Timeline and Latest News
Update 46: October 16, 2013
A number of FBC members and friends have answered the call for new or additional gifts to complete the purchase of our new organ. Each gift brings us closer to this goal, so if you have not yet given or are thinking about an additional gift, please do so now.
When the congregation gave its unanimous approval for the organ more than three years ago, it was understood that this great gift should be used to reach out to our community in creative ways. Lon’s Inaugural Recital on September 15 was a wonderful initial step in redeeming this promise. When Ken Cowan plays his recital this Sunday at 4:00 p.m. we will again have many new people in our sanctuary. Please plan to attend (valet parking will be increased to reduce congestion) and help make these visitors welcome.
Update 45: October 9, 2013
Each Sunday over the past few months the Austin organ, under Lon's incomparable mastery, has graced our worship together. As we prepared to worship on World Communion Sunday, Lon's prelude was Messiaen's "The Celestial Feast," played mostly on the Gallery organ. As we meditated quietly together we were reminded of the transcendent quality of the great music of the Christian tradition. The postlude, Couperin's "Chaconne,” provided a joyous conclusion to a wonderful worship experience. Truly our new organ, as we have all intended, is enhancing our worship experience. And as we prepare for Ken Cowan's recital on October 20, we are underscoring our commitment that this great instrument be used in creative outreach to the community. Truly, God has blessed us with this great gift which has always been an act of faith.
Thanks to some recent generous gifts we are only about $50,000 from completing payment for our $1.8 million instrument. If you have not yet made your gift, or can make another gift, please do so now. Each gift is part of this great act of faith.
Update 44: September 25, 2013
As we continue to bask in the afterglow of Lon's September 15 Inaugural Recital, we look forward to the first of the Distinguished Artists' series on Sunday, October 20 at 4:00 p.m.. Mr. Ken Cowan, considered by many to be America's leading concert organist, will be the featured artist. Valet parking will be available and a reception will follow Mr. Cowan's performance. Please plan to attend and bring your neighbors to this landmark event in celebrating our new organ.
It is a pleasure to report that in the past two weeks FBC members and friends have pushed us closer to having our organ paid for. Among the generous new gifts is a leadership gift of more than $20,000 and another donor's pledge of an additional $10,000 gift. These and other recent contributions bring us to within about $60,000 of achieving our goal. If you have not already given, please make your gift now and push us across the finish line.
Thanks to each of you whose financial support and gifts of time and talent have made possible this new chapter in the life of our congregation.
Update 43: September 18, 2013
Our Sanctuary was packed Sunday as our beloved Choirmaster/Organist Lon Schreiber inaugurated our historic new Austin organ. After many years of dreaming and more than three years of intense work, FBC members and hundreds of guests listened in awe as Lon demonstrated the majestic sound, range and capacity of this unique instrument. It was a great day, signaling enhanced worship together and creative outreach to our community.
While many people have played a role in this project, it was the leadership of Dr. Wayne Angell who resurrected the dream of a magnificent pipe organ to complete our splendid Sanctuary. He led in securing the essential funding for the project and gained the enthusiastic and unanimous support of the congregation. He rightly said that the project was an act of faith; it was and continues to be. Even so, his and Betty’s long and faithful leadership in so many aspects of FBC life engendered great confidence in the project.
More than 100 members and friends have contributed to the organ fund. Some gave also generously of their time and professional expertise that improved project design and reduced costs. And all FBC members have been prayerfully supportive and patient as essential building renovations were completed and as work of the installation continued. In one way or another, nearly every FBC member had a role in this project. This is especially true of the faithful Social Committee. The members of the Organ Project Committee are deeply grateful to each of you.
Although we have received generous donations the past few weeks, most were received after our deadline for getting the Inaugural Recital program to the printer. These gifts will be reflected in the program for the October 20 recital by Mr. Ken Cowan, the first artist in our Distinguished Artists series. While some other corrections will be reflected in the next program, it is important to note that Mrs. Bonnie Jorgensen’s name was inadvertently omitted from Sunday’s listing. Bonnie was a very early donor and faithful supporter of the project and we deeply regret this oversight.
Finally, a word of thanks to our faithful staff and especially to Rev. Deborah Cochran. In addition to her service as Acting Senior Pastor, she provided many of the beautiful photos of the organ and its installation that have appeared in the Update.
All to the glory of God.
Update 44: September 11, 2013
As we all anticipate Sunday's Inaugural Recital this Sunday, we hope you will take a few minutes to help us attend to some unfinished business.
Last week you received what we hope is our last organ fund appeal letter. As you know, when this final campaign began ,we needed an additional $130,000 to complete payment for our historic $1.8 million instrument. Over the past few weeks we have received more than $25,000 in new gifts, leaving us about $100,000 short of our goal. We are so close.
If you have not already given, please do so now; if you have already given, please consider an additional gift. It is a gift that will keep giving for many years to come.
Thank you so much for your support.
Update 43: September 4, 2013
With the tonal finishing and digital tweaking work nearly completed in the Chancel, Austin’s attention is now focused on the Gallery. All the Gallery pipes have been installed and the tonal finishing work is well underway as we await the arrival of the zinc façade pipes and casework. Lon is delighted with the progress of the Gallery organ and will be featuring it in Sunday’s worship service. Meanwhile, everyone is busy preparing for Lon’s Inaugural Recital on September 15th. Next week’s Update will have further information on valet parking and other arrangements that will facilitate this great day in the life of our church.
Update 42: August 28, 2013
Many new features of the organ were in evidence Sunday, including many digital sounds which are “icing on the cake.” These latest sounds were available from a plethora of solo stops, mostly quiet sounds, plus some low (32’) pedal “foundations” which were not available until last Sunday. The Liszt prelude featured some of the new strings and the actual sound of an orchestral harp. Other stops we heard were the French horn, and clarinet. In the Sundays ahead, we shall hear even more delightful sounds, and on the morning of September 15, we will hear the spectacular brass pipes which have been visible for a few months. The Postlude on September 15 will be a trumpet tune, the very first!
Update 41: August 21, 2013
There are sounds of creation emanating from the rear gallery of the sanctuary these days, and it leads me to believe that the two organs in the corners of the gallery are in a “completion mode.” These organs are on each side of the great Redemption Window. Historically, I’m happy that the decision was made to “recycle” the pipes of our former 1948 Moller organ, and those “new” pipes are now being made ready for their “new life debut.” (There seems to be some theological significance in this part of our long saga of Austin Opus 2195 and Opus 2196).
On the left side is the “Swell” division, and on the right, the “Great” organ—we organists and builders like to speak in superlatives! These two divisions total 35 ranks (rows of pipes), no small plan to support congregational singing. The stellar feature in the gallery is the beautiful bank of horizontal brass pipes known as the “Trompette en Chamade.” The name implies a French sound, but we decided to give them an English (ceremonial) sound (beautifully mellow), and it just happens that Austin decided to provide a French “En Chamade,” as well, which resides atop the great organ, and will not be seen. It is, however, very French!
Update 40: August 7, 2013
Even as we rejoice in the progress of our historic organ project, we are deeply saddened by the death of Mrs. Mary Jean Curtis. A faithful member of the church for many years, Mary Jean loved the church's music program and especially enjoyed the old hymns that inspire our worship together. As one of those who has made our dream of a new pipe organ a reality, her faithfulness will endure as future generations worship in our sanctuary and go forth to serve Christ in the world. We thank God for her generous spirit and pray for her wonderful family at this time.
The Gallery Organ is quickly taking shape, with the twin chambers assembled and their pipes being installed. When we remember that the Gallery Organ comprises 31 ranks of pipes (our old organ had a total of 27 ranks) we can further appreciate the size and complexity of our project. Let's continue to pray for the safety and skill of the Austin team as they continue their work.
Update 39: July 31, 2013
The Austin crew, led by Austin President Mike Fazio, returned Sunday to complete the Gallery Organ and continue the tonal finishing work in the Chancel. It took much of Monday morning for the crew to offload the hundreds of parts to be assembled; viewing those parts is a vivid reminder of the enormous size and complexity of our project now nearing completion. In fact, the Gallery Organ alone contains more pipes than were in our old organ. The Gallery Organ comprises 31 ranks of pipes, including the trompette-en-chamade that was installed last spring. Four blowers, much smaller than the famous one that powers the Chancel Organ, will wind the gallery pipes. The first task of the crew is to construct the two cases that will house the pipes on both sides of the gallery. While some of the parts of the Gallery Organ are laid out in the sanctuary, they will be installed or relocated before our worship service Sunday.
On Monday, just as the crew finished offloading the Gallery organ, a group of about 75 organists and musicians serving Roman Catholic parishes arrived to hear the Chancel Organ. Lon played several pieces that demonstrated the organ's great capabilities. It was wonderful to see and hear their joy on our behalf.
Update 38: July 24, 2013
Each Sunday, following the postlude, I encourage interested folks from ages 5-95 to sit at the massive 5-manual console and have their very first personal organ lesson on this world-class instrument. It’s such fun for me to see each participant’s eyes light up as I patiently explain myriad controls and sounds to give each person a bird’s eye view of how “the king of instruments” works. Don’t hesitate to join the line at the console each Sunday to receive your very first organ lesson!
Update 37: July 17, 2013
Austin president Mike Fazio arrived Monday to work with Lon on some of the remaining tonal finishing tasks related to the Chancel Organ. He also reports that the three wind chests for the Gallery Organ have arrived in Hartford where the Austin crew is concentrating on assembling the Gallery Organ. In advance of the delivery of the Gallery Organ, some members of the Austin crew will arrive to do related preparatory work in the rear balcony.
Update 36: July 10, 2013
The new Chancel Organ has graced our worship together for the past six weeks. Yet following last Sunday's service, Lon's rendition of the National Anthem displayed still further capacities of this magnificent instrument. It is difficult to understand that it will only get better as the Austin crew returns this week to continue its tonal finishing work on the Chancel Organ. Austin also indicates that the two Gallery Organ cases are near completion in the factory and that the construction crew should be returning soon to start its installation. As we see this project's full potential emerging, let's pray for the gift of discernment that we may use it wisely and creatively.
Update 35: July 3, 2013
Over the past weeks, our worship together has been wonderfully enhanced by the increasingly beautiful sound of the Chancel Organ. It is difficult to remember that it is still a work in progress. But every time Lon plays the five-manual console, he listens for the precise sound he wants from our organ and keeps meticulous notes to share with the tonal finishing crew. It is this painstaking artistry that will produce the reverently majestic sound of the finished project. In this regard, Lon hints that he may have a surprise for us Sunday. Stay tuned.
Update 34: June 26, 2013
Over the past weeks, the tonal finishing work on our new Chancel organ has been increasingly evident in our Sunday worship together. With each passing week, Lon has been able to demonstrate ever more fully the magnificent potential of the heart of our historic organ project. And even as this work continues, we look forward to the completion of the splendid Gallery Organ that will make our project one of the unique organs in Washington, D.C.
From the beginning, our project has been an act of faith. Over the past three years the gifts of FBC members and friends have pushed us to within $130,000 of completing our nearly $1.8 million project. Think of it: We are this close to having our wonderful project completely paid for. We are this close to seeing our act of faith realized. We are this close to finishing our decades-long dream of a pipe organ that will at last complete our beautiful sanctuary. This was no small dream and no small act of faith could make it a reality.
Thank you for your wonderful support.
Update 33: June 19, 2013
Over the past several months, Austin craftsmen have been performing the time consuming, tedious, but all-important tonal finishing work on the Chancel Organ. While that work is not yet complete, the majestic sound of the new organ becomes more evident with each passing week. Yesterday, Lon played some great organ classics and an astounding rendition of our National Anthem. Stunning!
As you know, the Chancel Organ, now near completion, is the heart of our project. At the outset, in fact, it was the entire project. About a year after we contracted for the Chancel Organ it was decided to add the Gallery Organ to make ours one of the unique projects in Washington. While Austin artisans have worked hard to keep both parts of the project moving simultaneously, there has been a delay in the delivery of some pipes essential to completing the Gallery Organ. It now appears that it will be July before the work to complete the Gallery Organ (and those glimmering trumpets we can't wait to hear) will continue. Austin assures us that the entire project will be ready for Lon to play the inaugural recital on September 15. Meanwhile, the Chancel Organ will enhance our worship together. Thank you for your patience and continued support for this historic project.
This week, Austin artisans are continuing the tonal finishing work on the Chancel organ. While Lon has gotten a wonderful sound from the Chancel organ the past two Sundays, the tonal finishing work is essential to insuring that the finished product is unique to our sanctuary and that it meets the very high expectations we have for our historic organ project. The Austin work in the Chancel may mean that Lon will not be able to play the organ for worship this Sunday, but this remains to be seen. Of course, our nine foot Steinway Concert Grand Piano stands at the ready as it has over the past months.
Lon is very appreciative and encouraged by the wonderful reception the new organ has received from the congregation. But, as he has said, there's lot's more to come.
Update 32: June 12, 2013
On Sunday we were again able to hear the Chancel Organ and to recognize its progress toward being the world-class instrument of its promise. Following his uplifting sermon and the close of the service, Dr. Stan Hastey suggested that all who could do so stay to hear the postlude. Our Organist/Choirmaster devotes a great deal of his time and talent to preparing this closing presentation and is always pleased when the congregation can remain in place to enjoy it. Even now, we are having visitors who come specifically to hear the new organ and the postlude provides them an additional opportunity to enjoy it as well. While recognizing that there will always be worshipers who may have to leave, perhaps we should consider returning to the tradition of remaining in place for the postlude.
Update 31: June 5, 2013
Because Austin artisans continue their tonal finishing work in the Chancel, Lon could not use the organ in last Sunday's worship service. While we missed hearing the organ, we are grateful that the Steinway is always on hand to support our worship together. While Austin continues their work through the week, Lon expects to be able to use the organ in this Sunday's service. Let's look forward to hearing the Chancel Organ as we join in worship on Sunday.
As we experience the wonderful presence of this great instrument in our worship, please remember that we still need to raise about $130,000 to complete our historic $1.73 million project. If you have already made a gift, please consider making another; if you have not, please make your gift now to push us across the finish line. We are so close.
Update 30: May 29, 2013
This week Austin artisans are continuing the tonal finishing work on the Chancel organ. While Lon has gotten a wonderful sound from the Chancel organ the past two Sundays, the tonal finishing work is essential to insuring that the finished product is unique to our sanctuary and that it meets the very high expectations we have for our historic organ project. The Austin work in the Chancel may mean that Lon will not be able to play the organ for worship this Sunday, but this remains to be seen. Of course, our nine foot Steinway Concert Grand Piano stands at the ready as it has over the past months.
Lon is very appreciative and encouraged by the wonderful reception the new organ has received from the congregation. But, as he has said, there's lots more to come.
Update 29: May 22, 2013
On Pentecost Sunday our Organist/Choirmaster Lon Schreiber provided a wonderful foretaste of how the new Chancel Organ will enhance our worship together. Alive with the organ's marvelous sound, our sanctuary became even more a very special place in which to praise and glorify God.
As inspiring as the Chancel Organ was on Sunday, it still needs additional tonal finishing work; it sounded as good as it did because of Lon's masterful touch. In the Gallery, the trumpets are in place and the two divisions of pipes will be installed over the next few weeks. When the installation is complete, the tonal finishing work on the entire project will get underway. This is the work that will make the new organ's sound and capabilities unique to our sanctuary.
Sunday's service presented Lon with many challenges--not least being the complexity of the new five manual console—but as always he produced a great result. We are ever grateful for his dedication to sacred music and his artistry and creativity in bringing it to us each Sunday. The organ will be played again this Sunday, and the postlude, “A Solemn Melody,” will be a special Memorial Day tribute.
Thanks also to Steve Hunter who installed the chancel mirror that allows the choir to see Lon behind the massive console; seemingly a small detail, but a very critical one for our wonderful choir.
Update 28: May 9, 2013
This week Austin president Michael Fazio and crew continue their tonal work on the Chancel organ. We expect as well the arrival of the trompette-en-chamade to be installed in the rear balcony as part of the Gallery organ. It may not be installed by this Sunday, but it soon will be. When it is, you can't miss it.
Also this week, Dr. Dwight Jones, President of Integrated Organ Technologies, Inc., is fine-tuning our new five manual console. Dwight, who designed our console's control system, is a recognized leader in developing state of the art digital functions for organ consoles. His work is one of the essential elements that will make our new organ one of the great organs in this city.
Update 27: May 2, 2013
Austin's president Michael Fazio and tonal finisher Frederick G. Heffner are in residence all week as they continue their work on the Chancel organ. Fred, who has been with Austin for more than 48 years, is something of a legend among organ craftsmen, having performed tonal and finishing work on more than 4,000 ranks of pipes. His handiwork is evident throughout the U.S. in churches that reflect an array of Christian denominations and worship traditions. If you have been in worship in New York City's great Marble Collegiate Church you have heard one example of his handiwork. Providing a sound and presence uniquely crafted for each house of worship has been the hallmark of his long and distinguished career with Austin. This is the objective of the work that Michael and Fred are so carefully doing this week. They will continue this work to insure that our organ is uniquely crafted to complement our beautiful sanctuary and enhance our worship together.
Update 26: April 24, 2013
This week the Austin team is expected to complete installing the pipes in the two Chancel organ chambers. Austin's President and chief toning officer will be here to begin the all-important toning process on the Chancel organ. The Chancel organ, with its 81 ranks of pipes, is the heart of the project. Although this is not work that can be rushed, we hope it will be operational for worship soon. Of course our Organist/Choirmaster, Lon Schreiber, will make the decision when he feels the Chancel organ is ready to play, even as further finishing work continues.
Also this week we expect to have the schedule for the delivery and installation of the Gallery organ and en-chamade. We would like to arrange a peek into the Chancel organ chambers for those who are interested in seeing the inner workings of a world class organ. An announcement will be made following Sunday's service.
Update 25: April 17, 2013
While most of the on-going work is out of sight in the Chancel organ chambers, the Austin crew continues the painstaking task of installing the thousands of smaller pipes that will comprise the finished instrument. However, the crew is taking a break from this intricate but essential task to complete installation of the 32' Reed, one of the largest pipes in the entire project. When these tasks are completed, the finishing process can begin on the Chancel organ.
We will arrange an opportunity for interested members to view inside the two Chancel Organ chambers. Even a brief viewing will demonstrate why this phase of the work is so time consuming--and why it needs to be done with care and precision. Austin indicates that we should know soon when installation of the Gallery organ will begin. Please stay tuned.
Update 24: April 11, 2013
After a brief respite, the Austin crew continues the remaining installation work on the Chancel organ. They will be installing the 32' reed pipe and the 16' wood pipes and "winding" each pipe as they prepare for the all-important finishing stage, i.e., the very delicate work that produces the warm, beautiful sound we want to hear from the Chancel organ. As this work continues, we look forward to the delivery and the installation of the Gallery organ and our dramatic en chamade trumpets in the rear balcony.
Meanwhile, Austin's crew will be in residence. They fix most of their own meals in the Meadows kitchen and are making good use of our gas grill in the courtyard. But we suspect that they would welcome any meals that members of the congregation might be willing to bring them.
Update 23: April 4, 2013
With our return to the Sanctuary for Easter services, the congregation was able to enjoy the presence of the new Chancel organ, if not its sound. The Austin crew, which had worked three weeks straight before taking a few days' breather, will return shortly to continue their work installing pipes in the Chancel organ and begin work on installing the Gallery organ.
This week we began work with a consultant to help design a lighting system for the Chancel. As you may know, the old lighting system has been in place for many years and no longer meets the needs for either our choir or the new organ and its many anticipated uses. Proper lighting will also help enhance the aesthetics of the casework and facade pipes.
Lon Schreiber is putting the finishing touches on the fall schedule of organ-related events and Ben Ball continues his work to find new and creative ways for the organ's role in our community outreach efforts. There are some very exciting programs in store.
Featured in the American Organist Magazine!
The FBC organ was featured on the cover of the American Organist Magazine, the official monthly journal of the American Guild of Organists. Please click here to see the feature.
Update 22: March 28, 2013
Because the splendid Chancel facades are now in place we cannot see the Austin crew continuing their intricate work in the organ lofts. While most of the larger pipes are now in place, there remain several thousand smaller pipes to be installed in a very time consuming and painstaking process. Meanwhile, let's enjoy the beautiful and majestic facades and new console now nesting in its permanent home.
This week Rand is giving the Sanctuary a thorough cleaning in preparation for our return on Easter Sunday. Steve Hunter is also doing his usual magic in getting pews back in place and replacing some lights. But while things will be in as good shape as possible, please remember that work in the Sanctuary will continue though the coming weeks. Don't be surprised if you see signs here and there of that work. For example, Austin is having to use (carefully) the Chapel to store materials awaiting installation and we need to stay out of that area.
Those FBC members who have not yet seen the Chancel organ--and those who want to see it again--will be welcome to view it following Sunday's service.
Update 21: March 21, 2013
Following services last Sunday a number of members visited the chancel and were astounded to see all the beautiful casework and massive facade pipes now in place. This week New Holland's artisans are installing the refinished modesty rails and the modified pew structure in the choir lofts. Meanwhile Austin's team continues installation of the remaining pipes in the two Chancel divisions and will soon have the new five manual console in place. When these tasks are completed, Austin can begin the arduous testing and toning process. But even before we hear it, we can enjoy the beauty and promise of our majestic new organ.
All efforts continue on the work necessary to return to the Sanctuary for Easter. Organist/Choirmaster Lon Schreiber is planning music for a glorious Easter worship service featuring the Steinway concert grand piano, brass and our wonderful Chancel Choir. As it always should be, our Easter will be a joyful celebration of Christ's resurrection and the promise of renewed life.
Thanks once more to Rev. Cochran for her continued photographic history of the organ project.
Update 20: March 18, 2013
As Rev. Cochran's photos make clear, the massive and beautifully crafted Chancel casework being put in place will grace our Sanctuary for generations to come. When this installation is completed by New Holland's craftsmen, our Austin crew will install the brilliant façade pipes. We believe this work will be completed yet this week. That done, the Austin crew can continue its installation and testing work in the two Chancel organ chambers--out of sight but certainly not out of mind. Austin will also address the critical task of testing that 20 hp blower of Washington Post fame. Meanwhile, New Holland will complete modification of the Chancel pews and re-install the refinished modesty rails.
While there is still much work to do, we remain on course to move back into the Sanctuary for Easter Sunday. It is important to remind ourselves that while the Chancel organ will be in place, we cannot hurry the intricate testing and toning work that will make it one of the premier organs in this city. Our distinguished Organist/Choirmaster, Dr. Lon Schreiber, will determine when the Chancel organ will first be heard. Meanwhile, he and Dr. Haggray are planning our Easter Sunday service in the Sanctuary.
Watching Austin and New Holland craftsmen at their work serves to remind us of the countless ways in which we are called to serve God and to spread the kingdom in creative ways. As we pray in thanksgiving for the new organ, let's pray as well for those whose skills and work are making it a reality.
Update 19: March 7, 2013
Over the next two weeks New Holland will work to install the new Chancel organ's massive casework. While they are working, the crew will be housed in our dormitory space on the third floor of the Education Building. On March 11, the New Holland and Austin crews will begin working simultaneously, so that we can attempt to be back in the Sanctuary for Easter Sunday. With both crews in place, conditions may be a bit crowded for a few days, but being in residence means reduced costs and no commute time to eat into the work day. As noted previously, once the casework and façade pipes are in place, Austin can continue its installation work. While the new organ will not be ready to play, be assured that everyone is working hard to get us back in the Sanctuary for a wonderful Easter Sunday service.
Lon Schreiber reports good progress in formulating his inaugural recital and the distinguished artist's series that will introduce our new organ to the city. Knowing Lon, we can expect some exciting surprises.
Update 18: March 5, 2013
Over the past few months we have seen dramatic photographs depicting the majestic scope of our new organ. Last week Rev. Cochran ventured into the Chancel lofts to photograph the very intricate pipe work that most of us will never see again but will be hearing for many years to come. Here we are reminded that the splendor of God's creation reflects both majesty and wondrous detail.
On Monday, March 4 the artisans of the New Holland woodworking company begin installing the new casework for the Chancel organ. New Holland estimates that this work will take about a week, after which Austin can install the Chancel organ's huge facade pipes. When this work is completed, Austin will continue placing the remaining pipes (yes, there are more to come) in the Chancel. When the work in the Chancel is complete, Austin will begin work in the rear balcony to install the Gallery Organ. Ours is the second historic organ that our Organist/Choirmaster Dr. Lon Schreiber has designed (the first being the great instrument in the National City Christian Church). He reminds us that the soul of a great instrument is getting the details right and that this is a process that we cannot rush. Here, perhaps, we reflect the nature of God, to whom we will soon raise a new and wonderful song.
Update 17: February 21, 2013
Since the congregational tour conducted by Lon Schreiber on February 10, the Austin installation crew has returned with another load of Chancel organ parts. They are currently completing the infrastructure work in the left (as you face the Chancel) organ chamber. When this work is completed later this week, the stage will be set for the installation of the beautifully massive casework crafted by the artisans of the New Holland wood working company. This aspect of the project, which also includes the refinished modesty rails and the modification of choir pews necessitated by the relocation of our new five manual console will take about two weeks. After the casework is in place the great façade pipes of the Chancel organ will be installed, along with the remaining pipes within the two chambers. Here it is helpful to remember that there are more than 7,000 pipes in our new organ. Once this work is completed, we should be able to return to the Sanctuary for Sunday worship even as the installation work continues in the Gallery and the intricate voicing process gets underway. We hope to have a more precise time frame within the next few weeks.
Lon is now working hard on a variety of creative events that will introduce our project to our congregation, community and great city.
Thanks again to those who helped with preparing the dormitory space being utilized by the craftsmen who are installing the organ. They have repeatedly expressed their appreciation for these accommodations that have saved both time and resources.
And, of course, thanks to all who have supported the project with their gifts. The December appeal letter has produced about $12,000 in new gifts. We are only about $140,000 away from having our $1.73 million project paid for by the time its installation is completed later this Spring. If you have not given your gift yet, please do so now; if you have already made a contribution, please consider making an additional gift. All gifts will push us toward this goal which is within reach.
Update 16: February 14, 2013
As you probably know, on February 7 our historic organ project was featured on the front page of Washington Post's Style section. We were very pleased by the Post's interest in our project and were delighted for it to have so prominent an introduction to our community and city. In addition to the information it provided on the organ itself, we were especially pleased that it underscored our intention that this wonderful instrument will not only enhance our worship together, but will provide new and creative outreach efforts. If you have not yet read the article, you can read it here. In addition, hard copies of the piece are being prepared.
Last Sunday following worship services, Lon Schreiber provided members of the congregation an energetic tour of the Chancel, noting the elements that have been installed to date and their function in the over-all project. In addition to discussing the role that the new organ will play in worship, Lon also indicated that he is even now working on creative programs designed to help both children and adults appreciate how such an instrument enhances our congregational life. As a teacher, he has seen that children properly introduced to the king of the instruments can gain a life-long appreciation for music's role in their lives. In addition, he is now planning a series of inaugural recitals featuring organists of international renown. At this time it would appear that the first of these recitals by international artists will be this fall, perhaps October.
Of course we are all eager to return to our Sanctuary as soon as the pace of installation permits. As Lon pointed out Sunday, the focus now is completing the Chancel organ which is the heart of the project. Though we continue to hope, at this point, it is not certain this can be done in time to celebrate Easter in the Sanctuary. We will have a far better feel for this within the next few weeks and Dr. Haggray, Lon and the staff can make plans accordingly. It may well be possible for us to return to the Sanctuary even if the Chancel organ is not fully operational and while Austin completes installation of the Gallery organ in the rear balcony. On-going work confined to that area should not impede worship in the Sanctuary.
As mentioned last week, Austin's workmen have returned to Hartford to load additional organ elements and will be returning later this week. As you know, Hartford had more than 30 inches of snow and is still digging out. While we don't think this will delay their return, we are keeping our fingers crossed. As always, we keep in our prayers all who are part of completing the dream of a new organ in our beautiful Sanctuary.
Article in the Washington Post
The FBC Organ Project was written up in the Washington Post! Please click here to read the article.
Update 15: February 11, 2013
The Austin crew is making wonderful progress in the Chancel. They have installed most of the infrastructure in the left chamber and some of the larger pipes. They are now painting the shades and plan to install those this week. Toward the end of the week, the crew will head back to Hartford to pack up a second shipment of organ parts so that they can continue work in the Chancel and start some work in the Gallery. The crew has worked steadily nearly every day since their arrival on January 23rd. The dormitory accommodations have eliminated the time, energy and stress of any DC area commute, so they have been able to concentrate on their work for us.
Please note: this Sunday, following Sunday's service, Lon Schreiber will be conducting a brief tour of the Chancel area. It would be best if we entered the Sanctuary together, so if you are interested, please gather in the Library no later than 12:15. As you see our new organ taking shape, please remember that we have yet to raise about $150,000 to complete payment for this historic project. If you have not yet given to the organ fund, please do so; if you have already given, please consider making an additional gift. Checks should be written to the FBC/Organ Fund and can be placed in Sunday's offerng plate; If you wish to make a stock donation, please contact Dennis Lambert.
We continue to thank God for this wonderful blessing, dedicated to God's glory and the spread of God's kingdom in new and creative ways.
Update 14: February 4, 2013
Austin craftsmen are busy installing our new organ. Over the past five days, they have made good progress in the installation of the basic housing structures in the two organ lofts. While a lot of work on these structures remain, their completion is necessary to move forward with the intricate task of installing the thousands of pipes and other elements that comprise the heart of our project. This week, Michael Fazio, Austin's President, joined his crew in their work and met with Lon Schreiber and Dennis Lambert. Michael is pleased with progress to date and will continue to be an intimate part of this work.
Several weeks ago, a feature writer for the Washington Post indicated his interest in developing an article on our project. He watched as the organ parts were unloaded from the 60 foot moving van and has observed the crew as it began the installation process (including the difficult task of dismantling the huge new 20 hp blower and reassembling it in the blower room). Lon Schreiber provided his highly experienced technical and artistic perspectives on the project, and underscored the church's intention that the new project enhance congregational worship and provide creative outreach opportunities to our community. Yesterday a Post photographer was in the Sanctuary photographing the work in progress. We understand that an article might appear soon. Stay tuned.
When we get the go-ahead from Austin, congregational tours of Chancel work will be arranged.
Update 13: January 24, 2013
Austin has arrived to start the intricate process of installing our new organ. Initially they will focus on the Chancel organ, which is the heart of the entire project comprised of the five manual console and two massive pipe divisions on either side the Chancel. Because of their work in the Sanctuary, the Narthex will be closed off to foot traffic until further notice. As mentioned in last week's update and after worship last Sunday, as work conditions allow, we will arrange opportunities for the congregation to visit the Sanctuary and see progress first-hand. While much work remains, we shall soon see the results of our work together over the past several years to realize the hopes of past generations of FBC members for a new pipe organ. This historic instrument will enhance our worship together and provide creative opportunities to reach out to our community and city. Let us thank God for this great gift.
Update 12: January 17, 2013
Great News: Austin Organs, Inc. plans to arrive on Wednesday, January 23 to begin installing our new pipe organ. After many years of dreaming, we will soon see this historic instrument taking shape in our beautiful sanctuary. Barring any unforeseen difficulties, the many elements that comprise the new organ will arrive by moving van next Wednesday. During the initial period of installation, Austin will have four to six of its experienced craftsmen in residence as they work in the Sanctuary. Because all available space in the Sanctuary will be devoted to this work, we are asking that members and visitors not enter the Sanctuary. While the installation process is underway, we hope to be able to arrange on-site visits from time to time, but meanwhile the Church Update will continue to keep the congregation current on the project.
Thanks to those who have donated items necessary to creating the Austin dormitory on the third floor, which will reduce housing costs and eliminate weekday commutes during the installation period.
Perhaps this is a moment to pause and remind ourselves that the essential purpose of this great project is to glorify the God we love and seek to serve. It will wonderfully enhance our worship together even as it enables new and creative outreach to our community and our nation's Capital.
Update 11: January 9, 2013
Over the holidays Rand installed the new concrete floor upon which our five manual console will soon rest. Over the next week Rand workmen will complete fireproofing of the steel supports for the Chancel casework, lay the new tile in areas of the Chancel and Gallery, and paint the two Chancel organ lofts and the Chancel itself. This is all work that needs to be completed before Austin can begin installation. Thanks to all who have donated items for the dormitory being prepared to house the Austin craftsmen who will be installing our new organ. You have provided all the essentials, though a few more blankets would be helpful. We expect Austin will take up residence when the above work in the Chancel is completed. While the Sanctuary needs to remain off limits for all but those working there, as soon as it is safe to do so, we will arrange for members of the congregation to see firsthand the preparation work necessary for the new organ.
Update 10: December 12, 2012
A big hole can be a sign of progress, in this case the crater on the right side of the Chancel where the new console will find its home during worship service. First, however, new steel support beams will be installed and then a new concrete floor installed. This will allow the console to be easily moved to the center of the Chancel for recitals and other special events. Meanwhile, the nature of this work requires that only authorized personnel be in the Sanctuary. When conditions allow we will try to arrange a time for members to view the work to date. Last week FBC members were asked to help set up a dormitory for Austin's use while its artisans are installing our new organ. Essentials for these arrangements are bedclothes (sheets, blankets, pillows, etc.) for six twin beds, towels, and wash cloths. These items need not be new but they should be clean and in good shape. If you can help, please give your items to one of the security staff. To insure that your items are returned, please put some form of identification on them. These arrangements will help us save money and commute time for Austin's workers. We want to make them welcome in any way we can.
Thanks to Ben Ball, the organ project is now on the FBC website, so please be sure to visit it. Ben has also established an information center in Fellowship Hall which will be updated each week. Meanwhile, we are still working to raise about $178,000 to complete payment for this historic project. A letter from the Organ Project Committee should reach you this week. If you have not already given to the organ fund, please consider a gift. If you have already given, please consider making another gift. Each gift will push us that much closer to our goal. If you have any questions in this regard, please be in touch with Dennis Lambert, 202-544- 2708.
Update 9: December 5, 2012
This week some structural work continues in the Chancel and on our electrical system. In the Gallery, the abatement work is nearing completion and that will clear the way to get the structural work necessary to install the trompette en chamade and the two Gallery divisions. We are moving forward with plans to house Austin workers when they arrive in January to begin the installation of our organ. The dormitory will be set up in rooms 317(currently the Children’s music room), 318 and 320. We are grateful to Becky Ellison, Charlotte Straight and Wil McBeath for their cooperation in the use of 317 and to Clark Smith for his help related to the use of 320. Two twin beds and a four drawer clothes cabinet will be placed in each of these rooms. All three rooms will be secured.
Use of these rooms will reduce the cost of installing our organ. FBC members can help with these savings by loaning or donating bedclothes (twin size), blankets, towels, washcloths and other items that will make the rooms as comfortable as possible. These items need not be new but do need to be clean and in good condition. Sheets and towels will be laundered each week. If you wish them returned , please insure that they are properly identified. Please bring your items to the church and drop them off at the front desk. One of the security staff will place the items in room 317. Once the Austin craftsmen are in place, we will have opportunities to show them FBC hospitality. Several members have already indicated their wish to prepare dinner for this talented crew.
Update 8: November 28, 2012
With the lead abatement work completed last week, work began Monday on removing tiles covering some areas of the Chancel. The area where the new console will be located will be cleared first. This will allow Rand to move forward with removing some of the concrete steps behind the pulpit and then to install the new steel support beams necessary to support the weight of our new five manual console. The abatement work will then move to several other areas in the Chancel and Gallery where it is necessary to remove old tiles. Meanwhile, work continues on upgrading the electrical system needed to support the Chancel and Gallery Organs. Rand has also asked us to remind members not to go into the Sanctuary while this work is in progress.
Thanks to Ben Ball's creativity and hard work, the organ project will soon have a prominent place on the Church's website. This will further efforts to keep the congregation informed on the progress of their new organ. We hope, too, that it will confirm our intent that our historic project be part of an exciting new outreach to our community and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Update 7: November 21, 2012
Work on our electrical system continues in order to meet the needs of the new organ. In planning for the organ related work, we have also tried to anticipate some of the future needs of the Sanctuary, such as a new digital sound system. While some of this work requires new conduits, every effort is being made to minimize any visual impact in the Sanctuary and in other areas such as Fellowship Hall. At this point it does not appear that this impact will be significant.
This Monday the work began to remove lead paint from some of the old support beams in and below the Chancel. This work needs to be done before the new steel supports necessary to bear the weight of the new console and the Chancel casework can be welded to the old steel structures. This work is expected to take about four days. Next Monday, the work to remove floor tiles containing asbestos from several areas in the Chancel and rear balcony will begin. Each of these areas will be tightly contained but the entire Sanctuary will be closed for this work. Both the lead abatement and asbestos work is being done in conformance to all federal and local requirements for such work. When this work is completed Rand will remove some of the old concrete steps where the new console is to be placed. This will allow the console to be rolled into the middle of the Chancel for concerts, recitals and other special occasions. The console will remain behind the pulpit during worship services.
Installation of our new organ should begin in early January. As we all know, hotels are very expensive in Washington and to find affordable rates usually requires extensive commute times into the city. To reduce these costs and commute times, we are working with Austin to set up sleeping areas on the third floor of our Education building. We are grateful to the Christian Education Committee and Sunday School Superintendent for their cooperation in identifying the rooms to be used for this purpose. Further information will be shared with the congregation as these plans develop. Meanwhile, it is hoped that FBC members will make the Austin craftsmen welcome as they bring our historic project to its wonderful conclusion.
Update 6: November 14, 2012
While work continues on revamping our electrical system to support the new organ, the delay in getting the permit for the removal of some of the asbestos tiles in the Chancel and Gallery has also delayed some important work in the Chancel. Essentially, until the tiles are removed, the concrete in the area in which the new console is to be placed cannot be removed. In addition, when the original steel supporting beams in the Chancel were revealed they were found to have lead based paint on them; this paint must be removed before the new steel supports can be attached to them. This removal work, which must meet all regulatory standards, requires a seven-day notice period, which Rand is now working to satisfy. To meet concerns related to CDC operations, this work will be done at night and could be completed in one night.
Unfortunately, these accumulated delays mean that the organ preparation work will not be completed in time for us to use the Sanctuary for our traditional Christmas services. Meanwhile, Jeff, Lon and the staff are working on adjusting these programs in a way appropriate to our temporary worship area in Fellowship Hall. On a very positive note, Austin reports that the brass trompettes comprising our dramatic trompette-en-chamade have arrived at the factory and has pronounced them "splendid."
We hope soon to have a photo to share with you. Thank you for your continued support, enthusiasm and prayers for this historic and renewing project.
Update 5: November 7, 2012
The organ preparation work continues with some of the critical modifications required to our electrical system. Related work is being done in the Gallery and some of the areas beneath it, as well as in areas around Fellowship Hall. It would appear that the permanent, visible impact on Fellowship Hall will be minimal. Another important work area is the organ blower room where the old blower will be removed to install the larger one necessary for the new organ. Because of the increased size of the new blower, and the need of ease of access to it, the current single door will be replaced by double doors. This area is currently sealed and blocked off to foot traffic. Work in the stage area also continues and we are asked to refrain from entering that area as well. While Rand is doing all it can to minimize disruptions in church routines, we are all asked to cooperate in staying out of work areas.
Update 4: October 31, 2012
As those who were in Fellowship Hall Sunday could not help but notice, organ preparation work has begun in the Fellowship Hall stage. This work entails the installation of steel cross beams to support our new five manual console that weighs in at 1500 pounds. Rand is doing all it can to keep this work from interfering with our use of the Fellowship Hall, but unfortunately some mess is inevitable. We hope that this part of the work will be completed as soon as possible, depending in part on the delivery of the beams to be installed.
Rand has also notified us that new DC notification procedures will delay the asbestos abatement work in several areas of the Sanctuary. Ours is apparently among a number of projects so affected. Rand will continue its work on other areas of the project and believes that the lost time can be made up once the notification period is complete.
Update 3: October 24, 2012
The work this past week in the Sanctuary involved some of the most invasive (and noisy and dusty) work necessary to install the new Chancel organ. In addition to removing the rest of the Chancel pews and the platform which held the old organ, workers got most of the drilling work completed to install several new steel support beams to hold the casework for the two Chancel divisions. Work also began in the ceiling of the stage area where additional steel beams will be installed to support the weight of the new five manual console on the right side of the Chancel (just opposite of where the previous organ console was located). While this seems like a lot of work, which it is, the new location will allow the console to stay behind the pulpit during worship services but wheeled out to the middle of the Chancel for concerts; this will provide concert-goers a view of both the artist and the magnificent console in action. In addition to work in the Chancel, Rand workmen were busy clearing the Basement-level blower room and widening the doorway to accommodate the new and much larger blower required for the new organ.
Next week, Power Component Systems (PCS) will be performing the asbestos abatement work related to the removal of some of the floor tiles on the Chancel floor and in the rear Gallery. As you probably know, these tiles were installed in 1955 when nearly all such tiles contained asbestos. This work will be done in accordance with the health and safety requirements as described by OSHA, EPA and The District of Columbia. This work will take place within negative pressure enclosures (NPE), and will not impact operations in the CDC and other areas of our building. Signs will be posted at all entrances to the Sanctuary and we are asked not to enter the area during the two weeks required to complete the work. Meanwhile, Rand can continue work in the non-abatement areas of the Sanctuary.
On Sunday Ben Ball announced that the small pews removed from either side of the Gallery to make way for the Gallery Organ are available to members for sale; all proceeds will go toward completing the purchase of the Gallery Organ. Ben reports that several members expressed interest in buying a pew, including one member who purchased a pew from the old building that was torn down to make way for our present Sanctuary. For FBC members these pews are part of our history and we hope most of them find a home with our members. Pews that remain unsold will be offered to the public (as of December 2012, all pews have been sold).
Update 2: Old Organ Structure Removed, October 17, 2012
As you know from the photos posted in the 17th Street entrance and in Fellowship Hall, the last of the old organ structure was removed from the two Chancel organ chambers. The two chambers will be renovated to house the new Chancel organ. Work noisily began on strengthening areas of the Chancel that will support the new five manual console and the oak casework that will front the two Chancel divisions. Meanwhile, thanks is due to the Media and Technology Committee, the Flower Committee, the Worship Committee, the CDC staff and everyone else for their patience and help as this work has disrupted their activities.
In another positive development, Ben Ball volunteered to assist the Organ Project Committee in a number of areas related to the organ project. Ben has energetically supported the project and brings his practical and creative skills to the task. You may recall that for several years running Ben has graced our Pentecost Sunday lessons with readings in French and in Turkish. He is a most welcome member of the team.
Update 1: Sanctuary Renovations Underway, October 10, 2012
Sanctuary renovations to prepare for our new pipe organ are now underway as Rand and its subcontractors met to review drawings and begin work in the Chancel. This initial work will focus on some of the major structural renovations related to installing the new five manual console and the heavy casework that will cover the two new Chancel divisions. As they say, this is where the dust will start to fly, but thanks to Steve Hunter and some other very helpful FBC members, vulnerable elements in the Sanctuary (the new console, the Steinway, the pew cushions, etc.) will be protected from the dust. Hymnals and pew Bibles were gathered to be taken to Fellowship Hall for use in our worship services there.
Also on Monday, New Holland woodworking artisans, who are designing the Chancel casework and doing some related pew modifications, loaded the two Chancel modesty rails for their trip to the factory where they will be restored.
Rand contractors will typically be working in the Sanctuary from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. weekdays. We need to ask that members not enter the Sanctuary while work is underway. When work permits, we will try to organize viewings of the work on Sunday mornings to help you follow its progress.
CHURCH SCHOOL 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
SUNDAY SERVICE 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Valet parking is available at the "O" Street entrance to the Education Building and at the garage ramp.
5:00 PM - 6:00 PM
this week in worship
20th Sunday After Pentecost
October 26, 2014
Sermon Title: "Loving God and Neighbor"
Texts: Matthew 22:34-46;
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Rev. Deborah Cochran
Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18
Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Lawrence P. Schreiber, Organist-Choirmaster
"Ein' Feste Burg 1st Unser Gott"
Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707)
Dmitri S. Bortniansky
"O God, Our Help in Ages Past"
William Croft, 1708
Arr. by Robert Shaw
The Chancel Choir
"And Can It Be"
The Chancel Choir
Dr. Neil Holliker
"Fantasia on 'St. Anne'"
Lawrence P. Schreiber (2003)