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Rose Hill Baptist Church organ rededicated at 100

The set of flutes and box pipes, above left, have been fully restored. The name plate above the two-tier keyboard, above center, displays the classic W.P. Moller name. The organ in its early days was water driven. After it was converted to air power, the old water engine control, above right, was left on the front of the instrument.

Rose Hill Missionary Baptist Church won’t only be rededicating its 100-year-old pipe organ this week, but also 100 years of its history.

Towering over the congregation, the pipe organ sat quiet for years in front of the church during weekly services, but at 7 p.m. Wednesday it will be in the spotlight as church members and visitors pay tribute to the memories made listening to the sound of the unique instrument.

“It’s giving us back part of our heritage,” the Rev. K.E. Stanton Sr. said.

The church was rebuilt in 1908 after a fire destroyed the wood-framed building in 1907. It was then, Rose Hill Deacon Ralph Jennings said, the congregation started talking about building a pipe organ in the church.

The pipe organ, at top, towers over the congregation at Rose Hill Missionary Baptist Church. The organ was recently refurbished and will be rededicated Wednesday, one day after it officially turns 100.

In 1911, work began on a Moller Tracker Pipe Organ. It was completed in August of 1912.

Although the organ still sits in its original location, it has undergone its own transformations.

Jennings said the organ was originally powered by a water drive control system. The system was used to fill the pipes with air.

“Water had to be brought in every Sunday morning to fill the large tank,” Jennings said. “In the 1940s, an electrical bellows system was installed.”

Jennings said he has fond memories of the organ from his childhood.

“You have to grow up with it to really appreciate it,” he said.

Over the years, the organ fell victim to neglect and finding an organ repairman is not an easy task.

Jennings said the company that maintained the organ went out of business and the organ wasn’t serviced very well over the last 10 years.

Stanton said his memories of the organ stem from when his childhood church would hold fellowship at Rose Hill.

“When I was a child, we used to fellowship with Rose Hill,” Stanton said. “It enhanced the services a great deal.

“When it became dysfunctional, it took away from the church. It was deeply missed.”

Stanton said Wednesday night will be a celebration and he urged the public to come out and rejoice.

The Dr. Robert W. Knupp of Galloway United Methodist Church in Jackson and an associated professor in the music department at Mississippi College will perform.

“It’s a great joy to have (Knupp),” Stanton said. “We want people from all churches to come and take part in the rededication.”