Music  and worship arts Ministries

At First UMC, diverse music is central to worship and our faith family whether you sing, play an instrument, or simply enjoy listening!

Chancel Choir
This choir consists primarily of adults and middle to high school youth. They sing weekly during the Sunday worship services and present compositions that represent music of all historical periods from blues and jazz, to Mozart and Handel, and everything in between. Rehearsals are on Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary. 
Celebration Ringers
An adult five-octave bell choir that rings challenging music once a month in the 11:00 a.m. worship service. Ringers attend the Florida State Handbell Festival in the Spring and also participate in the annual Lessons and Carols service as well as Easter Sunday. Rehearsals are Thursday evenings at 6:00 p.m. in the handbell rehearsal room, 2nd floor of Epworth Hall.
Fellowship of the Ringers
Open to Junior High through Adults, this handbell ensemble is designed for beginners or those with limited experience.  Rehearsals are Thursday from 11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. in the handbell rehearsal room, 2nd floor of Epworth Hall. 
Instrumental Ensemble
This ensemble plays a wide variety of music including hymns, arrangements, and original compositions. They also provide colorful accompaniment to anthems sung by the Chancel Choir. Rehearsals are typically scheduled for everyone's convenience. All with playing experience are welcome.
Children's Music
All children are welcome to join this choir. They rehearse after worship from September to May and sing in worship every 4 - 6 weeks.  Children also learn to ring and play instruments.  
Drama Ministry
Our newest ministry created to produce quality productions at the church and share our knowledge and resources with the community.  
2023 was a special year of music at First UMC.  We commissioned and premiered REQUIEM by Heather Sorenson.  IT was am amazing journey coming out of the pandemic that started in 2020 and continues to effect us today.  REQUIEM was commissioned to help heal our world with hope and the light of Christ.  Join us in 2025 as we perform this work again and take it to the National Cathedral in Washington D.C,


Sanctuary Organ

When our beautiful Sanctuary was completed in 1942, the congregation was greeted by the sound of a new 3 manual Moller organ with 1,427 pipes and 21 ranks.  In the many years that followed, the organ provided music that helped us worship, morn, celebrate, and minister in new ways to the community. In 1979, the decision was made to expand the organ to 1,960 pipes with 35 ranks.  This also included the removal of a Masonite wall in front of the organ chamber and the addition of the present screen.

After a series of tropical storms that hit Gainesville in 2004 flooded the church-basement blower room, it became obvious a major rebuilding was needed.  Much of the organ components and wiring from the original 1941 installation had deteriorated over the years, although many of the original pipes were in good condition. In the Spring of 2005, an organ committee was appointed and decided to move forward with Berghaus Organ Company of Chicago.  The committee understood the bond between this church and our current instrument, and to restore this instrument if possible along with considering future expansion and the inclusion of space on the console for an antiphonal extension.. In August 2006, the organ was removed and was reinstalled from September through November 2007.  This expansion achieved the dreams of our congregation and included 2,241 pipes and 39 ranks.  Some of the newest pipes are displayed in the façade you see today.

In 2019, members of the congregation came forward to fund the antiphonal expansion and then the pandemic happened, delaying the project, and causing all sorts of supply chain headaches.  In November 2020, a contract was signed with William Longmore and Associates to build and install the Antiphonal Division.  In December 2021, the pipes were delivered, installation began, and the expansion project was completed in the Spring of 2022, adding 427 pipes and 3 ranks to the organ for a total of 2,668 pipes and 42 ranks.

Chapel Organ

Our chapel contains a Moller-Artiste Opus 10112 organ originally built in 1965 for All Saints Lutheran Church in St. Petersburg. This 2-manual, 3-rank instrument was installed and dedicated in our chapel in 1988 as a gift of Bess Thompson and her family, in memory of Lannie Thompson. The stops on the organ encompass 3 ranks of pipes: Diapason, Gedeckt, and Viola. The 16' Bourdon, Quint, Nazard, and Flautino are all extensions of the Gedeckt. The Fifteenth and Twelfth are extensions of the Viola.

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