In 1908, after building half a century of musical traditions, a pipe organ was installed in the downtown Methodist Church building at Third and Ellsworth Streets. When the current church campus was built in 1962, that 1908 organ was brought along and installed; at the same time, it underwent minor modifications to bring it up to a total of 18 ranks (or stops). Thus, music has always played an important part in the ministry of Albany First United Methodist Church.
By 1985, decades of frequent use had taken their toll, and the growing size of the congregation rendered the organ less than serviceable for the needs of the church. In 1984, an organ committee was formed to examine options and declare a path forward. It was decided that the church would remove the aging organ and replace it with a brand new instrument built by the M. P. Möller Company of Hagerstown, Maryland, and installed by Lanny Hochhalter, president of Hochhalter Organs, Inc., now of Salem.
The funding of the new (1985) organ was done entirely through private donations. Original specifications called for four manuals (or ‘keyboards’) plus the pedalboard below with pipes installed in the front corner of the sanctuary as well as halfway back, basically flanking the choir loft with pipes. However, sufficient funds were raised only for the completion of three manuals plus pedalboard; the fourth manual has had drawknobs installed and ready to be played, missing only the corresponding pipes in the center pipe chamber. As the organ would still be perfectly playable, it was decided in 1985 to leave the organ unfinished (with 34 ranks) rather than incur debt to finish the project.
In 2010, Hochhalter Organs, Inc. (which continues to maintain the organ) approached the church with an interesting opportunity to install a set of clarinet pipes from an organ being dismantled elsewhere in the region. It was a highly desirable rank of pipes, and a solo reed (such as a clarinet) happened to be one of the prescribed voices for the unfinished fourth manual. A new fundraising project was undertaken, and within weeks, the church was on its way to installing the first voice on the fourth manual, bringing the number of ranks on the organ to 35.
In 2015, new brass chimes were installed to replace the 65-year-old chimes that were held over from the previous organ. The new chimes hang prominently in the central pipe gallery.
Also in 2015, 610 new pipes (representing 10 more voices) were acquired to complete the Positiv division. Fundraising is underway for the installation of these pipes.