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A new donated organ brings peace to residents

Cathy Schutt | Mar 16, 2021


Do you ever hear a sound that instantly transports you somewhere else—another time or place? Maybe hearing a sprinkler brings you back to running through the yard with your friends as a child. The sound of bacon sizzling on the stove might stir up memories of sitting in the kitchen with family, waiting for breakfast.

Well, Sunday mornings have a sound that is all too familiar for older adults living at Walker Methodist: the pipe organ. Inside the Archie and Bertha Walker Chapel at the Bryant Campus (Walker Place and the Health Center in Minneapolis) is a beautiful pipe organ, which was brought to Walker Methodist in the 1970s. A stunning pipe organ in a senior living community is a rare sight (and sound). The distinct sounds of an organ are so important to many older adults. Many Walker Methodist residents reminisce about hearing organs on Sunday mornings at their churches. Some even say it sounds like home; one resident said it provided “a feeling in the heart of being at home with the Lord.”

So, when chapel musician Malcolm Anderson noticed the old organ was starting to lose its luster, he knew a solution needed to be found. Malcolm noticed dead notes on the keyboards and pedals, and one Sunday morning he even saw smoke. After many decades, the time had come to make a change.

Thanks to generous donors to the spiritual care fund through the Walker Methodist Foundation, a new digital piano was purchased. At a fraction of the cost of refurbishing the organ, the new Genisys G330 organ requires minimal maintenance while still creating a pleasant, warm sound. Even though the digital piano doesn’t have tall metal pipes, speakers were placed behind the new instrument, giving the illusion of sound coming from the same place as before.

Though gathering together in the Chapel each Sunday isn’t possible yet, the familiar, rich sound of the organ brings normalcy to residents through a television broadcast. Every Sunday morning, Malcolm plays notes that join together to create chords of peace and comfort.

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