QUEZON City, Philippines — Three weeks before the Centennial of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, its Executive Minister Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo officiated on Saturday, July 5, a special worship service at the INC Central Temple where the newly installed 20-ton pipe organ, with distinctive features considered the first of its kind in the world, according to its makers.
The installation of the new pipe organ at the Central Temple is in line with the Church’s desire to fulfill the biblical teaching that God should be praised and glorified, according to the homily of the Executive Minister.
The special pipe organ, custom-made by the world renowned pipe organ maker, A.E. Schlueter Pipe Organ Company based in Georgia, in the United States, took 14 months to install at the INC Central Temple.
The INC’s main temple along Commonwealth, Quezon City, had to be renovated to house the 3,162 special individual pipes, which were carefully and painstakingly packed and shipped from the U.S. – with trips at sea sometimes lasting for one month — so that the special and delicate organ pipes, which were made of lead and were temperature sensitive, would not be damaged. The longest of the pipes measured 23 feet, while the shortest was eight inches long.
“Yes, it’s very rare, because it’s the only one,” said Arthur Schlueter, founder and president of the A.E. Schlueter Pipe Organ Company, who flew from the U.S. to witness the special worship service where the unique and world-class pipe organ was played for the first time.
The special worship service also coincided with the 30th year of the INC’s Central Temple which was built on July 27, 1984.
“God has blessed this work,” he said. “’To God alone be the glory’ is our motto, and we take that very seriously because this instrument is going to be used for God’s worship.” said Schlueter.
The pipe-organ at the INC Central Temple was the first of its kind, in the sense that it was composed of three separate pipe organs – one at the main nave with a main console and two smaller ones built at the Temple’s left and side wings with its own consoles.
The Church Administration under the leadership of Executive Minister Manalo contracted the pipe organ company in the U.S. in 2012 to study, build and install a special pipe organ at the INC Central Temple. The purpose is to further raise the level of worship services in the INC’s main temple, and to praise God with a higher form of hymn singing, especially as its Centennial nears.
Manalo, in his homily, stressed the importance of singing hymns of praises to God to please Him, citing Isaiah 42:10 and 12 which, he said, has particular reference to the Church of Christ in these last days that re-emerged in the Philippines on July 27, 1914.
The 7,000-seater Central Temple, as well as the 4,000-seater Tabernacle building nearby, was filled with people as early as 4:30 a.m. The worship service, which started at 6 a.m. began with the singing of new hymns of praises that was accompanied by the pipe organ.
The choir members, who wore white robes sang, accompanied by the “powerful and majestic” sounds of the pipe organ.
“The first basically public performance of the instrument with the choir and the congregation, and the organ …exceeded our expectations as the organ makers,” said Schlueter.
“It was a fabulous blend … in every way,” he said.
One of his senior staff, Peter Duys, said he couldn’t be “more proud of the organ and the way it blended with the choir.”
“I felt that the organ participated in the worship service,” he said.
Dr. Genesis Rivera, a church organist who is also a doctor, said it was a great blessing for him that he was the first one to play the pipe organ in that special worship service.
Rivera said the sound of the pipe organ had “power and majesty” which is very different from an ordinary organ, so that choir members became more inspired in their singing.
The pipe organ makers said they designed the Central Temple pipe organ so that it would “complement the choir” and not overpower it.
In other churches in the US where they had built and installed pipe organs, the organ was the centerpiece and the choir was only secondary. With the Iglesia Ni Cristo pipe organ, it was different, Schleuter explained.
“The choir leads the congregation so in designing the organ, we were really careful that we do not voice an organ that is so strong that it overpowers the choir,” he said.
And for Schleuter and a senior member of his staff, Peter Duys, the experience in attending the first public performance of the Central Temple pipe organ with the choir and the congregation was a very unique one.
“You can imagine I’ve worked with about 15 different religious denominations in the United, but this is probably the highest level of ability on the part of the congregation in singing,” he said.
We are so grateful and so honored to have built the organ,” said Schlueter who said he himself would want to witness the grand centennial celebration of the Iglesia Ni Cristo on July 27.
“I’m going to be a part of this. You just don’t walk away from this,” he said. “My name is on the console.” (Eagle News Service)