The champagne gold pipes that tower over the wall behind the pulpit at Medina United Methodist Church are a testament to the congregation’s resolve.
“When we got ready to move to our new facility, we discovered we didn’t have the funds to move and restore our beloved pipe organ,” said Susan Ziegler, who chairs the church’s organ committee. “When faced with losing something so integral to our Sunday services, a small group organized and rallied around an ‘organ donor’ campaign.”
In less than four months, the congregation pulled together $120,000 to move, reinstall and add ranks of pipes to provide a fuller sound in the new larger sanctuary of their new church at 4747 Foote Road in Medina Township. They then hired Tim and Cathy Hemry, owners of Hemry Pipe Organ Co. Ltd. in Geauga County’s Russell Township, to manage the move and rebuild the organ at the new location.
“Not everyday do we get a call to build or rebuild an instrument. Most of what we do is service work,” said Tim Hemry. “Some people don’t realize that no matter how old an instrument is, it can be rebuilt. The pipe will last virtually forever.”
The organ at Medina United Methodist was built by Schantz Organ Co. of Orrville in 1988 to fit into the congregation’s former building on Court Street, about a block from the Medina town square. Because the space was tight, some of the pipes in the five largest chambers had to be mitered.
One of the first things the Hemrys did in March, when embarking upon the move, was send the bent pipes to be straightened at A.R. Schopp’s Sons Inc. in Alliance. The pipe maker and organ supply house made more than 300 additional pipes for the organ and painted the pipes champagne gold.
The Hemrys’ six-month project of rebuilding the 1,532–pipe organ included reconfiguring the wind lines and wires and installing a new electrical control system and fiber-optic link to connect the console to the pipe chamber. They are now working to voice the organ — listening to each pipe to make sure it is in tune.
“This is our second job with the fiber-optic link. When we started the business in 1976, things weren’t that sophisticated,” Tim Hemry said. “The pipes are still wind-blown instruments. The pipe organ has a sound like no other instrument.”
That sound is significant at Medina United Methodist, particularly during its two traditional services at 8:15 and 11 a.m. on Sundays and at weddings and funerals.
“I wasn’t too sure what we were going to do about having an organ here at the new building, but being able to bring the old one here and upgrade it to make it almost like new has been more than I ever expected,” senior Pastor David J. Tennant said. “It has been a source of inspiration and emotional stability for the congregation because we didn’t have to leave it behind.”
The congregation moved to its new 40,000-square-foot, $5.2 million home in late April and dedicated the building in May, after more than 10 years of planning. The need for room to grow prompted the move from the 115-year-old building on Court Street, which sat on a little more than an acre.
The new church sits on 24 acres that were purchased in 2005. It includes a 425-seat sanctuary, café, nursery, library and bookstore, along with classrooms and indoor and outdoor play areas. There is also a preschool that serves about 200 students.
During his 12-year tenure as pastor, Tennant said, the church has attracted more and more families with children under 10 years old. Of the three services offered, the 9:30 a.m. contemporary service is growing the fastest and attracts more than half of the 400 Sunday worshippers.
Tennant said he believes that God’s hand has been in the process that has taken the congregation from town square to its current location. He said the move has positioned the church to move forward.
“It has been remarkable to see the energy and generosity surrounding the gifts for the organ, as well as the entire building project,” Tennant said. “Our congregation saw a vision and, with the help of God, accomplished the goal during some tough economic times.”
An organ dedication is planned for 4 p.m. Oct. 7. It will include a special tribute to the church’s late organist, Nancy Schneider, who died in September 2011. Schneider was instrumental in starting the organ project.
Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or email@example.com.