Holiday and history

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Pipe organ featured during Christmas service

By Bryan Marshall

Dry Ridge Presbyterian Church is offering a mix of history and holiday cheer Dec. 22 during its Christmas Candlelight Service.
The church’s historic pipe organ, built more than 130 years ago, will be played during the 7 p.m. service by Edward Walter, music director at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Newport.
Famed abolitionist Cassius Clay pledged in 1856 to buy a pipe organ for the congregation of Elder William Conrad of Grant County after Conrad helped save Clay from a group of men who intended to harm him.
Conrad was one of seven members of the Old Baptist Church on the Dry Ridge who reorganized the church as the Williamstown Church of Christ, Particular Baptist in 1826.
The church later became Dry Ridge Presbyterian Church, located at 15 Warsaw Ave., where its building was erected in 1892.
In 1984, the organ finally made its way to its rightful home at Dry Ridge Presbyterian Church.
“Most pipe organs have been modified with a motor to blow air through the pipes,” said Julie Donahue, a member of the church’s Session (board of trustees) and church electric organist. “At the Dry Ridge Presbyterian, someone must sit beside the organ and pump in order for music to be made.”
The implication that this is a gift to the church that did not get delivered from Cassius Clay for Elder Conrad saving his life is remarkable”
“The Christmas Service is the essence of Christmas to me,” Donahue said.
“Entering the warm, candlelit sanctuary after being out in the cold warms the body and the spirit. The organist will play familiar Christmas carols and the church just comes alive. I can almost hear the generations that have sung the very same Christmas carols in this very same place since 1892.”
To read the full history behind Dry Ridge Presbyterian and the pipe organ, go to www.dryridgepresbyterian.com.