Tricounty News

The church bell tolls again at KUMC

Many in Kimball have been anxious for more than 15 years to hear the ringing of the bell at the Kimball United Methodist Church. That's how long it's been since the church bell was removed from the old building on "Church Corner" in Kimball. The congregation has been worshiping in their new building on Highway 55 since then, but the bell has been in storage in the new church. Meanwhile, the church has continued without the bell, not having an appropriate place to put it. The church held a mortgage-burning ceremony in March 2004, and exhibited the bell in the foyer. They even held a contest to guess the weight of the bell (just shy of 1,000 pounds). Recently, a structure was built onto the east side of the church, a structure that looks a bit like a carport. Actually, that side of the building has been pretty non-descript, virtually indistinguishable from any other white, single-story building. But this week, the old church bell was installed at the top of the new entry structure. It took a mere 10 minutes; much less than onlookers expected. A tree-trimming truck with a cherry-picker arrived (from Western Tree Service in Paynesville). They braced the truck, raised the cherry-picker into a vertical position, and connected the bell by a single rope. After testing the rope, and adjusting the bell to center its weight, the bell was carefully raised up and over, then lowered into position. Bolted into place on two sides, the workers gave the bell a few test rings as onlookers cheered and applauded. Now the bell enclosure can be finished and the building will look more like a church from that side. "This fulfills the covenant," said pastor Heather Klasson as she watched the raising of the bell. "This fulfills the covenant of the new building." "It's too bad we didn't have the bell installed a little sooner," she added. "We could have rung the bell today in commemoration of 9/11." Instead, the church plans a commemoration this Sunday. Among the onlookers were Dave Mackereth who has attended the church all of his 41 years. He recalled with a mischievous grin the times he rang the bell in the old church, causing the rope to get caught up into the workings. That's why a sign was put up in the old church saying that only adults were allowed to ring the bell. Pastor Klasson said they'd considered an electronic bell-ringer, but that would only ring the bell one way, not both. There'd be only "ding" and no "dong" each time the bell rang. So they'll rely on the old reliable, ringing the bell by pulling a rope. Don Anderson recalled several past bell-ringers; he has attended the church since 1919. Bert Dibley and Leo Wirth looked on from the side, both beaming with pride. Several women of the church watched the bell-raising from their cars. For the Kimball United Methodist Church, its members and the community, 9/11 can now mark the date of the return of the church bell.