Provo church gifted historic pipe organ needs financial help before it’s tossed
The varied tones of a pipe organ can provide soft, lofty sermons from the keyboard or the powerful voices such as those of “The Phantom of the Opera.” Either way, Provo Community Congregational United Church of Christ has just been gifted such an organ, but it will require some financial help.
Church officials say they need to raise $50,000 by June 10 to make the donation possible.
The pipe organ is being donated by a church in Salt Lake City that is being sold. With the Provo church currently being renovated and restored, church music director David Lewis said, there is no better time to add the organ — something the congregation has prayed for.
“Members of the Provo Community Church have dreamed about a pipe organ for many years and wanted it to be included in their restoration and expansion plans but realized that it might be a pipe dream due to the high cost, said Lewis, who also serves as co-chairperson of the “Keeping the Faith in Downtown Provo” campaign. “The call from the Salt Lake church was an amazing surprise and an answer to our prayers. The donated organ will save us close to a million dollars.”
If the church cannot come up with the funds, the organ will be headed to the landfill. The 45-rank organ was constructed in 1892 for the Salt Lake church and was moved to a new church location during the 1960s.
In order to collect the needed $50,000, the Provo church has started a small campaign called “Preserving the Pipes!” as part of its major campaign fundraising effort.
If the organ is acquired, it will be used for many downtown music experiences, including the annual Advent celebration Carols by Candlelight. It will also expand the musical experience of congregations during church services.
“The mini-campaign comes at a significant time since May is National Historic Preservation Month,” Lewis said. “This campaign is a unique opportunity to not only save a part of Utah history but also bring a historic pipe organ back to downtown Provo. Sadly, the last organ of this kind in the area was lost due to the fire at the (Latter-day Saint) Tabernacle. If we are unable to raise these funds, then the organ may be lost forever or broken up and sold for parts.”
Provo Community Church was founded in 1891 by members of varying religions that came together to have a stronger influence in the Utah Valley community.
In February 2021, church members and community volunteers kicked off the Keeping the Faith in Downtown Provo campaign to raise funds to repair, restore, renovate and expand the historic community cornerstone located at 175 N. University Ave. to help the church remain an open and affirming faith organization and to continue and grow as one of the only places for secular community gatherings in downtown Provo.
For more information, look online at keepingthefaithprovo.org. Community members can donate online or on Venmo @KeeptheFaith Provo.