In tune with her churchGOODHUE - Yvonne Raasch sat down 50 Easter Sundays ago before a full crowd at St. Peter's Church, took a deep breath and began playing the church's brand new organ.
By: Jen Cullen, The Republican Eagle
GOODHUE - Yvonne Raasch sat down 50 Easter Sundays ago before a full crowd at St. Peter's Church, took a deep breath and began playing the church's brand new organ.
The 19-year-old nervously made her way through simple pre-service tunes she selected and the hymns the pastor chose for her to play during her debut performance.
The Goodhue native - who volunteered after the previous organ player retired, refusing to play the new organ - has been a staple at the small Lutheran church during almost every service since.
"She's been so faithful for so many years," said Pastor Randall Kuznicki. "Her service here is extremely valuable."
This Sunday will mark Raasch's 50th Easter service as the Goodhue church's organ player. The actual anniversary of her first performance is April 17.
Raasch said her love of music and dedication to her childhood church have kept her coming back all these years, though she said she never imagined her journey providing music to the congregation would last so long.
The mother of three remembers watching the church's previous organ player - a distant relative - in amazement as she learned the woman had been playing for 25 years.
"I said to myself, 'Twenty five years! I'll never play for 25 years.' Now I can believe I've been doing this twice as long."
Raasch plays at almost all the church's regular Sunday services, as well as funerals and some weddings. There are a few backup players she calls when she's on vacation or not able to attend a service.
But for the most part, she's been the familiar face - along with the pastor at the front of the church all these years.
"It is an honor for me to be a part of leading the congregation in praise," she said. " I thank God that he has granted me good health and a wonderful, understanding family so I could contribute in this way."
Kuznicki said he and the congregation feel lucky to have an organ player, a luxury many churches do without.
The pastor said Raasch's dedication is second to none. Raasch bought a keyboard similar to the one the church purchased in 2006 so she could practice at home. She buys new music with her own money. She thoughtfully considers at what speed to play songs so people enjoy singing.
For Raasch, the extra effort comes without second thought.
"If I'm going to play, I want to do it the best I can," she said.
Even after 50 years, Raasch says she still gets a little nervous before a service.
Part of the nerves come from the fact Raasch wants the congregation to enjoy the music.
Except for the hymns, she selects all the songs she'll play and at what speed. She decides when to switch between the older organ and the new electric keyboard.
"People don't want to hear the same thing over and over again," Raasch said.
And Raasch doesn't want to play the same thing over and over again. She said she also does not want to be the church's organist forever.
Raasch said she'll retire someday so she can sit along with the congregation and enjoy the service.
"It's so nice to sit and watch someone else play," she said. "Plus, I want to quit when I'm still doing well."
Church members will have a small celebration after the April 11 service to honor Raasch and her 50 years of service.