Thursday, September 19, 2019

The organ has arrived!

September 18 was the delivery day for the new chapel organ. George and Anthony Pecoraro (Western PA Church Organ Solutions) arrived early to remove the old organ and get the space ready, with a little help from church staff Aaron Crider and Elijah Boyd.

The organ had been well-packed for its trip across the Atlantic!

The pedalboard was packed up too and had to be reattached.

All set up and ready to play! It seems very happy in its new home.

Great job, George and Anthony!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

New chapel organ on the way!

Thanks to a major gift from an anonymous donor, First Presbyterian Church has signed a contract for a new two-manual digital organ manufactured by the Johannus organ company of The Netherlands. This organ (similar to the one pictured) will replace the chapel's current Baldwin organ, which dates from the 1960s.

Kevin Dill, Director of Music at First Presbyterian, will introduce the new organ with a mini-recital once it arrives in early fall. He is excited not only to have a realistic-sounding instrument for the funerals and occasional services held in the chapel, but also to have a climate-controlled alternative for organ practice when the sanctuary is uncomfortably hot in summer and cold in winter.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Photos from Spring Ring

More than two dozen handbell ringers gathered at First Presbyterian on April 27 to ring a few pieces for each other and the public. The bell choirs represented were the Carillon Ringers from Stone Methodist (James Ross, director); the Trinity Belltones from Trinity Lutheran (Charles Orr, director); and the Liberty Bells and Agape Duo from First Presbyterian (Kevin Dill, director).

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Spring Ring

Spring Ring
festive music for handbells
Saturday, April 27, 3:00 PM
First Presbyterian Church, 890 Liberty St

featured performers:
Carillon Ringers (Stone Methodist Church)
Trinity Belltones (Trinity Lutheran Church)
Liberty Bells and Agape Duo (First Presbyterian Church)
plus organists James Ross, Patrick Bier, and Kevin Dill on the 2500-pipe Schlicker organ.

Admission is free!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Holy Week Schedule

at the First Presbyterian Church of Meadville

April 14: Palm Sunday
8:30 & 11:00 AM worship with children's procession
Preaching: Rev. Dr. Brian Jensen
Music: Chancel Choir

April 18: Maundy Thursday
7:30 PM worship with Holy Communion
Preaching: Rev. Dr. Brian Jensen
Music: St Hildegard Choir

April 19: Good Friday
12:00 noon Tenebrae in the Chapel
(a quiet, meditative service centered
on the Passion narrative

April 21: Easter Sunday
9:00 & 11:00 AM worship
Preaching: Rev. Dr. Brian Jensen
Music: French Creek Brass Quintet & Chancel Choir

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Pipe Organs of Meadville

(This article originally appeared in the January 2019 edition of the church newsletter.)

From time to time someone will ask me how First Presbyterian’s pipe organ compares to others in Meadville, or how many are in town altogether. It’s an interesting topic: one can glean a great deal about a region’s economic and cultural history by investigating its pipe organs. (Actually, this might make a fruitful avenue of research for a school project!)

Most of Meadville’s churches did have a pipe organ, large or small, at one time. Pianos, being associated with saloons of ill repute, were deemed inappropriate for worship; harmoniums (pump organs) can’t muster enough volume to accompany a singing congregation of more than a few dozen. Thus, particularly after the end of the Civil War, pipe organ manufacturing was a booming business in America. Two now-defunct Erie companies, Felgemaker and Tellers, produced several thousand instruments between them, some of which ended up in Meadville. (Until the fire of 1970, our church had a Tellers organ with four keyboards.)

I can’t speak to the fate of every pipe organ in town, but many have been replaced with electronic substitutes over the years, including St. Brigid, Trinity Lutheran, and Ford Chapel. Stone Methodist bought an electronic in 1991, but a few pipes from the previous organ were retained and can be played alongside the computer-generated sounds. Of the pipe organs still intact, the Unitarian Church’s is notable: built in 1894 by George Hutchings of Boston, it is a masterpiece of mechanical craftsmanship. Sadly, years of neglected maintenance have left this modest-sized organ in an unusable state (though the congregation is interested in restoring it). St. Agatha has a more substantial instrument built by Tellers in the early 1900s. To my ears it has some gorgeous sounds, and benefits greatly from the building’s natural reverberation, but it too needs a major overhaul.

The two largest pipe organs in town are, of course, our 1972 Schlicker and the 1977 Austin at Christ Episcopal Church, which has the same number of keyboards but fewer pipes. Christ Church is notable for having pipes at both the front and rear of the building, offering the congregation a “surround sound” experience: an arrangement often found in large cathedrals but not so common in more modest-sized churches.

Not surprisingly, with the closure of several large factories in the 1980s, no pipe organs have been installed in Meadville since then — only electronics, which are certainly cheaper but not nearly as durable as pipes. Zooming out to the national level, there are still organbuilders crafting new instruments, though not on the scale of a hundred or even twenty years ago. In a sense, a pipe organ is an investment for the long haul: a barometer of a congregation’s confidence that their church will continue to exist for the foreseeable future. The congregations that now opt for them do so because they have thought long and hard about the purpose of their worship, and decided a pipe organ will enhance that worship — not simply because “we’re a church so we ought to”, as the thinking once was.


(edit: the Organ Historical Society maintains a wonderful database [] on which information about most of Meadville's current and former pipe organs can be found -- as well as virtually every other city and town in America!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

December at First Presbyterian

December 2: Advent I
Worship with Holy Communion at 8:30 & 11:00 AM
Preaching: Rev. Dr. Brian Jensen
12:00 PM 'Chili, Cornbread, & Carols' in Fellowship Hall

December 9: Advent II
Worship at 8:30 & 11:00 AM
(French Creek Brass Quintet at 11:00)
Preaching: Rev. Dr. Brian Jensen

December 16: Advent III
A Service of Lessons & Carols at 8:30 & 11:00 AM
(choir at 11:00 only)

December 18: Lunch @ First
Organ recital by Kevin Dill, 11:45 AM
with soprano Sonya Eagles-Dill
(Recital admission is free; a $5 lunch is available afterwards)

December 23: Advent IV
Worship at 8:30 & 11:00 AM
Preaching: Rev. Dr. Brian Jensen

Dec. 24: Christmas Eve
Family Service at 7:00 PM
Choral Candlelight Service at 10:00 PM
Preaching: Rev. Dr. Brian Jensen

Dec. 30: 1st Sunday after Christmas
Worship at 11:00 AM only
Preaching: Rev. Larry Peters