Aldersgate United Methodist Church - Molino, Florida
Saturday, August 13, 2022
Imagine a Church That's the Hope of the World
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Bio: Tom Helms, Jr.

The creation of Aldersgate’s beautiful pipe organ was a labor of love, the realization of a vision Tom Helms first saw as a youth.

Having grown up in the Molino Methodist Church, Tom was present at Aldersgate’s inception in 1965. His musical ability blossomed during his teen years as he played for the church and developed its music program. During this time, he imagined the grand notes of pipe organ music resounding in the sanctuary. But the dream would have to wait.

Going on to attend the University of Alabama and Texas Christian University, Tom was awarded the latter's coveted Performer’s Certification for his excellence in performance. After studying abroad, he began an active touring schedule as a concert artist all across the United States and Canada. He has been a featured orchestral soloist performing the symphonic works of Mozart, Jongen, Saint Saens as well as numerous commissioned works. As a composer and arranger, Tom wrote movie scores and, following the success of his ballet “Dracula,” completed “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” his second commission from the Alabama Ballet. In March of 2002 he completed his ballet “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” which was followed by his “The Little Mermaid” for the Tuscaloosa Community Dancers. For thirty-seven years Tom Helms’ score for the 1925 silent classic, “The Phantom of the Opera,” has been an annual featured event at the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham. His compositions have received great accolades and have been featured on Alabama Public Television.

During his years away from Molino, Tom never forgot his dream for Aldersgate. In the early 1990s, he was finally able to make it a reality. He approached church leadership with a plan to remodel the sanctuary to make room for the organ. He designed and built the organ, which saw completion in the second half of 1991. It was first played during morning worship on January 26, 1992. Dedicating the organ to Mrs. Hazel Matthews (member and long-time organist of the Molino/Aldersgate Church) and Mr. William E. Helms, Sr. (Tom's paternal grandfather), Tom presented a recital on the new organ on February 16 of that year.

An organist at heart, Tom has served congregations from Texas to Florida, including a tenure as Director of Music for the Diocese of Pensacola Tallahassee. Not content to spend all his time on the bench, Tom’s talents in the tonal direction of the pipe organ industry was also widely pursued. As a tonal finisher, voicer, and designer, he has completed four of the largest pipe organs built in the United States in the last sixty years.   He has recently completed two new pipe organs one in Memphis, Tennessee for The Church of The Holy Spirit and one in Florida for Pensacola Christian College. Tom is also an avid collector of classic cars and also enjoys rave reviews for his excursions into the culinary arts.