's Next-to-last Worship Service Before Sabbatical
Bill Nickel's Final Worship Service Before Sabbatical
There's lots of special music in store for Sunday Worship at OPC. Here's the lineup:
Sunday, Oct 29: OPC Handbell Choir
All Saints Sunday
Sunday, Nov 5: Charlottesville Flute Ensemble
Sunday, Nov 19: Greg Harris, piano
First Sunday of Advent
Sunday, Dec 3: OPC Handbell Choir
Second Sunday of Advent
Sunday, Dec 10: Woodwind Trio
(English Horn, Soprano Recorder, Piano)
Saturday, Dec 16: Orange Community Chorus Christmas Concert, 7:30pm
Third Sunday of Advent
Sunday, Dec 17: SATB Choir
Sunday, Dec 24: Soprano Soloist
During recent renovations, some cassette tapes were unearthed. Long forgotten, these tapes held memories of the church's history.
The 150th Anniversary Event
One cassette tape was simply marked "November 16th, Year ? -- Many members speaking." It appears to be a recording of an assembly to launch the History Committee. This committee was tasked with collecting and writing OPC's history for the then up coming 150th Anniversary.
OPC's 150th Anniversary was in 1995. So this kick-off event was probably held on November 16th, 1994. The congregation was invited to share stories of the church. And it appears that some of the older members were specifically asked to speak at the event.
The sound quality is uneven, despite a digital remastering. But the audio is clear enough to understand what's being said.
This was recorded on cassette tape, so the audio start and stop abruptly. There could be a second cassette tape that recorded the end of the event. But it hasn't been found (if it exists at all).
Side One - Atwell Somerville
Atwell Somerville was the church's self-appointed historian. As you can hear, he thoroughly researched the church's history, and knows it well. He's speaking without notes. Atwell relates the origins and history of the church from the 1700s through the end of the Civil War.
Side Two - Congregation Memories
Jean Berkman serves as MC for the assembly. Below is a list of the members who spoke and where they appear in the recording.
0:00 Louise Lord shares her story growing up in the church. Her parents joined in 1922, and Louise joined at age 12. Her great, great, grandfather was a Presbyterian missionary from Scotland who baptized Andrew Jackson.
7:32 Jean Berkman reads a letter from Jackie Maddex. She related life in the church during the Second World War.
9:07 Emma Francis Bartley relates her time in the church. Her family moved to Orange and joined OPC in 1921. She tells the story of the cattle sales at the Virginia Tech Reserch Center. The Women of the Church sold food and refreshments at the sales, held five times a year. The money helped pay off the church's mortgage.
12:51 Dan Sale talks about how the church expanded from the corner, replacing three homes over several decades.
14:48 Jean Berkman reads excerpts from a letter written by Jack Maddox. He relates how the church was run in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
17:15 Russell Bailey talks about his experience at OPC. He joined the church in 1945. He talks about Rev. Dick Taylor. Bailey was an architect, and so was Rev. Taylor before turning to ministry.
20:31 Betty Bailey tells the story of how the church embraced their special needs child, and helped her become a member in the 1950s.
22:33 Richard Sanford reads excerpts from his mother's recollection of the church. The tape runs out before he can get to the substance of the letter.