Historic church receives new organ after fire

HOUSTON – A brand new pipe organ will soon be heard at a historic Houston church that wasdamaged by fire.

An electrical fire in October 2011 damaged the First Evangelical Lutheran Church in midtown and destroyed its organ. The damage to the church has since been repaired, but up until now the church remained without a pipe organ.

Organ builder Martin Pasi, of Roy, Washington, designed and built the new organ specifically for the church. He, his employees, and his family are now in Houston to put it together.

"It's a complicated machine, really. But once it starts sounding, we rename it and it becomes a musical instrument," said Pasi.

"An organ like this made by Martin Pasi brings out the human voice. The pipe organ makes sound the same way the human person does. It's air that comes essentially from the lung through the mouth, through a pipe. It encourages singing," said Evan McClanahan, the church's pastor.

Pasi said on average, it takes an entire year for his company to build an organ. They construct the entire instrument from raw materials in Washington state and put them together on-site.

"An instrument like this can do an enormous amount of music because most people don't know there's more music written for the organ than any other instrument," said Pasi.

A dedication recital is planned for April 27 at 6 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

McClanahan said his hope is that the organ will benefit the entire congregation – and the community.

"One of the things I wrote about in the newsletter is, 'We just spent a lot of money on an organ. I want to hear you sing.' Because we did it because we think hymn singing is important," said McClanahan.