NORTH RIDGEVILLE — First Congregational United Church of Christ pastor, the Rev. Arik Borstad, wants to preserve the church’s history for as long as he can.
Since Borstad was named pastor of the church four years ago, five of the original stained-glass windows have been restored, allowing hues of yellow and red to light up the sanctuary.
Now he has turned his attention to the church’s 1900 pipe organ.
While some churches have made the shift from traditional hymns to more modern songs played on a piano or guitar, the pipe organ inside the loft of First Congregational is used throughout Sunday worship services, Borstad said.
“If played correctly, the sound from an organ is beautiful,” Borstad said. “Each organ sounds different depending on who made the organ. Each organ has its own personality.”
The organ is made of two pipe containers, each housing hundreds of pipes. But not all the pipes work.
“There are six notes that don’t work, and the musician knows where to avoid the notes,” Borstad said.
The church is in the process of naming a new minister of music but has a stand-in musician for Sundays.
Borstad said when selecting the new music minister, it’s imperative that he or she knows how to play the pipe organ because it’s a symbol of pride in the church.
“It takes a special set of skills to play the organ. You need to multitask in order to play the organ. You use your feet and your hands,” Borstad said.
The pipe organ represents the roots of the church, Borstad said.
“The organ is special because it’s not just an instrument, it’s a representation of the church itself,” he said.
Borstad and parishioners are hoping to raise about $25,000 to restore the 118-year-old instrument.
“The organ used to be by the altar until 1954, and then it was moved to the loft,” Borstad said, standing in the loft with the organ. “But now, the electrical needs redone and some of the pipes need cleaned.”
A silent auction will start at noon Sunday at the church, 36363 Center Ridge Road, North Ridgeville. But rather than having gift certificates or themed baskets to bid on, Borstad has asked members of the church to donate something they have personally made — whether it would be a handmade sweater, scarf, woodcarvings or paintings.
“We are looking for people to give the gift of their talents, and it’s been really special to see what they are making for the silent auction,” he said. “We have a lot of incredible artists.”
The silent auction is open to the public. If you are unable to attend, monetary donations to save the pipe organ are being collected by the church. Or, if you have a homemade item you’d like to donate, call the church at (440) 327-2921 before Sunday.
All proceeds will go toward the restoration of the pipe organ, Borstad said.
“The organ brings a different feeling, and, paired with the service, it makes worship come alive,” he said.