Today, at 11 a.m., the sanctuary of St. Paul's Episcopal Church will be nearly full and there will be many folks in the balcony. About 500 worshipers will participate in an uplifting Easter service that will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
An important part of this service will be the music provided by a very special organ, a large and talented choir and the contributions of some additional musicians who will be playing instruments ranging from trumpets to tuba and drums.
Orchestrating the entire music program at this historic downtown church is a humble man with extraordinary talents. His name is Keith Shafer, and on this very special day it is fitting that he be recognized for all that he contributes to his church, to downtown Augusta, to the CSRA and beyond.
We have in the Augusta area a number of individuals whose gifts to our citizens are so awesome and so diverse that they deserve the highest praise and support. Some examples are Clint Bryant, Doug Barnard and Laurie Ott; and the late Boone Knox, Fred Davison and Ed Cashin.
WHEN I COUNT MY blessings I think often of Keith Shafer, the director of music and organist at St. Paul's. He is much more than a fine musician. He is a great organizer, fine leader and creative genius -- someone who gives and gives and gives. His commitment to excellence has impressed many in the 28 years he has served St. Paul's.
As Dan McCall, Augusta's beloved Presbyterian leader told me recently, "Keith is a treasure."
Those who have enjoyed the Tuesday Music Live concerts at noon on alternating Tuesdays in the sanctuary of St. Paul's know they would not be possible without the leadership of Keith Shafer. More than 100,000 people have enjoyed these concerts since they started in 1987.
Just think for a moment about that. Bringing people downtown is so important to the vibrancy of our community. Pulling this program together and making sure it is executed perfectly takes a lot of planning and hard work. Keith Shafer is the one that makes it all happen.
This series runs from September through March. There is no charge for admission; each concert lasts 30 minutes. These concerts are a gift to our community from Keith, St. Paul's Church and the generous sponsors. If you have yet to enjoy these marvelous performances, you may wish to check out the following website: www.tuesdaysmusiclive.com.
EACH FOURTH OF JULY since 1998, a Star Spangled Concert is held at St. Paul's. Keith Shafer, with the help of a strong board of the Riverwalk Series -- another organization he helped establish -- and the generous sponsors, has uplifted us and made us proud to be Americans on this day of patriotism and celebration. The concert is planned so that it is completed a few minutes before the start of the Independence Day fireworks, which are fired off from the nearby Fifth Street Bridge. Details can be found at the following website: www.riverwalkseries.com.
Born and raised on a farm in rural Connecticut, Keith's musical talent was recognized at any early age. He was educated at some of the great schools of music in Connecticut, Cincinnati and Dallas. A nationally known and respected expert on organs, Keith has provided sound advice to more than 50 institutions that were considering refurbishing organs or purchasing new ones.
The next time you attend St. Paul's or attend one of Keith's many musical events, you may wish to approach him and thank him for his service. I am sure he will appreciate your kind remarks -- he certainly deserves them.
(The writer is the president of the board of trustees at the Augusta Museum of History. He has been a parishioner at St. Paul's Episcopal Church since 1990.)