Complete Story
 

05/26/2009

Bethel History

The Bell

 A shelter atop a little church
This was to be my home.
It wasn't like the giant tower
Housing the bell in Cologne,
But my job is just as important,
My little church is grand.
I am proud that I was chosen
To do God's work at hand.

This is the first verse of a poem entitled "The Bell" written by BUMC's Carolyn May.  It's a poem about "The Bell" that hung in the belfry at the original site of the Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church currently occupied by the Refectory Restaurant.

When Bethel United Methodist Church moved to its present site with a brand new sanctuary and a bell tower that housed four new brass bells, "The Bell" at the original church site was de-commissioned.  As noted in the first two lines in verse five of Carolyn's poem, 

I am no longer needed
My work for God is done.

And so, since 1972 "The Bell" has been rusting away in the back of BUMC's garage, gathering dust and surrounded by various items that were stored in the facility.  But wait, there's good news; the Bethel bell is being resurrected!  Through the efforts of Bob Parker and his automotive collision repair and refinishing program at the Northwest Career Center, "The Bell" has been disassembled, cleaned and repainted.  It is being mounted on a movable wooden base and will be on display at Bethel in the near future.  In the refurbishing process, all of the original hardware was salvaged and utilized in the bell's re-assembly.

Although "The Bell" bears no foundry identification markings, there is a high probability that it was manufactured by the C. S. Bell Company, founded in 1828 in Hillsboro, OH by Charles Singleton Bell. The Bell Foundry was famous for manufacturing steel alloy church, school, farm and mission bells and by 1890, sales had increased to over 20,000 bells annually in fifteen different sizes. 

The bells were divided into two classes, farm bells weighing 40 to 100 pounds each, and school and church bells known as "steel alloy bells" weighing from 150 to 1,000 pounds. ("The Bell" is estimated at 400 pounds.)  Mr. Bell experimented with formulas of various metals searching for an alloy cheaper than brass, but more durable than iron.  After many failures he was successful and discovered that his alloy could be pitched to create a very mellow tone.  It was this tone and durability that made his bells famous throughout the world. Additionally, the Bell Foundry manufactured all ship's bells for the United States, Great Britain and their allies during World War II.

Be on the lookout for "The Bell" soon to be on display at Bethel.  It may not peal out as in olden days, but once again it will be a reminder of Bethel's rich heritage and God's work at hand.

Bell