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Oak Bowery’s Harrison celebrates 5 decades as organist, honored at special ceremonycomment (0)

March 17, 2011

By Anna Swindle

Margaret Harrison can do just about anything she sets her mind to. After all, when she became the organist for Oak Bowery Baptist Church, Ohatchee, 50 years ago, she didn’t have an ounce of experience playing the instrument.

“Some deacons from the church came over and asked me if I’d play the organ for the church,” Harrison said. “I told them, ‘I don’t play the organ — I play the piano.’ And then I thought, ‘Well, why not? I’ll give it a try.’”

She promptly went out and bought a book of organ music, practiced on the Calhoun Baptist Association church’s organ on a Saturday and played in the morning worship service that Sunday.

And her determination and dedication have not waned in the five decades she has served as organist. Harrison was able to balance her 28-year teaching career with her commitment to the church, which has included serving as the church librarian, a children’s music director and an active member of Woman’s Missionary Union, just to name a few roles.

In recent years, she has battled leukemia and endured intensive chemo treatments but has been in church every Sunday that she was not hospitalized.

“Margaret has been through a lot in the past few years, but it hasn’t kept her from fulfilling her obligation to the church and to the Lord,” said Greg Rutherford, Oak Bowery Baptist’s minister of music. “She always wants to make sure everything is just right with the music, and everyone at the church thinks the world of her.”

For Harrison, being at church gives her energy and purpose.

“It helps me and I’m glad I have something meaningful to do,” she said. “I have to keep going — I’m not ready to give up yet.”

To recognize her 50 years of service, the church recently surprised Harrison with a special ceremony. She was presented with a plaque, 50 red roses, a card and a banquet in her honor.

“The special services committee at the church wanted a service for Margaret themed around how you might be rewarded in heaven,” Pastor David Hayes said. “At the end of the service, our eldest deacon went and got her from the organ and brought her down front. We had a red cape and a tiara for her to wear and told her she’d be queen for a day, kind of representative of the robe and crown we’ll have in heaven.”

Harrison was completely surprised by the celebration and said she was incredibly honored by everyone’s contribution.

According to Hayes, acknowledging her talents, loyalty and optimism was something everyone was thrilled to be a part of.

“She’s had a huge impact on her community,” he said.

“We live in a small town, so many people had her as a teacher, and many people have been blessed by her music through the years.”

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