Written by Ron Buford
The Amistad Chapel at the national offices in Cleveland has received two new gifts: A Bedient "tracker" pipe organ from the Frost Parker Foundation, and a new Hammond 926 organ from Trinity UCC in Chicago.
Workers unpack and assemble the Bedient pipe organ, one of two new organs donated for use in the UCC's Amistad Chapel. W. Evan Golder photo.
These instruments establish Amistad Chapel as a home for worshipers from diverse cultures to praise God together—not as cultural strangers and sojourners, but as a united and uniting people of God.
The tracker organ is the type Bach played. Except for the blower, everything is mechanical. When a key is pressed, a series of levers opens the valve that lets air into the pipes. This is the most sensitive and long lasting of all the available types of actions and gives an organist increased control. The mechanical action is sensitive to the musician, just as a violin or flute is sensitive to the musician's control. Ideal for hymns and classical music, tracker organs excel as instruments for baroque music.
The Hammond 926 model is the organ of choice for gospel music. Just as the pipe organ is the sound of ‘church' in euro-style worship settings, the Hammond is the sound of ‘black church' that says, "Come on children, it's time to praise our God."
Together the two organs prepare us for a musical legacy that is worthy of a chapel that bears the name ‘Amistad' and a church that calls itself the United Church of Christ.
The gifts were arranged by the Rev. Thomas E. Dipko, the last Executive Vice President of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries.
The last letter of Dipko's ministry at BHM was to the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., pastor of the 9,200-member Trinity UCC, about the need for the Hammond organ.
"We understand the need to produce the African-American sound in that chapel (a sound that a pipe organ cannot replicate)," Wright wrote back in giving the organ. "We want to make sure that the African-American worship experience is represented in Amistad Chapel when the saints of God gather to worship."
Ruth Parker, head of the Frost Parker Foundation, has been a member of First Congregational UCC in Sandusky, Ohio, since she was 16 and has sung in its choir for more than 25 years. Parker said she was eager to give the Bedient pipe organ to Amistad Chapel because it's such a beautiful facility. "Being in downtown Cleveland, it makes a statement about our church," she said.
A series of dedication concerts and events will be announced early next year.
Ron Buford is Public Relations and Marketing Manager for the Office General Ministries.