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Call him a natural. A boy wonder. Ryan Van Wassenhove came along just when Saint Paul Evangelical -Lutheran Church needed him the most.

Ryan is twelve years old and the organist at the church in Kewanee. At his tender age, Ryan is the youngest organist in the history of Saint Paul's.

The pastor, Reverend Burnell Eckhardt, says he has never seen someone so young play the organ so well and so quickly.

Ryan began playing the piano when he was six years old. At age eleven, he was playing the organ. Theresa Yarger is his instructor. She says Ryan likes to experiment, choose the sounds which he likes, and those sounds are usually appropriate for the music that he plays. 

When the organist at Saint Paul's decided to retire a few years ago, the church found itself in a dilemma. However, Yarger recommended Ryan for the position. The pastor liked what he heard, and Ryan got the job.

The twelve year old musician is soft spoken. He practices several times a week, often on his footwork. Ryan says he does pedal exercises. Someday, he'd also like to build organs.

Reverend Eckhardt says the church depends on having a traditional organist who can bring reverence to Sunday service with the music he plays. Ryan Van Wassenhove, the pastor believes, is an answer to prayer.