Drawing on the historic traditions of the Congregationalists in America, we seek to create an environment that encourages people to come together, not only for worship, but for learning, public discourse and the sharing of ideas. We believe that it is in the honest exploration and expression of our own creative gifts that God still speaks in our world today. Our remodeled sanctuary is reminiscent of the early meeting houses in that it is a simple, versatile space. Yet, it also inspires and enables a creative spirit with colors in the walls and windows and the magnificent new façade of the Bedient pipe organ.
The open, versatile arrangement of the chancel is ideal for worship as well as musical and dramatic performances. This configuration along with the placement of the organ in the front of the sanctuary is unique in this area. The ceiling of the sanctuary was refinished during the recent remodeling, improving the acoustics dramatically. A new sound system has improved the clarity of speech and the new modular lighting system has increased visibility and given us the capability of a wide variety of special lighting effects.
As this remodeling was planned, great care was taken to preserve historic elements of the sanctuary to give it a sense of continuity and honor the ministry that has taken place here for the past century. The pulpit and lectern were built into the front wall of the old chancel arrangement. They were adapted to be freestanding pieces of furniture in the new arrangement. The altar is used as it was, with the addition of an internal dolly that makes it easily moveable. The beautiful oak wood work of the old chancel was matched in the new wall panels and in the new casework for the pipe organ façade.
It is our hope that this meeting house will provide us a home for our worship, and an inviting and welcoming environment for all who would join us. We hope that it will be a catalyst for the sharing of ideas and the creative struggle to find what our still-speaking God has to say to us and through us today.
The Bedient Pipe Organ
The completion of this marvelous instrument is the final phase in a project that has included remodeling of the Chancel area, acoustical improvements and enhanced lighting and sound. The goal of this project was to make our century-old “meeting house” a place where people come together, not only for worship, but for learning, public discourse and the sharing of ideas. It is a place that enables and encourages people to think and to learn, to listen and to speak, and to seek the sense of community that comes with the honest sharing of and respect for another belief or point of view. We believe that God is still speaking, and we join together to discover and share that divine presence in our world today.
The ability to express ourselves through the creation and appreciation of art is one of the ways in which we seek to encounter our still-speaking God. Our Sanctuary provides a place where a wide variety of arts are possible. An integral part of this worship and arts space is our pipe organ. Our collaboration with The Bedient Organ Company has produced an instrument that incorporates the best of our past—there are pipes in the organ from 1922— with new pipework which expands and completes this versatile pipe organ. The casework created by Bedient to frame the new speaking façade makes a dramatic visual impact, beautifully blending with existing woodwork in the room. The organ’s voice supports congregational song, inspires people in worship, and enables the performance of a wide variety of organ literature. It will serve this church and community well for many years to come. Soli Deo Gloria!
- Bedient Organ Company, opus 81
- Completed January 2008
- 3 manuals and pedal
- 45 stops, 57 ranks, 3,138 pipes
- Electropneumatic action
- Solid state combination action with 32 memory levels
- 10 general pistons (manual, duplicated by toe studs)
- 5 divisional pistons (manual for keyboards, toe studs for pedal)
- Standard couplers plus reversible toe studs for Gr/Ped, Sw/Ped and Ch/Ped
- Tutti (reversible manual piston and toe stud)
- General Cancel manual piston
- Expression pedals for Choir and Swell divisions
- Crescendo pedal
- Adjustable height bench
- Console on moveable platform
Our goals for First Congregational Church were: 1) To rebuild and enhance the existing organ to make it reliable and visually attractive. 2) To create an organ rich in fundamental sound which would generate a wide dynamic range for various accompanimental tasks as well as lead hymn singing. 3) To create a variety of beautiful sounds for playing organ literature. 4) To integrate the old with the new in such a manner that the two work together seamlessly. 5) To improve the internal layout of the organ to make it an easy organ to tune and service.
The organ has three manuals and pedals, 45 speaking stops, 57 ranks of pipes totaling 3,138 individual pipes. New sets of pipes were added during the renovation/enhancement of the organ. Many are softer stops that are intended to provide colorful sounds and new varieties of sounds without necessarily making the organ louder. The organist has the ability to choose which sets of pipes will play at any given time, thus giving the organ its great variety of sound colors and dynamics. The wooden organ pipes are made of sugar pine, fur, poplar and the metal pipes are made of zinc as well as various alloys of tin and lead.
The organ façade is made of red oak and employs decorative motifs found in the decoration of the nave and its furnishings. It is enhanced by pipe shades carved of basswood, giving the organ a depth of artistic visual character.
The organbuilders who made the instrument:
Special thanks is offered for Eric Grane who worked with Gene Bedient in the tuning and voicing of the instrument. It is our hope that this new instrument will provide inspiration and worship enhancement to all who see and hear it over the coming generations.
Gene R. Bedient, Organbuilder
Bedient Pipe Organ Company
1060 Saltillo Road Roca, NE 68430