Crockett's UMC celebrates 100 years of organ music

Crockett's UMC celebrates 100 years of organ music

CROCKETT, TX (KTRE) - While many churches are moving to a more contemporary style of worship, Crockett's First United Methodist Church still prefers the organ that was installed in 1915.

In the 100 years, the church has only seen 5 organists. The first being, Ruby Dequeer followed by Wilma Foote, for whom the organ is now named after. Foote would play the organ for over 70 years.

"It was built just for this church in Vermont at the Estey Organ Company in Brattleboro," choir member Chester Rosson said. "There are fewer organs. In the larger cities, organs are prized after. What makes this special is that you don't see them in the smaller towns like Crockett."

Walter Bennett played the organ Friday night at the church's 100 year celebration. Bennett grew up in the church before moving to Conroe. Bennett first played the organ in the 1950s.

"I took piano and organ lessons from the organist at the church, Wilma Foote," Bennett said. "I played for the first time June1 , 1952. It's not hard for me now. I guess it is like a bicycle, you just get on it and go."

Bennett first became interested in the organ after he heard Foote playing one week.

"It's such incredible sounds that I think are hard to duplicate," Bennett said.

The church did have to shut down the organ temporarily several years back, after a leak caused damage to the main pipes.

"We had to have a decision on the repair because it was such an expensive repair, but the church had insurance and we were able to repair it," Rosson said.

Current Pastor Patrick Evans said the neat thing about the organ after the repair is that it is now digital while still keeping the main pipes. A computer board underneath the stage communicates with the keys and opens the pipes instead of the older string method used when the organ was first installed.

"These are strong pipes," Evans said. "They were all hand made."

The church does not plan on stopping the organ any time soon, and those who enjoy the sounds that fill the sanctuary want to keep it that way.

"It's been a real unifying thing for this church, and the continuity of the organists over the years has been remarkable," Rosson said.

Anyone wishing to hear the organ in person can visit the church on Sundays at 10:50 a.m. for the weekly worship service.

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