First United Methodist Church of Conway, South Carolina
Monday, March 01, 2021

History of the Acquisition of The Sanctuary Organ

“The Pipe Organ is called the ‘King of Instruments.’ It is not at all surprising since the organ has the capabilities of speaking at the sound of a whisper, yet growing to the grandest fortissimos. It can lead the people in the highest praise of our Creator, yet it can speak to the inmost recesses of the heart, soothing and relaxing us even in our utmost time of need. How fortunate we are to have such an instrument in our church. Its first two decades have been wonderful ones, and, with proper care, should last for generations to come.

Carter Breeze was employed effective July 1, 1972. From the time of his interview and audition, he knew that one of the first tasks was to lead in the placement of a new pipe organ. He arrived with charts, diagrams, and ideas of what might be possible. In place was an outstanding Music Committee, namely Mrs. C. A. Spivey, Mrs. John McCutcheon, Mrs. Grant Singleton, Mrs. Harold Wellons, Mrs. J. B. Rogers, Mr. R. L. Hendrick, Mrs. Robert Scarborough, Mr. W. M. Goldfinch, Jr., and Mr. Allen Ray. By late fall, the committee was ready to present its proposal to the church. Word was received from the Schantz Organ Company that unless a contract was signed by January 10, 1973, the cost of the organ would increase from $58,000 to $63, 800. The Committee realized that immediate action was needed. Mrs. J. B. Rogers, Co-Chair of the Music Committee, was appointed to present the proposal to the Finance Committee. At the first meeting, Finance decided that they needed more information, that more pledges were needed, and that the Committee was to report back in one week. The largest snowfall in the history of the area necessitated the cancellation of the meeting. Soon Conway had “dug out,” and things returned to normal. Mrs. Rogers returned to the Finance Committee. Donations and pledges had exceeded the wildest expectations of the Finance Committee, and the largest hurdle had been overcome. The organ was to become a reality. The Administrative Board agreed, and, on January 9, 1973, the contract was signed, one day prior to the 10% increase in the cost of the organ.

Mr. Al Lunsford of Knoxville, Tennessee, area representative for Schantz Organ Company of Orrville, Ohio, Carter Breeze, and George Singleton, a member of First Church and a Schantz employee, consulted on the final organ design. The committees approved the placement of part of the Great Organ on the choir wall.

Preparations were needed before the organ could be installed. Fortunately, when the Sanctuary was built, organ chambers had been built. Now they had to be given several coats of sealants and hard paint to reflect the sound. Electrical wiring and air ducts were needed for the back wall and side chambers. A blower room had to be soundproofed and all electrical boxes and controls placed. Two of three recesses on the back wall had to be filled to allow for placement of the Great chests. I-beams were installed to allow for the weight of the chests. The organ pit was deepened so that the gesticulations of the Organist/Director would not interfere with a worshipful atmosphere during services. Choir chairs were realigned in a more circular fashion for better visibility. Carpeting was stripped from the choir to insure that the choristers’ sound would not be absorbed. Cabinets were built on the second floor to house the air supply and reservoir for the Great Organ. By mid-August 1973, the church was in readiness for the arrival of the organ. Mr. Billy Joe Causey, contractor, and his crew had done their work well in time for the arrival of the organ.

Excitement grew day by day for the arrival of the van that would transport the thousands upon thousands of parts, which would one day be a fine organ. The last week in September, during the early hours of the morning, a van pulled up in front of the church. Telephones started ringing all over town. Within minutes, people were driving up and down Fifth Avenue to see what would happen next. At 8:30 a.m., eight men began the task of moving the parts into the church.  It took eight men working eight hours each to empty the van. People were amazed to see rooms and hallways lined with equipment and boxes of all sizes and shapes. Many people thought all you had to do was bring in a console and a few speakers, but this was just not the case. It took the full crew from the organ company another ten days to assemble all of the parts.

On October 7, 1973, the organ was played for a worship service. This was truly the fulfillment of a dream. Many, many people had contributed not only money, but hours of their time and effort to make this dream a reality. Mrs. J. B. Rogers, from her hospital bed, had kept the phone lines busy seeking donations during the ‘critical week.’ To her, and to all those who gave so much of themselves, the church should be extremely grateful.

On December 2, 1973, a Dedication Service and Recital was held at 2 p.m. Mr. W. M. Goldfinch, Jr., Co-Chair of the Music Committee, made the presentation of the organ stating: “We present this organ to be dedicated to the glory of almighty God, and for service in this church.” Mr. Ned W. Cox, Chairman of the Trustees, accepted the organ. Bishop Edward L. Tullis, Resident Bishop of South Carolina, and Dr. Voigt O. Taylor, Pastor, dedicated the organ ‘To the unselfish and devoted service of organists and choir directors through the history of First United Methodist Church, Conway, South Carolina.’ Mr. Carter Breeze concluded the service by playing a dedicatory recital.

A plaque is located in the Narthex honoring those who had accepted the responsibility for musical leadership of the church over the years. They are: Irma L. Askins, Inez G. Booth, E. Carter Breeze, Daisy J. Collins, Sara T. Finlayson, Nancy W. Hendrick, Adelyn G. McCutcheon, Frances C. Rogers, Cuba N. Rutledge, Annette T. Scarborough, Essie C. Spivey, Harriette E. Spivey, Thelma J. Truett, Elizabeth Wellons, and Elizabeth W. Wellons.

The original pipe organ consisted of 1,813 pipes in four divisions (Swell, Great, Choir, and Pedal) on three manuals and pedal. In addition, a set of Mayland Chimes was installed in the Swell Division. Since the original dedication, a Zimbelstern was added in 1974, and a 49-note Welte Harp was officially dedicated on July 16, 1989. Even though the exact date of its origin is unknown, according to Ontko and Young Organ Company, its origin must have been about 1920 when the Welte Harp was placed in a residence organ in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The Welte Organ Company did not survive the depression. Sometime in the 1930’s, the Harp was installed in the United Methodist Church in Lake Geneva. In the early 1960’s, the Harp was purchased by Mr. Bob Arndt of Ankeny, Iowa, a specialist in the construction of theatre and residence organs. Ontko and Young purchased the Harp for us from Mr. Arndt. Total cost, including installation: $9,550. The final addition to the organ was the installation of a 61-pipe capped Oboe rank in the Swell division. Ontko and Young located the rank of Oboe in New York state, which had been saved from an early 1900 organ made by the Möller Organ Company. We were able to buy the pipes for $500, and with the installation cost, brought the total amount to $2,054. The Oboe rank was dedicated January 10, 1993, ‘To the Glory of God, and for service in this church, in loving memory of Ruth Carter Breeze.’ The total pipes now total 1,874, in addition to the 49-note Harp. The replacement cost for the organ now exceeds $300,000.

First United Methodist Church has had a long heritage as being a leader in church music in Conway and the state. We are thankful to our God that he has seen fit for us to have had devoted leaders of music, and a congregation which has been willing to expend its resources to see that beautiful music, appropriate for the worship of our Heavenly Father, has always had a place in the life of the church. God grant that it may ever be so!”
E. Carter Breeze
October 10, 1993

Schantz Pipe Organ, 1973 III/33

Additions, 1989 & 1991, Ontko & Young Organ Company III/34


Swell Division 
8’            Flute a Cheminee
8’            Voile de Gambe
8’            Viole de Celeste
4’            Prestant
4’            Flute
2 2/3’   Nazard
2’            Flute a Bec
1 3/5’   Tierce 
8’            Trompette
8’            Oboe
Pedal Division
16’       Subbass
16’       Flute a Cheminee (Sw.)
8’         Principal
8’         Flute a Cheminee (Sw.)
4’         Choralbass
II         Mixture
16’       Posaune
8’         Trompette
4’         Krummhorn (Ch.)
32’      Resultant 

Couplers to Pedal
Great to Pedal 8
Swell to Pedal 8
Swell to Pedal 4
Choir to Pedal 8
Choir to Pedal 4

Great Division
8’         Principal
8’         Bourdon
4’         Octave
4’         Nachthorn
2’         Super Octave
IV       Mixture 

Couplers to Great
Swell to Great 16
Swell to Great 8
Swell to Great 4
Choir to Great 16
Choir to Great 8
Choir to Great 4

6 General pistons duplicated 
     on toe studs.

4 Pistons per division

Choir Division
8’          Gedackt
8’          Spitzflote
4’          Principal
2’          Octave
1 1/3’  Quinte
III        Scharf
8’          Krummhorn

Couplers to Choir
Swell to Choir 16
Swell to Choir 8
Swell to Choir 4
Great to Choir 8

3          Manuals
34       Ranks
35       Stops
4          Divisions