Appleton church to share pipe organ with the community

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APPLETON, Wis (WBAY) – The pipes are singing at Zion Lutheran Church in Appleton. A project more than a decade in the works is now complete. And the church wants to share its new treasure with the community.

Its sound will shake you to the core and and calm you at the same time.

“So there’s almost an infinite variety of combinations,” says John Schwandt, Director of the American Organ Institute at the University of Oklahoma.

Replacing the century old pipe organ that went silent about ten years ago at Zion Lutheran Church has been a labor of love.

Jim Schley, co-chair of the Zion Pipe Organ Committee says, “We wanted to have a pipe organ because it’s all we’ve ever had. We just wanted to keep it in that same tradition and we also wanted to have something that would last generations in advance.”

With the help of Schwandt, who happens to be an Appleton native and “son” of the congregation, the process to replace the organ began.

According to Schwandt, “I was honored and privileged when they asked me to serve in this professional capacity as a consultant, since I’d grown up and sort of cut my teeth on the old organ.”

Years in the making, the pipe organ that was finally dedicated by the congregation in October, contains 3500 sounding pipes.

“The organ is actually made up of, we counted, nine different pipe builders are involved with this,” says Jim Schley.

And like many of the revered pipe organs in history, its parts come from the present and the past.

Dr. Schwandt adds, “The diversity of this organ is its strength. It really is a metaphor for how our culture should be, that we embrace the differences and that those differences are actually the strength.”

That strength will be on display this Sunday at 3 p.m. when Schwandt sits in the same balcony he grew up playing in for a celebratory recital that the public is invited to attend.

He says, “We’ve been working together for 12 years, which is a long time for an organ project but very worthwhile. This has been, I think a dream for a lot of people, myself included for this church for a long time.”

And while the organ may sit in Zion Lutheran Church, the congregation wants to share its sounds with the community.

We welcome comments and civil discussions.

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