Zion member has played organ from the beginning


The distinct sound of an organ rings throughout Zion Lutheran Church around noon on a typical weekday.

It’s a traditional worship hymn that can be heard throughout the building and even outside as people walk to the parking lot.

If you walk up to the loft of the church, you’ll find 79-year-old Irma Darlage pressing the keys and stepping on the pedals of the instrument she has played ever since she can remember.

Darlage, who’s a member of the Seymour church that will celebrate its 60th anniversary during a service Sunday, has played the organ there since its inception.

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For six decades, generations of congregates have heard Darlage play hymns and music during their worship.

"I’m just glad to do it," she said with a smile. "I get a lot of good comments that they appreciate how I’m playing, and that’s all that’s necessary."

Zion has been her church home since she married her late husband, Bob. Knowing it would be her church home, Darlage waited until construction was complete so the couple could be the first to be married in the church.

"I came in here and sat in the chair and asked when I could schedule my wedding, and they said, ‘We’ll let you know,’ and about two months later, we got married," she remembered. "It was no problem and didn’t matter at all."

Darlage started playing at a North Vernon church shortly after she graduated high school. A pastor had attended her commencement where she had played and asked her parents if she would be willing to play there.

She would take trips to play each week. When Zion opened, she wanted to continue playing.

"I’ve always liked to play," she said.

Darlage has kept all of her music throughout the years and stores it in boxes on shelves. She even has some from when she first started playing at the church.

"I just might want to use it later," she said. "There’s no way I would throw away music."

Lately, she doesn’t have to play as much, as the church has another organist who helps, too.

Darlage often returns to the church at various times throughout the week to practice when she’s scheduled to play for services.

She takes time to set the registration how she wants it to sound and makes sure she’s ready.

"I’m playing some difficult music, and I have to make sure my fingers are stretched and get the pedals just right," she said.

While she has given so much to the congregation through music, Darlage is thankful to be a member of a congregation that cares for one another.

When she lost her husband in 2015, many from the congregation reached out to help her through that time. It’s one of the reasons why she loves the church she has called home for more than half her life.

"You always felt as though everyone knew you and knew and cared about what was going on in your life," she said. "If you needed help, they would be more than willing to give you suggestions."

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