- Associated Press - Sunday, May 28, 2017

STROUDSBURG, Pa. (AP) - Fate, a lot of fundraising and maybe even the hand of God will bring what is likely to be the grandest pipe organ to the area.

The First Presbyterian Church in Stroudsburg has a unique project in the works. It will combine two church organs into one over the next two years, thanks to the generous gifting of an Easton organ no longer in use.

“We were thinking of restoring our organ when this other organ became available,” church member Russell Cramer said. “Then we brought in a consultant, Jacob Gerger and Sons, who analyzed the two instruments and told us we could combine the two into one and give it much greater capabilities.”

The second organ belonged to the Lehigh Presbyterian Church in Easton. Its neighborhood decayed and the church closed. The new building’s owners had no use for the organ, and it was offered to the regional Presbyterian leadership. That, along with the maintenance needed to the organ at the First Presbyterian Church in Stroudsburg gave rise to the idea of combining the instruments.

“Our new Rev., Beth Utley, she said there’s no instrument that supports the voice as well as the organ,” Cramer said. “When you are listening to an organ it sounds almost human.”

Utley said the organ’s ability to play softly and boldly works in concert with the worship during the service.

Church organist Mike Capone has been the church organist for 14 years.

“You can create the softest sound to the most reverberant sound. It’s very majestic,” he said.

A pipe organ works by forcing air into pipes of different lengths, diameters and materials, sometimes thousands of them, to produce its sounds. Each pipe is designed to reproduce a certain instrument and corresponds to the keys played on the console.

“It’s inspiring and sets the mood for the whole service,” Capone said. “Our organist, he’ll conclude with the last piece and the membership will be transfixed by the music.”

The draw knobs on the keyboard console will control 2,500 pipes when the two year, $300,000 project is completed. The church will need to build a new housing chamber for the pipes, which will be installed in the front and back of the church, some exposed to the congregation.

“It will create a surround sound-like effect in the sanctuary,” Cramer said. “It speaks to the congregation.”

The organ is not just for the church. It will be used for concerts, events and provide a place for students to practice, Utley said.

“Our church is often used to undertake community charitable events and we just felt because it’s a community asset that it is an investment for everyone. It’s not just an instrument for us,” Cramer said.

He hopes to host performances by East Stroudsburg University and other area events.

The First Presbyterian Church in Stroudsburg needs to raise $295,000 to complete this project. When its done, the organ will have a value of approximately $1 million.

The consultants on the project, Jacob Gerger and Sons, are third generation organ specialists located in Philadelphia.

Utley spoke to the instrument’s versatility complementing the service.

“Anything you do can be supported by the music,” she said.





Information from: Pocono Record, https://www.poconorecord.com/

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