With the rise in popularity of praise bands and Christian rock, the organ may appear to be an antiquated instrument.
Hollidaysburg Church of the Brethren members beg to differ.
The church, which purchased its first organ in 1908, (12 years before the Brethren officially repealed a restriction on musical instruments in the church) is celebrating its new state-of-the art digital organ Sunday.
Church members readily shelled out their own money to purchase the $49,000 organ, which organist Patricia Jimenez said "will blow everyone away."
The new instrument is replacing a pipe organ bought in 1969, which was aging, said church Pastor Marlys Hershberger. "It was time. It has been a good organ and we wanted to have a quality instrument."
Anything from classical music and traditional hymns to praise and worship songs can be played on the new digital organ, which can mimic various instruments, including trumpet and guitar.
"You can play bass guitar in your foot pedals. I can still play a Bach prelude and in the same service play a praise song. It's becoming the master of the instrument and not letting the instrument master you," Jimenez said. "I think the organ is still king of instruments. It's all in the way we play it."
"Most people still enjoy good organ music for classical and traditional music. We also use piano and other instruments during the service," Hershberger said.
The Allen Protege organ offers four distinct sound palettes (French, German, English and American Classic). Along with offering more sounds than a traditional pipe organ, the digital organ is less expensive and much easier to fix than a pipe organ, Jimenez said.
A dedication of the organ and a free concert will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at the church.
Local musicians and past organists at the Hollidaysburg Church of the Brethren will perform at the dedication and concert.
A special tribute is planned to honor Joann Erickson, the church organist for 39 years. The St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church handbell choir will perform as well.