RICH: Church bells that no longer ring | Opinion


Of all the things that have faded away and are just vague memories, the one I miss the most are church bells.

About 25 years ago the church bells began to fall silent. I do not have anyI do not know what happened. Perhaps the bells fell into disuse and were too expensive to repair or replace. Perhaps the official bell ringer has retired and no one has stepped in to take over. Maybe someone forgot to call them on a Sunday, so it was easier to forget the following Sunday.

In the little white wooden church I grew up in there was a lot of stuff we used to dot have. There was no plumbing inside, so a small outbuilding was in the woods. There was no air conditioning. During the hot summer services, the windows were raised and hand fans, advertising a local funeral home, were passed through the pews.

There was no communion room to gather around a casserole or a homemade cake. Instead, there was a long concrete table built on cement blocks and shaded by massive oaks and maples. Our annual comeback – a time when country churches celebrate their membership – was the second Sunday in October. I will always remember the beauty of those Sundays in October when the hardwoods of the Appalachian foothills were kissed by autumn.s gel that turned their leaves into brilliant shades of reds, oranges and yellows. From the churchperched on a steep hill we could only see Gods beautiful palace everywhere we looked.

There, on this concrete table, the women of the church have arranged a remarkable assortment of home-cooked meals. Mom was known from afar for her homemade chicken and meatballs. She cooked several gallons of fresh chickens, then filled with her hand-brewed cookie dough. People were lining up to get their dumplings first. Within minutes, the jars were cleaned.

There wasThere isn’t much heat in this little church. On either side of the altar, place propane heaters. This was an improvement over the belly wood stove that had previously warmed the sanctuary.

Yet when temperatures dropped one wintert day and the wind enveloped the little structure in its mighty grip, it was cold until halfway through Sunday school. It often seemed colder inside than outside. As we walked down the aisle our hot breath vaporized the air, then we huddled around the heaters, rubbing our hands together and shivering.

In the early years the parking lot was gravel with lots of potholes and red clay glistening through the rocks. At the time, there were no Sunday school halls, so the church was divided into children and adults. The adults taught Sunday school in the choir gallery and the children gathered on the last two benches at the back. Our teacher would sit on a bench in front of us and awkwardly turn to give our lesson.

In truth, we had a lot less than we had.

But we had a church bell.

Two gray ropes for ringing hung to the left of the front door. I was about seven years old when I had the privilege of being a bell ringer.

Little one, ”Dad said. Thisit’s time to start. Go ring the bell.

The bell was so heavy that it took all my little strength to pull the first string. As the heavy bell began its initial chime, the rope I was clinging to lifted me off the ground. I struggled hard to bring him down again. After I was hoisted two or three times, the bell tipped on its own.

It was the most glorious of sounds.

Churches spend time and money on mission fields or have members knock on doors and invite people to worship.

I suggest this: A return to church bells to remind people of the gathering of Godthe people.

What a beautiful sound.

Ronda Rich is the bestselling author of “What Southern Women Know (Every Woman Should)”. Visit to subscribe to its free weekly newsletter.


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