The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Jan. 28, 2022

Gloria Wendel retires as 1st UM organist

VW independent/submitted information

Gloria Wendel has held the position of organist at First United Methodist Church in Van Wert since 1960.  During that time, she has been a valued church musician, worship coordinator, handbell director, choir accompanist, children’s and youth choir director, community arts advocate, and music supporter.  

Longtime First United Methodist Church organist Gloria Wendel sits at the keyboard of the church’s pipe organ. photos provided

As a professional organist, she has been an active and respected member of the American Guild of Organists (AGO,) The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts, and American Guild of English Handbell Ringers (AGEHR.) She also served as chair of the West Ohio Conference worship division and on the Board of Discipleship for eight year, as well as chairing the West Ohio conference worship committee.  

Additionally, she accompanied the West Ohio Conference Ministers Choir which toured the West Coast of the U.S., was a member of National Council for the UM Church, and in 2016, played organ for the Procession of Bishops for the United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Oregon.

She was responsible for coordinating and helping design and raise funds for the current pipe organ at First UM Church, working with organ builder and installer Robert Noehren from the University of Michigan. 

After 60 years of dedicated and loyal service to the congregation of First UM Church in Van Wert, she has decided to officially retire from the position, although she will continue to fill in as needed. Wendel and her husband, Larry, are longtime members of First UM Church.

Scott Turner

Scott Turner has been hired as the new organist. Turner is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a degree in music education. He currently teaches music to students in grades K-12 at Ayersville Local Schools.  

He also studied organ with Wendel and piano with Annette Hoverman and has been a summer replacement organist for the past two years at First UM Church. In addition to his music teaching and keyboard skills, he also plays clarinet, trumpet, and is a gifted composer.In addition to numerous smaller ensemble compositions, he has had larger works performed by The Ohio State University Band and Van Wert High School Concert Band. His composition “Until” has been recorded by the Rhode Island Recording Ensemble for its 2020 album Radiant Dance

Wendel said she is very pleased to have one of her students replace her on the organ bench. A future celebration is being planned to honor the longtime organist and her many contributions to First UM Church and the community.

First United Methodist Church offers two worship services: a casual service currently at 8:30 a.m. and a traditional worship with organ at 10 a.m. on Sundays. Pastor Chris Farmer and the church’s congregation welcome all area residents.

POSTED: 09/19/20 at 7:25 am. FILED UNDER: Church