Fulfillment of a Vision: A History of the FBC Organ Project

The First Baptist organ marks the completion of a vision that has been several generations in the making.

In the late 1880s, First Baptist began the process of moving from its previous site on 13th Street between G and H Streets to the new site at 16th and O Streets, NW. The first service in the new sanctuary at 16th & O was held on January 12, 1890 and six pastors served in the years that followed.

Following his installation as Senior Pastor in 1937, Dr. Edward Pruden led the church in a building campaign. In 1953, First Baptist tore down its previous building and started construction on its current neo-gothic sanctuary on the same site. The first worship service in the new sanctuary was celebrated on Christmas Day in 1955.

The plans initially included a large organ that was to be installed in the chancel area and constructed to match the baptistry. Due to funding shortfalls, however, it was eventually decided that the previous organ would be re-installed in the new building. Under the subsequent three-decade leadership of Minister of Music Alvin T. Lunde, proposals from myriad organ builders were examined and considered. (You can listen to one of Lunde’s compositions for the First Baptist Organ here.)

Ironically, it was the acquisition of a new nine foot Steinway Concert Grand piano that revived the church’s hopes for a new organ. In 2007 First Baptist member Carol M. Kirby, who sits on the Board of Visitors for George Mason University, was assisting the school in acquiring new Steinway pianos for their Steinway School of Music. Through her leadership and introductions to Steinway, the Church was able to purchase one of the last Concert Grand Pianos signed by Henry Z. Steinway. Taking advantage of the opportunity presented by Mrs. Kirby, First Baptist members enthusiastically responded to the opportunity, sufficient funds were raised, and the first concert on the new piano was held on February 24, 2008.

The acquisition of the new piano inspired members of First Baptist to believe the time had come to complete the long-deferred dream of a new pipe organ for the church. In early 2010, First Baptist member Dr. Wayne Angell met with the newly installed Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Haggray and members of the church leadership team to investigate the possibility of moving forward with the organ project if the initial funding for the project could be raised. After receiving enthusiastic endorsement, Dr. Angell then worked to raise the funds to meet the cost of the chancel organ.

In addition to the $500,000 in the church's organ fund, First Baptist received major pledges sufficient to begin the process of identifying an organ company and proceeding with the initial bidding process. After thoughtful prayer and consideration, the bid was awarded to Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Connecticut in 2011. The newly formed Organ Committee also decided to move forward as an act of faith on the Gallery Organ, which includes the trompette en chamade.

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this week in worship



March 29, 2015


Sermon Title:


Rev. Lee Fox

Director of Support Ministries



Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

Philippians 2:5-11

Mark 11:1-11



Lawrence P. Schreiber
"Vexilla Regis"
 Edward C. Bairstow
"O Christ, We Climb the Hill with Thee"
Winchester New
"Lonesome Valley"
Beth Prince, Soprano
The Chancel Choir
"Palm Sunday Response"
L. P. Schreiber
"Beneath the Cross of Jesus"
St. Christopher

"Vexilla Regis"
Sidney Campbell


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