special projects & events

Sanctuary Organ Refurbishment Project

Sanctuary Organ to Receive Refurbishment
by John Guy, member of the Organ Renovation Task Force

For over 40 years the Robert Sipe pipe organ at Hennepin has been our principal instrument for Sanctuary worship services and concert life and is recognized as one of the Twin Cities’ finest instruments. The organ is distinctive in that it is a tracker instrument (meaning the majority of its inner workings are mechanical versus electrical or pneumatic), and is scaled perfectly for its acoustical environment, which means it looks as magnificent as it sounds. The organ excels as not only a dynamic solo instrument but enhances our worship experience in accompanying choral and instrumental presentations, as well as supporting our singing congregation.

The time has come to go “under the hood” to perform not only routine maintenance but also to address an increasing number of both mechanical and electrical issues which are negatively impacting the sound and general performance of the instrument. In recent weeks you may have become aware of unusual sounds or “hiccups.”

The Process

Several months ago, an Organ Renovation Task Force, under the leadership of Chairman Steve Mahle and our Director of Music & Fine Arts Mark Squire was formed to study the needs of the instrument and what needed to be done to bring our organ up to speed. We engaged several organ renovation specialists to provide an assessment of the current conditions and provide their recommendations. We received proposals from 3 firms with national reputations for excellence in their field. After reviewing their proposals and vetting their past work with clients across the country, we forwarded our recommended proposal to the Hennepin Avenue UMC Board of Trustees for their consideration. Due to the specialized nature of this work and the limited number of quality firms, we were initially faced with a two-to-three year wait for work to begin… and this is where we got lucky. One of the firms we were most interested in having complete this project (a world-renowned company) had an opening this spring which would allow us to have the refurbishment work completed right away. The Trustees have cleared the way for the work to begin.

Project dates

Starting Monday, March 23, the Sanctuary Organ will go “off-line” with pipework, reservoirs, draw knobs, and a few other parts being shipped to the C.B. Fisk Company in Gloucester, MA, for refurbishment. At the same time, technicians will be working within the instrument on campus to replace solenoids, outdated electrical wiring, and circuitry, as well as upgrading the memory in the console.

There will be only one Sunday when worship will be solely dependent on the Sanctuary piano (March 29). Then we will be served by a digital instrument that will be brought in for the remaining length of the renovation. This rental instrument will be a brilliant addition to Palm Sunday and Easter services as well as a few weeks that will follow. The refurbishment project, without any unforeseen delays, should be concluded by the end of April. While this is an inconvenience for a few weeks, we look forward to enjoying the full scope of what our updated Robert Sipe instrument can add to our worship experience.

A Special Thanks

We can be truly grateful for all those that provided such a magnificent instrument for the enhancement of worship so many years ago, the dedicated efforts of our current Organ Refurbishment Task Force, the discernment of the Hennepin Avenue UMC Trustees (and Carolyn Lewelling and Bill Waterman of the Trustees, who spent part of a Saturday crawling around the inner workings of the organ as task force members explained the scope of what needed to be done), and especially the generosity of those who contributed to legacy giving which has enabled the funding for this project. Special kudos to Mark Squire and Judy Zabel for their foresight, vision, and tenacity in guiding us through this process.

Learn More

If you are interested in learning more about the project, please contact Mark Squire (mark.squire@haumc.org). To read more about this spectacular organ, please visit the organ webpage.


Children's Choirs

Children's Choirs

We have 3 choirs for children

Youth Choirs

Youth Choirs

We have 2 choirs for youth

Adult Choirs


We have 5 choirs for adults


Join 4- and 5-year-olds, having their first choir experience. Rehearse the six Sunday mornings before Christmas Eve and perform at the 4pm worship service. Sign-ups available in November.


Led by director Darin Riedel, 1st through 3rd graders meet for six weeks, twice a year, and sing at the Christmas Eve and Mother’s Day worship services. Sign-ups available in November.


Led by director Darin Riedel, 4th through 7th graders meet every Sunday at 6:30pm during the school year and sing in worship once a month. They perform musicals, attend festivals and participate in the 4pm Christmas Eve worship service. Experience handbells, recitals, learning projects, and liturgical events.


Journey Choir, for grades 8–12, meets during the school year on Sunday nights at 6:30pm after youth group programming. This youth choir sings a wide variety of music in worship and special concerts.


Directed by Krista Riedel, ringers 4th through 12th grades are welcome to join our newest ensemble! The Youth Bell Choir rehearses Sundays at 11:30am.


Known as one of the premier music ensembles in Twin Cities churches, the Sanctuary Choir leads in worship nine months of the year. Its worship repertoire has many ranges, with the main goal being that individuals experience God’s presence. The choir gives several concerts each year, singing major works of the choral/orchestral literature, both old and new. Rehearsals are on Wednesday evenings from 7:30–9:30pm. Membership is open to all. Contact Mark Squire, Director of Music & Fine Arts, for more information.


During the summer months, our worship music leadership mode is more informal. Join the choral fun on a week-to-week basis. Rehearsals are Sunday mornings before the 10am worship service.


This is an auditioned ensemble of about 20 singers, meeting weekly and performing at non-Sunday morning events. The Chamber Singers give concerts at our church and around the community. Membership is by audition as openings occur.


Hennepin Chime plays handbells monthly in worship. The Chime also performs at concerts, festivals, on Christmas Eve and other special days. Membership is by audition as openings occur.


This is a self-directed group that operates in coordination with the Pastoral Care team, creating small ensembles to sing in hospital rooms, hospice centers, and at bedsides to bring comfort. For more information, call Ginny Roach at 651-636-3379.

resident & rehearsing artists

Copper Street Brass

Copper Street Brass

Resident Artists at Hennepin Avenue UMC

Mikah Meyer

Mikah Meyer

Resident Artist at Hennepin Avenue UMC

Bells of the Lakes

Bells of the Lakes

Rehearsing Artists at Hennepin Avenue UMC

Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus

Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus

Rehearsing Artists at Hennepin Avenue UMC

The Copper Street Brass Quintet has been with us since the fall of 2008, making Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church their home base for rehearsals, office space, worship, and concerts. The quintet plays in schools, churches, and concert halls in the Twin Cities and beyond. They play in worship services–giving preludes and postludes, leading hymns, and accompanying anthems. 

The Copper Street Brass is the premier brass chamber ensemble in Minnesota and one of only a handful of self-sustaining brass groups in the country. They were founded in 2008 as a professionally trained classical chamber music ensemble with two trumpets, horn, trombone, and tuba. They present exclusively their own music–which is an original blend of musical styles from Mozart to Madonna–in over 35 concerts and 100 outreach services each season. The group sound has been described by reviewers as “flawless”, “polished”, and “somewhere between magnificent and exquisite.” Their artistic excellence was widely recognized in 2013 when they were chosen as a finalist for the prestigious McKnight Artist Fellowship.

Each of their individual artists is a master of his or her craft. Their 5 core musicians–Allison Hall, Josh Cameron, Tim Bradley, Alex Wolff, and Nick Adragna–have a combined 9 professional music and education degrees and thousands of performances under their belts. Their artists have performed with world-renowned classical ensembles like the Minnesota Orchestra, SPCO, Minnesota Opera, and Malaysian Philharmonic and also have the versatility to perform with jazz/blues groups such as Davina and the Vagabonds and Nooky Jones. Their musicians have recorded individually for Prince, Grammy-winner Big Walter Smith, and many other groups.

Learn more on their website.

As featured by The Today Show, NPR, and the BBC, countertenor Mikah Meyer’s career has seen him called everything from “a mover and a shaker” by Classical Singer Magazine to “a sexy travel guru” for his work integrating music into world record-setting travels. Mikah has performed as a soloist with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Canada’s L’Orchestre Symphonique de Longueuiland New York’s Rebel Baroque, and with professional choirs like the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers, DeltaCappella, and the Washington National Cathedral choirs.

As a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, Mikah received a Masters in Voice at McGill University studying with Sony Classical Masterworks countertenor Daniel Taylor and Grammy award-winning baritone Sanford Sylvan. During undergraduate study at the University of Memphis, Mikah’s interest grew in expanding countertenor repertoire, including being the co-creator of “Dr. Mezzo & Mr.  High,” a cabaret-style battle between himself and mezzo-soprano Kathryn Humphries, designing the lecture recital “The Modern Countertenor,” and later performing with the musical-improv troupe “Door #3.”

Mikah’s artistic endeavors merged with his passion for travel when he spent three years becoming the first person to experience all 419 U.S. National Park Service sites in a single journey, from 2016–2019. Along the way, he appeared as a soloist at over 150 venues in every state and territory, performing his multimedia, humor-infused “National Parks Cabaret” of musical theater, jazz, spirituals and other non-traditional countertenor repertoire. Meyer shares the universal lessons of this parks project as a motivational keynote speaker for companies, colleges and churches around the country.

Join him for more adventures at www.MikahMeyer.com or at @MikahMey on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Bells of the Lakes is a community handbell ensemble that began as an outreach of Hennepin Avenue UMC’s music ministry. Made up of highly experienced handbell musicians, they play concerts locally and across the region. Additionally, they sponsor educational events for other ringers and directors. 

The first public concert for Bells of the Lakes as a ringing ensemble was at Handbell Exploration at the Thunderbird Hotel in Bloomington, MN in 1996. They performed at the International Symposium of English Handbell Ringers in Birmingham, England in 2000 and were a featured concert ensemble at Pinnacle, a symposium of community handbell ensembles in Orlando, Florida in 2002. In the summer of 2006, they performed the closing concert at the AGEHR National Directors’ Seminar in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Over the years weekend tours have taken the ensemble to the north, south and western edges of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, North and South Dakota, Iowa and Indiana. They performed with the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus for their annual Christmas event in 2003 and 2010. Bells of the Lakes continues to bring the art of handbell ringing into the surrounding community with an active concert schedule.

The first recording for the group was for Augsburg Fortress publisher’s demonstration CD of new releases in 1998. Since that time, there have been additional publisher demo recordings and the release of “Bells of the Lakes” which was recorded in the McKnight Auditorium of the Minnesota History Center in 2000, and “Ring the Bells of Christmas” which was recorded at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in 2002. “Bells of the Lakes Celebrates 10 Years” was released in 2006 to mark the ensemble’s tenth anniversary. And “Hymns” was released in 2011 to celebrate the history of handbells in worship and the first Handbell Musicians of America Director’s Seminar held in Minneapolis, MN.

Learn more on their website.

Now celebrating its 38th year, Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus (TCGMC) is a community chorus whose mission is Gay Men Building Community Through Music. Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus seeks to provide its members with rewarding musical experiences and to promote social exchange. As an organization that celebrates diversity and uses music as a way to transform, educate and heal, the Chorus works towards the elimination of homophobia and intolerance through community outreach. Homophobia remains a pervasive problem in our society, despite the gains made in social acceptance and equal rights. Many LGBT people continue to experience discrimination in their personal and professional lives. Young LGBT people struggle with social and self-acceptance, while their family and friends also struggle to accept them.

With over 150 singing members, TCGMC and its two small ensembles, the Chamber Singers and OutLoud!, produce and present a full concert season every year. The Chorus performs its concert series at Ted Mann Concert Hall in Minneapolis and is also featured at a number of other special appearances and outreach programs (schools, churches, universities, festivals) locally, throughout the Midwest and the nation.

TCGMC provides its members with rewarding musical performance experiences that celebrate diversity and use music as a way to transform, educate and heal. The Chorus promotes social justice and the elimination of homophobia and intolerance through our regular season of performances and community outreach performances across Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. Our strategic vision is to be a dynamic choral leader, changing lives through the performance of significant music.

The Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus holds their weekly rehearsals at Hennepin Avenue UMC, and have been here for over twenty years. Learn more on their website.

concert series

Music at Hennepin Concert Series

The Music at Hennepin Concert Series has served the community since 1969 and features guest artists, as well as Hennepin Church ensembles and soloists. These are chamber-sized events generally held in the Art Gallery, with those of larger scale in the Sanctuary. For upcoming concerts, please visit the events calendar.

Salon se Leve Concert Series

Salon se Léve is co-sponsored with the Wirth Center for the Performing Arts. To encourage emerging young artists, the salon setting brings the music and the performer directly to the audience, stirring hearts and rousing emotion and imagination. Visit the official website here.

Hear the world’s greatest music played by some of Minnesota’s finest young artists in a setting as it was first meant to be heard… the “salon”! Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, in partnership with the Wirth Center for the Performing Arts and the Salon se Lève Contributing Members are proud to present these recitals, featuring our amazing young regional artists in an intimate venue–reminiscent of old-world salons. Offered in the Art Gallery at Hennepin Avenue UMC, this “up-close-and-personal” setting brings the music and performers directly to the audience, stirring hearts and arousing emotions and imaginations as only a true salon atmosphere can!

Join us for these exciting Sunday afternoon concerts as we encourage Minnesota’s own emerging young artists in the 2019-2020 Concert Season:
January 19, 2020
February 16, 2020
March 15, 2020
April 19, 2020
June 14, 2020

the organ

The Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church Sanctuary Organ (Robert Sipe, 1979) is a principal instrument for Sanctuary worship services and concert life of this prominent downtown Minneapolis congregation and remains one of the city’s finest instruments. The instrument is distinctive in a variety of ways. Read more about this very special Robert Sipe Organ.

Mark Squire
Director of Music and Fine Arts
(612) 871-5303
(612) 435-1319


Contact Mark

For more information about Music Ministries and opportunities, or to share ideas, concerns or questions, please contact Mark Squire, Director of Music and Fine Arts.

Email Mark

music ministries team

Donald Livingston
Principal Organist

Michelle Gehrz
Assistant Organist

Krista Riedel
Youth Handbell Director

Darin Riedel
Children’s Choir Director