Tom Moody began his musical education by learning piano in grade school, but it was the organ that captivated his attention.
“There was just something about hearing the different sounds of the organ and the pipes were kind of mystifying,” he said.
This year, Moody is celebrating his 50th anniversary as organist for The Presbyterian Church in Bowling Green, where he began in 1965 at age 27.
“I’ve been Presbyterian all my life, so the denomination suits me,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever missed but one service. It’s the spiritual side as well as the pleasure side of working with people (that I love).”
Wayne Pope, the church’s choir director, said Moody is a joy to work with.
“Being studied the way Tom is, his dynamic adds a tremendous amount to the service,” Pope said. “He picks his music to relate to the theme of the service.”
The Rev. Matthew Covington, pastor of The Presbyterian Church, said Moody adds another element to the services that reinforces each week’s message.
“Tom has a great vision for worship,” Covington said. “The power of the instrument ... brings a great substance and dignity to worship.”
Moody, who lives in Franklin, studied organ at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., and the University of Kentucky. As a classically trained musician, he always loved the idea of playing in church, because of the variety of music it allows him to play.
“Worship, you might say, is a serious business,” Moody said. “But I also play at weddings and funerals. I enjoy those different moods – the joy of worship, the somberness of a funeral.”
Classical music is what he enjoys playing the most.
“I love playing hymns,” he said. “I very much enjoy and appreciate Bach.”
Moody said his perch behind the pulpit and below the choir suits him.
“I rather like the hiddenness,” he said.
In the 1970s, he helped the church pick out the pipe organ that’s still used today. In 2010, the organ was named in his honor.
“It was a very humbling experience,” Moody said.
In addition to being an organist, he also taught English for 30 years at Franklin-Simpson High School, but even after retiring from teaching, he continued as organist and has no plans to stop.
“It never occurred to me” that he would stay 50 years, he said. “The 50 years go by very fast.”
The Presbyterian Church is hosting a 50th anniversary celebration for Moody at noon March 22 at the church at 1003 State St.
Moody is much more than an organist, Covington said. He’s also a pastoral assistant, answers the church phone and is an ordained elder.
“Tom is just the consummate churchman,” Covington said. “He really cares about the people in the church. He really ministers to them ... in a very personal way by taking prayer requests.”
Everything Moody does stems from doing the right thing for the congregation, Pope said.
“He loves the church like it’s a family member of his,” he said. “He considers everyone there a family member.”