Board members Betty Birch and Sue Peterson and minister Jan Richardson stand next to the organ at Stettler United Church

Swell sounds coming to United Church

It all started with $20 raised at a strawberry tea.

It all started with $20 raised at a strawberry tea.

Thus began the fundraising for the pipe organ at Stettler United Church, dedicated in late 1945 “in grateful memory of those who fell” during the Second World War.

For close to 70 years, that organ has faithfully served the congregation during worship services and other events. More recently, water damage put the organ out of commission for a couple of years.

It has finally been repaired, and will be featured during an upcoming concert at the church, featuring Pete and the Re-Peats, a family band of five based in Fort Macleod.

The band is led by organist Pete van Waardhuizen and features his four daughters: Corina on piano, Helen on violin, Joni on trumpet and Janette on pan-flute.

The van Waardhuizens will perform a mixture of classical and sacred music at Stettler United Church on Friday, Nov. 21, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Betty Birch, chair of the church board, said that the church is looking forward to hearing the organ in use again.

Since the passing of their regular organist, Lorraine Coulthard, last December, most of the church’s singing has been accompanied by the piano.

Board member Sue Peterson, who made arrangements for the concert, said she heard about the group from the church’s minister, Rev. Jan Richardson, who met them while serving another congregation in Drumheller.

Richardson recalled that van Waardhuizen was fixing the church’s organ and offered to perform a fundraising concert to help cover the cost of the repairs.

“Their music is very soothing, which I think is perfect on a Friday evening,” said Richardson.

The organ was manufactured by the Casavant Frérès of Saint-Hyacinthe, Que., and had chimes added in 1965, according to a history of the church compiled by the late Roy Willis.

Steve Miller, an organ repairman based in Calgary, repaired the instrument over a period of two years, finishing the work this past summer.

The repairs involved sending some parts back to Casavant in Quebec. The total cost came to around $5,000.

According to the Facebook page for Pete and the Re-Petes, van Waardhuizen studied at Calgary’s Mount Royal University and was a church organist for 15 years.

He and his daughters have been performing together since the fall of 2011. Their concerts are held as fundraisers for Gospel for Asia, as well as local causes.

For more info, visit Pete and the Re-Petes on Facebook. Clips of their performances are also available on their YouTube channel.

Refreshments will be served following the concert. Admission will be $12.50 per person or $30 per family.


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