St. Mary’s Episcopal Church has announced that it has received a $264,000 matching grant award from the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee in support of its initiative to refurbish and enhance its pipe organ and upgrade the HVAC system in its historic neo-Gothic building.
“This amazing gift is such a blessing for St. Mary’s, and we are honored to receive it,” said Father Charles Everson. “We are grateful to the Kemper family for their generous support of our historic church. This project will help ensure the preservation of our magnificent pipe organ for future generations.”
The church’s 61-rank pipe organ was built in 1888 by the Henry Pilcher and Sons Organ Co. It was overhauled by The Reuter Organ Co. in 1927, with additional expansions conducted by Mid States Pipe Organ Co. in the 1990s, in collaboration with renowned organist Bruce Prince-Joseph. It is used regularly not only for liturgical worship but also for recitals and concerts from outside artists and musical ensembles.
This grant provides half of the funding needed for this project. The Foundation has provided part of the funding in advance to enable St. Mary’s to begin refurbishing the pipe organ immediately. The remaining funds awarded will be released during a three-year period as matching funds are raised from other sources.
“The Kemper family’s relationship with St. Mary’s began in 1963 when the building was threatened with demolition through land clearance initiatives that leveled the surrounding neighborhood, then suffering from blight and neglect,” said Jonathan Kemper, Chairman and Co-Trustee of the William T. Kemper Foundation. “A major gift from the David Woods Kemper Foundation fixed the roof and in so doing, saved the building.
“Today, St. Mary’s Church is one of the oldest buildings downtown, and it embodies, reflects and projects our community’s history,” Mr. Kemper continued. “The building is a jewel, set in plain sight into a prominent corner of Downtown, but relatively diminutive next to the Federal Building across the street and greatly unnoticed and underappreciated by most of the public. The William T. Kemper Foundation is pleased to be able to support this important effort to restore St. Mary’s wonderful pipe organ. We look for others to join us in supporting this beautiful historic asset so that it will continue to inspire and be treasured for generations to come.”
Music is an integral part of the life and ministry of St. Mary’s. The St. George’s Choir, under the direction of Dr. Anthony Maglione, sings at the 10:00 a.m. service during the academic year, at various holy days during the week, as well as occasional Sunday evening services. Organist Dr. Geoffrey Wilcken not only accompanies the choir and congregational singing; he composes choral service music and enhances the worship experience with his improvisational skills. The parish’s historic building serves as an important concert venue for the Kansas City classical music community.
“It is an exciting time to be at St. Mary’s Church!” said Father Everson. “Music is at the heart of who we are, and we look forward to moving forward with this campaign to raise funds to complete this project – a project that will benefit the entire Kansas City music community.”
To learn more about how to contribute to the Organ Fundraising Campaign, click here. Thank you in advance for your generosity!