By BRADEN LAMMERS
JEFFERSONVILLE — The congregation has been referring to the church they attend the “James Taylor church” for some time.
Through a fundraising effort, the folk musician has reached out to the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church to help reinvigorate the music they hear. The church is trying to raise a total of $51,000 to disassemble, move, restore and install a 10-rank pipe organ in its building.
St. Paul’s Rev. Donald Hill explained the church put together a video and posted it online to request donations on a crowd funding website to have the organ installed. The church has already raised about half of the $51,000 needed to restore the organ.
Bart Fisher, church member and chairman of the pipe-organ committee, said that when the church posted the call for donations on the website it used “Fire and Rain” as the theme, which in turn caught the attention of James Taylor’s representatives.
“Fire and Rain” is one of Taylor’s iconic songs, reaching No. 3 on the Billboard charts in the 1970s, as well as being listed on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
He explained that the “Fire and Rain” name was adopted by the church because it has survived the 1937 flood and a fire in the parish hall that damaged the sanctuary in 1981, in addition to more recent damage in to the church’s basement when it flooded following a massive rain in 2009.
The 1981 fire damaged the church’s previous organ and since that time, St. Paul’s has been using an electronic organ. In addition to being out-of-date, the goal of St. Paul’s in installing a new organ was to restore the Victorian appearance and musical heritage of the parish, which was originally built in 1892.
But when the church used the song title in its funding effort, it did not expect to be contacted by Taylor.
Evidently, it’s common practice to have people working for artists to protect their copyrights when their work is used online, Hill said. But instead of receiving an email to stop using the musician’s song, Hill received an email about offering a copy of sheet music from “Fire and Rain” for auction to help pay for the new organ.
“It’s not like we had a connection before,” Hill said. “It was an immense surprise to us. This helps us restore a part of the musical heritage [of the church].”
Taylor has offered a page of sheet music from “Fire and Rain” to be auctioned off to raise money for the organ and he has also offered to sign the sheet music before it goes to the winning bidder.
The organ, too, was donated to the church.
Jim Miller, former owner of Miller Pipe Organ and frequent guest organist at St. Paul’s, offered the organ to the church, Fisher said. The organ is pieces and parts of many different organs.
“[We’re] trying to get the restoration work finished,” he said. “This is kind of the final piece. [We’re] trying to take our music program to the next level.”
Hill said the church hosted the first in a series of concerts to raise money for community service this past summer and once the restoration is finished the parish hopes to be able to host more concerts for community service programs.
“We hope people come and check it out when we have it completed,” he said.
The sheet music is up for auction online. The auction is set to end Feb. 11.