New Hope Church Finds Mystery inside 100-year-old Organ
When Holy Nativity Lutheran Church purchased an organ for their new church on Winnetka Avenue in the early 1990s, they thought the organ was about forty years old. A look inside the organ showed notes about World War One dated 1918. The church will celebrate 100 years of the organ on Friday, November 9 followed by a 60-year church anniversary on November 11.
Relocating the Church
In the 1950s, people moved out to the northwest suburbs in droves. Churches and houses of worship soon followed. The United Lutheran Church established Holy Nativity Lutheran Church as a church for people in the Crystal and New Hope area. The church met in Neill Elementary and Sonnesyn Elementary and had plans for a vibrant five building campus at the intersection of Winnetka Avenue and 36th Avenue.
“People that joined the church in the last 10-15 years don’t know any of this history,” said Dean Birkholz.
The church decided to move from the intersection because of persistent flooding issues. The church would stay on Winnetka, but move a short distance away. Birkholz was chairman of the design committee for the new building.
“The old buildings didn’t look like a church, “ said Birkholz. “They looked like two dentist offices. The first things we told the architect is that we wanted a building that looked like a church.”
The church sold the property. The new owners promptly tore down the building and built the strip mall called Winnetka Commons.
Looks like a church, sounds like a church
Not only did the congregation want a building that looked like a church, they wanted an instrument that made it sound like a church.
“The organ has had such an interesting history in churches,” explains Lisa Baker. She has been the organist at Holy Nativity since 2004. “Every organ is completely unique. You will never find two exactly the same.”
A search committee formed just to locate the perfect organ. A significant part of the new building budget would go to buying one. The committee found a Hinners pipe organ made in Illinois and was currently in storage. The purchased it believing it was 40 years old and in good shape.
The organ was in good shape. During maintenance work someone discovered scribbling inside the organ. The notes referenced events that happened back in 1918, before an armistice was signed ending what was then called the Great War.
“It’s kind of a mystery to us,” says Baker. “Maybe someone thought about writing something to let us know what was happening at the time.”
The church embraced the organ and it has become an inspiring part of Holy Nativity’s services each Sunday.
“When I play during Worship, I’m worshipping God through my music,” explains Baker. “I’m not playing for fun. It’s meaningful and it’s meant to inspire.”
The church will celebrate their organ with a Organ 100th Anniversary Concert and Hymn Sing on Friday, November 9 at 7:00 p.m. The public is invited.
A 60th Anniversary Celebration is planned for Sunday, November 11.