All photos courtesy of Highline Christian Church
Nancy leading the choir at Highline Christian Church

Never tardy—always early.

By Eric Mathison

That’s a tough reputation to keep up, especially for 40 years. But that is what the congregation of Highline Christian Church in Burien remembers about Nancy Metzenberg. She just retired this month as the church’s pianist/organist.

Metzenberg played through the tenure of five choir directors and multiple senior pastors at Sunday services, weddings, anniversaries, funerals and other special occasions.

Pastor Timothy Knight worked with Metzenberg for 18 of those 40 years.

“She made the pastor’s job easy,” Knight reported. “She always came early with a diet Coke in her hand—that’s kind of her signature. She could play anything--the old classic hymns and the more contemporary music.”

Knight noted the church serves communion every Sunday and it is difficult to know how long the musical interlude needs to be.

“Nancy was a master at timing it just right,” Knight observed.

Knight also recalled Metzenberg’s willingness to take time off from her regular job or rearrange vacation time to play at funerals and other occasions.

Metzenberg also earned a reputation for never calling in sick even though she was occasionally absent for what Knight estimates as 32 surgeries related to debilitating arthritis.

“She hung in there, although it was very painful,” Knight said.

Teresa Barnes, former church music director, also emphasized Metzenberg’s resilience.

“Despite her physical setbacks, she bounces back,” Barnes recalled. “She’s a fun, bubbly person and you could count on her.”

Pastor Knight agrees.

“She is very optimistic, very likeable—an encourager,” Knight noted.

Friend Sue Smith first met Metzenberg 40 years ago when she played for Smith’s wedding.

“She always has a smile on her face and is even happy in the morning,” Smith observed.

Smith’s mother-in-law, Roberta Smith originally hired Metzenberg to play for Highline Christian. Smith reports her mother-in-law is 92 and “still going strong.”

Smith says Metzenberg is a “top notch” keyboardist. Some have said Metzenberg is the best pianist and organist they have heard, according to Smith.

“She has a gift for it,” Smith declared.

After 40 years, Metzenberg has decided she wants more freedom to travel with her husband and see her grandkids.

But Smith wouldn’t be surprised if Metzenberg “still keeps her fingers in the door, so speak” to play for special church occasions.

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