2014 News for Pawleys Island, Litchfield and Murrells Inlet
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Murrells Inlet: Belin Church renovations pave way for new organ

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Parishioners at Belin United Methodist Church in Murrells Inlet will experience improved sound and sight when they return to their remodeled sanctuary in a number of weeks.

Eric Cox, chairman of the church council, said the work on the 22-year-old building is actually two separate projects being done simultaneously. Church services are being conducted in the Parish Life Center until the sanctuary is restored.

Passersby can see new sanctuary windows being installed. Inside, a larger and more involved project is taking place to install a new organ and improve the acoustics.

Jim Sellers, Belin worship arts director, says the sanctuary is too small for a manual pipe organ. A digital model will be installed in mid-February after alterations to the church altar are complete.

“Acoustically, this is a dead room,” Sellers said, “the big reasons being the carpet on the altar. Sound just doesn’t travel through the room. That’s why we are putting hardwood down.”

Five speakers and decorative pipes will replace a series of three for the new organ, and there will be more speakers in back. Sellers says the Quantun 58-stop organ will be the equivalent of “playing a computer.” The organ has the capability to play manual pipes and is being outfitted for them should church members ever expand the sanctuary to the point it could accommodate them.

Organist Sissy Rogerson, a teacher at Waccamaw Elementary School, will be able to bring organ sounds from around the world to the Belin congregation. “The manufacturer goes around the world and records some of the best pipe organs in the best rooms,” Sellers said. “When you hit a key, what you are really hitting is a recording. It could be a flute in St. Petersburg, that type of thing. You are still hearing a pipe organ, it’s just not coming from here.”

The speakers, however, will make the music sound like it’s coming from the faux pipes. “Ninety-nine percent of people will think it’s a pipe organ,” Sellers said.

He hopes to invite an accomplished organist for a concert to dedicate the new organ in the spring.

The organ, an analogue machine moved from the old church to the new church 22 years ago, broke down for the last time on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. “It was like an old radio,” Sellers said. “They don’t make parts any more. We knew the end was in sight and had started an organ fund.”

The church council has been discussing windows for a couple years, Cox said. “We were fortunate that this came together at the same time so we could make all the changes at once. We were fortunate enough to be able to afford both.”

The advantage of the new windows for the congregation is that they are tinted and will eliminate the glare while still providing views of the inlet. Interior shutters had to be closed on the old windows because of the glare. The larger advantage is the increased energy efficiency.

“The old wood windows were deteriorating,” Cox said, “and were not energy efficient. Twenty-two years ago they didn’t have to meet certain codes. The tinted glass should be a big difference.”

Once the new composite windows are installed, exterior storm shutters will be added, Cox said. Each window has to be measured independently.

Cox said changing interior lighting to LED will also save energy.

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