Nora Christensen

The older I get, the harder it is to have a short God story; my God stories really began around the age of seven and they’ve continued happening now for 66 years. But here is the God story that led me to the organ at First United Methodist Church.

In 1990 I had resigned from the position I held as Associate Pastor for Christian Education in a Sioux Falls Church. It was a low point in my life because I was exhausted and wasn’t sure there was a place where I could be happy and thrive in any church. My faith in God was not wavering; my faith in the church had been sorely tested.

Into this story came Leon Bill. Leon was well known to us; he had been a pastor and also served on the staff at the University of Sioux Falls, where my husband Harold worked. He also is the husband of Darline Bill, from whom I had taken organ lessons for a while. We were visiting briefly after an organ concert when Leon sort of casually said to me “WHY DON’T YOU DO WHAT DARLINE DID AND GO DOWN TO USD AND GET YOUR MASTER’S IN ORGAN PERFORMANCE.” I capitalize and underline this because that’s the impact his words had on me; I think God looked like Leon Bill in that moment.

Shortly thereafter, I did what he suggested; it took four years of hard work, during which I served as organist in two Lutheran churches and a Baptist church. Just as I was finishing up my degree, the organist position became available at First United Methodist Church. I knew the organ well, as I had performed three times in the Summer Recital Series the church had at the time, and my organ professor had worked with me in utilizing all that the organ had to offer. My professor also was serving as a consultant to the organist search committee.

With his encouragement, I applied, interviewed, and auditioned, and was thrilled to accept the position in 1996. In the 17 1/2 years, I served at FUMC, I was continually inspired by the way this wonderful organ could support and enliven the worship of this church, and so thankful that I found a way to serve God that would also give me life and nourish my soul.