Mel Downing Jr. (1941-2009) was the longest-serving music minister in Springfield’s entire history. During his 47 years of service to Springfield, he touched many lives and helped many pray through his music.
Music was his true passion his life’s calling for serving the Lord. He often quoted the first verse of Psalm 100, especially when he was considering playing a hymn for worship that involved loud trumpets. One of his favorites was “God of Our Fathers,” Number 347 in the old hymn book and a favorite of ours for Thanksgiving.
Through his organ and piano music Mel made a joyful noise almost every day — and always on Sunday. He played and sang, provided his talent for church services, including meeting for worship, weddings, funerals and other church services as his duty and service to the church, the community, and God. He gave thanks and praise to the Lord every time he played or sang. Everyone who participated by either listening or singing was part of that prayer and experienced his service to God.
Another way Mel gave service to God was to encourage musicians, young and old alike to continue to practice their talent and to share it with others. He practiced this when planning the dedication service for the grand piano. He wanted every musician, whether they played an instrument or sang, to have an opportunity to share their talent with the church. He wanted to encourage the continuation of music within Springfield after he retired by providing the piano to the church and for the use of the congregation.
It would have been great to know how many services Mel played for and how many lives he touched. His daughter Lynne estimated he played for at least 47 Sundays a year, times 47 years — about 2,200 Sunday services and an equal number of choir practices. He played for about 10 weddings a year – about 470 over 47 years. Then funerals – at least 5 funerals per year which would total about 235. These calculations do not include any other special events he may have played for, such as the evening social events held at the meeting. Based on these combined estimates
Lynne said, “I have never seen such a strong faith in anyone until I watched my father accept the final path God had chosen for him here on earth. It was a truly spiritual experience to watch him and pray for him as he went through his final days. He accepted God’s will with such grace. I am certain he arrived in heaven before God singing, and he was searching for a piano or organ to play so that he could continue his lifelong musical service in heaven.”
Adapted from talk given in 2010 by Patricia Lynne Corcoran
The organ was given in honor of Mel Downing in 1987.
Unfortunately, parts are no longer available to repair it.
Our lovely Kawai piano was given in 2014 in honor of Mel and Janet’s parents.