Pastor Frank Wilhelm, an interim pastor out of retirement, was replaced in February by Abner T. Cunningham, from St. Paul's in Brooklyn, the selection proposed by the synod for Christ's Lutheran.
According to church historian Mark Anderson(1),
From Anderson, Mark J., For All the Saints: Christ's Lutheran Church, Woodstock, New York, 1806-2006 [Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2006], p. 134. (Close)
[T]he publicity surrounding the "Woodstock Nation" apparently prompted synod officials in Manhattan to seek a candidate [Pastor Cunningham] whom they felt would be a good match for the street ministry in Woodstock. While in retrospect we might suppose that this was a reasonable response, it unfortunately overlooked the demographics of the settled congregation. For the most part, the congregation had a rather conservative membership, with little tolerance for the "hippies" in their town.The Pulpit Committee had issued the call the previous December to Pastor Cunningham on the recommendation of the synod. Immediately after the new pastor moved into the parsonage, churchgoers were startled to see a sign on his lawn supporting the protest against the new A&P grocery store in the town.
[Pastor] Cunningham energetically set about creating a bridge between the church and the street people [for example, by letting homeless folks camp out in the church building].As a result, many in the congregation quickly became alienated from their pastor. One of the most startling events of the year was when Pastor Cunningham joined a demonstration in Kingston to destroy draft cards. Here is his statement in the May issue of The Scroll(2):
Pastor's Report: The Executive Board of the Metro-N.Y. Synod met on April 27th to receive a report… concerning a meeting of 46 American Church men and women with representatives at the Paris Peace talks.… I am certain that many of you are aware of my own views concerning this particular war, since much consternation has arisen following the appearance of a news article in the Kingston paper concerning an action I participated in involving turning in draft cards. I will be glad to speak to anyone about the personal convictions which led me to this action, with its concomitant risk of fine and imprisonment.For quite a few in the congregation, their pastor's actions were just too outrageous. Reflecting on his pastorate 5 years later, Pastor Cunningham remarked(3):
I don't have any idea of how to review my pastorate in Woodstock.… I guess at that particular point in my ministry I saw the pastor as one who should "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." The brevity of my service seems to have been due, in part, to my having succeeded in at least the second part of that old dictum.There was now a serious movement within the congregation to oust their pastor.
In the meantime, some in the congregation were concentrating on obtaining a pipe organ. The following is from the entry in the record book for a special meeting in January:
Old Business: Doris Blatter reported that she and her committee have been in contact with the Organ Clearing House, a non-profit organization from Cornwall-on-Hudson. They buy and find permanent places for pipe organs that are no longer being used. Mr. Allen Laufman inspected our church to check on the size we needed and has informed her that there is an organ in Hopkinton, New Hampshire that would fit our needs. It is in very good condition and has 6 sets of pipes. [Click the picture to enlarge it.] At the present time this church is snowbound but he has advised that a local church has one that is similar. The committee is arranging a meeting to test this organ to see if it would be suitable.The organ itself would cost $150 ($728 in 2006 dollars). It was a reconstructed tracker organ, with six sets of pipes, originally built in 1885 by Hook & Hastings for that church.… On Saturday, May 1, the volunteers met in Kingston with Mr. Hauptman of the Organ Clearing House, helping him load an organ on a truck loaned by the Herzog Supply Company, where congregation member Morton Moseman worked. This organ was to be delivered to a Mr. Tyrell in Concord, NH. According to Magda Moseman(4),
This organ would be practically maintenance free except for tuning. The Organ Clearing House reports that the cost will be between $1,500 to $2,000 [$7,275 and $9,700 in 2006 dollars], depending on the volunteers to help disassemble and assemble and truck needed. This includes replacing any parts necessary and final tuning when in place.
Mike Gritman pointed out that an additional $1,101.24 [$5,341.01 in 2006 dollars] has been donated to the organ fund in 1970 [in the memory of Edna Stevenson] and our organ fund now amounts to $1,571.17 [$7,620.17].
After discussion during which it was pointed out that the more help we get from members the less the cost will be to us, a motion was made by Peter Bengston, seconded by Ed Stevenson that the organ committee be authorized to negotiate for a pipe organ at the best price--Passed. The following volunteered to help when the time comes, Mel Pickhardt, Phil Kissinger, Karl Kelbaugh, Peter Bengston, Mike Gritman.
They drove as far as Marlboro, Vermont, that night and spent the night with the Balmers. The next morning they proceeded to Concord, N.H., and delivered the organ to Mr. Tyrell. He joined them and drove to Hopkinton to supervise the disassembly and loading of OUR organ. The small village of Hopkinton was a beautiful place with large colonial houses, a wide street, strips of green grass, sidewalks and large expanses of green lawns around the houses (some patches of snow that day, too). Mr. Tyrell supervised the packing of the organ. In the course of our conversations with Mr. Tyrell we found out that his mother had been the organist at that church (a Baptist one which had closed down) and that it was the first organ he had ever played at the age of seven. When the work was over we all headed back to Woodstock. We had a nice day for our trips and saw some lovely country, also lots of snow and frozen lakes! Our task was ended Sunday afternoon when the organ was unloaded from the truck and stored in the back of the church. Thus ended the first phase of our having a pipe organ.The organ windchest was rebuilt by the Hartman-Beaty Organ Company, and when that was done, the organ was reassembled in our church. According to Doris Blatter, "the organ was physically and acoustically a good size for our church." Historian Anderson confirms this assessment(5):
The Hook and Hastings organ is almost perfectly matched to the acoustic and architectural space of the church building. It is a small, single manual (keyboard), and pedalboard instrument, with a tracker action (direct mechanical linkage), and with a limited number of stops. It was built in Boston in 1885, just ten years prior to the dedication of Christ's Church.Our Hook and Hastings organ has been placed on the register of historic American pipe organs. Unfortunately, however, there was a problem:
Over the years and even in the beginning, we were a little disappointed in that we felt the organ was capable of producing better results than we were getting. We had great difficulty in finding competent tuners.(6)According to Anderson:
Quoted in The Scroll, November 1979. (Close)
What was not known when the organ was purchased in 1971, was that the instrument is pitched nearly a half tone higher than standard tuning. It is not possible to add lengths to pipes and so it will always remain at that high pitch. This can be a challenge for tenors trying to sing high parts! It was also quickly learned that wind instruments (clarinets, trumpet, oboes, etc.) could not tune high enough to play with the organ.(7)It would be more than 8 years before the organ would be brought up to its full potential.
Anderson, For All the Saints, op. cit., p. 156. (Close)
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Richard M. Nixon (Republican) was President. The newly elected 92nd Congress was in session. A dollar in that year would be worth $4.85 in 2006 for most consumable products.
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