Alan Mathew, organist at Bellshill’s Central Parish Church for the last 6 years is celebrating the 60th episode of the Organist Entertains series, which has put the town of Bellshill and his church on the map – with weekly online “Virtual Church” videos that have picked up audiences from all around the world.
Alan has played the church organ in various churches since 1996 with now 25 years experience of being an organist, Choir Director and Director of Church Music. Alan said “with churches closing due to COVID-19 and music basically ceasing, this online outlet and outreach has been both a lifeline to me and countless others. I found myself with little musical purpose but readjusted to online music and ministry, and have found new purpose and motivation to reach out online to a new “congregation” during Virtual Church with the Organist Entertains.”
Alan said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic we felt people needed to be kept connected to their church building and its surroundings. One of the ways to achieve this was have also been producing a weekly series called” THE ORGANIST ENTERTAINS” that had received over 30,000 views from around the world from as far away as Australia, Canada, South Africa. Indonesia and the United States of America.
The milestone 50th Golden Episode had over 500 live viewers! And was seen as the pinnacle of the series, but with lockdown conditions not fully lifted the Diamond Episode is a further step towards the 100th anniversary!
The series showcases what is undoubtedly Bellshill’s finest pipe organ, an honour that the church at 346 Main Street takes seriously. Around 5 years ago a £38, 000 refurbishment project took place to preserve the sounds from the 1930 instrument, by the Hilsdon Organ Company which was based in Glasgow.
As well as organist, Alan is a board member and trustee of the Church. During Lockdown and the physical closure of the Central building Alan has produced and edited each weekly online service, produced the annual Time to Remember service and complied the Church’s magazine – The Lockdown Chronicle. As well as being a weekly event with the Organist Entertains, and being a wonderful morale boost to many, the organ AND Alan have helped raise over £700 to church funds with an organ marathon held on 1st May, when he attempted to play has many hymns as possible. He achieved 314 hymns! Alan said “I am humbled and grateful to the folks that sponsored and donated towards the Hymnathon on 1st May. It was a wonderfully connected day, as the event was live streamed. It was a delight to chat virtually with those in attendance online.”
Alan goes on to say that” the Organist Entertains series will continue for the foreseeable future in its current format. Once church reopens (hopefully that will not be before too long!) the Organist Entertains will still keep going, perhaps not weekly pre-recorded episodes but moving to a monthly online broadcast. “
Join with Bellshill Central Parish Church on Wednesday 19th May at 8pm for the 60th instalment from Alan (aka the Maestro) and the finest pipe organ in ML4. All episodes are available and broadcast via the churches YouTube channel.