In the early 1980s, Frances Grant Ellis, organist at Oxford-University United Methodist Church for many years, recognized the growing musical needs of the church. The deteriorating condition of the 1952 pipe organ made the timing right to begin the acquisition of a new instrument. In 1998, under the leadership of Dr. Gerald Walton, an organ committee was formed and chaired by Dr. Ron Vernon. The committee recommended the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Connecticut to build the new instrument.
Austin’s representative, David Finch, worked closely with the committee, Director of Music, Lee Uhlhorn and Organist, Jason Derrick to design a two manual and pedal instrument of thirty ranks. The organ has over 1,600 pipes ranging in size from a few inches to sixteen feet and was designed both to lead and support congregational singing as well as choral accompaniment and for use as a solo instrument. The congregation heard the new organ for the first time in May 2001. Today, Frances Ellis’ legacy of beautiful music lives on in the majestic tones of Austin’s Opus 2778.