It's a call to worship . . . and much more. It sings of our history in the community. It calls people together.
Each and every Sunday, our church bell rings before and after our worship service announcing to the community our place in the neighborhood, that our worship service has begun and that it has now ended.
Our bell rang out during our Centennial celebration in 2007 to herald the beginning of our yearlong observance of this important milestone.
Our bell sounded the joyous tidings of the release of the Americans hostages from the embassy in Iraq and the end of the Viet Nam war.
Our bell has announced weddings, funerals, national celebrations and national tragedies.
Since the construction of the original 1907 church structure, Reedville Church has had a bell. It was a familiar voice in the community. That voice was silenced on November 24, 1944, when the old country church burned to the ground. The resounding thud of the bell dropping from its tower told the entire community the devastating news our church, and an important gathering spot in the area, was now a pile of smoldering ashes.
Various lists of items lost in the fire show our bell among the pews, books, potbelly stove, choir robes and other items destroyed. If the heat from the fire did not ruin the tone of the bell, the plunge from the bell tower to the ground below would have completed the job.
Our bell remained silent during the time the congregation gathered in the school next door for worship services for the balance of 1944 and all of 1945 and 1946 and part of 1947. With a world war going on, building materials were in short supply and the cost was prohibitive.
In late 1946 the building committee for the church received word that buildings from Camp Adair the Army training facility near Corvallis had been declared war surplus and Reedville Church had been awarded one of their 13 chapels. For $910 Reedville was again to have a church building. The congregation took the chapel apart and trucked it north to our present site. It was put back together again in a form fit to our use, but it had no bell.
The entry for Tuesday, July 8, 1947, in a small diary kept by Anna Lingman noted “The old school bell was hung in (the) OUR new church.” Anna was a member and elder at Reedville Church and also the grandmother of my husband, Nick Lambing. No records from the school have been discovered that indicate when they gave their old bell to the church. The old bell would most likely have been from the three-room school constructed in 1920.
A notation in the 1996 Reedville School District history indicated a belfry had been added to the new (1920) school “so it would look more like a school.” The patrons, however, did not have the money for a bell to hang in the belfry. Money came years later after the community raised $55 to make the purchase. There is no indication of when that purchase was actually made. Could this be “our” bell? In 1938 the WPA remodeled Reedville School. In 1952 and 1959 additional classrooms enlarged the school to the present structure. Some time prior to 1947 the “old school bell” was removed and a buzzer system installed.
The bell in our church belfry is from the Michigan Bell Company, a company without a recorded history. An item on the Internet credited to a fellow named Van Venton, from about the same time as our church was established, stresses the value of church bells. “Bells are a benefit to the church to declare the way, point the time of worship services and acts as the general voice of mother church herself to announce the church’s presence and place.
A church bell is a possession and a treasure to the whole community in the midst of which it is placed.”