UPDATED: Thieves steal West Tennessee church’s organ pipes as they were headed for restoration

Posted May 15, 2023

Editor’s note: This story was updated at the bottom May 16 with the latest information from Calvary Episcopal Church.

[Episcopal News Service] Calvary Episcopal Church in Memphis, Tennessee, is asking the public for help after a moving truck filled with pipes from the church’s historic organ was stolen last weekend.

Sometime overnight May 13 into May 14, the thieves stole a 26-foot yellow Penske moving truck that the congregation had loaded with the 2,000 pipes, which are original to Calvary’s 1935 Aeolian-Skinner organ. They had been loaded onto the truck last week to be taken to Spencer Organ Company in Boston, Massachusetts, where they were to undergo restoration.

“This historic organ has great intrinsic value and is an integral part of the life and worship at Calvary,” the congregation said in a news release. “These pipes have accompanied singing and provided music for Sunday and Lenten Preaching services, weddings, funerals, concerts and so much more over the last 88 years.”

Anyone with information about the missing pipes is asked to contact Calvary Organist-Choirmaster Kristin Lensch at klensch@calvarymemphis.org or the Memphis Police Department.

UPDATE: Calvary Episcopal Church announced on May 16 that Memphis police, during a regular patrol, discovered the stolen moving truck on a residential street. An initial assessment determined that 15 of the 55 crates in the truck are still missing. “We are hopeful that these missing crates will still be located,” the church said in its update.