The Historic First Episcopal Baptist Church of Glen Campbell, a member congregation of the Episcopal Baptist Church USA and, in mission, a partner with the American Baptist Churches USA, is working to make a major music contribution to northeast Indiana County.
Currently the church is blessed by having excellent acoustics in the sanctuary, a Steinway grand piano built in 1903 and a large celebrated pipe organ. The church seeks to bring fine music concerts to the region, to sponsor young students in piano and organ lessons, and to continue formal, traditional, friendly worship with excellent music. Currently there is no part of Indiana, Cambria, Clearfield and Jefferson counties in or near to Glen Campbell where great music is available to the many people living there.
FEBC Glen Campbell recently somewhat re-voiced and expanded its more-than-30-rank pipe organ given by Bishop Allan and Dr. Dorothy Campbell over a period of 45 years.
A new rank of bright trumpets 73 pipes, a new vox humana and 61 pipes that form the mixer have been added and voiced with the organ in the last several weeks. The original pipe organ and two-manual console was purchased from Carlow University in 1973.
This organ, made by Moller in 1947, had just four ranks and was used in the auditorium of the school. It was removed because of a major building expansion project involving the auditorium, and moved to First Episcopal Baptist. The local church had to build two organ rooms to house the original 387 pipes. These chests occupy the front left and right of the chancel, with the organ under expression. A multiple wind pressure blower is housed in the basement with flexible wind pipes supplying all pipes in the front of the church. Today the majority of front pipes are exposed.
The choir ranks, housed in 2008, are in a room carved out of the church’s 73-foot-high tower. This nine-rank part of the whole organ has its own diapason tuned to the great diapason.
The Episcopal Baptist Church considers music to be vital to authentic worship, and that classical organ, piano and various instruments are required to lead that music, just as was present in the ancient temples of Jerusalem. FEBC is not only Glen Campbell’s oldest church, built in 1898 and incorporated in 1902, it is now the longest-lasting institution remaining in Glen Campbell, which once had a population nearing 5,000 people. Today Glen Campbell has three churches and a population of well under 300. Yet the church is planning to continue to provide Christian ministry to the community and to maintain the organ. A special trust fund has been created to continue to provide the pipe organ to Glen Campbell.
Purchasing a pipe organ is an expensive undertaking for a small church. In addition to the Campbells’ financial commitment, several members of the church provided support and labor for the project.
The process of making the organ into an exceptional instrument for worship and concerts was a constant and gradual effort requiring patience, an ear for music, an ability to voice the instrument and real commitment. It is important to understand that a rank of the organ is virtually a whole organ with limited versatility. Over 29 ranks have been added over the years, always with the final organ sound and appearance in view.
Ranks from several organ builders have been used. There are currently three major systems available to connect the various parts of a pipe organ so that when a key on the console is played the organ will play that notes. These systems are the tracker organ, which is the oldest system still in use today in new and historic organs; the direct electro-pneumatic action; and the direct electric chest magnets system. Most of the organ at First Episcopal Baptist is electro-pneumatic. It is possible to combine systems so that you can have a solid-state console and an electro-pneumatic organ playing the pipes. A tracker system was impossible. Part or all of the organ could have been made to be solid-state, but it was decided that the risk would be too great. If a solid-state organ in a church is hit by a bolt of lightning or a power surge, it could destroy the entire system. This has happened to several churches in western Pennsylvania, which often caused them to have no organ for several years. The expense to repair is very high.
Concerts have been given by several noted organists. Each organist has praised the instrument for its rich powerful combined sound, for its versatility, for the outstanding acoustical placement of organ pipes and the use of space in the sanctuary, and for the sensitive voicing of the organ. Organists have also made suggestions for further improvements.
“The profound impact of quality organ music can only exist with the collaboration and partnership of effective musical instruction and beautiful pipe organs housed in great spaces like FEBC Glen Campbell,” said Dr. Christine Clewell, assistant professor of organ and keyboard at Indiana University of Pennsylvania music department. “We are grateful organists and reliant on the support of ministers like Bishop Campbell who recognize the vital role of sacred organ music in worship and the community.
“Organ music has the power to bring communities together of all kinds — both secular and sacred.”
Just in the past few weeks, work was completed to add two new ranks to the organ, giving it even greater versatility and enriching its capabilities. Each pipe needs to be voiced to fit into the totality of the other ranks. Otherwise it will sound a shrill or discordant voice in the choral integrity of the organ’s musical presentation.
Working with Campbell in bringing the organ to its present status has been organ builder Robert Copeland, who has been the professional organ support staff and builder for the last 38 years and church organist for seven years.
Currently the church’s music director, Dr. Jonathan Petty, serves as principal organist, with Clewell and others serving as adjunct organists during the year.
The greater Indiana community is fortunate to have its own chapter of the American Guild of Organists, which is the largest association of organists in the nation. Both Campbell and Clewell are active officers in the Indiana, Pa., chapter of the AGO.
If you would like to hear the organ, or schedule an event, an organ crawl with Glen Campbell, phone Campbell at (724) 463-0018 or (724) 541-7678 to make an appointment.